Of 1,200 teachers who responded, nine out of ten said the SATs-based primary assessment system is detrimental to children’s wellbeing and 88 per cent said they do not benefit children’s learning.

The very real nightmare of SATs

“Pupils at our school have cried, had nightmares and changed in behaviour due to the pressure on them,” one teacher said.

Another teacher said: “We’ve had children crying, making themselves ill and refusing to come to school – even labelling themselves failures – because of these tests.”

“We’ve had children making themselves ill and refusing to come to school.”

Another commented: “We see children in highly anxious states, sometimes vomiting because of pressure.”

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

“My class has only done one hour of art each half-term.”

 Another commented: “We see children in highly anxious states, sometimes vomiting because of pressure.”

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

Squeezing out other subjects

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

One commented: “After the Easter holidays in year 6, the children only do literacy and maths until SATs. All other subjects are jettisoned.”

Another teacher said: “My class has only done one hour of art each half-term since January.”

SEND children suffer most

Teachers reported that some groups are affected particularly severely by preparing for the tests. Eighty-eight per cent said children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are especially disadvantaged.

Child with keyboard

Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the NEU, said: “The Government must recognise that despite a rhetoric that focuses on ‘standards’ and ‘excellence’, they have created a system that is lowering quality, harming and demotivating many children.

“These harrowing stories should make the Government sit up and listen. Teachers accept the need to be accountable for how well children do, but SATs are not the right way to do this. Instead of raising standards, SATs squeeze the love out of learning.” 

“SATs are the biggest barrier that we have to high-quality learning.”