Schools 'are not exam factories' - head

AN IPSWICH headteacher today rejected a union claim that schools have been turned into “exam factories” only interested in league table success.

AN IPSWICH headteacher today rejected a union claim that schools have been turned into “exam factories” only interested in league table success.

However, Northgate High School head Neil Watts acknowledged that pressure from Whitehall meant teachers had to adhere strictly to the curriculum in many subjects.

He made the comments after Julia Neal, incoming president of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), warned that creativity in the classroom had been stifled by Whitehall control.

She claimed children must be given the freedom to explore issues for themselves and teachers should be trusted to do their jobs.


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Ms Neal said: “I believe schools should provide supportive and secure environments for pupils to reach their full potential, and be exciting and challenging places in which to learn and teach.

“They should not be exam factories which churn out some pupils with handfuls of paper qualifications but few usable skills, and leave the rest with little to show from their 11 years of schooling.”

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But Mr Watts said heads throughout the county worked hard to ensure schools were not turned into “exam factories.”

He said: “There could be a danger of things going that way because of the strict rules laid down by Whitehall - but I think all heads are anxious to ensure it doesn't happen in their schools.

“But there are pressures to ensure high standards. It is the job of the headteacher to find the right balance.”

Ann Boxall, who teaches at Ranelagh Primary in Ipswich and is a representative for the ATL, said there was a danger of schools concentrating too much on exams.

She said: “There is increased pressure, from the government, from parents, and from the media to ensure that exam results improve.

“We notice it from key stage two (tests at 11 years old) and it governs the way we teach our youngsters.”

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