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Excessive testing damages staff morale, says 'world's best teacher'

10/11/2015 Joanna
The 'world's best teacher' has warned that putting too much emphasis on testing in schools will have a detrimental effect on staff morale and children's approach to learning.

Nancie Atwell is an American teacher who won the Global Teacher Prize earlier this year, a million dollar award that she donated to her school in Maine.

School curriculums being overly focused on tests is an issue that has caused concern in the US and the UK, with Ms Atwell noting that American parents are recognising that their children are "being tested rather than taught".

She said this is stifling teachers' creativity and "de-professionalising" the job.

"It's done nothing but decimate morale," Ms Atwell said.

"It takes away teachers' autonomy, their ability to respond to who their students are and what they see is going on in their classroom."

The UK government recently announced plans to make tests for seven-year-olds more "robust and rigorous" as part of a drive to ensure that children develop a solid understanding of core subjects like English and maths before moving on to secondary school.

There are also plans to introduce compulsory resits in the first year of secondary school for more than 100,000 children who fail their key stage two Sats tests every year.

Critics including teachers' unions have argued that excessive testing simply puts more pressure on young children and school staff.

Ms Atwell offered her opinions on the issue during a visit to Capital City Academy in Willesden, north-west London, where she gave an English lesson to a class of 12 and 13-year-olds.

The award-winning teacher also offered some advice on the everyday issues facing teachers, such as behaviour problems. She recommended taking a soft approach and trying to engage with children about the root cause of their behaviour.

"The answer to almost every issue in the classroom is to talk to the kids about what's going on," she said.

Posted by Theo FouldsADNFCR-2164-ID-801805373-ADNFCR
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