Suffolk primary school children pupils ‘on strike’ in protest over SATs

Pupils and students, outside Bealings Primary School, whowere due to strike today.

Pupils and students, outside Bealings Primary School, whowere due to strike today.

Schoolchildren across Suffolk are “on strike” in protest at controversial tests for six and seven-year-olds.

The action comes after more than 40,000 people nationwide signed a petition supporting a boycott of Year 2 Sats by teachers.

More than 40 parents of pupils attending Bealings Primary School near Ipswich are spending the day in Playford Woods, walking, sketching, discovering nature, cooking and singing.

Another group of 12 pupils and three parents from the Beccles area are also heading to Dunwich Heath for an education outing.

The Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign has organised the day of action in protest at children being “over-tested, over-worked and in a school system that places more importance on test results and league tables than children’s happiness and joy of learning”.

The petition added: “We want our kids to be kids again and enjoy learning for learning’s sake, not for Ofsted results or league table figures.

“Bring back the creativity and the fun – say goodbye to repetition and boredom.”

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan warned that missing school even for a single day would be “harmful” and called for those behind the “damaging” campaign to reconsider.

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In a speech on Saturday, she said: “To those who say we should let our children be creative, imaginative and happy - of course I agree, both as a parent and as the Education Secretary.

“But I would ask them this: how creative can a child be if they struggle to understand the words on the page in front of them? They certainly can’t enjoy them.

“What are the limits placed on a child’s imagination when they cannot write down their ideas for others to read?”

The number of Suffolk pupils ‘on strike’ today is not known.

Graham White, secretary of the Suffolk NUT, said: “We fully support parents who have decided that these tests are a waste of time, waste of resources, do nothing to help their children and actually cause them unnecessary stress and mental anguish.

These tests are not diagnostic, they are not designed to assist teachers or the pupils. They are not designed to highlight areas of strength or weakness in pupils’ understanding but are simply a crude measure of a pupil’s ‘ability’ which are then used to rank schools.

“This has more to do with narrow minded view of education than about helping pupils. If we really wanted pupils to do better we would spend more time teaching and less time testing. We are creating exam factories from an early age and that is not what education is about.

“Nick Gibb this morning urged parents not to take children out of school for these tests as they would ‘lose’ education by doing so. This is, as we all know, complete drivel. These pupils would not be taught, they would be tested. We would rather pupils were in school and teachers were able to teach and use their expertise and professional judgement.

“The government would prefer a dogmatic approach to what is taught, how it is taught and when it is taught and then test. Teachers have always assessed pupils and will continue to assess pupils. That assessment is formative and diagnostic.

“It is to pinpoint where pupils need help and decide where that help should be given and in what format. We want our pupils to enjoy education not be turned off. We want a broad and balanced curriculum not a narrow 1950’s centralised approach. Time spent in the library or outdoor education is more beneficial than sitting these pointless, useless tests.”

Suffolk County Council and the Suffolk Primary Headteachers’ Association have been contacted for comment.