Caring culture eroded by tests

MOST pupils believe their schools care only about their performance in exams, a poll of more than 2,500 secondary students reveals.

It highlights growing cynicism about their teachers' motives and claims that lessons have become less interesting and varied because of the pressure of national tests and emphasis on academic achievement.

Six out of 10 pupils said they spent most of their time in class "copying from the board or a book", while a third reported spending much of their lessons "listening to a teacher talking for a long time".

Only 46 per cent agreed with the statement "My school cares about more than just my exam results", compared with 62 per cent in 2000.

The poll of the 2,670 secondary students surveyed by MORI for the Campaign for Lifelong Learning, was published yesterday to coincide with the launch of new research findings.

The charity has been investigating the effects of teaching children how to learn at 24 schools.

Results from the first half of the two-year study suggest that the classes have improved attainment and boosted teacher confidence.

Jackie Beer, an advanced skills teacher at Campion school, Northampton, said techniques had encouraged staff to break away from the copying-off-the-board format.

"There are still people who think that if they are standing in front of the class and the children are quiet, they must be a good teacher," she said.

"But there's so much focus on exams now, you can understand why teachers stick to the tried and tested methods."

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