Gradgrindian tests

25th July 2003 at 01:00
Yet again there is a large disparity between reading and writing scores at key stage 2 and soon there will be the usual exhortations to do better from Stephen Twigg or whoever.

Has anyone in the Department for Education and Skills considered that there will always be a gap because reading and writing need different skills?

If politicians would deign to talk to real teachers or even, perish the thought, real children, they would see that true improvements in writing have occurred by dint of hard work by teachers and pupils alike. Writing is now discussed, drafted, evaluated, redrafted and polished.

There is much stunning writing coming from higher-ability primary pupils.

In the middle ability bands the standard is higher than ever. It is truly quality over quantity: not a maxim that is always familiar to the Department for Education and Skills. What has obviously not dawned upon ministers is that this actually takes time: a lot more than a 45-minute test.

The recent writing task on "The Queue" was, in one sense, a crude attempt to "jack up" the scores in order to reach the sacrosanct targets that drive the system. This task, shamefully, was an insult to the intelligence of so many Year 6 pupils, many of whom would love to have the vehicle to show their hard earned prowess.

I would defy Charles Dickens to make "The Queue" interesting although perhaps it would appeal to Messrs Gradgrind and Squeers.

Tony Roberts 144 Cop Lane Penwortham Preston

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