Letters extra: Key Stage 2 Writing fiasco

30th May 2003 at 01:00
I am writing after a day of complete frustration, irritation and exasperation. The reason for this is the Key Stage 2 English Writing Task. I am compelled to lodge the most heartfelt complaint on behalf of the Year 6 teachers and children of this school.

What faced them this morning in the longer writing task? A choice of genres? No. The chance to indulge their particular strength in terms of writing? No. Something that might appeal to all cultures and both genders? No. Instead they were faced with four cartoon pictures about a queue outside a shop on which to base their story, leaving them almost no scope for imagination.

I can pass on to you the universal reaction of my staff - disbelief and outrage at such a limited stimulus. And the reaction of my pupils - universal boredom with a complete lack of inspiration. This is genuine, honest feedback on a test thatnbsp;can innbsp;no way possible give an indication of the true writing ability of my pupils.

Yet of course it will be used in due course by the Government to draw huge and unjustified conclusions about the state of English education in the country's schools and the ability of the teachers in them.

It will be used to form judgements on the success - or not - of my school and everything that happens in it. What nonsense and what a complete travesty that is. These tests do not measure ability to 'drive up standards in schools' as a minister stated last week.

All they achieve is stressed and anxious staff, stressed and anxious children and a deep sense of depression eating away at the fragile morale that exists in school. No wonder we cannot keep good teachers - and no wonder people do not want to be headteachers presiding over the implementation of a system that is becoming more morally wrong in every sense as each year passes. I urge you to call for, or to lead a full and detailed investigation into the effects of, this year's tests which could lead to the end of such misery that today has brought.
Keith Hildrew
Whitchurch Middle School


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