Sats: One in 10 teachers 'forced to cheat'

Twitter survey finds 7 per cent admitted cheating in Sats writing assessments, and a further 10 per cent say they were forced to cheat by senior leaders

Charlotte Santry

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One in 10 teachers say they, or their school, were forced to cheat in this year's key stage 2 writing Sats test by their senior leadership team, according to a snap poll.

The Twitter survey, carried out by Lee Card, the deputy headteacher at Cherry Orchard Primary School, in Worcestershire, asked: "Anonymously – have you or your school cheated in KS2 Writing this year?"

Out of nearly 2,000 responses, 7 per cent replied "yes", while 83 per cent said "no". A further 10 per cent ticked the box for "forced to by SLT".

Some teachers reacted angrily to the findings:



One tweeter suggested that teachers should have blown the whistle, rather than complying with the demands:


Simon Smith, headteacher at East Whitby Academy, a primary school in North Yorkshire, said he was "horrified" that teachers said they were being forced to cheat by their senior leadership team.

He called for clearer guidance on the rules around carrying out and assessing the writing test. He said: "There are schools and different local authorities interpreting the guidance differently. Is that cheating? It's not a level playing field."

One of his own teachers had been advised during a visit to another school to place post-it notes on pupils' work during Sats, suggesting they "check their spelling". He said: "The teacher came back and we had that discussion, and I said 'I don't think that's right'."

Mr Smith also blamed the high stakes accountability system for putting some teachers in a difficult position. 

Tuesday's KS2 Sats results showed improvements in the proportion of pupils hitting the expected standard in writing, which is assessed by teachers. 

Just over three quarters – 76 per cent of pupils – were at the expected standard, compared with 74 per cent last year.

A lower proportion – 71 per cent of pupils – reached the expected standard in the independently-assessed reading test, up from 66 per cent last year.

Earlier this year, a Tes investigation suggested that the government had failed to ensure the “more consistent, reliable approach” to moderating teacher assessments of writing that it had promised following last year's Sats chaos.

Two-thirds of moderators trained for this summer incorrectly assessed pupils’ work when tested earlier this year, the investigation revealed.

The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.


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