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'PRIMARY SCHOOL ACHIEVEMENT UNDERMINED BY GOVERNMENT'S UNREALISTIC TARGETS'

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Commenting on the end of Key Stage test results published by the Department for Education and Skills today*, Steve ...
Commenting on the end of Key Stage test results published by the Department for Education and Skills today*, Steve Sinnott, NUT general secretary, said: 'Instead of celebrating primary schools' achievement in numeracy and literacy, the target system has meant the government has shot itself in the foot. Inevitably those hostile to the success of our primary schools point to the fact that the Government's original targets have not been achieved rather than to the continuing improvement in pupil performance.

'The government must learn a long overdue lesson: it has got to take defining national measures of performance out of the political arena. There is a strong argument for the establishment of an independent unit which would sample achievement in the basics without being tied to crude national targets.

'The question still has to be asked: why is the government continuing to impose these uninformative and damaging tests on pupils in England? Teachers regard these tests as disruptive of children's education taking up an unreasonable amount of time and placing an additional workload on teachers without benefit to pupils, parents or teachers. The Government should follow the example of Wales and get rid of these educationally unsound tests, performance tables and crude national targets.'

* See LGCnet.

'TESTING ENGINE HAS RUN OUT OF STEAM'

Following today's publication of the 2004 SATs results, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers has reaffirmed its commitment to press the government to end its continuing testing obsession.

ATL general secretary Mary Bousted said: 'Congratulations to both pupils and their teachers on their efforts - but congratulations come with a health warning. Test results can't be relied upon alone - they're subject to variation and only represent part of a learner's achievement.

'English, maths and science are important as basic skills, but the 21st century needs rounded, versatile individuals. Defining young people by test results alone insults their individuality.

'ATL is committed to easing the testing burden. We know this is achievable. Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland have already shown there are viable alternatives. The government must face facts: testing by itself is no longer driving up standards. The testing engine has run out of steam.

'If the government wants to meet its targets, we urgently need to explore a more intelligent approach to assessment and the curriculum. A one-size-fits-all approach is not working. We can hardly expect today's young people to be inspired by a list of 19th century school subjects.'

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