Socialist Worker

Tests damage our children

Issue No. 1849

'NUT NONSENSE'. That is how Tony Blair dismissed the decision of teachers in the NUT union to ballot on boycotting tests for seven, 11 and 14 year olds. Blair's testing mania is damaging the health of young children. Research this week found that over one third of seven year olds in England were seriously stressed by the SATs tests.

A poll of parents by YouGov for the Times Educational Supplement found that one in five seven year olds spends so much time preparing for tests that they spend less time on play.

One in ten seven year olds were reduced to tears and so worried about the test that they lost sleep. By the time they are 11, two thirds of children show signs of stress as they prepare for exams. A quarter of 11 year olds have lost confidence.

Council tax up 94% in decade

MILLIONS OF workers will find themselves worse off due to hefty council tax rises this year. The average council tax bill in England has gone from £568 in 1993, when the Tories introduced the tax, to an average of £1,102 this year.

That's an increase of 94 percent. Earnings rose by 50 percent in the same period. The council tax has risen on average by 12.9 percent this year.

What is truth about crime?

CRIME IS falling, but media hysteria means most people think it's going up. Two thirds of people questioned in a major survey said burglaries were on the increase. Burglaries fell by 11 percent last year.

More than two thirds think street crime is going up. It is static. It's the rich who really think crime is soaring. Nine out of ten people from households earning £50,000-plus a year think street crime is rising. Only four in ten people on incomes below £5,000 a year think street crime is going up.

Public cheaper than private

THE ROOF magazine, published by the highly reputable Shelter housing charity, has damned New Labour's housing policy. The government has been pushing 'stock transfer' of council housing - handing homes to private housing associations. It claims this is the only way millions of council tenants will get the renovation and repairs they need.

The new study found that costs increased by 45 percent after transfer. Roof thinks the real picture could be worse still, with the costs of repair after privatisation coming to '£1,700 extra for each home transferred'. That comes from tenants' rents and cuts to the money available to those still with the local council.

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Sat 3 May 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1849
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