Shining stars

Since the advent of the compulsory key stage 3 tests in 1995, some 450 students have taken the English papers at my school and only three have achieved level 7. I have challenged these findings each year and returned the scripts to be re-marked but no changes have resulted.

Consequently it was with trepidation that I went into school on GCSE results day to see how my top set had fared (33 students - 1995 KS3 results: four at level 6, 25 at level 5 and four at level 4). Imagine then my surprise and delight at their English and English Literature results - 25 of the group had achieved at least a double A* in English and seven an A* in literature.

I have been trying to come to terms with the somewhat anomalous results over the past two weeks and I have worked through the following theories: * My students have been taking performance-enhancing drugs (vigorously denied by all).

* I am the greatest pedagogic genius of the 20th century (a conclusion disappointingly unsupported by students, staff and recent OFSTED inspection).

* The GCSE papers are ridiculously overmarked (but I have marked at GCSE and have been impressed with the system of employing different markers for each component and the rigorous moderation of coursework).

This brings me to the conclusion, agreed by everyone at my school, that key stage 3 tests are a joke and give no valid indication of a student's ability in English.

JOHN RILEY

Head of English Hessle High School Heads Lane Hessle East Yorkshire

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