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Inquiry demanded into stressful high-stakes testing

GORDON BROWN should launch an immediate independent inquiry into the effects on pupils and school staff of the Government's test-based accountability system, Britain's largest teachers' union has said.

In evidence submitted to a House of Commons' education select committee inquiry into testing and assessment, the National Union of Teachers called for an inquiry because of overwhelming evidence that "high-stakes testing"

undermined children's learning.

The union also said the system was opposed by most teachers, whose views had been ignored by successive governments.

A potential downside of the testing system was that schools might needlessly focus on pupils expected to achieve just below the Government's target levels, at the expense of other children.

The NUT said it was right that both local communities and the Government had ways of holding schools to account, but that the English accountability system was "permeated by a lack of trust" and needed reviewing.

The Government claimed, in a recent paper proposing the introduction of twice-yearly progress tests for key stage 2 and 3 pupils, that most schools supported high-stakes testing.

A Department for Education and Skills spokesman said: "We have always made it clear that national testing provides useful information for parents and schools, helps drive up standards and helps the public to hold the system to account."

The committee will begin hearing evidence next month. It is expected to conclude in the autumn. But the union said this was "completely without basis in fact" and that the system negated teacher initiative and creativity.

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