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I know that the "no" should be "know" - typo. Honest. I wil right it out elevern tymes in my bestest handrighting.

Jonathan Mackie


We would of course take your criticism of aristeides' knowledge of education, seriously if you had used the word know and not no, in your final sentence. (LOL)

In any case supporting testing doesn't mean you have Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's Children Catcher as your role model.

Matt Wright

Its tempting to just agree with Tom given the bold, simple way he exerts his view. In fact I am reminded of the philosopher, Collingwood, who went even further and wondered whether schools were dangerous and that parents should teach their own children - I think part of what he was saying was to do with the bonds that need to be formed between parents and children (he really meant fathers and sons and given the problems with anti-social behaviour today maybe he had a point!). However we have to start from where we are today. I am darwn to more freedom for schools so that they can concentrate on getting a good job done. This very much depends on having good headteachers and supporting them (and getting rid of bad head teachers). From what I have seen as a county councillor and a governor, having a good head teacher with some freedom to get on with things, is the biggest and most improtant issue. Yet at the other extreme a total letting go by the Govt could lead to areas where there was no decent education and poorer people would be uyanble to move house to escape this. Then we would have the cost of trying to manage the impact of this. Govt should set basic outcomes and check these, headteachers should decide the solutions and tests.



LOL, Tortoise.

You have touched upon another important aspect of this debate though. Your statement implies that to know about education, or participate in a debate about it, means that you have to know what Key Stage 3 or whatever is. That is nonsense. What is more, I rather worry that the sort of people who come up with phrases like "Key Stages", whether Conservative or not, have had too much influence up to now, which is why education is in the parlous state that it is.

However, you are even more revealing when you say I have a piece of swinging lead for a heart. If you can't see from what I have said that I have the child's best interests at heart, then it is going to be very tough debating the issue with you. You are not doing a child any favours at all in the long run by sparing them the short term "stress" of an exam. In fact, you are doing precisely the opposite.

Finally, if "very-able" is not a pc expression, it is a very-bad one.


The stress is not short term. It begins at the end of Year 5 and goes on to the end of Year 6. There is little stress in Year 9 because by that point the kid's have got wise to just how pointless the whole thing is.

You must be one of the few people who cannot cope with very basic educational language. The term "very-able" is not esoteric - it is descriptive, it does not contain jargon and does not exclude anyone. I look forward to your next trip to the doctors where you insist he does not use anything but the most basic of language. “Now Mr Aristeides, you have a problem with one of the squashy things inside your tum-tum, so we are going to get a knife thing and do cutty cutty and then we will kiss it better. Now I would tell you which bit of the make-better building you need to go to, but I know you don’t like labelling things in any sort of logical fashion, so you’ll just have to wander around in an aimless fashion until you find it.”.

I am simply saying that if you do not understand these basic terms you clearly have little knowledge of the system you want to reform. There is a danger in allowing those inside the system to shape the debate, but it is more dangerous to allow the not-very-gifted amateur to bumble into the debate and make a pig’s ear of the whole thing. That’s what happened with the National Curriculum in the 1980s.


"The term "very-able" is not esoteric - it is descriptive, it does not contain jargon and does not exclude anyone."

If it sounds pc, looks pc and "does not exclude anyone", it's pc.

Thomas Hobbes

Can I suggest that we get rid of religious education in state schools? The US model of allowing parents to educate their children in such matters is much better and it would mean my children would not have to sit through lessons where godless Buddhism and pagan Hinduism are placed alongside Christianity as equals. I know I can withdraw my children from these lessons, but that would single them out.



Are you trying to wind me up or are you really stupid? The PC brigade would not like the phrase "very-able" becuase it suggests that some students are not-very-able! By your logic, any phrase that "does not exclude anyone" is PC - therefore we should use esoteric language to avoid being PC, but that's where you came in - complaining about management speak.


By the way - well said Mr Hobbes. I fear you will have to beat down the the Leviathan of the Established Church to get your idea adopted.


I believe tests are important to assess both teachers and pupils; but I agree that too many stressful tests and teaching to exams is a major problem.

Abolishing the Key Stage 1 exam is a good idea - I understand it was introduced to measure "value-added" to Key Stage 2 but there must be a better method of assessing teachers and schools which doesn't involve stressing out seven year olds. I'm less sure about the move of K2 to year 5 - I think this could lead to year 6 education being seen as a low priority.

I believe the original idea was to have a relatively simple test to ensure schools had properly covered the three r's. What has developed is a highly pressurised exam system, where staff teach to the exam and the breadth of work suffers - I think a lot of this is down to the nature of the exam and its predictability.
A K2 test is worthwhile, but the format needs to change. I would suggest a small core of questions to test essential knowledge/skill along with a wider variety of questions to examine breadth. This might encourage teachers to widen their horizons.

And what is the point of K3? Surely GCSE and A level results are a good enough measure?
(As I've said before on other threads, the AS exams should be abolished.)


Tortoise, we are allowed to have a little fun, surely, without the "are you really stupid?" jibes? Come on, you have patronised me with your doctor's visit analogy, called me a "not-very-gifted amateur," - and you were the one who couldn't even type the word know correctly!

