Up real close and 'personalised'

Last month, the Institute for Public Policy Research's report, Assessment and Testing: making space for teaching and learning, called for a re-think on assessment. The 2020 Vision group's report (TES. January 5) also concedes that the situation must change. Let us hope policy-makers finally accept that crude, high-stakes tests are detrimental to learning and at odds with the laudable aims set out in Every Child Matters and the drive towards personalised learning.

Early responses from the Department for Education and Skills are not encouraging and suggest a lack a genuine desire for the kind of radical change needed.

In light of recent developments, the National Association for the Teaching of English renews its call for a fundamental review of assessment at key stages 2 and 3. Such a review must include the scrapping of current statutory tests for English - which are at best unreliable and meaningless, and which at worst act as a profoundly negative influence on the learning and development of pupils.

The solution is not more tests - however flexible they might be - but the return of assessment into the hands of classroom practitioners. Liberated from the current testing regime, and trusted to assess their own pupils, teachers might be freed to devise the creative and imaginative curriculums that would engage and give the best chance of achievement to all children.

Simon Gibbons

Chair, NATE 9-14 committee, Cottenham, Cambridgeshire

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