Tests bar progress of the poor, says head

9th November 2007 at 00:00
National tests for 11-year-olds are a barrier to the progress of poor children, the headteacher of an inner-city school has said.

Kenny Frederick, head of 1,250-pupil George Green's School in east London, was speaking at a seminar organised by the Joseph Rowntree Trust in association with The TES.

"Primary schools in our area make every effort to get pupils through the tests at 11, but it isn't sustainable," she said. "When they arrive at secondary school, they don't have the general knowledge, social skills or the ability to work in teams that they need to cope with the curriculum. The key stage 2 tests are a real barrier."

More than 60 per cent of George Green's pupils are on free school meals. "We feed 200 for breakfast. We have to wash some of them. And we have to deal with their anger before we can get them into the classroom," she said.

The starting point of the seminar was the trust's research into the relationship between education and poverty. A paper published in September found that poverty was a strong predictor of educational achievement and that school accounted for only 14 per cent of the difference in pupils' performance.

It also showed that pupils who grow up in poverty tend to be less confident about school and to take part in fewer after-school activities.

William Atkinson, head of Phoenix school in west London, told the seminar that outstanding teachers were the key to raising achievement. "They should not just be technically great. They also have to care," he said, and they should be paid much more.

A report on the issues raised at the seminar will be presented at the Department for Children, Schools and Families on November 29.

Kenny Frederick, page 29.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now