Why I applaud parents for boycotting SATs

Dear friend,

I am a teacher... Cut me in half like a stick of rock and you'd find teacher written through me. It isn't a job to me, it's a profession, a calling. It is something I love doing. I love working with kids...

Before having my own children when lads would chat me up and ask, do you have any kids I'd usually answer; Yes 30... You see they were mine they felt like mine...

I consider myself privileged to have taught over 1000 amazing kids in the last 20 years. I feel the buzz when my pupils learn something new, when they crack something they have been struggling to learn...  Yes teaching is my job but also my passion!





I had freedom in teaching for the first couple of years and worked with an absolutely brilliant teacher. We worked hard to put together interesting topics for our kids and taught a broad curriculum. We knew our pupils really well... She taught me a lot!

Teaching frameworks were introduced - the literacy and numeracy hours. We embraced it wholeheartedly, I was even one of the first teachers to trial the Literacy hour in class. OK the frameworks weren't statutory but there weren't many schools who opted out...

We became a group of Stepford wives following the routine, sticking rigidly to the timings marked by a kitchen clock on our desk. Oh wait - we weren't allowed to have a desk anymore! Every child was to be taught in the same way.

But that didn't work either so next we had to start to look at teaching and learning styles. Let's find out what kind of learners our children are and then stand on our heads trying to fit in the curriculum and cater to their learning needs...

And don't forget that all kids need to be engaged - let's see those hands people...

Good teachers started to feel overwhelmed, like they were failing to tick all the boxes...

But it wasn't enough to impose what we were to teach and how. We were then told how to evaluate this learning. What better way to judge than a test?

Teachers could no longer be trusted to give an accurate assessment of their pupil's learning. We had to be open and transparent and not only would kids be tested but the results would be put out there for all parents to see.

The teaching world shifted with the introduction of SATs and league tables. The focus moved. We were forced to look at our kids in different ways they were given this mark, graded and highlighted in a list...

Teachers became involved in meetings where "level 1 child" was discussed and used as a stick to beat us with. The person doing the beating didn't care know that "level 1 child" had recently been taken into care because mother had a drugs problem and had been neglecting her kids or that "level 2c child" (just clinging on to acceptable at the time) was struggling because dad had moved out of the family home and despite this had made amazing progress since September.

It didn't matter to them... To us passionate teachers it did matter though and we had many moans conversations about the changes...

Let's be clear here - I hate testing for 7 year olds. I don't love it at 11 either! But at 7, I would go as far to call it cruelty. I actually admire those parents who chose to keep their children away from school in protest over the SATs.

Why do I object to the SATs?



  • Stress!

Good teachers go out of their way to make the whole testing experience as stress free and painless as possible but most kids still get very stressed...then underperform...


  • The results doesn't tell me anything new!


As a teacher, the test doesn't tell me anything that I don't know already...

I know my kids, I know which ones find 2 step problems in maths hard, who struggles with time and spelling. I don't need a test to tell me that and neither do the kids.


  • Not all exams are well written or organised

The only surprises I've had are the ones where brilliant kids have underachieved because of badly written questions or where a child has got lucky with multiple choice questions - oh yes this did happen - I watched them blindly ticking anything!
This year there have been exams appearing on line and leaked to press and children in tears because of reading papers that are way too difficult! Shocking!

  • Performance related pay

Performance related pay has changed the face of teaching as a profession; if the 2c kids are the difference between you and that promotion then won't some teachers begin teaching to the test or focusing on certain groups at the expense of others? I feel really uncomfortable about that...


  • Love of learning and creativity

I have heard and read several accounts from parents concerned that their child/children are feeling unhappy at school, feeling under pressure, not wanting to go to school. I have heard accounts of parents driving past the school during the weekend and kids announcing, I hate that place or thank god I don't have to go there today! How sad!

I became a teacher (mush alert) because I love to inspire children with beautiful or funny words written by brilliant authors, seeing their faces as the rocket we made in Science launches into the air, feeling the sense of achievement at the moment that the penny drops and the pattern presents itself in maths, playing board games together the day before Christmas break, watching the child who was afraid to speak play the lead in the end of school production...

Why did we take the joy out of learning?

Children should not be worried about exams they should be busy being kids. (Picture of boy jumping over water on the beach.)

  • People are unique. That is the brilliance of being human, we are unique...
When I was young, I used to go to the market with my nana. I loved biscuits and we'd go to this stall with row upon row of boxes of biscuits - all presented perfectly. There was also a bargain bin which contained all the mis-shapes being sold off at a special price because they were imperfect.

But my favourites were the mis-shapes.

Mis shapes were exciting, interesting, you never knew what you were getting and there were some real treats hidden away in side... It was the variety that made them most interesting to me!

My brother and I would pull them excitedly out of the bag shouting; Oh, look at this one...

We should be celebrating uniqueness and individuality. Encouraging creative thinking. The different thinkers are the ones who change the world, the inventors the scientists the explorers. Did you know that Einstein... was a mis-shape too.

  • You can not apply business principles to people!

It doesn't follow that if we pump the same information in the same way into each child they will all turn out the same results. If you are a parent that will be apparent with your own kids - just look at them. You brought them up in the same house, in the same way, with the same values - are they the same?

For the last ten years I have been in International Education - we don't have SATs. Perhaps I am unqualified to comment (that thought did initially stop me from writing this post) but after reading one rather misinformed opinion I couldn't hold back!

You can not treat kids like products, or schools like businesses... Teach with your heart not to a test or you risk having disengaged pupils and demoralised teachers...



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