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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 July 2006, 17:16 GMT 18:16 UK
Testing 'should be intensified'
boy writing
Mr Johnson said league tables were important for raising standards
The pressure on England's teachers to get pupils through tests and improve school results should be intensified, said Education Secretary Alan Johnson.

Mr Johnson told a committee of MPs league tables were "absolutely the right thing" for raising standards.

Teachers' unions have repeatedly called for an end to "high stakes" testing and to the compilation of league tables.

Mr Johnson told the education select committee he backed "the whole kit and caboodle" of school accountability.

That included Ofsted inspections, national tests and exams and league tables.

He added: "If anything, we need to intensify that rather than relax."

He said standards of reading, writing and maths had improved dramatically in primary schools since Labour came to power.

Extra stress

Mr Johnson told the cross-party group of MPs on Wednesday how staff at a school in Nottingham had told him recently that they would like to see league tables scrapped.

"I accept the pressure it puts, and the extra intensity and stress it puts on teachers, but it's absolutely the right thing to do," he said.

But while some teachers wanted league tables abolished, they were "absolutely the right thing" for raising standards further, he said.

It was "fundamental" that children should leave primary school with a mastery of reading and maths.

Efforts to make sure all children reached the standards expected of their age in these key skills should be stepped up, he said.

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