Formative teaching is no quick fix

8th August 2008 at 01:00

Yes, teachers could use formative teaching and learning, as Professor Boyle and Marie Charles suggest (Letters, August 1) - and some are trying hard to do just that. But, faced with the "bean counters", it gets difficult if you believe that the spotlight should be on learning and curricular targets, rather than levels and numerical targets.

Research has shown that too much emphasis on grades and levels may promote the wrong kind of motivation, one where the focus is on performance rather than mastery. It is my belief that if you concentrate on the learning and involve pupils fully in the assessment process, then the levels take care of themselves.

I do think, though, that there is still a place for tests - though not of the "high-stakes" variety - to check that pupils are learning in a deeper way and retaining that learning over time.

Dr Valerie Hayes, Mathematics Teacher, Minster-on-Sea, Sheerness, Kent.

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