Nothing new for the money in Pounds 29m tests

31st May 1996 at 01:00
We do not need key stage 2 curriculum tests to tell us how our 11-year-old son is doing at school and I question the reported Pounds 29 million they are costing to administer.

Our son is very happy, motivated and working well at his middle school. We know that he is above average in English, average in science and that he has real problems with maths. This year he is being taught maths in a small group by a subject specialist. His class teacher and the special needs co-ordinator communicate with us (and our son) frequently and we are fully aware of their strategy to help him (including the use of recently allocated and very scarce special education support team resources). The result is a well-motivated boy who struggles hard with maths but who feels that he is achieving. His teachers facilitate his learning and encourage and support him. What more could we want?

During the Monday of the test week (maths), he felt total despair and arrived home feeling a complete failure. He is an articulate boy who is more than able to describe the panic and terror that he felt when confronted with tasks that we and his teachers knew were completely beyond his present ability. We did a lot of confidence-building overnight and sent him into school for more maths tests on Tuesday.

His self-esteem and confidence were so low by Wednesday that he was dreading the English papers. He has nothing to fear from English but his morale had been battered.

What is the point? Our son could not receive more help from skilled teachers, yet his results will no doubt pull down the school's position in the "league table". His maths result is not a reflection on poor teaching or the school. It will not tell us anything that we, and his teachers don't already know. Is this really worth Pounds 29m?

KATHLEEN KIRK 45 Birmingham Road Alverchurch, Birmingham

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