6th June 2008 at 01:00
Why are six-year-olds being given levels by their teachers at primary school?
Why are six-year-olds being given levels by their teachers at primary school? Aren't they supposed to be enjoying structured play and learning to love books, counting and role play? Instead they're told: "You are level 2 or 3."

Sara, Chelmsford

A: It sounds harsh and appears to be promoting the interests of the system over the children.

But before we get too misty-eyed and nostalgic over the distant memories of children learning through play, let us remember that the stakeholders of the education system (parents, taxpayers and politicians) have a rightful expectation that the system is delivering. This involves benchmarks and measurement.

OK, so it might have gone a bit over-the-top in recent years, but we spend an awful lot of taxpayers' money. As professionals, we have to be held accountable.

Chris, Sutton

A: This battle was lost when league tables came in and signalled a cultural shift away from the children's needs.

I'm sure that 99 per cent of teachers are with you on this one. But we have to remember that the system is designed by politicians and not teachers and for the purpose of votes and not children's welfare.

Richard, West Sussex

A: This is target culture in action, with the school under pressure not only to "add value" but be seen to do so. This "benchmarking through levels" is an obsession, but adds little of value and causes anxiety in our children. Other countries don't do it so, and the question must be asked, why do we?

Pat, Brighton


Q: I took over from a retired Year 3 teacher who is now my main supply cover. My pupils and their parents adore her, and other staff have fond memories. When she's back, she lets the class run wild, rarely follows my plans and mollycoddles the pupils. Should I share my concerns about these occasional cover days or just let it go?

Q: I have seen a number of Year 11 pupils in the local pub. They are no trouble, but I am sure they must be getting served alcohol as some look much older than they are. Should I get involved?

Send your answer or any question you would like answered by your fellow teachers to askateacher@tes.co.uk. We pay pound;30 for any question or answer published.

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