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SATs Boycott

(36 Posts)
squeezedatbothends Tue 05-Jul-16 23:29:39

Seen another member being pretty much savaged tonight for suggesting she wants to boycott the SATs for her child. Thing is, so do I and I'm a teacher. So at the risk of being savaged -are there any other parents out there who want to do the same?

Fanjango Tue 05-Jul-16 23:39:35

There are those that would agree. Except you can take the sats anytime over a week after they are set. This means that to avoid them your child would need to be off school for over a week and risk being fined under the absence from school guidelines. Many teachers I have spoken to hate the sats, the pressure the children are put under and the pressure teachers face to get their children to "perform". It's sickening. My twins went through the sats this year, the school were really good at helping them to not get stressed but as of next year children will need to re sit if they fail to reach the target mark, this defeats the whole point of the sats being a mark of the school and puts it firmly in the "child passes or fails" category. A boycott needs to be organised and orchestrated to show solidarity between the teachers and parents to say that we don't support suck testing and feel it is detrimental to children's mental welfare and chances of receiving a rounded education. There's time...get everyone involved

Fanjango Tue 05-Jul-16 23:40:55

Such testing not suck testing. The sentiment is correct though, the tests suck. grin

mrz Wed 06-Jul-16 07:16:44

I don't think anyone has a problem with a boycott and it may be that the teaching unions decide to do just that

teacherwith2kids Wed 06-Jul-16 07:22:43

OP, I don't think that the poster was savaged for wanting to boycott SATs - just that the way she suggested that she wanted to adapt the whole of Y6 for her child was ill thought through.

I do think that a boycott would be well-supported amongst teachers. As Isaid on the thread in Staffroom about yesterday's strike, i have no problem at all with the idea of doing MORE teaching as a protest, especially with time for material and subjects currently outwith or neglected within the national curriculum, which boycotting SATs would allow

PigletWasPoohsFriend Wed 06-Jul-16 07:29:08

It was the OPs way if wanting to do it and not accepting that they would probably still be tested in y7 that was an issue rather than the boycotting

irvineoneohone Wed 06-Jul-16 08:17:02

I think if you think your child shouldn't sit sats, you have a choice of home ed or send them to private.
I think it's inconsiderate to use state school, and refuse all the work related to sats and demand to do something else while at school.

EricXXGmex Wed 06-Jul-16 09:46:26

I am in favour of schools giving the kids some sort of level when they start, as without that they are unable effectively to measure progress, or to set work that is appropriate for the child. Obviously for most starters, a formal test would be virtually impossible, and probably undesirable, but I suppose that teachers do assess each child informally, so they can set appropriate work.

I also accept that some form of test is required at the end of each key stage in order to assess how well the school is performing - albeit these figures can only form the basis of comparison with other schools with similar external factors.

The problem with that is that the schools and the staff get competitive, because 'doing well' in SATS reflects well on them professionally, and with OFSTED. At the school I have experience of, KS1 SATS are handles extraordinarily well - the kids aren't 'drilled' or given endless revision in the run up, and the tests aren't built up as some massively important thing. The kids seem to respond very well to this. If all schools (and parents) had the courage to treat SATS in the same way, it would be much better all round. But it's a Prisoners Dilema, isn't it? If all the other schools are doing nothing special to prepare the kids, then one school can look ace if they do a bit of prep, and so then the others have to, so them others have to - and we end up where we are now.

I don't know what the solution is. I think we need to be able effectively to measure progress and be able to make some comparisons, but I can't see a way of doing that without pressure being put on the kids to perform.

TeenAndTween Wed 06-Jul-16 10:15:00

I think it is about identifying why you want to boycott SATs and then being consistent. I'm covering y6 here not y2:

- boycotting to make a political point won't work unless it is part of a national campaign. Random parents pulling kids out won't make a difference.
- boycotting due to narrowing of curriculum during first half of y6 won't work, as the curriculum will already have been narrowed before the tests, boycotting the culmination makes no difference
- boycotting because your child gets stressed may work, but secondary has lots of tests too, so maybe better to encourage the resilience needed instead
- boycotting because you don't want the 'number' may work, but ultimately your child will almost certainly be assigned a number by the primary or secondary anyway

What might be more effective?
- getting fellow parents from your school to go together to talk to school about their approach to SATs and what level of preparation you want
- not doing excessive homework if set
- pulling child out of y6 and home educating
- not choosing a primary school based on SATs results in the first place, but paying more attention to ethos and how they approach such things
- not choosing a secondary school that has inflexible setting/streaming based on SATs, but rather adjusts as they go along based on the child they are presented with
- joining a pressure group to lobby the government
- going private

squeezedatbothends Wed 06-Jul-16 10:18:28

Thanks everyone. I don't think anyone has any problem with children being assessed or even testing - I know that the evidence from cog sci shows that regular low stakes tests help kids to remember important things. It's the high stakes stuff that is so damaging. When Nick Gibb admitted that the SATs tests had no benefit for children and were there just to hold schools to account, it made me so angry, because I think everything we should do should be done with their interests in mind, not to cover our own backsides. I've got a couple of years to properly look into this as my son is only just going into Year 5 so I'll keep updating this post as I find out more information. I also don't think the Yr7 tests in sec are that bad either - they're low key and most secs use them because they don't trust SATs results which sort of makes them even more pointless. Anyway, will update as I go along and it would be great if anyone else were thinking of doing this, to stay in touch.

