Stop these tests, protect the children

Following Michael Gove’s revision of the National Curriculum, the Government deliberately set out to make tests harder. The result was predictable. In their first year, the new KS2 SATs failed half of England’s children in at least one subject (Reading, Writing, Maths).

Even though they’ve been made a little easier since, the failure rate is still outrageous. Roughly 1 in every 3 children are starting secondary school with a failure label in Reading, Writing or Mathematics, some of them in all three. This must be having terrible effects on these children’s confidence and motivation.

The failure rate is even worse for some groups of pupils: 2 out of every 5 boys, and half of children who have ever been eligible for free school meals.

Even being born at the wrong time of year is disastrous. 42% of August-born children, the youngest in the school year, are being failed.

These SATs are doing nothing to reduce the impact of poverty on school achievement. More than half of children currently on Free School Meals (54%) were failed last year. Those who had made the mistake of getting born poor and male had even worse luck: 3 out of 5 boys on Free School Meals were failed !

These outrageous tests must end. There are far better ways to assess children and give good information to parents.

The National Education Union’s indicative ballot is now underway, with lots of meetings being called in schools and local areas. Some speaker notes are now available to aid discussion. Let’s hope teachers will call time on the tests before more children are damaged.

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