Education is 'too exam-focused'

Headteachers are due to be told in a conference that education is "too exam-focused" and has become a "tick-box exercise".

Chairman of the Society of Heads of Independent Schools (SHMIS), Philip Cottam, will say that there is not much room for "flair, imagination and adventure" within a modern system that applies pressure to "teach to the test".

Mr Cottam, who will be conducting his speech at the annual SHMIS conference, will say that a "league table-dominated curriculum" has fostered a "narrow, utilitarian approach to education".

He will tell headteachers: "One of the consequences, albeit unintended, of our current system is that education at secondary level has become too utilitarian and too exam-focused with the result that it is far more difficult to engender a sense of intellectual excitement and adventure and to encourage one's pupils to take intellectual risks."

He will say that today's exams and exam specifications are "much more structured and far less open-ended" than they used to be, adding: "Sadly, there is, in consequence, less room for flair, imagination and adventure."

In his opening speech to the conference, which is being held in Telford, Shropshire, Mr Cottam will also hit out at the "culture of entitlement" in which competition is seen as a negative and "all are expected to win prizes".

A system that does not give many rewards for originality could face potential repercussions, he will add.

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