Teachers have rejected a call to permanently replace GCSE and A level exams with “teacher-based assessment systems” after hearing how it could lead to greater workload and teacher bullying by parents.
The annual conference of the NASUWT teaching union was today split by 43 per cent in favour and 57 per cent against the motion proposed by teacher Candida Mellor of the union’s North Tyneside Association.
She said: “Exams discriminate against certain groups of students – female students have been proven to do better with more modular or coursework-based testing and students will special educational needs will find sitting and concentrating for long periods of time a hugely difficult task.
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“Exams cause a huge amount of stress. Our young people are already a generation that has documented more mental health issues than any other – do we want to put more pressure on them?
"How is this form of testing a preparation for life in the working world? When would you be required to take 22 written exams on diverse subjects in such a short time scale?”
She said the temporary cancellation of exams this year along with the use of teachers assessments “may be a start” to the reassessment of exams systems and a consideration of how better to use “teachers’ expertise”.
She said: “Teachers know what we’re talking about. We work with students every day and we know what they’re capable of what their issues are.”
However among speakers against the motion was delegate Patrick Stewart, from Strabane, in Northern Ireland, who said a teacher assessment system would be “setting teachers up for bullying and coercion by parents”.
He said: “Worse, we could be setting teachers up for legal challenges and we all know the trouble and anxiety that will follow.”
NASUWT national treasurer Russ Walters said: “We need to be careful what we ask for…do we really want an examination system managed wholly by teachers. Do we really want to add massively to the workload of our already overburdened members?”