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From The Socialist newspaper, 6 September 2003

Stop SATs: Unions must take action

AS SCHOOLS start a new term, a whole battery of problems threaten to engulf an already beleaguered government. Thousands of jobs have been lost already due to the funding crisis.

Linda Taaffe, NUT executive, personal capacity

Some head teachers are even digging into their own salaries to keep schools afloat, on top of the huge subsidy parents already make.

Yet when it comes to SATs, money is no object. This week it was revealed that the cost of national curriculum tests for 7, 11 and 14 year olds has shot up from 8.2 million in 1997/98 to 27.4 million in 2001/02.

Not only are tests useless in educational terms they are also a huge drain on resources which could be better used elsewhere. One more good reason why SATs must go.

Throughout September the National Union of Teachers (NUT) is carrying out a survey, highlighting teachers' attitudes more clearly in preparation for a national ballot.

It is important that teachers make a massive response.

For too long many teachers have come to believe that unions are half-hearted, talking a good fight, but never doing anything.

On this issue we expect an overwhelmingly positive response, giving the union no option but to go for a real ballot this side of Christmas.

It would be a great encouragement if anyone with anything to do with schools - either in their work or as a parent or governor - could tell teachers of their support.

It would give teachers a confidence boost, which we will definitely need in this direct challenge to the Blair government's authority.

Stress, strain and pressure for school students

SATS undermine your confidence and bring stress, strain and pressure. I have gone through a number of tests from primary school to secondary school - no child enjoys having tests and most teachers don't enjoy giving them.

Sally Beishon, 13, London

As I moved from Year 5 to Year 6 I started feeling enormous pressure to revise. Knowing that I was finding it hard in Maths (a main subject), I started to panic as the dreaded SATs came closer.

I realised then that I will have an endless journey of tests until I finish college and university.

This made me worry even more, though I hadn't even finished my Year 6 tests yet!

After the tests were over, I moved to secondary school, the pressure of preparing for more horrible tests was overcoming me. I always had a negative opinion of my own work and felt that my test results would always be bad - I was embarrassed by them and it made me hate them even more.

In my second year I found out that most tests I'd already done were not actually good for my education but to put my school in a league table. Next year's SATs - all that pressure and strain - won't be to see how good I am just to see how good the school is.

I do not like the idea of doing more tests that make me feel bad about myself and I think, well, why should I?

Socialist Party Teachers

Autumn Term Meeting

Let's put an end to SATs and League Tables! But what assessment methods should schools use?
Saturday 4 October, 11am - 3pm, Lucas Arms pub, Grays Inn Road, London (200 yards from Kings Cross tube/rail station).

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In The Socialist 6 September 2003:

Teach Blair A Lesson Build a new workers' party

Blair's head still spinning

Fight low pay, job cuts and privatisation in Royal Mail

Death and destruction in Iraq

Stop SATs: Unions must take action

How to beat top-up fees

Asylum seekers: Blunkett's harsh policies ignore reality

Daggers drawn in the BNP

Understanding Marxism - a guide to action

Will new IVF proposals end the postcode lottery?

London blackout: Chaos shows up failure to invest

TUC conference: Opportunities for the Left

Civil service union challenges New Labour's pension pans

Are the unions on a collision course with Blair and the bosses?

Royal Mail's spin doctor

Strike action on the increase

Israel/Palestine: Ceasefire collapses as Sharon targets Palestinian leaders

Italy - a 'hot autumn' awaits Berlusconi

Build a movement against the occupation of Iraq

Iraq: Can the occupation be stopped?


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