English unions say to boycott SATs exams in May

Headteachers have confirmed that a boycott of national SATs exams taken by primary school children in England will go ahead, two education unions said.

English unions say to boycott SATs exams in May

Headteachers have confirmed that a boycott of national SATs exams taken by 11-year-old primary school children in England will go ahead, two of the largest education unions said on Wednesday.

Executives from the National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Head Teachers agreed to proceed with the action after a ballot of their senior figures.

It means that their union members will not administer the Key Stage 2 (KS2) SATs exams in English and maths which are scheduled to take place in primary schools from May 10-13, the week after the general election.

The government said it was disappointed at the decision and urged them to "think to think hard" about the effect on pupils.

Schools will remain open and the unions insisted that their members would not be on strike.

"I am very pleased that we have reached this decision," said Christine Blower, NUT general secretary.

"Not only are we boycotting SATs but we are saying to schools that this is finally the opportunity to do the exciting things you always really wanted to be doing in the classroom."

Teachers have long objected to the tests which are used to rank schools in England as well as checking the academic progress of pupils.

They say they dominate teaching in children's final year at primary school, stifle creativity and impose unneeded stress on teachers, pupils and parents.

They want the tests replaced by teacher assessment of pupils' learning.

The tests, first introduced by the Conservatives in the 1990s, have been a key plank of the Labour government's drive to improve education standards.

The Conservatives, who would keep the KS2 tests if they win the election, say they would experiment with moving them from the last year of primary school to the first year of secondary education.

But the tests are no longer used in Wales, while Scotland does not use them for school league tables.

In England, Key Stage 3 SATs tests for secondary school children aged 14 were dropped in 2009 after delays in the previous year's marking.

Science tests for 11 year-olds ended this year and have been replaced by teacher assessment.

"We cannot continue to have our colleagues and their school communities in the primary sector disparaged on the basis of a flawed testing regime," said Mick Brookes, the general secretary of the NAHT.

Schools Secretary Ed Balls said a majority of headteachers did not back the boycott and said they had a "professional and moral duty to put the best interests of pupils and parents first".

"Pupils and teachers have been working hard all year and they should all be given the opportunity to demonstrate their achievements," he said.

He said parents wanted a full picture of their child's progress and schools should be fully accountable to their local communities.

Balls, who said the exam system was not set in stone, added that they would hold discussions with school governors and local authorities as to the likely disruption and what steps to take.

Reuters

Last Mod: 21 Nisan 2010, 21:05
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