SATs strike: Parents to take children out of school in protest over 'stressful' Year 2 exams

British children are 'over-tested, over-worked and in a school system that places more importance on test results and league tables than children's happiness and joy of learning'

Caroline Mortimer
Tuesday 03 May 2016 13:23 BST
Nicky Morgan said taking a child out of school for even one day was 'damaging'
Nicky Morgan said taking a child out of school for even one day was 'damaging' (PA)

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Schoolchildren will stage their very first “strike action” on Tuesday in protest over SATs (Standard Assessment Tests) for six and seven-year-olds.

A petition started by the Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign has been signed by nearly 40,000 people calling on teachers to boycott SATs tests for children at the end of Year 2.

SAT exams test a child’s progress in English, Maths and Science and are conducted at the end of infant school, primary school and in Year 9 across England.

But campaigners say the focus on testing has left their children "over-tested, over-worked and in a school system that places more importance on test results and league tables than children's happiness and joy of learning".

The petition said: “We're a group of Year 2 parents who've had enough... enough of endless testing, enough of teachers not being trusted to teach, enough of an Ofsted driven, dull, dry curriculum aimed solely at passing National Curriculum Tests (SATs).

“We want our kids to be kids again and enjoy learning for learning's sake not for Ofsted results or league table figures. Bring back the creativity and the fun - say goodbye to repetition and boredom!”

It said six and seven-year-olds were now expected to sit “a whole week’s worth of exams” focused on comprehension and arithmetic.

“Outdoor learning has decreased, childhood anxiety has increased, games have been replaced with grammar, playing with punctuation," it added.

It is currently unknown how many children will go on “strike” but the campaign has put a form up on its website asking parents to record their participation.

In an open letter to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan on their website, the campaign said it represented "the voice of parents across the country” who want an end to the exam regime now.

It said: "Please take a long, hard look at this.

"Do you want your legacy to be the confident cancellation of unneeded and unnecessary SATs, showing you are listening to your electorate and the teachers you claim to support ... or the overseeing of a shambolic testing regime desperately unwanted by millions of people to the point that this country saw its first open parent revolt?

"You have the power to stop these tests. NOW. Our children, our teachers and our schools deserve better than this."

In a speech on Saturday, Ms Morgan warned that missing school for even a day would be "harmful" and called the campaign "damaging".

She said: "To those who say we should let our children be creative, imaginative, and happy - of course I agree, both as a parent and as the Education Secretary.

"But I would ask them this: how creative can a child be if they struggle to understand the words on the page in front of them? They certainly can't enjoy them”.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb added: "These tests are vital in helping schools to ensure that young children are learning to read, write and add up well.

"The truth is if they don't master literacy and numeracy early on, they risk being held behind and struggling for the rest of their lives.

"Children should only ever be taken out of school in exceptional circumstances and we'd urge the organisers of this campaign to drop their plans because it simply isn't fair on children to deprive them of a day of their education".

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