Letters extra: SATs are no use to primary pupils

9th May 2003 at 01:00

I must strongly disagree with your editorial, "Ban teaching to tests, not tests" (25 April). Schools will not "target the creativity that has been lost from too many classrooms" unless KS2 tests are scrapped. The pressure on schools is so great that teachers are afraid that if they do not teach to the test the school's SATs results will suffer.

This has serious repercussions for schools because league tables and subsequent "standards" according to PANDAs and Ofsted are judged on these tests. In fact standards in schools are now based on tests which take appoximately 0.13 per cent of the pupil's school year!

In GCSE A-level, A2 and degree courses, course work plays a signicant part in assessing the progress and attainment of the pupil. In Year 6 formative assessment has no part to play. Consequently, the currriculum will not be made more creative until the fear of the test is removed. We can now assess children without these tests. We can use assessment to inform us what to teach the pupils next in order to move them forward. SATs do none of this. They are of no use to the primary school, no use to the pupil and are too late to affect secondary school groupings or assessments.

I recently attended a conference as the representative of a pilot school for the DfES "Value Added" pilot scheme, along with headteachers from over eighty schools. One hundred per cent of them voted against the principle of SATs. Therefore to state that "it is now inconceivable that any government would remove them from the end of the primary," and that "there is a growing acceptance of public accountability" is an unacceptable approval of a system that is strangling the life out of primary education.

D Mattinson
Headteacher, Elloughton Primary School, East Riding, Yorkshire

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