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EDITIONS
Unions 2000 Saturday, 22 April, 2000, 18:50 GMT 19:50 UK
Cut tests burden, says teachers' leader
Doug McAvoy
Doug McAvoy: "Testing regime bedevils pupils"
Cutting the number of tests taken by pupils would remove the biggest single burden on schools, says the leader of the National Union of Teachers.

Answering questions from BBC News Online users, Doug McAvoy said this would also help to reduce the stress experienced by children as young as seven as they prepare for tests.

Pressure on schools to perform well in league tables meant that children could be placed under pressure from parents and teachers - and preparation for tests disrupted lessons.

Mr McAvoy identified "the regime of testing which now bedevils pupils at almost every age" as the worst imposition on schools.

"I think there are only two ages when a child can go through the school year without being subject to tests, as if by testing you add benefit to the education, which you don't."

Mr McAvoy, speaking as his union met for its annual conference in Harrogate, also predicted that there would not be a one-day strike against the introduction of performance-related pay this summer.

Positive impression

"My own view is there's no need for that, we can demonstrate our anger through different and more effective channels, and would have less risk of alienating parents if we avoid strike action."

Facing calls from his union's militant wing to raise the stakes in the campaign against performance pay, Mr McAvoy said he wanted to present a more positive impression of the union, which was able to acknowledge that the government had made changes that had helped teachers - as well as some which the union would continue to oppose.

But Mr McAvoy expressed disappointment at what he saw as the Labour government's continuation of the education policies of the previous Conservative administration.

"In some ways you'd hardly spot the difference - you know, you'd try and find the join ... It's New Labour/Old Tory."

Mr McAvoy, responding to an e-mail, also highlighted the need for greater protection for teachers from the threat of false accusations of attacks or abuse against pupils.

At present, he said formal proceedings against teachers could be launched without even a preliminary examination to see if there was a case to answer.

Even if teachers were exonerated, he said, their lives and careers could still be ruined by malicious allegations.


Talking PointFORUM
Doug McAvoy
The NUT leader answers your questions

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Twists and turns of the pay changes in England and Wales Yes but no, thanks
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See also:

15 Apr 00 | UK Education
13 Apr 00 | UK Education
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