Letter: School tests: survey of parents in Scotland, an examiner's view, where teachers' loyalty lies

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The Independent Online
Sir: Today's leading article 'Teachers in a cul-de-sac' is an unfortunate mishmash of unsubstantiated generalisation and provocative untruth. The Government has not accepted teachers' central demand, which was initially for a withdrawal of this summer's Key Stage 3 tests in English. To claim that these (or other) tests will give 'objective information on their children's progress' to parents is nonsense: they will merely show how children respond to flawed and limited tests administrated by (as you acknowledge) a frustrated and hostile workforce.

The promised 'review' will be a hollow exercise if it takes as little account of professional advice as is John Patten's wont. I visit many schools each year as a senior examiner and meet a larger cross-section of teachers, I suspect, than do either you or Mr Patten. It is not 'activists' giving a false picture at Easter conferences; classroom teachers have had their energies and patience exhausted, while senior managers in schools have struggled to make professional advice heard.

Nor let it be forgotten that representatives of parents, whose cause you and Mr Patten supposedly advocate, were dismissed as 'Neanderthal' when they dared to raise their voices in protest a few weeks ago.

No doubt these too were 'activists' and thus unworthy of serious - or even polite - attention.

Your cul-de-sac metaphor, however, may be aptly applied to Mr Patten himself; he should be aware that a simple U-turn will get him out of it.

Yours faithfully,


Thoralby, North Yorkshire

12 April

The writer is headteacher of Woodham Comprehensive School, Newton Aycliffe, Co Durham