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Scrapping Sats could increase teacher workload, warns union

NASUWT general secretary says tests were replaced with workload-intensive teacher assessment in Wales

Chris Keates commented on Labour's plans to scrap Sats.

A teachers’ leader has warned against replacing Sats with an alternative that increases teacher workload.

Jeremy Corbyn last week said a future Labour government would abolish Sats assessments at the end of key stage 1 and key stage 2, as well as scrapping the planned baseline assessment in Reception.

However, he did not say what the alternative would be, and the party stated it would consult teachers and parents to develop a “more flexible and practical system of assessment”.


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Today Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, highlighted the case of Wales, where she said the abolition of the equivalent tests increased teacher workload.

She said: “Wales, some years ago, said it was abolishing the test, and when we ended up looking at the situation after that, what we found was that they had got workload-intensive teacher assessment, and actually more tests than they had had before [the original tests] were abolished.

“From our point of view, it’s how they are used, and the problem with the Sats is they put intense pressure on schools because they are so related to school performance.”

Speaking at the NASUWT’s annual conference in Belfast, she told Tes: “What we don’t want to do is to have one system that’s causing excessive pressure on teachers replaced by one that puts either equal pressure or more but it happens to be called something different, so we would want dialogue with that.”

Asked whether she supported Labour’s new policy, she said the union “would have to look very carefully [at] what they were going to replace it with”.

She added: “What we do know is that unless there is some sort of national standard of how the teacher assessment is being done, what you are going to end up with is what is the blight of teachers lives at the moment, and that is bureaucratic assessments and processes in schools that [are] one of the key drivers [of workload], so we would need to look very carefully at what was being proposed.”

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