CONTROVERSIAL tests for 11-year-olds are more a test of teachers and schools, it has been claimed.
Thousands of schoolchildren across the country last week took the Statutory Assessment Tests (SATs) which aim to measure their progress, but which are also used to compare schools.
National Education Union Warwickshire spokesperson Emma Mort claimed the main purpose of the tests was to judge the effectiveness of a school or teacher.
She said: “As a union we aren’t against assessment. Teachers are constantly assessing throughout lessons, when marking and reading through pupils’ work, when listening to pupils’ answers – assessment is an essential part of a teachers’ job.
“But the problem with SATs is the way that they have led to a narrowing of the curriculum and teachers feeling like they have no option but to teach to the test. I have heard of primary schools in Warwickshire where pupils no longer do art, drama or music in year six because of the pressure on the teacher to prepare pupils for the SATs and this isn’t their fault, it’s the result of the system of high stakes testing where a teacher’s career could be jeopardised if the class don’t achieve high levels in their SATs.
“This isn’t the NEU vision of what a creative, empowering and exciting curriculum should look like. Pupils being faced with endless practice tests, Saturday and Easter holiday revision classes and no longer having access to a broad and balanced curriculum for their final year of primary school is contributing to the rise in mental health issues that we are seeing at a younger and younger age.”
She added the £44million spent on SATs in 2016 – at a time when school budgets were ‘being drastically cut’ – was a waste of money and teacher assessment was much more valuable.
The controversy surrounding the tests has given rise to campaigns such as ‘Let Our Kids be Kids’ and ‘More than a Score’ – the latter representing 18 education and parents’ organisations which believe data is valued above children’s wellbeing.
A Department for Education spokesperson explained the tests helped identify areas where pupils needed support and to assess a school’s performance, but added the department trusted schools not to put ‘undue pressure’ on pupils during the assessments, at the expense of their wellbeing.