Teachers back bid to axe exams

TEACHERS in Suffolk today threw their weight behind a campaign to scrap controversial exams.

TEACHERS in Suffolk today threw their weight behind a campaign to scrap controversial exams.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has voted unanimously in favour of industrial action over SATS tests for seven and 11-year-olds over the weekend.

The union could now hold a ballot in the autumn term and industrial action would follow next year if the ballot was successful.

The motion, which children's secretary Ed Balls claims would be illegal, could mean teachers refuse to prepare or invigilate for the exams next year.

Speaking from the NUT's annual conference in Cardiff yesterday, Graham White, division secretary for Suffolk NUT, said: “We have always been opposed to SATS and think the government should abolish them.

“SATS tell you nothing that teachers can't tell pupils and parents alike.”

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He also claimed these so-called “drill and kill” tests were having an adverse affect on children's health.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) announced that its lawyers said headteachers had a statutory duty to administer the tests, and to not do so would be unlawful.

This could affect the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) which is to put an identical motion before its members at its annual conference next month.

A DCSF spokesman said: “The motion proposed by the NUT leadership calling for a boycott of next year's statutory tests is irresponsible, it is unlawful and it is out of touch with what parents and teachers want. They should think again.”

But NUT general secretary Christine Blower said she still had some hope that the government would scrap the tests and action could be avoided.

The expert group, set up by the government last year to look at the tests for 11-year-olds in English, maths and science, is due to report back in a few weeks.

Speaking earlier this week, Mr Balls said the current system was not set in stone and that he would be “surprised” if the expert group said it could not be improved.

Are teachers right to object to teaching SATS? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk