'Sats reading tests too middle class, and would have no relevance to inner-city children,' teachers say

Children lacking social capital are doubly disadvantaged by the new reading test, teachers claim

Adi Bloom

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Teachers are furious that the key stage 2 reading test discriminates in favour of middle-class pupils.

As TES has reported, many 11 year olds left school in tears, after sitting the reading tests. Many have taken to social media to complain about the paper.

One wrote on Facebook: “My issue with today's reading test was the 'middle-class' element to them and today's relevance.

“The paper…would have had no relevance to inner-city children or ones with no or little life skills.

“As a teacher in Year 6 today made me feel sad – sad for the children, sad for the teachers and sad for the schools whose results may mean 'requires improvement'.”

And a Year 6 teacher from the South of England told TES that the vocabulary of the test was inaccessible to her pupils, most of whom rarely leave the estate on which they live.

She added that the paper tested of their vocabulary knowledge, rather than their reading ability. Without specific advance knowledge of the vocabulary used in the test, she was unable to prepare them sufficiently.

TES is unable to disclose any specific details about the paper, as its contents are embargoed until 20 May, when all pupils will have taken the test.

In 2011, Sats tests came under similar criticism. The National Association of Headteachers argued that the reading-comprehension text – drawn from a booklet called Caves and Caving in Davely Dale – A Visitor's Guide – favoured those pupils whose parents are able to take them out on regular trips.

And, last year, an examiner wrote a piece for TES explaining how difficult it is to write questions with a context that is equally accessible to all pupils: "For example, questions that refer to music might alienate a deaf candidate," he wrote.

This year, many teachers expressed similar frustrations on Twitter:





A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "We make no apologies for wanting every child to get an education that helps them reach their full potential, regardless of their background.

“Having a good level of literacy and a varied vocabulary provides young people with the foundation they need to get on in life, which is why the reformed curriculum ensures that children are learning to read and write well from the start of their time in school.”


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Adi Bloom

Adi Bloom is Tes comment editor

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