Ministers reject Gilbert's inquiry into tests culture

Ministers have rejected a recommendation from the chief inspector to investigate the impact of national tests and exam preparation on the quality of learning, The TES can reveal.

The advice is one of at least two recommendations by Christine Gilbert's January review to which the Government has failed to respond formally.

Next week, the National Association of Head Teachers will begin its own investigation into the consequences of assessment and league table pressures.

In December, the Institute for Public Policy Research called for national tests to be scrapped because they accentuated "narrow" and "shallow"

teaching. Both the IPPR and Cambridge Assessment, Europe's largest assessment agency, have suggested a move to moderated teacher assessment.

The Gilbert report, set up before she became chief inspector, said test data did not always help teachers understand weaknesses in pupils'

knowledge, nor help them to improve classroom practice.

Test results were also of little use in recording pupils' acquisition of many skills that employers value.

The review called for Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, to set up a group, involving the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, Ofsted and heads, to investigate whether changes to the curriculum or exams were needed.

The Department for Education and Skills would not say this week when it will respond. It has published a paper on allowing children to sit tests when ready, which was recommended by Ms Gilbert and will be trialled this autumn.

The Gilbert report also called for another group of heads to report by September on how to promote innovation in teaching. This has also not happened.

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