Bring back the joy

2nd July 2004 at 01:00
As a teacher for 37 years and primary head for 22 years who has been forced to implement change after change over the past 18 years, mostly for the sake of political point-scoring, I'd like to make the following observations:

* If the unions had combined to target key stage 1 Sats last year then these "tests" would now be dead. They tell us nothing, achieve nothing and help nobody.

* Key stage 2 Sats do provide an end-of-primary marker, but to put results into tables comparing one year against another and one school against another is rubbish. Each year it is different children in different circumstances taking different tests.

* If a primary school is doing its job and teaching what is needed, there is no need for homework. If a child does not understand at school, will hours of sitting in front of the same problems with parents who may not understand themselves make any difference? If a child already understands what it is doing, why send it home with more of the same tasks?

These pointless impositions on our children, families and teachers are insisted upon so that the Government can display them as examples of "driving up standards". So why have Wales and Scotland modified these inflexible forms of assessment modelled on the practice in secondary schools?

I am about to retire and I am immensely proud of the achievements of all the children I have taught. Back in the 60s and early 70s, I had children doing CSE-level maths in a primary school while, at the same time, we were winning music festivals, sports tournaments, poetry competitions and working with nature conservationists. Where is the joy or the time today?

Norman H Holland Headteacher Woodchester endowed CoE primary school Church Road North Woodchester, Glos

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