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Exams damaging children's enjoyment of education

04/01/2012 Kelly
Too great a focus on exams is damaging children's enjoyment of learning, the former director of the national curriculum has said.

Mick Waters, who is giving the keynote address at today's North of England Education Conference in Leeds, said in an interview with the Independent that he believes continuous testing creates an atmosphere of anxiety and stops children enjoying their childhood.

Calling on people in teaching jobs to help children enjoy their childhood, Mr Waters said: "One of my main worries would be that many youngsters aren't experiencing the richness, depth and joy of learning because of schools feeling they need to achieve some imposed and questionable targets."

With the ongoing investigation of the examinations system following a damaging report by the Daily Telegraph, which revealed collusion between examiners and teachers, Mr Waters' comments come at a pertinent juncture.

Allegations persist that examiners were informing teachers what would be on test papers so they could better prepare their pupils, but Mr Waters told the Independent that he is concerned that the controversy risks "hounding the few without tackling the disease".

The examinations watchdog Ofqual are set to publish their findings on the issue later in January, deciding if any papers need to be changed.

However, Mr Waters, who is a former head teacher and president of the Curriculum Foundation, wrote in a recent book that the whole examinations system is a disaster and the system in which exam boards compete for custom from schools is corrupt, the newspaper reported.

It is essential, he believes, that investigators consider the bones of the problem rather than just the meat.

"We should investigate seriously what the exam system is for, does every child need this volume of exams and what is the best way to manage it and how can we retain its integrity," he told the newspaper.

The North of England Education Conference is taking place at the Royal Armouries in Leeds from January 4th until January 6th with a diverse range of speakers which also includes former Olympic gold medallist Jonathan Edwards and schools minister Nick Gibb.

Posted by Charlotte MichaelsADNFCR-2164-ID-801254973-ADNFCR
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