Children’s authors welcome Ofsted’s move to lighten stress on testing

Children’s writers including Frank Cottrell Boyce and Piers Torday have hailed Ofsted’s plans to judge schools on the broad range of their education as “great news”. The Guardian reports.

“Anything that moves away from making humans fit the demands of algorithms instead of the other way round is great news,” said the Carnegie medal-winning Cottrell Boyce, one of a chorus of authors to welcome the proposed changes.

Ofsted’s chief inspector Amanda Spielman admitted last week that the schools watchdog has placed “too much weight on test and exam results when we consider the overall effectiveness of schools” in recent years. In future, she said the new inspection regime would reward schools that offer a broad range of subjects, and would challenge those “where too much time is spent on preparation for tests at the expense of teaching, where pupils’ choices are narrowed or where children are pushed into less rigorous qualifications mainly to boost league-table positions”.

Children’s author Shoo Rayner, who chairs The Society of Authors children’s writers and illustrators group, said that over the last few years authors visiting schools have “all noticed, and been dismayed by, the decline of creative subjects made available to children”.

She added: “We have also witnessed the increasing despair of teachers who have to teach to the test, leaving little time to offer a broader education. The future workplace of this country requires a well-rounded, inquisitive, creative, self-motivated, collaborative workforce. [Children’s writers] welcome the announcement of a change of approach from Ofsted. Our members are ready and willing to help schools bring creativity back to the classroom.”

The author Piers Torday, whose novel The Dark Wild won the 2014 Guardian children’s fiction prize, said he was “so glad to hear Ofsted recognising that short-term linguistic metrics are not the only game in town”.

The classroom has always been a creative space, he said, and “the innovation and inspiration this country urgently needs will come from allowing children to develop confidence in their own ideas by experimenting without fear of judgment. Teachers should be given the time and space to let their students play, explore and fail with words, and read widely for personal pleasure. Not only do we know that happy and confident reader-writers experience better long-term life outcomes, but the world urgently needs new stories to unite and inspire us. We must give today’s children the freedom to write their own future.”

Read more Children’s authors welcome Ofsted’s move to lighten stress on testing

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