The union is running an indicative ballot for members in primary schools about boycotting statutory high-stakes tests in key stages 1 and 2. We know that members in primary and secondary schools are affected by the problems with high-stakes testing. The narrowing of the curriculum, the pressure on pupils and the over-reliance on a broken system of data harvesting affects us all. Secondary members can show their support for primary colleagues in a number of ways.
- Sign the individual national letter of support that goes to Damian Hinds
- Download the secondary collective letter to send to primary school colleagues
- Share our graphic to show your support on social media
Please sign this letter to Damian Hinds
We support an end to toxic testing
Dear Damian Hinds
We are writing to show our support for primary colleagues in their upcoming indicative ballot in the National Education Union’s continuing campaign against high-stakes primary assessment.
Although as secondary teachers we are not involved in the preparation and delivery of SATs, they still affect us and our students in a number of ways.
- Studies including one by the OECD show that British children are among the unhappiest in the developed world. The exam driven nature of our education system is a key factor in this growing mental health crisis.
- Some students may arrive at secondary school having received a letter telling them they have failed the SATs or are not ‘secondary ready,’ which makes them feel they are failures even before they start their next phase of education.
- The high-stakes nature of SATs forces schools to concentrate on English and maths. This, combined with the funding crisis, has led to a narrowing of the curriculum at primary level, despite the best efforts of teachers.
- The relentless focus on exams squeezes out pastoral support in areas such as behavior, social and communication skills and emotional wellbeing, although we know individual teachers do their best to compensate for this.
- For us, using SATs outcomes to set targets for GCSEs, which take place five years later, is unsound and impractical (so much will happen for a child in those years). Our professional judgement as both primary and secondary teachers of a child’s capabilities is eschewed in favour of external tests.
We believe that SATs have no pedagogical value. As teachers, we constantly assess our students to allow them to progress educationally. In short, SATs are used to measure and judge schools, rather than help individual students move forward.
We support our primary colleagues’ fight for a well-rounded and child-centred alternative; whether it be a moderated teacher assessment system or a system of sampling, as used in Norway and other places.