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Teachers still in straitjacket

PUBLISHED: 15:49 20 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:52 03 March 2010

TEACHERS will still be tied up in a tests straitjacket despite changes to primary school exams.

Britannia Primary School headteacher Karen Heath believes a new format for Sats will make little difference to school life.

TEACHERS will still be tied up in a tests straitjacket despite changes to primary school exams.

Britannia Primary School headteacher Karen Heath believes a new format for Sats will make little difference to school life.

She said: "The straitjacket is still on and it doesn't feel much looser to me."

Education minister Charles Clarke announced controversial tests for seven-year-olds will be less formal and become merely one aspect of overall assessment.

But Mrs Heath argued the changes did not go far enough. She said: "Having discussed it with my staff, I don't think there will be a significant change.

"It's going back more towards we started from and giving more credence to teachers' assessments.

"But there needs to be a more thorough examination of how effective the actual process of examining seven-year-olds is."

Mrs Heath said the structure of this year's Sats had led teachers to narrow English teaching so exams for seven-year-olds would match those set for 11-year-olds.

In other changes announced by Mr Clarke, strict government targets set for 11-year-olds are to be loosened to allow individual schools to set their own benchmarks.

Sidegate Primary headteacher David Crowe called the changes were "a step in the right direction," but said Sats for seven-year-olds should be ditched.

He said: "I think it's very important for schools to use teachers' assessments of young children.

"Teachers know their children very well and tests don't always allow children to do their best, especially when they are nervous.

"You can teach towards the same end result without putting the children through all the stress – Sats should be dumped for seven-year-olds altogether."

Joan Bostock, headteacher of Colneis Junior School, Felixstowe, also gave a cautious welcome to the changes.

Her school does not teach Key Stage One for younger children, but said a new way of assessment would help when youngsters start junior school.

She said: "It's much more sensible. The schools know the children so they should be setting the targets.

"The Sats can be quite stressful for children and anything that makes them less stressful is a step in the right direction."

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