Russia to copy British tests
Minister tells Brendan O'Malley how he will use the UK as a model for reforms
THE Russian education minister, Vladimir Filippov, is planning to introduce a British-style testing regime in primary and secondary schools.
Mr Filippov told the TES in London last week that he was impressed with Britain's attempts to raise the quality of education through standardised tests at seven, 11 and 14 and hoped to follow suit after a current pilot scheme for a single state school-leaving exam had been fully adopted by all regions in the Russian Federation.
"I think that after introducing this general final examination in Russia, we will also introduce the same at the different levels during education - in mathematics and Russian language," he said.
He hopes to copy British schools' extensive use of information technology across subjects in primary as well as secondary school. "Our view is that your country is the best in this, especially in secondary schools," he said.
He also wants to borrow from the British practice of including members of the local community, not just parents, on boards of governors.
"Each school in Russia has a council of parents, but they always have a heavy dependence on staff and the director of the school," he said, after talking to governors at Millfields primary school in Hackney, east London.
"We want to involve members of local society in the schools and will be bringing in a law next year."
Russia's experiment with a single school-leaving and university entrance exam was launched in five regions in 2001 with assistance from the British Council and has been extended to 48 this year. It copied an earlier British pilot project carried out in St Petersburg.
The exam is a test of final-year students set by independent commissions using comparable material throughout Russia. It was taken by 600,000 school-leavers this year and Mr Filippov expects it to be extended to the whole country within two years.
Lena Lenskaya, an assistant director for the British Council in Moscow, who accompanied Mr Filippov, said another concept lifted from Britain was the focus on key skills, driven by the changing demands of the world economy and Russia's poor performance in international comparative knowledge tests.
"In Soviet days people were accustomed to being tied to one job and once you were in university your life was very predictable," she said.
"But these days you have to learn to live with uncertainty. You need to learn new skills, such as communications skills, and how to work with people you may never see again."
Mr Filippov was in Britain to cement educational ties and pave the way for university degree partnerships between the two countries.