Take heart from history and boycott

9th April 2010 at 01:00

As a possible test boycott draws near, it's important to remember there is a notable precedent for advocacy of industrial action over testing and for support for teacher assessment. It came from an unlikely area.

In 1914, Edmond Holmes, formerly His Majesty's chief inspector of elementary schools, railed against the domination of the common entrance exam over the teaching in preparatory schools. He commented: "Teachers of the preparatory schools should go on strike against the despotism to which they are at present subjected; they should say to the headmasters of the public schools: 'We will no longer prepare our boys for your entrance or scholarship examinations. We will devote our time, thought and energy to giving them the kind of education which boys who range in age from eight to 14 really need ... To guide you, we will send with each boy a brief history of his career, a sketch of his character (as we can judge it), an estimate of his mental capability, and an indication of his tastes and attitudes."

Substitute contemporary for Georgian terminology and state education for private and his points are pertinent in 2010.

Professor Colin Richards, Spark Bridge, Cumbria.

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