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Can't get no satisfaction

ESTELLE Morris's tears are barely dry when we have in Charles Clarke, yet another Secretary of State who goes on a "charm offensive" but without having taken more than 10 minutes, if that, to listen to the profession and many other groups on the subject of testing.

The mounting criticism from so many quarters is what we are over-testing our children; that children from seven onwards, and certainly at 11, are feeling the pressure they are under and are having their schooling skewed in order to achieve the Holy Grail of level 4.

Charles Clarke states that "The targets at 7, 11, and 16 are absolutely critical to what we are about" (which tells you a lot about the Government's fundamental philosophy) and that no change to this can be contemplated.

If Charles Clarke is really serious about making a difference he should start by looking at returning to some kind of balanced curriculum which will help address the growing tide of anti-social behaviour among a growing slice of young people who see education as test-driven.

He should also be taking seriously the recruitment and retention problems bedevilling teaching, and taking a serious look at bureaucracy and paperwork to which lip-service of Jagger proportions has been paid for 10 years or more.

Tony Roberts

Retired headteacher

144 Cop Lane

Penwortham

Preston

Lancashire

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