Needs of infants must be priority

16th May 2003 at 01:00
I HAVE been involved with key stage 1 tests as a class teacher, headteacher, advisory teacher for curriculum and assessment and advisory headteacher, every year since 1991.

I am concerned, therefore, about the inaccuracies in your leader about national tests (TES, May 2). This stated "it is not even clear what practical effect a boycott could have since the tests are marked externally".

Key stage 1 tests are not marked externally. Year 2 teachers have to continue to manage the organisation of 30 children and provide them with interesting, exciting and motivating new learning experiences at the same time as implementing and marking KS1 tasks and tests.

Statutory assessments at KS1 involve individual reading tasks as well as reading, spelling, maths tests and writing tasks. This year the introduction of additional maths and writing tasks along with new and complex marking schemes for writing, will result in further burdens for both staff and children.

Furthermore, this coincides with the removal of the school improvement grant that funded some cover for Year 2 teachers at this difficult time.

Organising and managing all of the above in a sensitive and caring way to avoid stress for six and seven-year-olds, while giving them the opportunity to do their best takes experience, great skill and commitment to the needs of young children.

The current testing regime which now treats Year 2 children as "small" 16-year-olds ignores vital factors including: immaturity; attention span; cognitive development and emotional preparedness.

It has been apparent over the years that there has been a close correlation between statutory tests results and teacher assessment levels, the latter now being acceptable in Wales as an accurate measure of children's attainment at the end of KS1.

In England this totally unnecessary and inappropriate testing, with its enormous workload for teachers must stop, so that the learning needs of infant children can be the focus of their teachers' priorities.

Angie Tate Headteacher, Torriano infants' school Torriano Avenue Kentish Town, London NW5

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