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East London English teachers in test boycott

TEACHERS in five schools trialling the Government's overhaul of secondary English teaching will boycott tests for 11 and 12-year-olds.

Unease continued to grow this week about the key stage 3 strategy which, from September, will see the introduction of a structured lesson and a spelling list of more than 700 key words for pupils.

English teachers at a third of secondary schools in the London borough of Tower Hamlets, where the strategy is being piloted, will refuse to mark tests for Years 7 and 8. These tests are optional for most schools but are mandatory in the KS 3 pilot.

John Wilks, general secretary of the London Association for the Teaching of English, said: "This dispute is not about the minor irriant of a spelling test.

"It is about the unwelcome administrative burden and the continuing contempt for the professional judgment of classroom teachers."

In a survey released this week by the National Association for the Teaching of English, more than half of the teachers in about 60 per cent of the 200 schools trialling the English strategy felt it would not help to improve children's learning. However, nearly three-quarters believed it could be helpful in developing parts of the curriculum.

Education Secretary David Blunkett confirmed that school inspectors would take a softly-softly approach to inspection, realising that secondaries would concentrate the strategy on Year 7 pupils initially.

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