Major school testing reform urged


Teachers' organisations have called for a major review of testing in primary schools

Ministers have been warned they could face fresh industrial action if a review of testing in primary schools fails to lead to significant reform.

Anything less than radical change will be greeted with “contempt” from teachers, according to Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL).

ATL, along with the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) published a new document renewing calls for an end to the “excessive, confused and overlapping” test and exam-based accountability system in England’s primary schools.

National curriculum tests, or Sats, in English and maths are taken by 11-year-olds in their final year at primary school.

The document says the current independent review of testing is the “perfect opportunity” for Government to act on evidence which shows the tests do not raise standards or give a true picture of a child’s achievements. But the unions also warned that a failure to act will leave them in the same position as before this year’s tests, when an NUT/NAHT boycott led to 4,000 primaries refusing to take them.

NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby said: “If there’s no movement on reform of the system then this is exactly where we were last year and our members will be expecting some change.

“We expect 2011 to be the last year of the current regime. The extent of the replacement and the reform is something that we will have to wait and see. We do have faith in the process that’s going on, we have entered into it, but if it resulted in no change then I think that does put us exactly back where we were.”

NUT deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney said the review was not “insignificant” and urged ministers to look at the evidence. He said if the review results in no changes then the Government would have shown extremely bad faith in setting it up.

Dr Bousted raised the possibility that ATL could consider joining any action. “We too are waiting eagerly for what Lord Bew does,” she said.

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