News: Isle of Man education chief says no plans to adopt testing of five and 11-year-olds

The Isle of Man’s director of education says there no plans at present to follow proposals in England and Wales to introduce formal tests for five and 11-year-olds.

Martin Barrow said the proposals to rate the ability of individual children went against latest research which found that it could restrict performance.

Nick Clegg, pupil testing, Google Images, Yahoo Image SearchUK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (pictured) has already been forced to deny the Coalition proposals will turn schools into ‘exam sausage factories’.

It follows the announcement yesterday (Wednesday) of plans for testing of five-year-olds and 11-year-olds in England and Wales.

Those plans have already met criticism from some educationalists.

Isle of Man director of education Mr Barrow said developments would be monitored but there were no plans to replace the ‘well-established’ and effective systems in place to assess the levels of primary school pupils.

He told Paul Speller Media:  ‘As with many other matters related to education policy in England, there is considerable uncertainty about how pupil performance at primary schools will be measured in future.

‘The proposals to rank pupils by ability which have been published for consultation this week appear to contradict the latest research by leading experts, such as Professor Carol Dweck from Stanford University in California, which clearly indicates that telling children they have a certain level of ability acts as a cap to their performance rather than a stimulus to improve.

‘In the Island we have a highly structured and effective system of teacher assessment in place in our primary schools which is very different to the testing regime in England and this means that children are continually assessed and challenged to improve their learning both by their teachers and by themselves.’

He added: ‘We believe that directly linking continuous assessment to learning in this way makes the assessment information far more useful to both teacher and pupil and ensures that assessment information provided to parents is more robust than that arrived at through tests.

‘Parents receive feedback on how their children are performing at key points in the learning journey and are also supplied with information about overall pupil performance on the Island to enable them to see how their child’s attainment compares to overall results..’

It wouldn’t be the first time the Department of Education and Children in the Isle of Man awaited the outcome of developments in England and Wales before making a final decision.

While Mr Barrow did not rule out entirely adopting the tests in the future, he gave a clear indication that the current thinking here is not in favour.

He said: ‘As with all developments in education in England the DEC will monitor what is proposed to see whether or not there are lessons for the Island to learn but at this point there are no plans to move away from the well established systems that are in place for primary children.’

The proposed tests for five-year-olds in England would be a more formal version of tests already set informally by some teachers.

The new tests would be subject to external supervision: outside examiners would assess papers but would not sit in on the tests.

Mr Clegg said the tests for 11-year-olds were designed to ensure more children were better prepared for secondary school.

It is proposed to rank pupils against their peers, in 10 per cent ability bands.

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About Paul Speller

Writer, journalist, husband, dad.
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