Stress of Sats gives children nightmares

Nine out of 10 teachers think Sats are detrimental to children’s wellbeing, according to a NEU survey

Helen Ward

Sats, Kevin Courtney, Robert Halfon, KS2 Sats, Year 6 Sats

Children are having nightmares about the Sats tests, a union reported today.

A survey of 1,200 primary teachers, carried out in June and July, by the NEU teaching union found that nine out of 10 primary school teachers felt Sats were detrimental to children’s wellbeing.

“Pupils at our school have cried, had nightmares and have changed in behaviour due to the pressure on them – and we do our best to shield them from it and not make a huge issue out of the tests,” one respondent to the survey said.

Another said that some children were so anxious they were sick: “We see children in highly anxious states, sometimes vomiting because of pressure. More children are displaying signs of poor mental health and we do not put pressure on our children.”

The survey found that 88 per cent of teachers did not think Sats benefited children’s learning and 86 per cent said preparation for Sats squeezed out other parts of the curriculum.

Sats 'are demotivating children' 

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “The government must recognise that despite a rhetoric that focuses on "standards" and "excellence", they have created a system which is the opposite of what they intended: one that is lowering quality, harming and demotivating many children and creating classrooms in which the love of learning is endangered.

“The harrowing stories we have heard about crying, stressed children should make the government sit up and listen. Teachers fully accept the need to be accountable for how well children do, but the Sats are not the right way to do this.

"Instead of raising standards and creating excellence, Sats demotivate and stress children and teachers, do not benefit children’s learning and squeeze the love out of learning.”

The Sats results are due to be released tomorrow.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Most parents understand that assessing the extent to which children have grasped what they have been taught is an important part of education, and it is by doing so that teachers can understand where pupils may need additional support – this is especially true of pupils before leaving primary school.

“These tests check that children can read, write and add up well, which lays the foundation for success at secondary schools and beyond. We trust schools not to put undue pressure on children when administering these assessments, and certainly not at the expense of their wellbeing.”

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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

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