The Big Question: heads opt for a Sats boycott, but what do teachers think?

Each week, we speak to the people who count, people like you, and post their opinions on the big issues in the education world. Read it and comment to make it a lively and insightful debate.

This week’s question: heads opt for a Sats boycott, but what do teachers think?

In an historic vote at the National Association of Headteachers ballot yesterday, around 98% of heads voted in favour of a boycott of Sats in 2010.

Teaching to the test’ limits children’s educational experiences, and schools are humiliated by the publication of league tables, according to both the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) and the National Union of Teachers (NUT).

Furthermore, they feel that as Sats were scrapped for 14-year-olds, it follows that they should be scrapped for KS1 and KS2.

However, some teachers fear work overload will result if Sats are scrapped as the onus for assessment will be fall on teachers.

Here are some views from the education community:

“Boycotting Sats will support the voice of those that work in education and that, in itself, is a major triumph ! What should follow is negotiation as to how we then take assessment further so that teacher workload does not increase. If it gives an opportunity to bring joy back into the classroom for all those year 6 pupils, then we need to do this. League tables have destroyed teacher morale in the past decade. It is time to move on.”
Susan M Coles, arts and educational consultant, from Washington Tyne and Wear

“The decision to boycott or not to boycott should be set against a bigger question: can the assessment of children be given a more realistic and workable platform? “Schools are constantly facing new requirements without any regard to the usefulness of the data gathered.”Record only what you need to and no more. If it doesn’t elicit valid information which is generally agreed as helpful, then it is not worth collecting.

“Secondary schools mistrust Sats data from KS2, the self-same data that schools are hung out to dry on! “Headteachers are of course not best placed to judge Sats since so few of them teach or want to teach.

“If the unions would come together to decide and ensure that the consequences would benefit both children and teachers, then I would commend the decision. The jury is out.”
Tom Sheerin, teacher and tutor, South Tyneside

“The removal of KS3 Sats has made very little difference where I work. We are still asking students to sit the tests but using the results as internal data. There is an extra onus on core subject teachers to mark the test, but they are used as a substitute for Year 9 end of year exams. The pressure of having the results publicly aired has been removed and this can only be a good thing for staff and students alike. However, the results remain a useful marker of students’ progress. All in all a satisfactory result, in my opinion.”
Iain Murdoch, secondary teacher, from north Herts

Please share your views below:


Previous big questions:
Do schools need training on how to deal with racist bullying?
Will you explore your existing powers to manage behaviour?
Why are teachers shunning citizenship training?