Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Savaged by a Chihuahua

There’s been a tendency to write off the General Teaching Council as a useless, bureaucratic, toothless, irrelevant organisation that is intent on proving that there is death after life. Amazingly they have arisen from their coffin to attack the testing psychosis that afflicts education and have called for testing for under-16s to be abandoned in favour of sampling a small representative group to measure attainment and progress.

Even super-smoothy Education Secretary Alan Johnson was thrown when he was informed of the GTC’s proposal, he looked as though he’d been bitten on the ankle by a particularly vicious Chihuahua (the former postie had won the backing of the Union of Communication Workers in his bid to become Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, in an acrimonious debate at their recent conference the delegates voted overwhelmingly to censure the executive and to withdraw support, citing his position on Post Office closures and employment tribunals, one delegate said, ‘we’d get more support off a lamp post’ – intriguingly the details of the debate has been expunged from the UCW web site).

Johnson came out with the traditional robotic reply about needing testing to ‘raise standards’. How have standards risen? Teaching to test, making tests easier and tests always score higher than teacher assessment.

Such is the pressure that the government may consider revising SATs tests in Year 6, but beware! From September 484 schools in 10 local authorities will spend two years trialling “progression tests”. Children will take the tests twice in the year in an attempt to move up one curriculum level in English and Maths.

Targets will be set for the number of pupils expected to move up two levels a Key Stage, with extra funding in the form of “progression premiums” for those schools that achieve this.

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