Look, I'll take your word for it that "very-able" is not pc but it's hardly the most felicitous expression, is it?


Sorry aristeides, I wasn't sure if you were being serious.


Thomas Hobbes 4.17.
Perhaps we could also do away with Personal and Social Education (PSE). Teaching Government sponsored values in school when children should be focussed on the 3Rs.

Thomas Hobbes

"Teaching Government sponsored values in school when children should be focussed on the 3Rs."

PSE is an odd one - it is now called PHSCE and covers all sorts of things. But I do worry about some of the sex education things that go on.

Paul Kennedy

I seem to recall that when I was at primary school in the 60s, we were tested annually on a range of subjects, the results formed part of an annual school report along with the teacher's comments.... needs to work harder, could do better, a good performance etc etc. The difference between then and now is that politicians then, I don't think, used the results for political purposes as a way of justifying their policies.

PS Class sizes were high 30s even into the 40s and there were no classroom assistants, emphasis was on reading, writing and arithmetic......makes you think. ;)


PHSCE is a very scary subject. Apart from mandatory sex and drugs education (which can be very explicit and often counter-productive) it provides the opportunity for govt/individual teachers to get into all sorts of things which are less about education and more about political indoctrination/social engineering.
If parents were more aware of what was being taught in some of these lessons, I think they would be shocked.


First we had
PSE: personal and social education;
then it became
PSHE: personal, social and health education
now we have
PSHCE: personal, social, health and citizenship education
...and so it grows....

Thomas Hobbes

what is more the people who teach phsce are never qualified to teach the subject and are usually forced to do it because they have some spare time on their timetable.

Cardinal Pirelli

""Testing takes valuable time from learning."

Surely one of the the most wrongheaded and dangerous comments that has yet appeared on conservativehome."

Hardly, seeing as it's completely true. There is not enough education in schools, especially at the primary level. What exists is teaching to pass tests. No wonder we're churning out supposedly well qualified students who don't have much intelligence.

One caveat, you cannot choose subjects at random to test as this will elevate those good at the randomly chosen subject at the expense of those who are strong elsewhere. As a parent of a child wonderful at languages I would not be happy to find that they were being randomly tested and graded on history, for example.


Get rid of all national standards, especially the national curriculum. Do this by allowing schools to opt out and set their own tests and exams. Permit universities, colleges etc to set their own entrance exams.

If a school underperforms this should be handled at local level, not by a national authority.

Julia's on the right track. Just follow the logic all the way. It will rebuild respect for teachers and schools, and end their diminution into being forced to act as petty bureaucrats delivering the government's education programme.

Don't delay the tests. Abolish them and all others. End the control of education by central government. It's been a total catastrophy from start to finish. It's time someone said the truth - the emperor has no clothes. Gve education back to schools. Send bureaucrats packing and out of the way - all of them, permanently.


Less testing, especially for younger children is only sensible. Maths and English are key though, and should remain priority subject for under 12 year olds. There's a more fundamental question to be addressed about abolition of the National Currciulum which 20 years of experience suggest has reduced education levels in the UK. Certainly 25 year old Aussies and Kiwis who work for me are generally better educated than 25 year old Brits

Do kids really need to be taught drama - surely that's an extra-curricular activity. Overall though, its a step in the right direction and hence a yes.

Thomas Hobbes

"If a school underperforms this should be handled at local level, not by a national authority."

LEAS - aaaagh!

The problem is education is run by Councillors who are just not up to job and central government which is too far away. Governors are often prisoners of the information given to them by headteachers or busy bodies who know little and create a fuss over unimportant issues.

If we want to give education back to schools we have to rasie the bar on school leadership. As a Governor, I have interviewed candidates for headteacher posts who were not up to the job by a long way. This is a big worry as they were all Deputy Heads with big roles in their own schools and by definition only a heartbeat away from Headship. One reason why Headship candidates are so thin on the ground is the step between middle management and Headeship. The Assistant Head role is neither one thing nor another. An Assistant Head has a large teaching role and big responsibilities, but their pay is not much more than a middle manager and they have little power to shape things as they live in the shadow of the Deputies and Head.

Teachers are willing to be subject leaders because they can actually see how they influence the children in their care and they also have freedom and space to innivate. Assistant Heads have neither.

Thomas Hobbes

I can spell, sorry for the errors. I know how Tortoise feels.


"By the way - well said Mr Hobbes. I fear you will have to beat down the the Leviathan of the Established Church to get your idea adopted."

RE should certainly not be abolished in church schools. These were originally owned and run by the churches until the government nationalised them many decades ago. Therefore they are perfectly entitled to promote a religious ethos. It was bad enough that their property was confiscated. No need to add insult to injury by effectively neutralising their status as religious schools. It should also be noted that church schools are very popular with parents.

Thomas Hobbes

Oh I fully agree Richard - so long as they pay the whole cost of running the school. Otherwise, why should a person's taxes pay to promote a religion they disagree with. This problem dates back to the 19th century and we have still not found a solution.

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