TeenAndTween Wed 06-Jul-16 10:26:52

You see, I think y6 has been extremely beneficial for my DD2.

- She has learned to not panic if faced with something she can't do
- She has learned to accept my help for school work
- She has learned 'test taking technique'
- She has learned to read text passages more carefully and pay attention to detail
- She has learned to slow down a bit in maths and to be more accurate
- She has consolidated core skills in maths
- She has improved her spelling (a bit)

Having the SATs has forced the school to work on a number of key skills, rather than just ploughing ahead with more content when foundations and 'habits of mind' aren't there. This is the same as I saw for DD1 6 years ago, before the new curriculum.

(I'm not that keen on the grammar stuff, and the reading paper seems to have been very hard, but the concept of SATs I have been very happy with).

irvineoneohone Wed 06-Jul-16 10:37:46

Thank you Teen, it's a great post.
If you put it that way, I can see a lot of positives about sats.

Autumnsky Wed 06-Jul-16 10:48:31

I totally agree with TeenAndTween, SATs at 11 certainly has huge benefit. I don't think it is so pressure as the 11+, as you don't need a certain score to get into a secondary school, it is just a measure to see how well DC has learnt and how well has the school been doing. Just imagine if there is no test, how do you know the school is doing all right. My DS1's primary school was so lovely, they had a great time with lots of activities. However, the SATs score went down and down each year, you have to admit that there is a problem with the teaching. The school became require improvement by the time my DS1 left, and the parents started to move their children out of the school, it took a few years for the school to move back up. Without the SATs test, the problem would be hidden for years, and lots of children would suffer on their education.

As for the pressure on children, you can't put your DC on cotton wool for their whole life, it is better to build up their ability to stand for the pressure bit by bit. There is no ranking in the class, no requirement of the certain score, I can't see why people think it is a huge pressure. It's impossible to ask to cancell the GCSE, the A level test, why not let children gradually learn to deal this pressure. Even you take you DC out of all the test, what about the future interview for the jobs?

squeezedatbothends Wed 06-Jul-16 11:15:21

Autumsky, it's not about cotton wool. I actually think my kid wouldn't get stressed at all. It's the way the data is used and the pressure it puts on schools to do anything to get kids through the test. I see it all the time. I suppose having worked abroad and seeing how much more attention is paid to critical and creative thinking and how that builds up resilience in a different way, has made me see the UK system in a new light. There are several secondary schools now who test kids and then put their names up in the corridors in rank order. The culture of competition and testing is getting so ridiculous. And tests don't get you through an interview - being able to talk coherently and come across as an interesting person is what gets you through an interview. My son's interview for Oxford did not cover a single bit of the A Level syllabus - they wanted to know what broader knowledge he had. He got in because he was articulate, quick thinking and engaging and loved the subject he was being interviewed for. I see that love of learning being ripped out of the youngest.

Autumnsky Wed 06-Jul-16 11:33:33

The reason some parents don't want SATs is about the pressure that it put on children, that's what my post is about(maybe it is not your reason).
Let the children build up their ability to stand for the pressure bit by bit. So they will be able to face the pressure in future GCSE, A level, University test and the pressure they have to face in the future life, like the job interview etc.

And I think it is a good measure to make sure the school do the right thing to provide a solid educationfor most of the children.

Like in my DS1's primary school, the SATs score hit low for a few years, so DS1's class had been given SATs revision booklet in Y6, they all do some everyday. I believe DS1's classmates all had the chance to revise, to fill some gap that was missed in Y3-Y5, it must be benificial for most of the children. Without this SATs test, the school's underperformance would be hidden for years, risking so many children's education.

As for your DS's Oxford interview, I think Oxford would give offer based on your DS had a good GCSE and A level, of course they won't test A level question again, that's what A level test is for , isn't it.

Autumnsky Wed 06-Jul-16 12:07:31

I think it is hard to try to keep a balance between a solid foundation for most of the children and having fun of learning. Of course, school should try to achive it, but it is hard. As for some children( I think percentage is big), they need practice to grasp basic math and English skills, and these skills are essentials to their future life. Practice are boring.

Lots of people on mumsnet have the ability to help with their children's education, but what about the massive people who can't and don't have time. Without the test, they all assume their children's education is fine, but some of them even can't do the simple math questions like percentage, average etc( Some of my colleagues can't do these).

Students at University have to retake the exam if they failed, if they failed the retake, they may have to retake a whole year. Why, as they have to have these knowledge and skills before they can go into the further study.

