UK Teachers Union: We’re Compromised by Exam Pressure

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers in the UK has said that their members are being forced to manipulate results and actively rewrite work for students in the face of growing pressure to achieve test targets. A survey revealed that a third of their members felt their integrity was being compromised. ATL head Mary Bousted hit out at a culture that valued result over learning and said that children in the UK were among the most tested in the world.

"With the government's persistent focus on tests, exam results and league tables, many teachers and lecturers also feel under enormous pressure – often at the detriment to high quality teaching, learning and development of their pupils."

These concerns echo issues in American education. Numerous similar cheating scandals have come to light in recent months. It seems that a test based education regime that relies heavily on continuous assessment is always going to encounter these problems, especially when funding and pay then becomes linked to test results. The temptation for administrators and teachers to ‘teach to the test' is overwhelming, and from there it's a slippery slope to just doing the work for the children.

One teacher at a primary school in England said: "I have been forced to manipulate results so that levels of progress stay up, as our head fears [there will be] an Ofsted inspection should our results waiver.

Another at an English secondary school said: "The school I work at definitely pushes the boundaries of exam integrity.

"Maintaining their "gold-plated" status by far takes precedence over developing the abilities of the pupils."

He added: "Controlled assessments and aspects of coursework are problem areas for cheating, with senior leadership driving the agenda."

The Department of Education condemned the idea of teachers cheating and said that there was absolutely no excuse for it. While they recognize that teachers ‘helping' children in this way is counterproductive to the goal of actually educating they refuse to accept any responsibility for the education culture that has led, some would say inevitably, to this sad state of affairs.

04 2, 2012
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