Sats test ‘pressure’ parents take a stand

Photo credit should read: Dave Thompson/PA Wire
Photo credit should read: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

People of West Yorkshire have followed in the footsteps of many across the country and protested over the pressures of formal testing of six and seven-year-olds.

Parents and children stood in unison supporting a boycott in protest of the pressures of Sats exams in primary schools.

The protest came after the Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign encouraged parents keep their children off school for a day saying they are ‘over-tested, over-worked and in a school system that places more importance on test results and league tables than children’s happiness and joy of learning.’

The petition, signed by more than 38,000 people, added: “We want our kids to be kids again and enjoy learning for learning’s sake, not for Ofstead results or league table figures.”

In Todmorden, protests took place in Bramsche Square and there was a peaceful demonstration outside Ferney Lee Primary School.

Protesters also gathered in Hebden Bridge. Organisers say they were “protesting against the ridiculous pressure being piled on our kids in the form of Year 2 and Year 6 Sats.

They added: “These tests have recently been changed to become so difficult that those with master degrees are struggling to answer some of the questions, and year 6 kids now have to retake their Sats at secondary school if they ‘fail.’

“Keeping the kids off school is intended to send a message to Nicky Morgan and the Government that we support teachers in wanting these tests scrapped.”

However Nick Gibb urged campaigners to drop their plans saying it was not fair to deprive children of a day’s education.

A poll of 1,000 pupils who took their Key Stage Two standard assessments last year found that almost a quarter of Yorkshire-based pupils had skipped breakfast in favour of extra preparation time.

The survery also found that some 20 per cent of pupils questionned in the region had lost sleep worrying over the tests and some 20 per cent said they had stayed up late to revise.

When polled, 16 per cent said they could not eat because of the nerves, and some 11 per cent said they felt hungry before exams after having skipped meals.

One in nine children in Yorkshire said they did not eat most mornings of Sats week.

Child Psychologist Dr Amanda Gummer said: “It’s a worrying trend that children are feeling pressured at such a young age to the extent that it affects their sleep and diet.

“The paradox is that these children are actually reducing their chances of success, as sleep and nutrition play a large part in a child’s ability to cope with the challenges faced during the day.”

Kellongs carried out the research as it promotes its initiative of donating 47,800 free breakfasts to 300 schools during the Sats week.

Sats are taken by children aged six or seven in Year Two and then again in Year Six at the end of primary school.

Mr Gibb said: “These tests are vital in helping schools to ensure that young people are learning to read, write and add up well.

“The truth is if they don’t master literacy and numeracy early on, they risk being held behind and struggling for the rest of their lives.

“Children should only ever be taken out of school in exceptional circumstances and we’d urge the organisers of this campaign to drop their plans.”

Children as well as their parents took part in the protests across the country and the #KidsStrike3rdMay, #letkidsbekids and Dear Ms Morgan were all trending on Twitter as well as an online survery being created, attracting more than 45,000 signatures supporting teachers.

Other places that took part in the Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign included Sheffield, Doncaster and Soltaire.

In an open letter to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, published on the Let Our Kids be Kids website, the parents who launched the event claim they “represent the voice of parents across the country” who “want an end to Sats now.”