National league tables have to go, say staff

25th July 2008 at 01:00

Jenny Golding, Head of maths at The Woodroffe School in Lyme Regis, Dorset, and chair of the teaching committee at the Maths Association

"There's no doubt that there is too much teaching to the test, and it's hardly surprising because exams have been made so high stakes for teachers and schools.

"It takes confidence and experience to follow what most professionals believe: that if you teach well, the results will follow.

"It does vary between subjects. English and maths are the most high stakes. And that problem is exacerbated in maths because of the low proportion of specialist teachers.

"The quality of education is a public issue, and it's right that teachers are accountable. But the balance of the current testing system is out of kilter."

Huw Thomas, Headteacher of Emmaus Catholic and CofE Primary School in Sheffield

"The pressure to get good results is such that I don't know of any school that does not prepare pupils for tests.

"Whatever Ofsted may say, most of their inspections are based on these sets of results.

"The criminal thing here is the league tabling of results. That is what makes these tests a totally bogus situation, and the tables have to go.

"We teach children to be thoughtful and open-minded, but the way results are published in league tables is ignorant.

"Teachers are very keen to do solid assessments of pupils. We want to know how they are doing and what they need to do better, but Sats don't contribute to that."

Katherine Nicholls, Teacher at Dog Kennel Hill Primary School in East Dulwich, south London

"We teach a broad curriculum for most of the year, but the month before the tests we only do English, maths and science.

"We have to narrow the curriculum and give pupils exam techniques. If we don't, results may suffer, and then we come under pressure.

"It's a really boring month for teachers and pupils, spent looking at a lot of past test papers. It feels negative and demoralising and is especially difficult for children with special needs, who rely on a broad curriculum for success.

"Teachers will always test children, but schools need to be able to choose what tests they do and how they use the data. I would like to see national league tables done away with."

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