Commenting on today's announcements by Ed Balls on education, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers' union said;
"In the current financial climate the Government's continuing commitment to one-to-one tuition for children who need additional support is impressive. Such personalised tuition is vital for all young people who face real hurdles throughout their school lives, and therefore this can only be a first step. Pupils in these situations need support ahead of public examinations as well.
"The individual tuition attached to the pilot Making Good Progress tests would have been positive but the tests themselves are still fatally hitched to the Government's tests, targets and performance tables. It would have been far better for the Government to have started the New Year with the intention to abolish the current testing regime in primary schools.
"In many countries children do not start formal education until Key Stage 1. The Government should look to Robin Alexander's Primary Review, which questioned the school starting age and follow its recommendations of smaller class sizes and ensuring a broad and balanced curriculum, rather than focusing on perceived failure in a narrow range of subjects at such an early age.
"The announcement of three new Academies opening this term is disappointing. There is no evidence that Academy status enhances standards, and all the evidence shows that they are hurdles and barriers to schools working together, which is vital in these tough economic times."
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