Letters extra: Brighouse worries

9th January 2004 at 00:00

I read with interest, and not a little concern, what Mr Brighouse will be saying in Belfast next week (TES, 2 January).

Having found myself wondering about his understanding of education as anything other than target driven when I questioned him at a local conference in July, I am now really worried!

He told me in the summer when I voiced concerns about learning and teaching in the early years, that I wasn't to worry as the government had just published 'Excellence and Enjoyment' and this would give teachers back the confidence they needed to teach the youngest children more appropriately.

I doubted this at the time, and now feel vindicated in this doubt.

So, money is to be thrown at parents and teachers if the children perform poorly so that they can do activities to support their education. But not if their parents are 'very well off'.

The situations that this could result in andor cause do not bear thinking about. Worse still, if this is possible, is that Mr Brighouse proposes that the money should be weighted 'according to students' results in baseline tests before entering primary school'. No.

Is he not aware that we have finally managed to get rid of baseline assessment? It does not exist anymore. We are now in a position to do more useful formative assessment whilst fighting against having to score it. Numbers are irrelevant and meaningless on this type of work. When we were told that scoring was to be required, assurances were given that the numbers would not be used by authorities or government for tables or analysis.

The proposal here seems to be a huge retrograde step!

Has it not occured to Mr Brighouse that the types of activities he is suggesting the money is spent on (sport, dance etc), are exactly the types of things that should be happening in schools anyway? He assured me that the new document would once again allow these freedoms, and that we should look towards the Reggio Emilia schools in Italy for inspiration. Perhaps he should take some of his own advice?

Sue Allingham

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