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Teachers to hold ballot over SATs boycott

Concerns that tests have negative impact on children's mental health

13 June, 2019 — By Helen Chapman

TEACHERS are ramping up a campaign against standard attainment tests in primary schools – better known simply as SATs – by holding an indicative ballot to see if there is support among school staff to boycott the system.

Gerald Clark, from the National Education Union, said: “Children across Camden have just taken part in this year’s SATs, which will result in a high number of our year 6 pupils being told they are below the expected level, effectively not ready for Secondary School. We believe this is deplorable.”

He added: “SATs and the other high stakes tests described above are not for pupils. All teachers know how to assess pupils, how to assess the progress that they’ve made and how to recommend the next steps in their learning.”

The tests for children aged from 7 to 11 are used by schools to determine the academic level of pupils, but they have been criticised for making schools become results-driven and having a negative impact on children’s mental health.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would scrap compulsory national tests for primary school children in England if his party came to power.

He said at the NEU conference in Liverpool in April: “Teachers get into the profession because they want to inspire children, not pass them along an assembly line.

“We will raise standards by freeing up teachers to teach. Labour trusts teachers. You are professionals. You know your job. You know your students Sats and the regime of extreme pressure testing are giving young children nightmares and leaving them in floods of tears.”

The government says it wants to drive up school standards with the introduction of baseline assessments in 2020 for pupils from age four to determine the progress primary schools make with pupils.

But Camden’s education chief Councillor Angela Mason, schools chief, said: “We have got to look at the whole of the curriculum and the way schools are made accountable. We have to think of education today and what we want it to look like.”

She added: “It needs to be part of a bigger picture and a bigger review that needs to happen. The curriculum has become dominated by testing. Teachers are under pressure and there is concern from parents about the impact of exams on children.”

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