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Wednesday, 12 April, 2000, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
Tests could change to cut stress
Parents have claimed tests are causing too much pressure
Tests for seven year olds could be re-designed if they are causing too much stress, says the Education Secretary David Blunkett.

"I don't want any adult anxiety to be transferred to the children themselves," Mr Blunkett said on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Responding to claims from parents that children were under excessive pressure from tests, Mr Blunkett said he would consider changing the testing arrangements - if it could be shown that such stress was widespread.

In answer to listener Ian Anderson, the education secretary said he was "open to persuasion" on reducing any unnecessary pressure on young pupils.
David Blunkett
David Blunkett says he is open to persuasion on how primary school tests are carried out
Mr Blunkett said that assessment for seven year olds should take place as part of the ordinary school day - with no time limits or exam-room conditions.

"If we could show that the assessment was actually putting children at seven under pressure across the country, and we couldn't organise for teachers to be able to do it as part of the normal class work without putting them under test conditions, then I would very seriously consider changing it," said Mr Blunkett.

Mr Anderson, a father of a seven-year-old, had said that too much time was being devoted in schools to preparing for tests.

'Pressure from parents

Parents and schools needed to ask whether "our children are being educated or taught to pass tests", said Mr Anderson.

But the body which sets the tests, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, denied they caused great stress to young pupils.

It said teachers have such flexibility in conducting the assessments, that it relieves children of the pressure to perform.

Most pressure was put upon children by their parents who were anxious for them to succeed, it said.

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See also:

31 Jul 99 | Education
UK students face testing times
15 Sep 99 | Education
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Stress testing schoolchildren
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