Scrap Sats, say teachers – but pupils beg to differ

13th May 2016 at 00:00
Parents also back stopping primary tests, in poll by TES, Mumsnet and First News

Most teachers and parents want primary school Sats scrapped, but more than half of pupils think the tests should stay, exclusive new surveys reveal.

The results came as 10- and 11-year-olds took tests this week in an atmosphere of increasing anger over the government’s handling of the new primary assessment.

Teachers’ leaders warned the system had descended into a chaotic “shambles”, with a paper leaked online hours before it was taken.

Now, joint polling by TES, Mumsnet and First News, the newspaper for children, reveals that 89 per cent of teachers want the Sats abolished, and 68 per cent of parents agree. But, in contrast, 56 per cent of pupils want to keep the tests.

Russell Hobby, NAHT general secretary of, said: “When parents, children, teachers and school leaders are raising concerns, the government should listen.

“Massive, rushed and chaotic reforms have eroded confidence, consent and capacity in the system. Schools and parents cannot face another year of assessment chaos.”

Unions are increasingly determined that a full rethink of the primary assessment system is carried out – before more planned changes are introduced.

Christine Blower, the general secretary of the NUT teaching union, was due to meet the schools minister Nick Gibb on Wednesday, where she said she would call for an “immediate root-and-branch review of primary curriculum and assessment”.

As well as the changes this year, the government has already floated plans for new multiplication tables tests, key stage 1 tests and Year 7 resits of key stage 2 Sats.

This year’s Sats are already the toughest ever, with a harder-than-expected reading test, taken by most Year 6s on Monday, reportedly leaving some pupils in tears.

Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts said: “Parents on Mumsnet are, on the whole, worried that Sats cause their children stress as well as a narrowing of horizons.

“They understand the need for schools to be benchmarked and pupils’ progress measured, but they’re not convinced that the current regime is the best way. That children disagree is both reassuring and no surprise – we’re used to our kids endlessly contradicting us.”

Editor of First News Nicky Cox said: “Our survey shows that children are more capable of taking things in their stride than the adults around them sometimes think.”

But Michael Tidd, deputy head of Edgewood Primary in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, who also teaches a Year 5/6 class, pointed out that children were perhaps less likely to question the school system than teachers or parents.

“My pupils were astounded that I hadn’t done Sats, because they can’t conceive of a world where they don’t exist,” he said.

A DfE spokesperson said: “These tests should not be stressful and we know that good schools manage them appropriately.

“This survey shows that 56 per cent of pupils themselves do not mind the tests, which help teachers understand how pupils are doing and identify where additional support is needed.”


Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now