Ipswich NUT to ask 1,600 teachers if they intend to boycott new primary school tests

Stock image. Pic: David Davies/PA Wire

Stock image. Pic: David Davies/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Hundreds of teachers in the Ipswich area will be surveyed by a teacher’s union over whether to boycott new primary school tests.

The Ipswich branch of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), which has more than 1,600 members including a number of primary school headteachers, said it wants to gauge local opinion after concerns were raised nationally that a “testing culture” is damaging children.

Testing and labelling of children as “successful” or “failing” makes it harder to motivate and educate pupils, according to a resolution due to be debated by the National NUT at its Easter conference.

Union members are expected to raise concerns at the Brighton meeting about assessments taken by primary-age youngsters, including the new “baseline” tests for four and five-year-olds, a reading check taken at the end of Year 1, and SAT tests.

The Government has argued that testing is important to help ensure that youngsters leave primary school with a good grasp of English and maths.

Margaret Bulaitis, secretary of the Ipswich NUT, said: “The government’s education policy is in tatters. The teacher shortage is also worsening. There are cuts in funding and school places, and many children are increasingly being taught by non-qualified staff. A narrowing in the curriculum, teaching to the test, schools becoming exam factories are all effecting young people’s mental health.

“Now the government is introducing new testing arrangements in our primary schools. Four-year-olds are being subjected to baseline testing, while seven and 11-year-olds will have to sit.

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“In response to the strength to of feeling about this matter (boycotting of the testing), we will be surveying its members to assess their views on testing.

“We will be organising an education meeting early in May to involve parents, politicians and the wider community.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “The recent OECD skills survey showed that too many of our young adults failed to master (literacy and numeracy) skills at school, so we are determined not to let that happen to another generation of young people.

“All of the documents necessary for the tests and teacher assessments at Key Stage Two have been available since September 2015 – the beginning of the academic year in which these assessments are due to be made. We have also recently published some exemplification materials to support teachers making their judgements.

“We are always willing to engage in discussion with teaching unions to ensure that this transition year goes smoothly.”