Snap the test umbilical cord

9th January 2004 at 00:00
You quote Education Secretary Charles Clarke as saying: "A boycott could have been very disruptive. It would have let down pupils and parents.

National testing helps drive improvement in all schools" (TES, December 19). He is wrong on all counts.

Teachers and educational "experts" are overwhelmingly against the tests as currently applied and constituted. The high-stakes testing makes schools spend ridiculous amounts of time "coaching" for the test rather than moving on to higher-order learning. I have the experience of my own child's skewed Year 6 curriculum and the evidence I pick up in the many schools I work in.

As the teaching profession is aware it is selling pupils short, it is their professional duty to stop the tests. The boycott would have only disrupted the infection that a bad policy imposes on schools. An excellent example of citizenship.

How many parents would withdraw their children from the tests if given a choice? As a parent who went through the procedural charade of trying to withdraw my child I can't take Mr Clarke's concern for parents seriously.

Certainly a boycott would not be letting parents like me down, but would be responding to our concerns. There is no credible evidence to support the statement that national testing helps drive improvement in all schools.

The Government acts as if it were umbilically linked to the "juggernaut" of testing. A teachers' boycott could have saved the Government from itself.

David Cross

32, Canterbury Terrace Leicester

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