What the teachers say ...about key stage 1 tests

28th April 2000 at 01:00
AN INTERVIEW in The TES with ex-teacher Penny Holmes, who plans to remove her seven-year-old son from next term's key stage 1 tests, sparked a national debate over whether the tests are causing too much stress.

Maureen McTaggart and Steve Hook asked teachers for their opinions.

Glynis Llewellyn, Year 2 teacher at Hillcrest primary in Downham Market, Norfolk, said: "You can see the stress in the children's faces when they are taking the tests. The stress doesn't come from the tests themselves or anything we are doing in school but from all the hype. Parents feel under pressure because of all they have read about the national tests. That pressure is passed on to the children. We have sessions with the parents to try to overcome the hype in the media and put their minds at rest."

Jenny Ward,Year 2 teacher at Stanion primary, Corby, Northamptonshire, said:

"We have put the children in groups so that they don't find themselves doing the tests with people who are much faster, and they don't feel stressed because others are finishing more quickly. I really don't think the tests make children stressed because we make sure that that doesn't happen.

"The results help us by giving us a marker o how much they have understood."

Judy Pearse, head of The Vineyard school in Richmond, Surrey, said: "The tests may put pressure on parents and staff but, provided the testing period is handled carefully, we have not experienced it to be a problem for the children.

"They find the activities involved are no different from what they might expect as part of their routine classwork and we put additional staff and support teachers into the classroom to make sure everyone gets a chance to perform at their best. We plan extra fun activities so that the pupils aren't always asked to do focused, concentrated tasks.

"We explain to parents that we do not intend their children to be put under pressure from home or school at this time. We also ask them to ensure the children get an early night."

Christine Ireland, head of Hazelmere county infants school in Colchester, Essex, said: "This year, for the first time ever, we have sent the children home with little activities to help them prepare for the tests.

"Teachers know what is at stake, and so do the parents, through reports and league tables. Whether that is transferred to the children is arguable, but we don't put pressure on them."

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