Testing to Destruction 2

The annual exam season is upon us along with the endless debates about testing regimes in the UK. Today the Select Committee Report suggests that SATs could be damaging the education system http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7396623.stm. Damaging consequences, narrowing of curriculum, no benefit to children or schools are all damning indictments but quite frankly hardly earth shatteringly new insights. The committee stops short of criticising the principle of national testing.

The BBC article sites the General Teaching Council data:

Pupils in England on average take 70 national tests while at school

54,000 examiners employed in national tests

25 million test papers each year

Source: GTC

 PEN Comment: The testing industry is truly phenomenal and one which desperately needs redirecting – for that we can agree with the Select Committee. It’s nearly a century since Edmond Holmes’ observations in 1911 as Chief Inspector of Schools:

“In nine schools out of ten, on nine days out of ten, in nine lessons out of ten, the teacher is engaged in laying thin films of information on the surface of the child’s mind and then after a brief interval he (or she) is skimming these off to satisfy him / herself that the information has been duly laid… If there is to be a fit education system, the practice of telling children what to do and compelling them to do it must stop, for it has only produced passivity, lassitude, docility, or naughtiness. Uniformity is just plain BAD education. The tendency of the examination system to arrest growth, to deaden life, to paralyze the higher faculties, involves schooling in an atmosphere of unreality and self-deception which obscures the true purpose of education. Conscription-based schooling and uniform curriculum imposed by adults on children is an affront to learning.”Edmond Holmes, (1911). The Tragedy of Education.

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