Trust teachers' judgment and stop bureaucratic fight

27th November 2009 at 00:00

The arguments about standardised testing in numeracy and literacy in basic education in Scotland, and how and when it should be introduced, are in danger of missing the point ("Heads scorn assessment plans", TESS last week).

For example, the Finns have a system whereby there is no national standardised testing, there are no school league tables or comparisons between school results and there is no competition to get into the "right" schools.

The result? In the most recent OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) in 2006, Finland scored in the top three in the world for each of the competencies in science, reading and mathematics, coming first, second and second respectively.

Finland trusts its teachers to teach and respects their ability to do so. Perhaps focusing on ensuring our schools and teachers are equipped to do their jobs properly, and investing our trust in their judgment apropos the Finnish system, would be a more constructive step than creating yet another bureaucratic battlefield.

Niall Mackenzie, research fellow, Centre for Business Research, Judge Business School, Cambridge University.

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