Time to channel critical skills

25th November 2005 at 00:00
Regarding the current controversy over the publication of primary test results, it is worth noting that Jersey recently abandoned altogether the English national tests (Sats) in favour of teacher assessments. The reasons for this decision are both rational and compelling.

For the past four years, Jersey has invested heavily in Critical Skills Programme and Assessment for Learning training for its teachers. In 2004, the late Professor Ted Wragg and his team from Exeter University carried out a comprehensive evaluation of the impact of the Critical Skills Programme on the island's schools.

They reported that the programme "empowers teachers, enhances pupils'

learning and is appropriate for its purpose of preparing children for adult life in the 21st century . . . This is pioneering work which deserves wide publicity."

This year, Jersey commissioned Serco Learning Consultancy to evaluate its pilot programme to replace Sats with teacher assessments. Serco reported that it was successful and added: "This is particularly evident in the schools that have also developed an increased focus on pupils' learning with initiatives such as assessment for learning and critical skills . . .

Teachers' morale is improved through the demonstration of trust in their professionalism."

Jersey now requires all new teachers to the island to undertake critical skills training in their first year. Incidentally, as well as improving standards in its primary schools, Jersey's A level results this year were, for the first time, higher than those of any authority in England.

Colin Weatherley Critical skills programme manager (Scotland), Gullane, East Lothian

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