Headteachers have been told they are legally obliged to ensure pupils sit their Sats next month, as a growing number of parents plan to stage a boycott.
The Standards and Testing Agency (STA) has underlined school leaders’ “statutory duty” after a government minister suggested last month that children did not have to sit the tests.
The STA reminded headteachers of their obligations in re-issued guidance on the arrangements for the Sats tests due to be taken in May. An earlier version of the guidance was set out last October.
The latest guidance clarifies the position by spelling out that headteachers have the "final" say on who sits the tests.
It states: “Headteachers have a statutory duty to ensure that all pupils in their school who are eligible and can sit the tests do so,” the guidance states.
It adds: “Headteachers make the final decision about whether it is appropriate for a pupil to take the tests. In all instances, their decision regarding participation is final.”
The reminder will be widely seen as an attempt to stem the growing number of parents expected to boycott the tests next month by keeping their child off school on the day.
A number of disgruntled parents have been spurred to write to their school to say their child will not be participating in the tests.
This followed a written parliamentary answer published last month by the skills minister Anne Milton. She stated that: “Children attending school are not legally required to sit the national key stage tests, although most children in state-funded schools and some independent schools do take them.”
Thousands of parents downloaded a template letter giving notice that they intend to keep their child out of school.
The wording, published by the campaign group Let Our Kids Be Kids, outlines the reasons for parents' objection to the tests and says the parent will be educating their child "off-site" while they are not in school.
It concludes: “I realise this isn’t a perfect solution however I feel I must exert my rights as a parent to effect change for all children. Any action I take is in support of teachers and schools and for an overhaul of a broken system.”