Year 5 pupil: 'Children should not be weighed and measured like vegetables'

1st May 2009 at 01:00
10-year-old makes plea to House of Commons lobbying event to save him from Sats misery

Conor Muller, aged 10, is furious: he wants to be reading books and poetry and having the chance to develop his active imagination.

Instead, the Year 5 pupil insists all he has to look forward to in September is a year of testing, so he has wasted no time joining his teachers in campaigning against Sats.

Conor, who was speaking last Wednesday at a House of Commons event organised by the NUT and the National Association of Head Teachers about the testing regime before the latter's annual conference this weekend, says his classmates share his sentiments.

They know their school, Benthal Primary in the London borough of Hackney, is good and are worried about the pressure their teachers are under to prepare them for Sats.

In an impassioned plea, Conor described the effect of Sats in the classroom - being made to sit in "boring" lessons and driven "mad" by constantly having to answer questions.

"Schools aren't like supermarkets: children should not be weighed and measured like vegetables," he said. "Reports say children in the UK are the unhappiest in the world and they are also the most tested in the world. Is this a coincidence? I don't think so.

"Sats don't tell teachers anything they don't know, and they don't tell parents anything teachers can't tell them. All they do is force schools to compete like businesses."

Ruth Hooper, a parent who has organised anti-Sats campaigns in Norwich, said other mothers regularly told her of the exams causing children to start bedwetting and becoming ill because of stress.

"They don't want to disappoint their parents and they want to do as well as their friends," she said.

Those at the meeting accused Schools Secretary Ed Balls and the Government of putting out misinformation about a proposed Sats boycott and the disruptive impact it would have on schools. Labour MPs have been told three-quarters of parents want Sats - which contradicts teacher union surveys.

Headteacher Gail Larkin told the meeting she was willing to end her 35-year career if Sats were still around by next summer. "I can no longer stand by and watch this happening to our pupils," she said. "Rarely have I seen my colleagues so disillusioned."

But Judith Bennett, a director of the National Governors' Association, voiced concern about the difficult legal position in which a boycott would leave her members.

"Govenors will have to look very carefully about how to approach this," she said.

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