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Cover bill threatens national tests

National curriculum tests for up to 13,000 children are unlikely to take place in Nottinghamshire because the county council has not applied for the grant to pay for supply cover, writes Frances Rafferty.

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said he thought that key stage 1 tests for seven-year-olds would be a write-off because teachers will not administer and mark them because of workload. He has advised heads not to spend one penny from their already tight budgets on cover.

To resolve the tests boycott, the Government agreed to fund 60 per cent of the cost of supply cover for key stage 1 tests, with the local authority making up the rest.

Fred Riddell, the education chairman of Labour-controlled Nottinghamshire, said the council's share of the bill would be Pounds 145,000. "This is an aspect of the national curriculum which Nottinghamshire education committee has consistently opposed as inappropriate and educationally unsound," he said.

Tony Woodward, National Union of Teachers regional officer, said if there was no cover then his members, protected by their workload ballot, would not supervise the tests. He said key stage 2 and key stage 3 tests may not be affected, but in some cases certain tasks may not be performed, which would make the results incomplete. The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers has advised members to do the tests, provided they do not result in an excessive workload A Department for Education spokesman said it was the statutory obligation of the authority to ensure tests are carried out. But Margaret Morrissey, of the National Confederation of Parent-Teacher Associations, said she had not heard any protests from Nottinghamshire parents over children not taking the tests.

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