NUT conference: “No More SATS!”

NUT conference: “No More SATS!”

DELEGATES TO the National Union of Teachers (NUT) annual conference stood up and chanted: “No More SATS, No More SATS!” when the resolution to boycott SATS was passed unanimously. The boycott of these tests, taken by children at ages seven, eleven and fourteen, is planned to start in 2004.

Delegates’ mood was if the other teacher unions don’t go in with the boycott, the NUT should go it alone. Speaker after speaker spoke about how damaging the tests were – labelling children ‘failures’ as young as seven.

They said there’s so much anger against SATS, members of other teaching unions would join the action on the ground anyway.

Socialist Party member Linda Taaffe, a member of the NUT’s national executive, spoke at a fringe meeting on fighting SATS. Linda warned that the executive committee would only put the conference decision on SATS into action, by organising the ballot and an effective campaign, if pressure was put on them from grass roots level. She explained how the campaign has to be built involving all teachers, parents, governors and school students.

The boycott will have a knock-on effect on the whole basis of New Labour’s education agenda – the league tables and performance-related pay, so an effective campaign has to be built before and after the ballot.

On the question of cuts and redundancies because of the shortfall in school budgets, the mood was overwhelmingly that strike action would have to be organised if any teachers were sacked. Delegates gave endless examples of schools where teachers’ jobs were at risk and there was a determined mood to fight back and defend jobs.

Jane James