Tests ignore the joy of stories

11th April 2003 at 01:00
The optional national tests are now in schools; they do not make for comfortable reading, at least in the English tests.

Looking at the tests for Years 3, 4 and 5, there are six writing tasks, a long and a short task in each test. However, out of these six, only one is a story. All the rest are largely non-fiction tasks.

What are teachers to make of this? We would not dispute the need for children to have functional and practical writing skills at their fingertips, even if some of the genres seem wildly un-childlike. But if creativity, imagination and expressive skills are downgraded in the tests, or even ignored, won't teachers quickly learn that their priorities lie with non-fiction?

Will the National Literacy Strategy be altered to reflect the new priorities? And we all know how popular further changes would be.

Experience tells me that it is fiction that generates enthusiasm among the children, even "joy". But perhaps that word is now strictly off-limits among the powers-that-be.

Sad, really.

Bob Forster

Headteacher, St David's school



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