Let us call a halt to the rash of crazy pre-election promises

7th March 1997 at 00:00
Who is going to put a stop to this nonsense? I mean the disgraceful Dutch auction that is going on between the two main parties over education, each trying to outbid the other.

"The bid is in your corner, Mrs Shephard I ah, simplified tests and results and you have the support of the PM, who wants marks out of 100. Can you beat that, Mr Blunkett?" "All primary teachers to be re-trained in literacy and three weeks' summer school for those pupils who are behind."

"Back to you, Mrs Shephard." And so on. Whatever has happened to the five years' moratorium on change?

What is most depressing about the latest intervention in the auction by Mrs Shephard and Mr Major is that the politicians and their advisers have learned nothing from the nine years of the national curriculum. (They are still working towards level one).

They still act as though national curriculum assessment is a free-standing activity, unconnected to the curriculum and the teaching of it.

Assessment is an integral part of the sequence: general philosophy, educational aims, curriculum objectives, assessment objectives, assessment activities, the way the results are calculated and reported. Alter any of these components and you alter the rest.

Testing always has a backwash effect on the curriculum and teaching styles. It has been truly said that the national curriculum has many builders but no architect, so teachers can do without all the odd-jobbing that is going on now. The only consolation is that most of the proposals are so costly. They are unlikely to outlive the pre-election mania.

T McSWEENEY 2 Mayville Drive Manchester

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