A growing number of primary schools are holding “ill-considered” Sats cramming sessions during the Easter holiday, a union has warned.
The NASUWT teaching union said that it would intervene on behalf of teachers who were being pressured into running such sessions without pay or against their will.
The news came as teachers at the union’s annual conference in Belfast were today told they are “their own worst enemies” for agreeing to hold GCSE or other revision classes for pupils in their own time.
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Speaking at the NASUWT’s annual conference in Belfast, Darren Northcott, the union's national official for education, said “more and more schools” – now numbering hundreds – are doing Easter Sats sessions to improve league table positions.
However, he asked: "Where is the evidence that this is actually going to help pupils achieve what they can achieve in those Sats? There isn’t any.
“To some extent, it seems like an ill-considered response to those perceived pressures.”
He added: “If teachers are being asked against their will or having pressure placed on them to do Easter revision sessions that they haven’t volunteered to attend and for which they are not being paid, we will intervene and we will represent members.”
Sats are used to hold schools to account, but do not give pupils a qualification such as GCSEs or A levels.
However, Mr Northcott said some schools were telling parents that Sats “have more weight than maybe they do in terms of [their] child’s educational progress and their chances as they move into secondary education”.
Earlier, delegates heard that teachers feel guilty if they do not take part in unpaid exam revision sessions.
Emma Thomas, of Huntingdonshire, was applauded when she told delegates this was the first Easter in 17 years of teaching that she had not gone into school to do unpaid intervention.
However, she told them: “I feel really guilty.”
She added: “We are our own worst enemies. I know full well that if I ask my colleagues not to do revision sessions they will want to support me in that and they will want to support themselves, but ultimately it’s their kids and they want their kids to do well. I want our kids to do well.”
The conference heard that some teachers were “scared” of refusing to take part in such sessions.
Helen Russell, of Stockton, said she had “on many occasions” reminded colleagues they cannot be directed to hold intervention session for pupils after the end of the normal school day.
She added: “However, many colleagues find it difficult to say no, and would rather teach the sessions. They are scared of being criticised for not supporting their pupils.
“In the current educational climate, they are scared of doing anything that could trigger a support plan.
“They are scared of it being used against them when reviewing performance management targets if their pupils have not achieved their minimum expected grade.”