'Tests are so, so, so boring, Mister Blunkett'

18th August 2000 at 01:00
THE CHILDREN of Micklefield are fed up, and they don't care who knows it. They're only eight years old, but they've already had enough of tests, tests, tests - and they have told David Blunkett so.

The Education Secretary received a sheaf of letters from pupils at Micklefield primary school in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, written after they sat the new optional Year 3 paper. "Boring" was the general verdict.

"Please stop all this business," pleaded Chelsea. "I wish you never inventit (sic) tests," wrote a miserable Charlotte, adding: "I like your dog."

"You make it to (sic) hard and I always get it wrong and mixed up and I don't get any marks and the number of people who get it wrong is unbelievable," wrote Shane. "It's so so so unbelievable," added an exasperated Maxine.

The letters earned a response from Mr Blunkett at his most charming - although don't expect a change in policy just yet. He rather enjoys his reputation among chldren as the man who's banned chips and forced them to do more homework.

Teacher Madeline Rampton, meanwhile, has been left fuming by a "rude" reply from the Office for Standards in Education's Chris Woodhead, who was also sent copies of the pupils' letters.

While Mr Blunkett wrote two pages, praising the "excellent letters", sympathising and saying that life could be hard, but explaining why testing was important, the famously abrupt chief inspector's reply ran to just three lines.

"I cannot myself see why they should feel so bored. Does it not all depend upon how you introduce the tests?" he wrote. A second response, after Ms Rampton complained, was terser still.

Shane O'Neil sparked the protest, passing his teacher a note during the test saying he'd had enough. "I said I was really sorry, but he shouldn't write to me, he should write to Mr Blunkett," Ms Rampton said. "Then the other children said: 'Can we write too?'."

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