Teacher says no to tests for son

7th April 2000 at 01:00
A mother says the assessment of seven-year-olds is 'political', writes Steve Hook

A FORMER primary-school teacher is planning to remove her seven-year-old son from school because she does not want him to take national curriculum tests.

Penny Holmes believes the tests are a political tool and says it is unfair to put young children under the pressure of being assessed.

She says her son Ben will stay home on each day the tests are held at Wiveliscombe primary school in Somerset. But the school has warned that Ben may be asked to sit the tests if he returns at any time during May.

Mrs Holmes said: "My child wouldn't have any trouble taking the tests but I think there are children who will get stressed about it. Someone has to make a stand.

"I think the Government is obsessed with testing for its own political reasons but, educationally, it is a very bad idea to test a seven-year-old child this way."

Headteacher Tony Halstad said he had spent about eight hours discussing the problem with Somerset County Council and the Department for Education and Employment.

Mr Halstead said: "The parents have an ideological objection but I am legally obliged to administer the tests and I can see no special reason for Ben to be allowed not to do them.

"We have all of May to complete the tests and if Ben comes back any time during that month, it conjures up the hilarious image of me having to chase him round the playground clutching the tests saying 'you've got to do them'. I understand the parents' reasons but I don't think it is in his best interests to miss a whole month of schooling.

"The tests are very child-friendly. I think it is the parents who get stressed about them and sometimes put too much pressure on their children."

Fines of up to pound;1,000 per parent can be imposed by magistrates courts if a child's absence is not authorised by the school.


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