Watchwords for our new leader

6th July 2007 at 01:00
Your front-page piece "Brown means business" and the attendant leader article (TES, June 29) made interesting reading but it is hoped that Gordon Brown's commitment to education will allow him to look at more pressing issues.

We are watching the growth of a damaged generation of children. If you take the well-being elements of the recent report from the United Nations children's fund in which this country came in the last two places, latest figures on underage binge-drinking, the tragic incidence of knife crime, the alienation of hordes of children and new mental health figures for them, to name but a few factors, then business involvement in education pales into less significance.

May we suggest the following for the agenda of Ed Balls, the new Secretary of State:

1. It is now widely accepted by many that the testing regime is doing children no good. The scrapping of many tests, especially in key stages 1, 2 and 3, would free the curriculum to teach children about life rather than Sats levels, and would save a lot of money.

2. A revamp of the inspection system. If you have to follow the free market, then give schools the cash to hire high-quality inspection teams and see how many would buy into Ofsted.

3. Look at children's welfare in education. A generation of happy, well balanced and stress-free children would do more for society than a rise in the Sats scores. And the irony is that a balanced generation would get better scores anyway.

"Business as usual" is a government strapline for education. If that means that it will not address chldren's emotional and physical intelligence, no amount of funding (welcome though it is) will stop us losing the current generation whose life chances are being eroded.

Tony Roberts

Admin and membership secretary (Lancashire), National Association of Head Teachers

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