Let pupils lead the revolution to end primary Sats

3rd April 2009 at 01:00

It is interesting that headteachers have suddenly become aware that Sats are not a "good thing" - for a range of reasons which have long been in the public domain, such as narrowing of the curriculum, test preparation time, teaching to the test and so on. They are now allegedly prepared to boycott the tests.

But where have those headteachers been for the past 12 years when schools faced the one-dimensional standards agenda?

Have they been giving a strong lead to teachers, enabling them not to concentrate so much on performativity and "securing" levels, sub-levels and sub-sub-levels? Have they been encouraging teachers to concentrate on children's learning rather than on producing pre-packaged pedagogy, exemplified in rigidly planned and inflexible lessons, to keep Ofsted happy?

Our research (Boyle and Charles, 2008-09) shows teachers have problems with differentiation as a result of whole-school planning. Following formulaic lesson plans has become the sole pedagogical model. There is no time for deep learning or reflective thinking.

So while it is nice to hear our "lead professionals" are awaking from their slumbers, where were they when compliance and accountability were allowed to replace real teaching and learning?

Professor Bill Boyle, Chair of educational assessment, School of education, Manchester University.

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