Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/323/9626
Teachers Ballot Against Sats
THE NATIONAL Union of Teachers (NUT) National Executive (NEC) has unanimously decided to ballot its members against the school SATs tests.
Linda Taaffe, NUT
Ever since SATs were introduced under Thatcher in 1988, there has been a growing body of opinion that these high-stakes tests are not good for children's education. They are distorting the curriculum even for the very youngest children.
Everything taught is judged by whether it can be tested. What can't be tested is likely to be left out. Music, sport, drama and all other creative ways of learning are being squeezed. Now teachers' pay can be linked to pupil performance in tests. Budgets, the status of the school, everything is linked to the testing regime. It is madness.
Teachers have reached breaking point. For years they have known that this is not real education but training for the test. After their initial attempts to get it boycotted under the Tories, they were prepared to wait for a more favourable government. After six years of New Labour, they realise there is no help coming.
The ballot to boycott Key Stage 1 and 2 tests, plus end of year 'optional' tests and all related administration, will start in primary schools in England on 19 November. The results will be declared before the Christmas break.
Action will start from the beginning of January. Secondary schools (Key Stage 3) will follow after the union has compiled a register of teachers in English, maths and science for the purposes of the anti-trade union legislation.
We are encouraging teachers, and governing bodies to organise meetings in schools to explain and debate the issues. Stalls at school gates and shopping centres will build parental support.
Having suffered 'wildcat' strikes by airport workers, post office workers and now firefighters without recourse to the law, will the government take on the teachers?
The union is certain that the dispute is lawful but it is also unprecedented in widening the scope of a 'trade dispute'. For this reason the union is prepared for a legal challenge. Then teachers and their leaders should take a lesson from the postal workers and be prepared to crank up the dispute. Bold action can bring real gains.
Seven and eleven year-olds are tested in English and maths and 14-year-olds are tested in English, maths and science. Each year, around 1.8 million pupils take the tests across 20,000 schools.
Testing costs £228.3 million a year, 64% more than six years ago. Producing school league tables cost £3.09 million in 2002.
The Welsh Assembly has decided to scrap tests for seven-year-olds and review those for 11 and 14-year-olds. In Scotland they are being replaced with teacher assessment.
In The Socialist 15 November 2003: