Letters Extra: Square pegs in round holes

20th December 2002 at 00:00

Regarding your report (TES, December 6) that almost a quarter of the nation's middle schools have closed in the last four years.nbsp;

The reason for this is obvious: middle schools do not fit comfortably with the national system for testing, so targets are not met, therefore middle schools must be at fault and have to go.

As a headteacher of a middle school (years 6-9), I see ten year-old children joining us and fourteen year-old adults leave.nbsp;This is a crucial stage in their development, when atttitudes to self and others emerge and become fixed for life.nbsp;

In a middle school, all the focus is on them (not GCSE or sixth form students); and they can develop without the more "worldly" influence of older pupils.nbsp; Furthermore their teachers are specialists in meeting the needs of children of their age group.

I believe that the testing system that is driving middle schools into extinction puts the cart before the horse.

Instead of trying to force chidren and young adults to conform to the needs of our education system, would it be too radical to suggest that we should start by looking at the needs of our young people and creating from it an education structure and testing regime that supports their development?nbsp;

I seem to remember studying someone called Piaget at college twenty five years ago whose research into the stages of child development indicated that this would be a sensible way
forward;nbsp; but I don't suppose his work is part of the teacher training curriculum any more.

As a footnote, to counter any suggestions that the above are the liberal views typical of a failed and bygone era, pupils at my school all wear a strict school uniform and our key stage three results place us comfortably in the top 25 per centnbsp;of schools in the country.

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