Tasks that turned into nasty tests

I read with interest the debate about national tests at the end of key stage 1 (TES, August 30). It seems a pity that the English spokesperson is not as au fait with current practice as the Welsh protagonist.

When national tests were first introduced they were called "tasks" rather than tests, and teachers in infant classrooms worked hard to disguise the nature of the assessment so that pupils were able to absorb them into their normal school day.

We were clearly naive and the current reality is far removed from those early days of "floating and sinking". This year teachers were discouraged from allowing children to sit in their own classrooms and we had the vision of 90 Year 2 pupils (many of whom were still to have their seventh birthday) sitting at single desks in the school hall in examination conditions.

This is counterproductive and causes uncertainty among parents, teachers and children. In schools where children enter in reception classes already six terms "behind" their peers, the KS1 national tests do NOT show the value added from this stage of education.

Elected members need to trust our English professionals in the way that our colleagues in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are trusted. The new foundation stage has given us a quiet revolution in England and the opportunity to raise the standards of learning among the nation's children.

The influence of this curriculum reform is beginning to make an impact and practitioners now need permission to follow their instincts to develop outstanding practice for their pupils.

Abolishing national tests at KS1 will provide the right endorsement of the foundation stage by an enlightened government and restore the faith of the teaching community.

It will enable the improvement of the quality of the education of English children, thus ensuring equality of opportunity along with their peers in the rest of the UK.

Pat Wills National chair Early Education 136 Cavell Street, London E1

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