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Union urges Sats fight in England

The leader of Britain's largest headteachers' association is to call on school leaders and teachers to unite with parents to fight against England's exam league tables for 11-year-olds.

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said he would not rule out calling for a boycott of key stage 2 tests. He intends to set up a meeting with the other teacher unions to discuss taking action.

Wales has never had primary performance tables, and the last compulsory tests for 11-year-olds were taken in 2004. Tests for 14-year-olds are optional from this summer.

Margaret Morrissey, spokeswoman for the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, said: "Parents would be delighted if they were abolished. You only need to look at Wales, where the pupils seem happier but there is no evidence that standards have dropped."

Members of the NAHT, which represents more than 85 per cent of primary and 40 per cent of secondary school heads, will gather in Harrogate today for the start of their annual conference.

In his first conference speech as the association's leader, Mr Brookes is expected to call on heads to "mobilise your parents and governors in a true demonstration of parent power".

In a departure from his predecessor David Hart, Mr Brookes will throw the gauntlet down to the Westminster government by calling on heads and parents to form a coalition to oppose KS2 league tables, and the compulsory introduction of extended services, such as after-school clubs, if heads do not have the money for them.

Mr Brookes was a KS2 SATs refusnik at Sherwood junior in Nottinghamshire, where he was head until last year.

He said: "The tests are grossly damaging and give a false picture of schools. I don't know if parents will oppose them if their schools are doing well. But if they are in the relegation zone they will know how demoralising tables are."

Mr Brookes believes schools should still be accountable to parents and sees the need for the Government to have a national picture of 11-year-olds' attainments. He is now looking at ways to do this without too much pressure.

Boycotts by teachers against the national tests in the early 1990s led to a review by Lord Dearing, which slimmed down the curriculum. The 1994 Daugherty assessment review led to the abolition of tests in Wales.

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