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Schools 'could join parents to wreck tests'

Susan Notes: We can hope for the day our national PTA will one day soon stop backing NCLB and actually oppose it. They could follow the path set by the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations.

by James Reed

HEADTEACHERS yesterday raised the prospect of joining parents in a national campaign aimed at destroying primary school tests and the league tables they produce.

The general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers, Mick Brookes, suggested that parents could be invited to send their children late to school on the day of the tests.

If a school does not put enough children through the tests its results are invalidated. Similar moves by a large number of schools would render the league tables useless.

Teachers have long called for the end of national tests, arguing they put unnecessary pressure on staff and pupils while the resulting league tables fail to reflect the challenges faced by schools serving tough areas.

Their efforts have now been boosted by the support of the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations.

Teachers in England have also taken heart from the abandoning of tests and league tables by the devolved Government in Wales.

Mr Brookes said: "Every year these schools have been working hard to raise standards. It demoralises them at the end of the year when they are at the bottom of the league tables.
"This is about children everywhere, not just those at the top end of the league tables.
"Our members are sick to the back teeth of this constant downward pressure. They are giving me permission to push back. "

Mr Brookes said he hoped any such campaign would see parents from schools in wealthier areas show "compassion" for those in poorer parts of the country and support the action.

He called for a coalition of teachers, governors and parents who would draw up an action plan to undermine the tests and tables.

Mr Brookes said he wanted to use the "power of persuasion" to convince Ministers to drop national testing and the tables that are published annually using the results.
The idea of using civil disobedience would represent a new tactic from the profession and comes after previous proposals to strike over league tables failed to gain support from teachers.

Mr Brookes was speaking after delegates at the union's annual conference, being held in Harrogate, claimed that league tables were having a damaging impact on their schools.
Headteachers argued it was not only the raw results but also the "value-added" figures designed to show how pupils progress through school which were misleading.
Delegates unanimously passed a motion calling on the union to "oppose the publication" of league tables.

A past president of the union, Rona Tutt, said the league tables would do nothing to help the Government's drive towards "personalised learning" for every child.

She said: "There is nothing personalised in testing pupils on the basis they are born between one September and another then publishing the results regardless of the dodgy data."

But Tory Shadow Education Secretary David Willetts made it clear a Conservative government would not abandon the tables.

He told the conference: "I would not abolish the publication of the league tables because nowadays people expect that sort of information.
"I don't think, if the information is available, I don't see any basis on which it can be withheld."

A Department for Education and Skills spokesman said: "Tests and performance tables are a non-negotiable part of our school reforms and an important way for parents to be informed of schools' and pupils' progress."


— James Reed
Yorkshire Post


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