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SCHOOL children have been left “terrified” of taking their SATs this week by the pressure not to fail, campaigners have warned in a fresh call for the national curriculum exams to be scrapped.
More than a Score has said the current system is “inhibiting children’s learning,” with revision classes “dominating the timetable.”
Over half a million 11-year-olds will be taking the tests in maths and English this week and the results are used to judge schools across the country.
There is ongoing concerns about use of the assessments, and the pressure being put on pupils to achieve good results.
NEU joint executive council member and primary school teacher Gawain Little said SATs are a “major source of anxiety and pressure” for young students.
He told the Star: “Children as young as 10 are suffering from poor mental health because of our exam factory culture.
“At the same time, these tests tell teachers, parents and policy-makers very little of any value about children’s understanding. They force a narrowing of the curriculum, made worse by the continued pressure on budgets.
“This is a flawed system of assessment which is both morally and educationally unjustified.
“The sooner it is ended and replaced by an effective system of moderated teacher assessment, the better.”
A survey by the campaign of over 500 parents of seven to 14-year-olds found more than a third say their child has been anxious about SATs at some point.
More than a Score’s Madeleine Holt posed the question that learning is “surely about more” than getting a perfect score on a test.
She said: “Children need a broad and rich curriculum that encourages them to be excited about learning, not terrified of failing at such a young age.
“With the status of a school and teachers’ pay so linked to SATs results, it’s no wonder so many are teaching to the test. The SATs regime is inhibiting children’s learning as SATs revision begins to dominate the timetable.
“Our primary school children in England are already some of the most tested in the world. This results in stress and anxiety in children, narrows the curriculum and distracts teachers from doing their job, teaching.”
School leaders say they share many parents’ concerns about SATs tests, arguing the data is just “part of the picture” in judging how good a school is or the success of a pupil.
National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) deputy general secretary Nick Brook said: “We would like to see less testing in primary schools overall, leaving more time and space for a broad range of subjects and activities in the school day so that children’s opportunities are not limited.
“School leaders share many of the concerns that parents have about SATs. Children have many interests and talents ranging from music to sports.
“They have acquired many life skills which will stand them in good stead for the future. They are not just numbers on a page.
“It’s certainly true that the assessment and accountability regime in primary schools is not working for parents, schools or children, but we have made decent progress by working collaboratively with the Department for Education and there is more to come.”
Schools minister Nick Gibb said the Key Stage 2 tests “play a vital role” in ensuring children have a good grounding in reading, writing and maths, and the government “trusts schools not to put undue pressure on pupils.”
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