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Should primary pupils be taught to pass tests, or be allowed to learn through play?

Parent protest wins Government SATs U-turn

THE GOVERNMENT has bowed to parent and teacher pressure and announced proposals to abolish the controversial SATs tests which the nation’s seven year olds are forced to take each year.

Parents have long protested that seven year olds are far too young to have to be put through exam pressure. Among their arguments were that even teenagers find it stressful to take exams – to the point where many find it hard to show their full potential, just because they are so tense. Although parents have been keen to see confirmation that their children are progressing at school, they have expressed concern that this should not be at the expense of letting “kids be kids”.

Teachers have also been reluctant to administer exams to seven year olds. They have pointed out that it is not just that exam day is different: they have to spend much of the preceding year preparing children to do the tests. This reduces the time available for child-centred teaching, which would benefit the pupils in the longer term.

Measures which have been taken to express protest in recent years have included parents taking their children out of school on SATs test days and teachers boycotting the tests.  Despite all this protest, the Government has soldiered on. The SATs tests give the Government hard results which they can use to rank primary schools in a supposed order of achievement – encouraging parents to vie over getting their children into what seem to be better schools, rather than putting pressure on for all schools to improve. The idea that all children learn in the same way and can all be measured objectively if only they are in good schools has also helped the Government introduce Academies and Free Schools, which they can use to channel public money into the private, profit-making sector.

The Government is proposing that teachers should assess pupils individually as they enter primary school and test them formally as they leave – the results of the two processes being used to measure individual progress. The proposals will now be subject to a twelve week statutory public consultation.


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