Wigan education trade unionists campaign for SATS to be scrapped
Wigan education trade unionists are hitting the streets of the borough to send a simple message to those in power to scrap SATs in primary school.
The borough’s branch of the National Education Union (NEU) is putting on stalls in Wigan and Leigh town centres this weekend and next to call for the tests sat by youngsters aged 11 or under to be axed.
The campaigners say sitting such high-pressure exams at such a young age damages pupils’ learning as schools spend too much time teaching for the tests rather than broadening youngsters’ knowledge and affects their mental health.
The union says the tests are not even that useful for gauging how much children are learning and are not valued by secondary schools.
The local events are part of a national campaign by the union, which is surveying members over support for a boycott of primary school testing.
In a joint statement Wigan NEU district secretaries Max Atkins and Andrea Grice said: “Teachers have always done regular and ongoing assessment tests of their pupils’ ability, and these are highly accurate.
“Taking snapshots of their knowledge and abilities at the start and end of a year has no educational value at all and says nothing about the potential of all children to succeed in later years.
“Government-driven, useless tests mean schools are increasingly teaching more English and maths to the detriment of other subjects, with after-school sessions and ‘booster’ sessions in the February and Easter breaks.
“In their desperation to get even higher scores than last year, and better scores than the school down the road, many are even starting SATs preparation in year five.
“Secondary schools do nothing with SATs results because they are so unreliable, and pupils then have to do even more tests in year seven. This is absolutely ridiculous and has to stop.
“More and more stories tell of pupils experiencing physical and mental distress from the pressure that is placed on them to compete with each other at a time when they should be enjoying school and building relationships through play and a broad-based curriculum.
“Labelling children as ‘failures’ because they don’t meet arbitrary standards is not what we went into teaching for, and is not what parents expect from the education system.”
Wigan NEU is urging parents, grandparents and carers to give support to the drive to axe primary school tests and to make their feelings over SATs known.
The campaign starts on Saturday in Wigan town centre before going to Leigh on June 15.
There will be cakes and balloons for children and parents can discuss testing with union representatives and even test their own knowledge on a SATs question or two.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and senior Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran have already pledged to scrap SATs if their parties end up in government.