Teachers back plans for possible boycott of primary school tests

The move could mean Sats exams will not be taken in some schools next year

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
@Eleanor_Busby
Monday 15 April 2019 19:57
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Child taking exam
Child taking exam

Teachers have backed plans for a possible boycott of primary school tests in England next year.

The National Education Union (NEU) says summative tests in primary schools – including the Sats exams that Year 6 children sit – are “educationally flawed” and “increase stress” for pupils.

Teachers voted in favour of a motion to ballot primary staff for a boycott of all high stakes testing in primary schools after a heated debate at the NEU’s annual conference in Liverpool.

The motion said that Sats and high stakes testing has a “detrimental effect” on children and teachers.

Sats could be cancelled in some schools if members vote in favour of a boycott. However, headteachers could bring in substitute staff to oversee the exams in other schools.

Speaking in support of action, Merike Williams of the NEU’s Stockton district, said: “No longer can our children be considered nothing more than numbers.”

Jessica Edwards, from the NEU’s executive, described the Sats exams as “abusive”. But she raised concerns that a ballot could potentially be lost within the time available.

When an initial show of hands appeared inconclusive, the union decided to take the vote electronically – and 56 per cent of delegates voted in favour of the action.

The move came after Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Layla Moran called for Sats and tests in reception to be scrapped to ensure important parts of the curriculum were not ignored.

She told teachers at the conference in Liverpool: “Finally, it is high time we ended the unnecessary stress placed on pupils and teachers by high-stakes testing in primary schools.”

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Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “The resolution reflects the deep unhappiness of primary teachers in England with their current, SATs-based system of assessment.

“There can be no lasting solution to problems of children’s well-being, teacher workload, curriculum narrowness and teaching to the test unless our assessment system changes.”

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