Primary testing is too much too soon;Letter

9th April 1999 at 01:00
THIS IS a letter I have sent to David Blunkett, Secretary of State for Education and Employment.

"Having been a Year 6 teacher, in an inner-city primary school for the past four years and having worked in inner-city schools for all my 25-year teaching career, I am appalled at what the Government is doing to our primary children.

Six years ago, when key stage 2 tests were first introduced, the teacher put children in for the test to see where they were at. Now we start the year teaching to the tests.

We are not developing the whole child. English, maths and science are the priorities, at the expense of nearly all other parts of the curriculum.

What about developing the David Hockneys in my class; the Dame Judi Denchs; the Linford Christies? - were they all level 4s at the age of 11? Did they need to be? Does anyone need to be?

Yes, we must develop the full potential of each child, but not at the expense of their health, emotional and physical security and enjoyment (and the sanity of the teaching staff).

Children have much to face in our rapidly-changing world. Many challenges lie ahead of them but at the age of 11 - or is it seven? - they should not think of themselves as failures.

They have the whole of their lives ahead to develop and respond to the foundations laid down in the primary schools.

These should be solid foundations in the basics of maths, English, science - not crammed concepts and content that they never have time to develop.

What has happened to creativity - both of teachers and pupils? When can we spend a whole day developing a creative concept in language, art, drama, music - certainly not until after the tests.

Please, think what you are doing."

S Slaven

Year 6 teacher

St Mary's C of E Primary

Charles Street, Wakefield

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