Targets are killing creativity

21st September 2001 at 01:00
The creativity of teachers in England is being suppressed by the Government's insistence on meeting performance targets, a three-country study suggests.

French and Danish teachers interviewed by researchers at the University of Bristol did not feel that their curricula restricted their creativity, but the English did.

Staff here said that pressure of delivering the national curriculum and of high-stakes tests made it difficult to adopt a personal approach to pupils and their learning.

While Danish teachers were not expected to mark the work of pupils under the age of 14 or 15, English teachers were kept busy marking exercise books, national and school tests, and oral and written classwork. This, they felt, left them little scope for more informal, one-to-one assessment.

The Bristol researchers say teachers cannot become personally engaged with their work unless they are given more discretion over how they teach.

A separate University of Bath study investigating what makes literacy teachers effective comes to similar conclusions.

An analysis of 15 teachers identified as being effective indicates that teaching literacy well drew on several different kinds of experiences as opposed to simply good training. Keeping up with books, research papers and education journals helped them to become better teachers, as did collaboration with other teachers and the expertise gained through being a subject-co-ordinator.

"Is the effective compromising the affective?" by Elizabeth McNess, Patricia Broadfoot and Marilyn Osborn, University of Bristol. Contact: "Born or made: what enables literacy teachers to become effective?", by Louise Poulson and Elias Avramidis, University of Bath.

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