Union votes for ballot on primary test boycott

The BBC is reporting that teachers have voted to ballot for a boycott of all primary school tests, after claims that children in England are the “most tested in Europe”.

The National Union of Teachers’ conference heard warnings that schools had become “exam factories”.

…NUT leader Christine Blower said the union would consider a ballot to boycott tests in summer 2017.

She said the union was also calling on the education secretary to cancel this year’s Sats tests.

Delegates particularly criticised the baseline tests being introduced in Reception classes…

The conference motion condemned the “chaotic and wholly unacceptable way” in how changes to primary assessment have been managed.

There were warnings of unresolved “ambiguities” in what standards children should be achieving.

There have been particular warnings about the spelling, punctuation and grammar element of primary tests, with claims that they are unrealistically difficult for the age group.

Delegates attacking a “testing culture” have warned that the primary assessment plans will mean there would be tests in Reception, Year 1, Year 2 and Year 6.

There are warnings from teachers that an excessive emphasis on testing narrows the curriculum and reduces creativity, with the pressure of school league tables taking precedence over the needs of individual pupils.

There are also claims that tests can be stressful for pupils.

The NUT conference last year also voted for a boycott of baseline testing.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said that parents had a right to expect that there should be tests to show that children leave primary school with the right skills in maths and literacy.

“We want to see all children pushed to reach their potential. In order to do that, and to recognise the achievements of schools in the most challenging areas, we want to measure the progress that all pupils make as well as their overall attainment.

“It is disappointing to see that the NUT are taking this approach, which would disrupt children’s education, rather than working with us constructively as other unions have.”

More at: Teachers’ union calls for ballot on primary test boycott


There are clearly differences of opinion on testing at primary schools and many teachers are very opposed to it, but, like the issue of schools becoming academies, isn’t this ultimately a policy decision and are not the Conservatives, having won the election, entitled to go ahead with it?

Arguing against the move is one thing, but should teachers be threatening not to implement policy in this way?

Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…

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Categories: Policy, Primary and Teaching.


  1. TW

    ” are not the Conservatives, having won the election, entitled to go ahead with it?”

    On the basis of the minority vote they got; getting a majority  in the Commons by a fluke of vote distribution; and having had no such policy in their election manifesto?

    So that would be a ‘no’.

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Whilst I disagree with almost everything DfE suggest, danger is perception of non-tchers will be “tchers are militant”

  3. Boycotting SATs would not be disruptive to pupils’ education.  The opposite is true – SAT preparation and practice diverts attention from education because schools focus on teaching to the test.

  4. WriggleFree

    SchoolsImprove > not as disappointing as it is for parents seeing the Govt preparing to sell off their kids education to the highest bidder

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