Must do better? Why parents plan boycott of school Sats tests

When children across England start their week of Sats tests next month, 30 primary schools will be under particular scrutiny. That is because children from those schools have performed poorly once they have moved to secondary schools. That has raised suspicions that their good Sats results – more properly known as key stage 2 tests – were the result of cheating. Children from other primary schools feeding the same secondary schools, meanwhile, have performed roughly as expected. The Guardian reports.

“For example, if the children were predicted 10 Bs [at GCSE], they would get 10 Cs,” said Dave Thomson, chief statistician at Education Data Lab, which carried out the analysis. “I don’t think we can say with absolute certainty why this is happening but it warrants further investigation.”

Cheating is one of the many reasons why Sats continue to face serious opposition. Parent groups such as Let Our Kids Be Kids plan to boycott Sats this year by taking their children out of primary school when the tests start on 14 May. Last year a headteacher of a Leeds primary school locked the Sats papers in a cupboard and took the children to the Captain Cook Museum in Whitby instead. In 2010 nearly 15,000 children in London did not take Sats after a boycott and had continuous assessments instead.

The stakes are high enough for some teachers to risk their careers. Over the last 12 months, three headteachers have been taken to a disciplinary panel of the National College for Training and Leadership – now the Teaching Regulation Agency – for altering Sats papers after they had been completed. In each case the heads resigned or were dismissed.

A National Union of Teachers source told the Observer that in other cases, borderline pupils had done Sats in the headteacher’s office so they could be helped to get the right answers. “Another head prepared for a mental maths test by giving all the children a copy of the paper so they could see the questions,” the source said. “There was a teacher who read the multiple choice test aloud and emphasised the right answers. One pressed so hard when she was altering exam scripts that the marks came through on other papers in the pile underneath.

Unlike GCSEs and A-levels, Sats have no bearing on a child’s future – they aren’t used for school selection, and primary schools send far more detailed assessments of each child when they move up to secondary level. Yet there is growing concern that the stress felt by teachers trickles down to the children. The Commons education committee said last year that young children were at risk of developing mental health problems, with evidence that growing numbers of children suffering from panic attacks, anxiety and depression.

Alison Roy of the Association of Child Psychotherapists, which is part of the More Than A Score campaign group seeking to replace Sats, said it was common now to hear children as young as six say they feel “stressed out”.

Read the full article Must do better? Why parents plan boycott of school Sats tests

Is your school going to boycott the Sats tests? Are you a parent who would like Sats testing banned? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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