Speak up on league table iniquities

4th September 2009 at 01:00

William Stewart rightly raises concerns about "roll-out" of the single-level tests ("Single-level tests threaten to affect accuracy of league tables", August 28).

I have raised these concerns with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and the now defunct National Assessment Agency since inception meetings to launch the programme. The government agencies used the mantra "I am only following the department's orders" rather than engage in debate based on educational philosophy. That stance has not changed.

Sadly, the victims will be children and their prospects of a balanced education as maths, reading and writing are targeted.

The perpetrators defend their strategy on the principle that "standards have to be maintained by measuring through tests". So, a teacher focuses on preparing pupils for tests as he or she knows the outcomes are used to construct norm-referenced league tables, which the public is encouraged to see as the measure of schools' success or failure.

It is time for the silent majority of schools, their leaders and education officers to express their distaste for what is being done in the name of education. Or are they too obsessed with their position in the league tables to look beyond their self-interest?

Professor Bill Boyle, Chair of educational assessment, School of Education, Manchester University.

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