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91% of primary teachers think SATs 'don't benefit children'

PlanBee's survey of 297 primary teachers finds that school leaders fear exam pressure is leading to an increase in mental health issues among pupils

Posted by Julian Owen | May 30, 2018 | Teaching

A survey by primary resource provider, PlanBee, has found that 91% of UK primary school teachers believe that primary-level SATs results matter most to the government, and least to parents and children.

The question ‘Who do SATs results matter to more, in your opinion?’ was answered by 297 KS1 primary teachers between 16 May and 21 May, in the midst of 2018 SATs test dates.

It comes after thousands of parents across the country considered a SATs boycott and concerns were raised by the National Education Union (NEU) over the government’s new literacy and numeracy tests for four-year-olds

The survey found that:

 - 91% of teachers believe that primary SATs results matter most to the government

 - 8% of teachers feel that primary SATs results matter to schools

 - 1.6% of teacherCols believe that primary SATs results matter to parents

 - 0% of 297 teachers believe that primary SATs results matter to children involved

"We are calling for the government to scrap SATs, and commission an independent and expert review to produce recommendations for primary school assessments that are fit for purpose.”  

Former primary school teacher and current Head of Communications at PlanBee, Oli Ryan, said: “The results of the survey are striking. Once again, it shows that policy makers need to listen to teachers. Too much pressure is placed on children to achieve during SATs, and it’s clear from this survey that they are the ones who benefit least from them.

“It’s evident that stress and anxiety levels among children is rising, and that pressure to achieve during SATs can contribute to this. A much greater emphasis on promoting pupil wellbeing in schools is needed.

“Teachers can’t affect this fundamental change on their own. A unified strategy for prioritising children’s wellbeing in schools needs to come from the DfE, the Standards & Testing Agency and Ofsted, too. As the House of Commons Education and Health Committees recently reported, the government needs to do more. A greater emphasis on giving children life skills for their own wellbeing will help them achieve academically, too.”

New research by YouGov for campaign group, More Than A Score, looked at the impact of SATs on the wellbeing of children and their education. It polled 596 parents of children aged 7-14 to understand the pressures children face as a result of SATs. 63% of those surveyed said that their children face too much exam pressure, and only 13% agreed with SATs in their current form.

More Than A Score spokesperson, Madeleine Holt, said: "Our polling confirms what parents have been telling us for years: SATs are damaging and pointless. Now we see even six and seven year olds worrying about tests. Surely learning is about more than getting a perfect score?  Children need a broad and rich curriculum that encourages them to be excited about learning, not terrified of failing at such a young age."

“With the status of a school and teachers’ pay so closely linked to SATs results, it’s no wonder so many are teaching to the test. The SATs regime is inhibiting children’s learning as SATs revision begins to dominate the timetable. Our primary school children in England are already some of the most tested in the world. This results in stress and anxiety in children, narrows the curriculum and distracts teachers from doing their job: teaching.

“That's why we are calling for the government to scrap SATs, and commission an independent and expert review to produce recommendations for primary school assessments that are fit for purpose.”   

 

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