Testing testing, one, two, three

9th April 2004 at 01:00
Testing children at the ages of seven and 11 is not enough for Kevin Norman. He would like his son Max to sit tests every year.

"Sorting out goes on throughout life. That's why you have barristers and binmen. Children need to get used to it," said Mr Norman.

"Children have different abilities. We need to make sure they are in the right environment, so they're not over-stressed or under-challenged.

"I would be in favour of some level of testing every year. Then children can be moved into different groups, depending on how well they're doing," he added.

Men are especially keen to keep tests for children at the ages of 11 and 14, according to the TES poll. The majority of parents, particularly women, want testing for seven-year-olds to be scrapped.

Max is preparing for key stage 2 tests at Whitehill primary in Calderdale, and has had his PE lessons cut back to fit in extra science tuition. Mr Norman has also spent time working through practice papers with him. But he does not believe this pressure is detrimental to his son's well-being.

Helen Goatcher, a peripatetic drama teacher, is outraged and slightly bemused by the importance most parents place on KS2 tests. "It's not as though they're sitting GCSEs," she said. "Sats have become high pressure, with kids tearing their hair out, and children and parents having sleepless nights. Winding children up like this can't be beneficial."

Her 11-year-old son Fraser is preparing for his tests at Broad Oak primary, in Heathfield, East Sussex, and his maths test results will determine which stream he is placed in at secondary school.

As a result, his mother has had to compromise her principles. "I don't want him to worry, but I'm having to ask him to revise for something I don't believe in," she said. "I always thought tests were about checking that kids were being taught properly. The onus was supposed to be on the teachers, not the children."

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