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Testing regime under scrutiny from governors and parents

Governors and parents have joined headteachers, academics and the two main opposition parties in questioning the Government's testing, targets and league tables regime.

A six-month National Association of Head Teachers inquiry into the workings of the test-based accountability system - evidence for which was published this week - was dominated by criticism.

Judith Bennett, chair of the National Governors' Association, said: "There is something wrong with an education system when a stressed 10-year-old cannot sleep because key stage 2 Sats are approaching."

Ms Bennett, a secondary English teacher until 1993, said England's testing system was creating anxious pupils, parents, teachers and heads.

"I was a teacher for 24 years," she said. "What has happened in the years since I left is lunacy."

Ms Bennett said governing bodies should preside over schools where pupils enjoyed what they were doing and teachers were free to use their professional judgment.

The National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations revealed that a survey it carried out last year found that half of parents made no use of league tables.

Some 23 per cent of the 500 parents surveyed said the rankings were highly valuable, with a further 35 per cent describing them as of medium value.

David Butler, the council's chief executive, said parents valued assessment information and that any system to replace the current testing regime would need to provide good data.

In a written response, Jim Knight, schools minister, said the benefits of testing had been immense, bringing about dramatic improvements at all key stages.

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