History will judge the technocrats

6th August 2004 at 01:00
There will surely be undisguised rejoicing in the Welsh Valleys that Wales's inspirational education and lifelong learning minister, Jane Davidson, has decided to abolish Sats for 11 and 14-year-olds (TES Cymru, July 16).

Your welcome editorial call in your English edition for a wide-ranging inquiry into the national curriculum is something that progressive critics have been urging for years, highlighting its systematic deadening of children's learning environments and the deprofessionalisation that has frustrated and demoralised a generation of creative teachers.

In any rational world, the findings of Professor Richard Daugherty's independent inquiry - that the testing regime damages the breadth of the curriculum and puts needless stress on teachers and children - would be enough for politicians to abandon these antediluvian ideas in the name of true educational quality. But rationality is very low on the list in the world of politicised education.

If government ignores this groundswell of academic and professional opinion, it will merely confirm the suspicions of those who have long suggested that the Sats system and its "surveillance culture" have far more to do with politician-centric convenience than with a genuine concern for children's educational progress - being essentially a regime designed to provide soundbite evidence for power-preoccupied politicians determined to claim public-relations success in their crusade to drive up standards.

History will surely pass a grave indictment on those technocratic politicians who, in the face of overwhelming evidence, have continued to subject children and teachers to this needless and comprehensively discredited approach to improving education.

Dr Richard House 13 Denbigh Road Norwich, Norfolk

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