Moving goalposts will demoralise our children

5th December 2003 at 00:00
By publishing level 5 scores, the Government is suggesting that level 4 is no longer good enough, no longer satisfactory. What does that say to children?

Children in Year 6 are very savvy. They know what is going on and they are their own biggest critics. In order to motivate children, they need to feel whatever contribution they make is valued.

Publishing level 5 scores will tell children who have reached level 4 - which is the level expected of them - that their contributions are not valued because they are not reaching this new, higher target.

For children with special educational needs it will widen the gap. It will highlight the fact that they are even further away from some of their peer group than they thought.

It will make no difference to those children getting level 5. I do not agree with the idea that teachers will not stretch children without level 5 targets. Teachers want every child to do their best.

The pressure which schools have been under to get children to level 4 has been immense.

That pressure has narrowed the curriculum, as teachers worried about test scores have concentrated predominantly on English and maths.

But here at Hook Church of England primary, we have no set timetable and no literacy hours, almost all lessons are linked to a termly theme.

I have come under immense pressure to justify what we do here.

That means I have to audit what is going on in school possibly more than other headteachers and that is onerous. But I think the rewards far outweigh the work. We have enthusiastic, motivated children who enjoy learning.

Excellence and Enjoyment, the national primary strategy, was welcomed.

Schools were encouraged to bring back a rich and stimulating curriculum, one that children would enjoy and that makes learning fun.

Headteachers are enthusiastic and confident about delivering a much broader curriculum - publishing level 5 scores will threaten that.

More pupils in my school get level 5 than the national average, but I do not need that reporting. There is more to my school than these limited measures and there is more to children's education than English, maths and science.

Janet Huscroft is headteacher at Hook Church of England primary, Goole, Yorkshire, one of the 32 schools visited by the Office for Standards in Education for its report The curriculum in successful primary schools

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