Monday, 14 May 2012

Why I Choose to Boycott SATs

It's SATs week. Is there a better symbol of all that is wrong in our education system, a better example of top-down educational policy - rather than education that starts with the child?
SATs are a standardised means which the Government use to assess primary schools. The pressure is on Headteachers to show, through these test results, that they have succeeded in their educational endeavours. But what is measured is so limited! Suppose your child is an avid reader, yet struggles to gap fill in the way required by the test paper? Then their score will not reflect their true ability. And the pressure is ON.
The pressure is on Headteachers, who need to prove their school is succeeding. If Ofsted, another symbol of all that is wrong in education, deem a school to be satisfactory, then next time they are inspected, the school must have improved and be deemed 'good' - otherwise it must be deemed 'unsatisfactory' and will be put into 'special measures'. One of our local schools has recently been dragged through our local newspaper, with calls going up for the Head's resignation, because of such a lack of improvement.
The Head's stress is passed down to teachers, who must be seen to perform. Hence, at parents' evening, I am told my son's handwriting needs to improve. I query whether it must be cursive ... can he not just write in clear print? The response, and this in a school year as far as he can be in primary school from a SATs test (Year 3), "Cursive is 2 marks on the SATs paper". And when I ask about his reading, I am told: "Well, yes, comprehension is important, too, for the tests."
I don't care! I don't care! I don't care about the SATs paper! I care about my son's interest and learning.
For these reasons, I have decided to boycott the SATs system by removing my children from school. You see, the teachers' stress passes down to the children, and to the parents.
Do you know what? SATs are absolutely not important to our children. Oh, everyone would have us believe that they are, but they are not. In secondary schools, the SATs results are barely looked at anyway? Children are reassessed in Year 7 for streaming purposes. And any good teacher should be able to assess the children in his or her classroom without the need for a SAT.
The pressure on teachers to 'teach to test' is harming our education system and undermining teachers' professional autonomy. In my opinion, this is wrong. It is not what education should be about.
That is why I boycott the SATs. Does anyone else want to join me?

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