Headteachers back SATs boycott

PRIMARY school headteachers in Swindon have indicated overwhelming support for a threatened boycott of Sats tests, says a local head teacher.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) are in favour of scrapping the Sats assessment for 11-year-olds in favour of teacher assessment.

They argue that children’s progress would be measured much more effectively and communicated to parents and potential secondary schools without the need for stressful exams.

Now, the NAHT is to ballot its members on a boycott of this year’s Sats exams, which are taken in English and maths.

Mike Welsh, Goddard Park Primary School headteacher and vice president of NAHT, said: “We have had a very good response from Swindon heads. They have come out significantly in favour of taking action. There is overwhelming support in terms of the consultation, we anticipate that will be reflected in the ballot.”

He said that league tables from Sats results were not a fair reflection of a schools’ performance.

The NAHT has 112 Swindon members, made up of headteachers, assistant headteachers and deputy headteachers.

A ballot of headteachers, who will ultimately control whether their school goes along with Sats, will be held in March and April.

If a boycott goes ahead, children would attend school during Sats week, but instead of taking tests there would be a celebration of learning. Assessments would then be produced by teachers.

Mr Walsh said: “Parents aren’t going to be disadvantaged in any way. Schools will be open and working as normal, we’ll celebrate all the work children are doing.”

The Government has already stopped Sats for 14-year-olds.

Indicative ballots by the NAHT and the NUT at the end of last year showed widespread support for a boycott of the tests but the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) does not support the proposed action.

Mr Welsh said that the NAHT and NUT unions still hoped for Government concessions and that this action would be a last resort.

He said: “We’re very reluctant to do this. We have got to stop putting children under enormous pressure and stop losing good headteachers.”

Teachers’ assessment, Mr Welsh said, was a more accurate interpretation of children’s skills than the tests, which he said were often sent back to be re-marked.

Mr Welsh said: “A wide number of headteachers feel enough is enough. Ultimately we won’t administer the Sats, we will lock them in the cupboards and literally not open the boxes.”

From the Swindon Advertiser

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