Schoolkids in Lancaster to “strike” over new tests

Parents and children from primary schools in Lancaster, who are planning to protest against SATs tests on May 3.
Parents and children from primary schools in Lancaster, who are planning to protest against SATs tests on May 3.
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Defiant parents in Lancaster are preparing for their children to “go on strike” in protest over new primary school tests.

Headteachers across the district have also made a stand over “poor and ill-conceived” new SATs tests which they say test children way beyond their reach and experience.

One parent said schools have become an “exam factory”.

A day of action on May 3 will see many parents keep their children off school to take part in educational activities away from the classroom.

Lancaster mum Janet Regan, a member of Facebook group Lancaster District Parents - 3 May Strike, said: “This is not just for Year 2 and Year 6 kids and is not a boycott of the SATs, it is a day of action in protest at the new tests and increasing focus on testing and is timed to take place before the SATs. It affects all primary school kids. I have seen sample papers for the new year 2 tests and they are horrific. They are sucking all the joy and wonder out of learning.

“Teachers are doing their absolute best to minimise the impact and stress of the tests on the kids but there is an inevitable impact on the content of lessons as, at the end of the day, they have to teach kids the stuff that is in the tests.

“Together we can make the government listen and make a difference to the way our children spend their time at school.”

Last week, the Lancaster and District Primary Headteachers Group sent a letter out in school newsletters to parents, spelling out reasons why they are so concerned.

The letter states that current end of Key Stage 2 pupils have only had two years to study a four year curriculum, from which the new test content is drawn.

The letter said that teachers “have an overriding feeling of worry about the requirements and expectations that have been implemented”.

“We want the best for our children but feel that the current direction of travel, if unaltered, will damage the educational and personal development of your children that we care so much about.”

Catherine Armistead, headteacher at Skerton St Luke’s Primary School, said she had asked MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale David Morris to meet up with headteachers to hear their concerns, but he had declined.

Mr Morris did not wish to comment.

The letter added: “The current end of Key Stage 2 pupils have only had two years to study a four year curriculum, from which the test content is drawn. The elevated expectation within the Reading, Writing and Maths assessments will now inevitably be out of reach of more children.

“The levels within the Spelling and Grammar test (SPAG) are even more unattainable with subject content not familiar to many Graduate level English students, including the use of the subjunctive form, past progressive tense and the difference between subordinating and coordinating conjunctions.

“These children are 10 and 11 years old! Unless they score 65 per cent on this test they will be considered to have failed and will be forced to keep taking the test in successive years until they hit the required standards.

“Many children who have previously considered themselves to be performing well at school will now see themselves as failures at the end of their primary schooling.

“The cumulative effect of the tests has been to further narrow the curriculum and damage the emotional health and well-being of our pupils who are already amongst the most tested children in the world.”

A national drive to raise the issues is being organised for May 3 by Facebook group Let Our Kids Be Kids #KidsStrike3rdMay on Twitter.