Letter: Why English tests should be postponed

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Sir: With minor reservations, I like the anthology for 14-year-olds published by the School Examinations and Assessment Council

('Anthology set for English tests gets hostile reception', 7 January). I also applaud the inclusion of Shakespeare as a compulsory element.

However, we are lucky that independent status allows our school not to take part in the tests this summer, and we will not do so for the crucial reason that we have not seen specimen examination papers, and, from what I have heard about the Shakespeare testing, there will be an inappropriate bias towards regurgitation rather than appreciation.

Also, the English anthology Guide for Teachers indicates that pupils will not be asked anything to do with use of language by the writers concerned, which is the question to ask of all literature. Any good English teacher could have pointed this out, but I know that John Patten wants to avoid contact with experts.

Mr Patten would not expect to buy a suit on the basis of a description over the telephone, would he? Then why does he expect English teachers to 'buy' a product without having seen it?

Yours faithfully,


Head of English

Hymers College

Hull, Humberside

11 January