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Welsh unions angry at 'expensive stalling'

TEACHING unions have criticised the Welsh Assembly's decision to review testing at key stages 2 and 3, claiming that it is an expensive stalling process.

Jane Davidson, Assembly minister for education and lifelong learning, last week announced that a review of tests for 11 and 14 - year-olds would begin before the summer recess.

Unions in Wales have consistently campaigned for such a move but now claim the testing review group, which is expected to report back by early 2004, is a waste of time and money.

Geraint Davies, Welsh secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "Rather than organising a committee, the minister should have scrapped the tests."

Each test costs pound;8 million to administer in Wales and Rhys Williams, of the National Union of Teachers in Wales, believes the money could be better spent elsewhere. "There's a strong argument for removing tests at KS2," he said.

Nationally, though, unions welcomed the review. Eamonn O'Kane, NASUWT general secretary, believes it could have far-reaching implications.

He said: "Maybe the Welsh have a strong view on this, but they don't necessarily see the wider picture. This could have important repercussions for England. We hope Charles Clarke, the Education Secretary, will take notice."

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