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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 November, 2003, 17:35 GMT
Clarke warns teachers on tests
Next summer's tests could be chaotic
Education Secretary Charles Clarke says teachers who demand an end to school tests are "living in Alice in Wonderland".

He told a conference of new head teachers the national tests in England were "here to stay".

Teachers who belong to the National Union of Teachers are to be balloted on boycotting next summer's tests for seven and 11 year olds.

A vote in favour of a ballot could bring chaos to the tests.

Charles Clarke said: "Anyone saying we can somehow abandon them is living in Alice in Wonderland.

"I don't agree with using children as pawns to pursue a political agenda as some are doing."

The NUT argues that tests narrow the curriculum and over-burden teachers, preventing them from using their professional judgement about how to teach their pupils.

Mr Clarke told a conference organised by the National College for School Leadership that tests were good for children from poor families.

They prevented teachers from writing them off as destined to fail.

Parents wanted the information which the tests supplied, he said.

The Welsh Assembly is scrapping national tests of seven year olds in Wales and is reviewing those taken by older children.

In Northern Ireland, the exams' watchdog, the CCEA, is consulting on proposals to scrap the national tests for 14 year olds.


SEE ALSO:
Teachers to vote on tests boycott
07 Nov 03  |  Education
'Why I will vote to boycott tests'
06 Nov 03  |  Education
How testing were the tests?
24 Oct 03  |  Education
Plan to scrap school tests
24 Sep 03  |  Northern Ireland


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