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Paper falls like leaves

Like leaves falling from the trees, an avalanche of more than 30 million sheets of paper has been unleashed on schools this term.

First there's the assessment and reporting arrangements for key stages 1, 2 and 3 which the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority fires off to schools in England. Collectively these tomes weigh in at 254 pages.

Multiply that by the number of primary and secondary schools and you get almost 3.5 million bits of paper.

Is this payback for the long summer holidays? Or a simple exercise in sadism?

A QCA spokeswoman says: "The assessment and reporting arrangements are quite detailed. But they only go out once a year and have to explain how the national curriculum tests are to be carried out."

And spare a thought for headteachers. Not only do they have to master the intricacies of how to assess and report on pupils, they have to download the hernia-inducing 300-page autumn package (which collates national pupil performance data) from the Department for Education and Skills's website.

That's 1,011,150 pages of government wisdom.

Then there are the Pandas - performance and assessment data which compare schools in similar circumstances. If each primary school's report is, say, 40 pages long and has to be copied to 26 staff and governors, that is 1,040 pages per school.

Multiply that by the more than 25,000 primary schools in England and Wales and you are left with millions more sheets of paper strewn across the country.

Stuart Bailey, head of humanities at Elthorne Park high in Ealing, west London, said: "I'm sitting here with loads of paperwork in front of me. Not only does it help my filing, I see it as a chance to develop my origami skills to an unprecedented level."

Friday magazine 4

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