Parents are threatening to take their children out of school in England in an attempt to boycott primary school tests.
Parents of the Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign, whose petition has been signed by more than 40,000 people, claim that Standard Assessment Tests (SATs) for six and seven-year-olds are ‘stressful’ and that 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.'
SATs are exams that test a child’s progress in English, Maths and Science, and are taken at the end of infant school, primary school and in Year 9 in schools across England. Six and seven-year-olds are now expected to sit ‘a whole week’s worth of exams’ focused on comprehension and arithmetic.
In an open letter to the education secretary, Nicky Morgan, parents warned that schools had become ‘exam factories’ and caused children to see themselves as ‘failures’ whilst by the time their reach secondary school ‘they are turned off education’ and by the time they reach the world of work they are ‘unprepared.’
The petitions says: ‘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!’
Day of Fun
It is unknown how many children will go on strike, but on the 3rd May parents will take their children out for a day of fun learning with events up and down the country. Many castles, public parks and gardens, farms, museums and galleries are taking part with activities set up especially for the youngsters, whilst other parents are coming together to take their children to local sites to explore such as the beach or forest.
‘Outdoor learning has decreased, childhood anxiety has increased, games have been replaced with grammar, playing with punctuation,’ adds the petition.
One of Many Problems
Ministers have already had problems with the administration of SATs this year. The baseline tests, which were intended to be a benchmark for measuring progress, were found to have unreliable results and have been postponed.
Two weeks ago the tests for seven-year-olds in spelling, punctuation and grammar were also called off when they were found to have test questions mistakenly published on a Department for Education website.
Russell Hobby, leader of the National Association of Head Teachers, notes that he ‘think[s] the gap between the profession and the government has never been wider than it is at the moment.’
The Conservatives React
In a speech on Saturday, Ms Morgan warned that missing school for even a day would be ‘harmful’ and called the campaign ‘damaging’. She argues that raising standards will increase creativity, not restrict it, saying ‘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.’