Legacy of testing

1st June 2007 at 01:00
Over the past 150-odd years, educators have experienced the three Rs (reading, writing, arithmetic), the three As (age, aptitude and ability) and, more recently, the three Es "education, education, education" (Tony Blair). But has anything changed or, more importantly, improved?

Some examples suggest the present situation is not so different from that in the mid-19th century. A friend reports that pupils in her son's class were told by their teacher to pay attention to her hand signals in order to make the correct responses in a French GCSE oral exam. Another reports that her daughter's class were taught only two out of six topics in sociology AS level to ensure they "knew" the material in sufficient depth to achieve high grades. My niece complains that she has spent much of the summer term engaged in key stage 2 Sats practice and is bored with the content and anxious about outcomes.

These practices raise serious questions. What is Mr Blair's legacy? Preparing pupils for a bright future or a return to the practices of the past? Providing a broad curriculum or a series of narrow choices (a reminder of the three Rs)? Assessing pupils as part of their learning, or teaching them to "jump through hoops", or cheat (reminiscent of the 19th-century "payment by results" system)? Or forcing pupils to spend summer sitting in rows practising test papers (back to the days of the 11-plus)?

The Government must ask itself serious questions. In the drive towards inclusion, does every child really matter or does learning to play the system in the drive for results matter more?

Elizabeth Sach Local authority advisory teacher, Codicote, Herts

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now