Is testing really necessary? Blair’s place in history…

This week (as part of their series, “Winning Women’s Votes”)  Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour focused on what might sway women’s vote at the general election.

On Wednesday, Jenni Murray and guests (Dr Mary Bousted, General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and Gillan Low, President of the Girls’ Schools Association and head of a top-performing independent girls’ school in south west London) looked at education – tackling the question “Is testing really necessary?”

The programme asked what an incoming government “should do about measuring progress in schools”.

 Woman’s Hour introduced the programme like this: “Labour came to power in 1997 with the slogan ‘education, education, education’. It went on to introduce compulsory literacy and numeracy hours in primary schools, staking its reputation on raising educational standards. Ten years later the General Teaching Council said: “England’s pupils are among the most frequently tested in the world, but tests in themselves do not raise standards. Today some of those tests have gone, though others remain. School league tables based on test results have not escaped controversy”.

I listened to the programme, (drawing parallels between the proposed Sats boycott and the Early Years Learning and Development Requirements) and sent the following comment by email along with information about this blog. The comment hasn’t been broadcast (yet). This is what I said:

“High time that this fundamental question is asked. Blairite policies (“Education, education, education”) were Orwellian. They had little to do with education in it’s true sense – and (like the war on Iraq)  had much more to do with Blair’s (party political) ambitions and political expediency.

No mention was made in today’s programme of the effects of the Early Years Foundation Stage Learning and Development Requirements and EYFS Profiling on children as young as four and younger. Despite government assertions that there is no ‘testing’ in the EYFS system – the realities on the ground in schools are very different. Early Years Practitioners are describing this compulsory system as: Testing-in-all-but-name.

See also this quote sourced from an early years practitioner:

 “In order to complete the 69 ELGs the child must first achieve the 39 DM targets or they can’t be awarded the ELGs (Early Learning Goals) and some authorities are putting pressure on reception teachers to do all 9 points (117) which include NC levels. It is actually a post code lottery what expectations and criteria are placed on teachers and children ”

Listen to the Woman’s Hour programme here (Listen Again facility).

See also my news blog – Tony Blair, the war in Iraq and the history books


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