Please, end the Terrible Ts

15th November 2002 at 00:00
How heartening to read that Charles Clarke places great importance on a "dialogue with the profession (TES, November 1)." For a start, perhaps he will confront the problems caused in primary schools by the Terrible Ts: Targets, Tests and Tables.

By ceasing to provide information on which the media base their league tables, he would at a stroke make rapid progress on all three "Ts". It is the threat of the league tables and the mistaken uses to which they are put that causes teachers to start cramming in the autumn term at the expense of the broad and balanced curriculum they should be providing. Remove this, and the climate would also exist for a more genuine dialogue on targets and tests.

Common ground does exist between the Government and schools on both target-setting and tests, but it is hidden by the entrenched positions taken up on both sides. The argument is not about the validity of target-setting as a process: it's about the way it is being implemented.

Teachers and governors have no respect for targets which are arbitrarily set and bear no relationship to the relevant cohort in their own school. Each Year 6 teacher in the country needs to be working to targets which are challenging but achievable by their class - and which may be above or below the national target. Anything else is political posturing.

Charles Clarke might also be pleasantly surprised to discover that schools are not averse to testing. It has a proper part to play in the teaching process. Problems arise when the testing constricts the curriculum and when the results are misused.

One bold step - the abolition of league tables - is all it will take to start the dialogue. I await with baited breath.

Geoff Hand

Chair of governors

4 Dolphin Close

Chichester, West Sussex

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