Abolish tests and have faith in us

3rd December 2004 at 00:00
We are writing as heads of English in Worcester, to state that we no longer have any confidence whatsoever in KS3 English Sats.

Since their inception the tests have been fraught with problems over content and marking. Instead of improving over time, these problems have now reached a point where to send back all scripts from a school for re-marking has become the norm.

The content of the tests has also reached a point of absurdity: the longer writing task this year, for example, required candidates to write the opening to a detective story and this caused problems for many who understandably tried to write a whole story. Also, this year's question on the Macbeth scenes was very difficult for Year 9 pupils.

The effects of the English testing process at KS3 are several. First, teachers, parents and students are bewildered and demoralised by the process and the outcomes. Second, the marking process is so chaotic and unreliable that English teachers have no confidence whatsoever in the results when they eventually receive them. The alarming fact is, however, that schools, teachers and students are judged on these results and targets for GCSE are based on them.

We have had enough. We call on you to use your influence to insist that the English KS3 tests should be abolished. Teacher assessment should be restored to its rightful place at the centre of our work at KS3. The Department for Education and Skills and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority should learn to trust English teachers as being the professionals best placed to make assessments of their students.

Sallie Peacock Christopher Whitehead high school Joy O'Donnell The Chantry high school C Coulthard Elgar technology college Anita Idden Pershore high school W Nicholson Hanley Castle school

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