Showdown expected as secondary hackles rise

10th March 2000 at 00:00
MOUNTING tension over new demands on secondary teachers will surface at a heads' conference today.

Heads already facing the prospect of introducing literacy and numeracy strategies are unlikely to have been soothed by ministers' warnings last week to schools whose A-C GCSE results fall at the bottom of the tables.

They are expected to bite back today at the start of the Secondary Heads Association annual conference in Harrogate.

Delegates will warn that support from heads for literacy and numeracy strategies in secondary schools will be dependent on increased funding and a light touch.

John Dunford, the union's general secretary, said: "We accept the benefit of extending the concept for pupils who have not been successful with literacy and numeracy but this must be less prescriptive than in primary schools.

"A literacy or numeracy hour would be impossible. The key stage 3 curriculum is much too crowded and other subjects could be squeezed out."

Reaction to Education Secretary David Blunkett's "improve or close" threat to low-achieving schools las week is expected to be more hostile.

Mr Dunford said: "SHA supports the Government's aim to raise achievement in secondary schools but this must be measured on the basis of value added to pupils' prior attainment.

"The proportion of children with five A-C grades is the wrong measure to use. It invites schools under intense pressure to concentrate resources on the small number of children at the grade C to D borderline.

"The Secretary of State should be using measures of performance which encourage schools to raise the achievements of young people of all abilities."

An open session on the Government's Green Paper, post-16 education and reiteration of SHA's commitment to a national funding formula are also expected.

Speakers include Baroness Blackstone, education minister in the House of Lords; Keith Weller, head of qualifications at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority; Mike Tomlinson, director of inspections at the Office for Standards in Education and Sir Michael Bichard, Department for Education and Employment permanent secretary.

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