Three pages of obsessive testing

24th January 2003 at 00:00
IN his very first letter to all primary heads, Stephen Twigg has almost certainly managed to alienate the vast majority of his readership - not just those in the "one in four schools" he identifies as "underperforming".

He has reiterated this Government's obsession with testing, testing, testing. Nowhere in his three-page letter is the word "education" mentioned. Perhaps in New Labour-speak the two are now considered synonymous.

The minister's letter may well have damaged his relationship with teachers, but much more significant is the damage being inflicted on children by this dominant testing regime. For me, the most chilling indictment of this policy was provided by an 11-year-old anticipating her test results, when she commented: "I'll be a nothing." That may be extreme but, given the assumption behind the minister's letter that 11-year-olds at level 3 are failing to achieve, how many thousands of such children will be saying this summer, "I'm only a three", and writing themselves off as learners?

Professor Colin Richards

1 Bobbin Mill

Spark Bridge, Cumbria

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