Page last updated at 17:39 GMT, Monday, 20 October 2008 18:39 UK

Rose denounces impact of testing

The review aims to make the curriculum more manageable

Primary schools in England spend too much time "rehearsing tests", says the man asked by the government to review the primary curriculum.

This impact of tests to be lessened, Sir Jim Rose told the Children, Schools and Families select committee.

He spoke out although his remit excludes the assessment system, which he said deserved a separate inquiry.

Sir Jim said one thing he hoped to achieve was to instil in children a love of learning for its own sake.

Last week Children's Secretary Ed Balls said the national tests for 14-year-olds in England would be scrapped, following this summer's marking "shambles".

When he asked Sir Jim a year ago to review the curriculum, Mr Balls told him: "Your review is focused on the curriculum and is not considering changes to the current assessment and testing regime".

But Sir Jim - whose interim report is to be published in a couple of weeks - made a point of telling the committee: "I absolutely agree that too much time is spent rehearsing tests.

"We must try and shake that off somehow or another."

Society's ills

He said the issue was "the elephant in the room" when he went to talk to schools so it would definitely come up in his report but was so big that it needed to be looked at separately.

Sir Jim quoted Einstein's view that not everything that could be measured was worth measuring, while not everything worth measuring could be.

He said the one thing he would like to measure was, "have we managed to instil a love of learning for its own sake?"

Sir Jim agreed with the suggestion that too much was expected of primary schools these days, especially in the area of personal development.

"We are terribly concerned about the ills that beset society and we have pressed them onto primary schools at an earlier and earlier stage," he said.

What society was struggling with was where and when children should be taught to deal with various issues.

"If there's one thing I am determined to do it is to make it much more manageable."

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