Less standardisation in schools and more creativity accompanied by reduced monitoring could significantly improve pupils' experience, according to a new report.
The document was published by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) using research carried out by Emeritus Professor Merryn Hutchings of London Metropolitan University.
Entitled Exam Factories? The impact of accountability measures on children and young people, it included surveys from nearly 8,000 teachers, case studies from heads, children and teachers, and extensive literature reviews and qualitative research.
The report concluded that widening the curriculum and reducing the focus on English/literacy and maths/numeracy in primary schools would enrich the learning experience that young people receive, contrary to the government's plans at present.
It also highlighted the importance of utilising teacher creativity during individual lessons, as pupils questioned as part of the study said they learnt more when their lessons were memorable as opposed to linear and generic.
Other points raised included potentially reducing the marking of children's work in a standardised manner and cutting the monitoring of lesson structure by inspectors in order to allow room for youngsters to develop in their own way.
Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the NUT, called the report 'essential reading' for the government and policymakers.
"School should be a joyful time in a child's life when they are able to learn and play in a structured environment that develops their talents, skills and understanding and leaves them with a thirst for knowledge for the rest of their lives," he commented.
Director of campaigns at charity Young Minds Lucie Russell said: "We have to question the role of schools in relation to developing well rounded, confident young people. There is a growing movement of high-profile people ... who are saying that education cannot just be about learning academic subjects."
It comes after the exam board Cambridge Assessment called for schools to be judged over a five-year period, pointing out that this would better account for volatility in exam results than yearly assessments.
Posted by Alan Douglas