BBC's 'Panorama' will show that Sats have gone too far

9th May 2008 at 01:00
Britain's most famous TV documentary series is to screen an expose of England's Sats regime in which leading educationists will say testing has gone too far
Britain's most famous TV documentary series is to screen an expose of England's Sats regime in which leading educationists will say testing has gone too far.

Panorama will broadcast a programme entitled "Tested to Destruction", which compares the English testing system unfavourably with arrangements in Wales, which has abandoned the national tests.

Barry Sheerman, Labour chairman of the Commons Children, Schools and Families Committee, tells the programme: "The pendulum has swung too far in terms of the amount of testing that we do with children."

This Monday's programme visits a Liverpool primary school as it prepares for next week's key stage 2 tests, and compares their experience with a school in Wales.

The children in each school are asked to draw an animal that represents tests to them. In Liverpool, they draw monsters. In the Welsh school, they draw what the TV documentary's producers describe as "friendly-looking creatures".

Jane Hutt, education minister for the Welsh Assembly Government, tells the programme of the decision to scrap end of key stage testing in 2004.

She says: "We had the power to do what was right for our children and young people in Wales. It was quite clear that we had to enable our teachers to be free of the teach-to-the-test culture."

Professor Margaret Brown, of King's College, London, says: "Sats are definitely spoiling maths teaching."

Jim Knight, schools minister, was yet to be interviewed for the programme as The TES went to press.

Mr Sheerman's committee will produce a report on the testing regime, following a lengthy inquiry, later this month. It is expected to be critical.

This week, Graham Stuart, a Conservative member of the committee, said it had heard much evidence that the test regime had encouraged a narrowing of what was taught.

He added: "Most people would accept that there is a need for national testing, but I would question whether the tests we use are fit for purpose. I think we need to reduce the amount of national testing."

Meanwhile, a headteacher writing in today's TES criticises England's exams system as "a many-headed monster which dominates the school year".

Geoff Barton, head of King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, said it faced a pound;113,000 exam-fee bill.

- Panorama: 'Tested to Destruction', a Mentorn Media production, will be broadcast at 8.30pm on Monday, BBC1

NAHT conference, page 14

Geoff Barton, page 32.

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