Commenting on a study published in Assessment in Education, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“It is important that we study carefully the impact of testing on children's wellbeing, and also on their learning. Unfortunately, the researchers have drawn conclusions about the future of primary testing based on analysis of the regime almost ten years ago. Since then, the curriculum has been radically changed in ways that many experts believed at the time was 'fatally flawed' and 'overly prescriptive' with subject content that was characterised as endless lists of spellings and rules. (1) SATs too have been changed since 2012, with a significant increase in the standard of work expected in order to be deemed 'secondary school ready', and more tests have been introduced throughout primary school. It would be much more helpful to study the impact of more recent testing.  

“This study also reports on the impact of children's happiness. Teachers work extremely hard to minimise the stress of testing for their 10 and 11 year olds. What is not made clear here is the narrow curriculum diet and repeated practising of test questions that those children experience throughout their last year of primary school. As our surveys have shown, both aspects take their toll on mental health.” (2)  

Editor’s Note 

(1) Quotes are from House of Commons Briefing paper Number 06798, 26 February 2016 The school curriculum and SATs in England: Reforms since 2010 

(2) The State of Education: Young People's Mental Health, April 2019.