Should schools stop testing children who are younger than 16?

6th July 2007 at 01:00
Q Should schools stop testing children who are younger than 16? Nick, London

A After talking about this with a number of primary pupils, they all dread taking Sats and worry about going to secondary school mainly because of the number of exams they need to take. Those who worry most are the less able, whose self-esteem and self-confidence can be irreparably damaged. Teachers are highly skilled in assessment procedures so why can't their assessments just be accepted? Pupils need to enjoy their time at school and the best way for them to learn is in a stimulating, exam free environment. Jack, Cumbria

A There is undoubtedly too much pressure on children to excel in tests under 16. Many schools I have worked in and know of start specific "test training and practice" as early as January, so children are prepared for the tests in May. I don't agree that such importance should be placed on tests. My children enjoy our termly test weeks as it shows them personal areas of strength and weakness, but the emphasis of any test should be: "You can only do your best, and if you do that then you've done all you can." I wholeheartedly believe that tests should not be used as a measure for the children to compete against one another. Sarah, Lancashire

A Testing of any kind isn't designed to be a comfortable experience, but neither should it be pointless. The test results as currently configured might tell us all sorts of things. Some of these things might be valid, and of these some might be useful. But when you look at the effort, angst and heartache that represent the inputs and outcomes of these tests, I'm not sure they are worth it. Sue, East Grinstead

A Of course we shouldn't inflict these on our pupils. They induce unnecessary stress in our children, parents and teachers. They serve but one purpose: to give politicians something to preen about. Kevin, Cheltenham

A It's not the children who are being tested, but you, dear reader. It gives politicians a wonderful "performance indicator". To worry about the effects on our children is to miss the point they don't matter Mal, Ebbw Vale

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