Letters extra:

30th March 2001 at 01:00
Many primary schools are now used to receiving commendations for excellent results. How wonderful that Primary schools have worked so hard to improve standards! How fantastic that we can show such achievement in key stage 2 tests! I want to ask, at what cost? We know that children learn from first-hand experience. We also recognise that they engage with a task when they have a sense of wonder and excitement. The way children learn is by exploration and through meaningful tasks. They need to be shown how to improve the skills required, which will enable them to explore and discover the answers for themselves.

They need to be equipped to manage, as their move towards higher education becomes more challenging. Their sense of achievement will only be full realised if they retain ownership of their learning.

Children within the Primary sector are no longer offered a diet which nourishes their hunger for knowledge. Teachers, governors and parents are obsessed with results. They encourage their children "to do well". To do well, for whom? These poor children, whose early learning experiences should reflect a young adult on a long journey of opportunity, are old before their time burdened by the expectations of their betters.

Children reach secondary school bored and full up of target expectations. They will have endured Literacy and Numeracy hours, they will possibly have been part of a booster class situation, which pitifully tries to patch up any gaps in their hitherto Primary experience. I don't envy the task of a secondary teacher whose task it will be to rekindle a flame long since extinguished.

Surely the first thing to do is to regain child based learning? Why are we denying our young children the chance to a full and balanced curriculum? Most primary schools in the country try to retain a cross curricular experience for their pupils. However, art and music, games and drama are considered the extras. They should be what primary learning is hinged upon. English, maths and science are obviously important and necessary, but not to such a degree that the children reach secondary school burnt out and craving for excitement.

Margaret Allen The Vicarage Claigmar Road Rustington

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