SATs do not benefit children’s learning and are bad for their well-being – NEU survey

Responding to a survey of over 1,200 primary teachers, carried out in June and July, nine-in-ten primary school teachers said the SATs-based primary assessment system is detrimental to children’s well-being and nearly nine-in-ten (88%) said they do not benefit children’s learning. The NEU reports

One teacher said: “Pupils at our school have cried, had nightmares and have changed in behaviour due to the pressure on them – and we do our best to shield them from it and not make a huge issue out of the tests.”

Another commented: “We see children in highly anxious states, sometimes vomiting because of pressure. More children displaying signs of poor mental health and we do not put pressure on our children.”

Teachers slated the SATs-based system for lowering the quality of primary education. One teacher said the SATs: “are the biggest barrier that we have to high quality and relevant learning.”

Teachers regard the SATs in year 6 as a barrier to learning that limit pupils’ access to a full curriculum, with 86% saying preparation for SATs squeeze out other parts of the curriculum.

Teachers reported that some groups of children are particularly severely affected by preparing for the tests. Eighty-eight per cent said children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are particularly disadvantaged, 66% said pupils whose first language is not English (English as an additional language – EAL) and 54% said children who are born in the summer so are the youngest in their class.

Teachers’ comments include: “It is painful watching these most vulnerable children being made to feel less than the great human beings they are because they are aware that these activities don’t help them to shine.”

Read findings more about the teachers survey SATs do not benefit children’s learning and are bad for their well-being – NEU survey

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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Categories: Data, Exams, Health, Mental Health, Primary, SEN, and Teaching.


  1. wasateacher

    Many years ago I was a Maths teacher and was concerned about the unreliability of KS2 results. The school I was in gave NFER tests to all year 7s and, in the Maths Department, we had our own test based on the workscheme to enable us to establish an appropriate level of work. Concerned about an especially large disparity in the test results of one boy, I looked at the results across the year group and found that, whereas our test results showed a close relationship with both the Maths and VR results on the NFER tests for most pupils, there was very little correlation with the KS2 results. This could have resulted in pupils being given work which was too difficult or too easy for them. In schools which used setting or streaming, this could have had long term adverse effects.

  2. Anonymous

    It’s widley known in schools that the SATs tests distort and damage the education of pupils. It’s also widely known that the results are not a great deal of use to secondary schools. There is a large body of evidence to support these positions. Nick Gibb, Schools’ Minister, believes only that his own opinion is worth anything so the whole sorry mess continues.

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