Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

TES Letters

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

TES Letters

Article excerpt

Our European language bias does students a disservice

I notice that all the languages covered in "Language learning" (By the numbers, 25 September) are European, except for Chinese. Of course, it is important for schoolchildren to understand Britain's place in wider European society by learning European languages and history. But there is great value in knowing non-European languages as well.

In South Asia, Hindi, Bengali and Tamil are spoken by many millions of people, and have rich literatures, histories and cultures. In Japan, a technologically and scientifically advanced country, much of the research is done in Japanese.

Smaller languages are also worth knowing. The Netherlands in the 17th century, Britain in the 19th and South Korea today have shown that the impact a country can make on the world bears no relation to the size of its population or its geography.

Shouvik Datta

Teacher of English for speakers of other languages

Drawing the line on baseline assessments

Having just visited the headteacher of an infant school, I was interested to hear about the pressure staff are under to ready very young children for a regime of tests. I entirely agree with Dame Alison Peacock when she talks of pupils' welfare coming first and the dangers of labelling children at such an early age ("Superhead snubs baseline assessment", News, 2 October).

Have we not learned anything from countries that hold back from introducing "formal" teaching until the age of 7? Their young people appear to do far better in academic subjects by the age of 11 than those in this country.

I also feel for the school leaders trapped in this testing regime. If they ignore the tests, they run the clear danger of being judged as "requires improvement" or worse.

Maybe the answer does lie in a mass boycott - if schools refuse to "play the game", ministers might just have to take note.

Frederick Sandall

Retired headteacher

At Early Excellence, we agree with Dame Alison Peacock that the best way to assess young children is to observe, interact and support them in their play and learning. Emotional well-being is absolutely critical.

Early Excellence has already supported nearly 16,000 teachers to build their knowledge of each child through observation and interactions, and we have introduced the concept of assessing well-being and involvement to many of the schools that have signed up to EExBA, our Reception baseline assessment.

This model offers the best of both worlds: a system of assessment that recognises teachers' skills and acknowledges that tests are not in the best interest of four-year-olds, as well as a way for schools to meet the government's accountability agenda.

Liz Marsden

Founder and director, Early Excellence

Ofqual: 'we interpret results intelligently'

"Ofqual admits extra checks for science papers 'didn't work' " (News, 2 October) implies that our GCSE science research results will not be part of the accreditation process for science GCSEs and that the process had gone wrong. …

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