30 years ago

11th November 2005 at 00:00
The Munn committee on the curriculum was given cause to consider one of the most testing of all issues, the relationship between teaching and assessment, in this submission from the examination board, reported in The TES Scotland of November 14, 1975:

It is widely regarded as axiomatic that the requirements of the curriculum come before those of assessment and, as a principle, this would seem to be unexceptionable. Clearly, the school curriculum should not be vitiated by the demands of the assessment system. Clearly too, it is difficult to devise an assessment system before curricular premises are established.

There is continual interacting between curriculum and assessment. The examination system may dictate the curriculum in the school but the examination system may be dictated by curricular developments . . .

The dictum that the curriculum comes first, however, is usually taken to imply criticism of the effect of the examination system on the curriculum.

Certainly, if examination syllabuses are not kept in line with curricular thinking, they will exercise an adverse effect. It may be, moreover, that even when syllabuses and examinations are kept up to date there are aspects or elements of a desirable curriculum that pose difficulties for external assessment and that may consequently be undervalued in teaching.

The position will vary from subject to subject. Any generalisation regarding the adverse educational effect of external syllabuses and examinations requires to be supported by a precise statement on a subject basis of the shortcomings and of the alternatives.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today