Mutiny as entry test 'kills off' 5-14 link

26th July 1996 at 01:00
Compulsory testing in the first two years of secondary school, enacted through the Education (Scotland) Act and given royal assent last week, will "effectively kill off" links between the primary and secondary curriculums, according to the committee charged with implementing the 5-14 programme.

The TES Scotland has learnt that the committee is set to express "dismay, profound disappointment and a deep sense of despondency" at the decision to press ahead with testing in secondaries.

A recent meeting condemned the new testing regime, due to be introduced in August next year. Jim Anderson, director of education in Angus and the committee's chairman, told members: "The proposals seem destined to jeopardise much of the excellent foundation which has been laid to ensure effective continuity and progression within the whole of the 5-14 age range.

"They appear to fly in the face of existing Government guidelines on 5-14 and will almost certainly result in a significant downturn in the use of national test materials by primary schools, whose staff are likely to feel particularly demoralised by the apparent thrust of this latest development."

Mr Anderson feared schools were about to be "thrown into the turmoil of another acrimonious debate about national testing" with the risk of a clash between the teacher unions and the Government. He hoped it was not too late for ministers to "work with the Scottish educational community, rather than ignore it".

The committee believes testing will reinforce the "fresh start" approach to the first year of secondary school, which has been anathema to the 5-14 core concepts of continuity and progression. Partnerships between primaries and secondaries will be undermined and it would be extremely unlikely that primary teachers would continue to mark test units.

Secondaries, the committee believes, will place more emphasis on test results when planning the work of an individual pupil, rather than rely on the evidence from the primary school. Individual members of the committee suspect testing will be interpreted as an attack on comprehensive education and will be strongly opposed by parents.

Judith Gillespie, convener of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, and co-organiser of the demonstration in February that attracted 40,000 protesters, commented: "It is absolutely amazing the Government is surprised at Scottish anger when they totally fail to take account of Scottish opinion in Scottish legislation."

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