Page last updated at 13:30 GMT, Wednesday, 1 April 2009 14:30 UK

Top Sats head doubts their value

The head teacher of a Northamptonshire primary school topping the Sats league tables has cast doubt on their value.

Lorraine Cullen of Hall Meadow Primary School, Kettering, says cramming for the tests would only result in short-term success.

Children need to be motivated and "thinking" learners to see real long-term improvement, she said.

Her school had more pupils than any other school in England at level five - one above the 11-year-olds' standard.

All the pupils who sat the exams at the school got level five for science and maths and 93% were awarded level five in English.

Mrs Cullen said that their results did not come from drilling the pupils on the exam script.

"I think that you get a certain amount of success doing that but you will never sustain it.

"We do very little work around preparing for tests. We spend our time developing children who are thinking, motivated and active in their learning."

The school, which opened in 2002 and has 213 pupils, has normal class sizes and its intake includes pupils with a range of ability levels, said Mrs Cullen.

But there is only one form in each year which, she said, enables teachers to get to know each pupil personally.

Mrs Cullen said the school had an "excellent" team of teachers as well as strong support from other school staff and parents.

"We don't get it right all the time but when we don't, we work on it. We identify children who are failing pretty quickly and work with them.

"It is also about keeping expectations high. Each year, every day counts.

"We try to innovate where we can. We are traditional in our approach to matters of behaviour and expectation but we innovate in terms of the curriculum."



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