Headteacher bans ‘ridiculous’ SATS tests

The head of Little London Primary school in Leeds says she would rather put her job on the line than watch her pupils suffer this year

Rachael Pells
Education Correspondent
Friday 19 May 2017 17:15 BST
Thousands of children across the country are due to sit the national tests this month
Thousands of children across the country are due to sit the national tests this month (PA)

A primary school in Leeds has banned its pupils from taking Sats exams, after seeing too many children crying over them last year.

Headteacher Jill Wood, from Little London Primary, said she was willing to put her job on the line by taking the decision not to run the controversial national tests this month.

Pupils at the school will instead be measured using alternative methods, such as on-going learning checks throughout the year, as well as less official assessments at the end of term.

During Sats week this month, pupils were taken out on educational trips to visit nearby points of interest, she told The Yorkshire Evening Post.

“The country is spending billions on children’s mental health, so why are we putting them under pressure?” the school leader said.

“We just felt last year we had children sobbing in exams and it upset me so much, I just said ‘I can’t do this again’. They are a ridiculous, unnecessary strain.

“I’m in breach of my contract of employment, but I feel very passionately about it.”

A few weeks ago, Education Secretary Justine Greening announced plans to scrap the national curriculum tests taken by six and seven-year-olds from the next school year.

The move follows years of pressure from parents and school leaders who say the tests put children under too much stress at too young an age.

Instead, the Department for Education proposed a new system in which children would be assessed in a more casual atmosphere when they first start school.

This would “reduce the burden” on teachers and pupils, the Department said.

The Conservative’s General Election manifesto published this week noted that pupils schools would face stricter accountability in Keystage 3 assessment, however.

While Ms Wood said she was not against assessment itself, she said she had made the decision not to run Sats because they made little sense when schools had free reign over how to measure performance during the rest of the year.

The tests hold no weight at secondary school, she added, as pupils tend to sit new assessments in Year 7.

She said: “If one school is measuring in bananas and the other is measuring in pineapples, how can we all sit standardised assessments?

“Why do we test our children in May anyway? There is another two-and-a-half months of learning time,” she added. “Schools should be accountable, but there is a better way.”

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