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Arm-twist in league tables tale

I wish to draw attention to some bullying in primary schools which is being conducted by the Department for Education and Employment itself.

The governors of St Andrew's Church of England primary school decided last summer not to submit the 1996 key stage 2 assessments for our 37 pupils to the DFEE for publication in league tables.

We have given individual results and school totals to the parents of Year 6 children to inform them about the progress of their own children in the school context. In our prospectus, we have given the school's totals for prospective parents.

But we consider that league tables are contrary to the Christian ethos of this school which, in its mission statement, seeks "to encourage attitudes and mutual respect, care, sensitivity, compassion, and co-operation towards others". This applies to the actions of governors and teachers as much as children and we expect the adults of the school to set this ethos by example. League tables foster competition not co-operation and, because of the small populations involved in primary schools, can be misleading.

We now find that our decision has been subverted by the external marking agency (in our case, the Midland Examinations Group) passing the KS2 test results of each child to Forvus Computer Services which is preparing the league tables on behalf of the DFEE.

We are now being arm-twisted into submitting our teacher assessments under the threat of "missing" being put in the league tables. Since we consider our teacher assessments to be more reliable than the tests, we shall need to yield to this intimidation, notwithstanding the injunction of our school pastoral policy that "bullying is not tolerated at St Andrew's School".

The letter from the DFEE setting out the procedures notes that the department "will be looking very carefully to see how we can streamline the procedure in future. Your views on how this might be done would be welcome". Easy - abandon the league tables in primary schools.

Mrs I M BASSEY

Headteacher

St Andrew's primary school

Skegby

Nottinghamshire

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