It is the same with primary school children, they have to have the basic skills which tested in their test, then they can have the further education. It is like building a house, you have to have a solid foundation. How to make sure that.

noblegiraffe Wed 06-Jul-16 12:29:22

The problem with that is that the schools and the staff get competitive, because 'doing well' in SATS reflects well on them professionally, and with OFSTED.

That's unfair on schools and teachers who are under enormous pressure to do well in the SATs. Floor targets mean that schools can be closed/forced to become an academy, with all the chaos that brings. League tables mean that parents judge schools on their SATs scored in a very basic way (headline figures over progress) and schools need bums on seats for funding. Poor SATs results mean engaged parents look elsewhere and you end up with sink schools.

noblegiraffe Wed 06-Jul-16 12:32:51

Oh, and if you have a bright child, I think you need to consider very carefully the effect that losing that guaranteed good mark will have on the school and the class teacher. They have worked hard for your child, and will be absolutely gutted if that child being absent then screws their targets. Personally I think it's unfair to do that unless you have a very good reason, like serious concerns for the mental health of your child, not just wanting to stick two fingers up to the establishment.

irvineoneohone Wed 06-Jul-16 12:56:11

Until I read Teen's comment, I didn't have strong thought about sats, but now I feel it may really benefit child like mine.
He is bright, but very careless and doesn't read questions carefully, and not competitive at all. He doesn't care if he made mistakes. Sats end of primary may give him lots of important skill he needs in the future.
Doesn't mean I'm looking forward to it, but it made me see the daunting sats year more positively.

dotdotdotmustdash Wed 06-Jul-16 13:10:01

I'm in Scotland and kids here do the MiDys tests every two years with minimal fuss and no stress, in fact, I don't even think the parents are aware that they're happening. They just spit out a result about where the child is functioning and they're fairly accurate since no child is coached or hot-housed in advance. Why is it so stressful in England?

Autumnsky Wed 06-Jul-16 13:10:36

A good SATs score doesn't mean a good school, but I certainly think a good school need to have a good SATs score. Parents have the right to know how the school is doing before they send their children to the school. Even parents doesn't have the choice to change school, still have to send their children to a school with bad SATs score, at least parents are aware of it, they can try to think how to make up for it. And for school, they can use this measure to try to improve itself and get help.

Like DS's primary school, they eventually had a headteacher from a outstanding school to support them, and the school is gradually back to normal.

It's really hard to know if the school has done a good job without any test. Like my DS1's primary school, it was lovely. Children are polite, teachers are warm. There are lots of activities in school, clubs, orchestra, term play. DS1 loved to go to school. I loved it as well. It is only by Y6, we know that the SATs score was so low in the year above, school is going to fail, and school tried hard to boost children's SATs score. But it was a bit late, as most of the children didn't have a

paxillin Wed 06-Jul-16 13:53:46

Your ds is in year 5? I thought from next year, children who fail the SATS resit them in year 7. So your boycott would mean he has more SATS coaching than the other, since his secondary will have to test him since he scored 0 points by not taking them in year 6?

squeezedatbothends Thu 07-Jul-16 08:14:13

Paxillin - he won't have a score of 0, he'll be listed as absent. And of course, I won't be allowing him to do resits in Yr 7 either, although I'll be very surprised if they end up happening - the White Paper is dead in the water once a cabinet reshuffle takes place. I'm not really asking permission to do this as I'll make my own mind up - I've been in education for 22 years and know how it all works, but I am wondering if other parents have similar concerns.

Dotdotmustdash - Lots of secondaries do MiDYiS tests in Yr 7 - low key benchmarking. I have no problem with that really. Will be interesting to see what happens in Scotland now they're introducing SATs - they say the results won't be published and they'll be low stakes, but that remains to be seen. Hope they get a better balance than we have here.

On another note, middle child didn't do SATs - was in the year of the teacher boycott. Made no difference to him at all. The idea that children somehow won't learn without them is a nonsense.

irvineoneohone Thu 07-Jul-16 08:20:11

squeezedatbothends, is this your idea, or does your dc have say in either he is doing sats or not?

teacherwith2kids Thu 07-Jul-16 08:48:48


As you'll know, it's not the MiDYiS tests that actually set the benchmark for your child's targets for secondary - it will be their SATs results, because that's the way that the system works at present and the school can't over-rule that.

I think it does also depend a lot on the school how much SATs impact on the whole of Y6, and how much focus is put on that single week.

In some schools, there is no point whatever in withdrawing them from the SATs themselves, as it is the endless preparation and coaching towards them that narrows the curriculum for the children all year that is the real problem. It's a case of withdrawing them from Y6, or nothing - the tests are the lowest key part of the year.

In other schools, the tests are so low key that they are barely noticeable (my DC's primary managed this quite difficult trick - they had a week every year in which children did tests, and the Y6 one looked so exactly like the previous years, and had no extra explicit preparation for it, that the children didn't really notice them). In this case, there would be a political point in boycotting the tests as part of a wider, political boycott (i for one would support such a boycott, simply because so many schools are becoming 'all of Y6 is about SATs) but not to spare the impact on your child, because that would be minimal.

There are some schools where the preparation for SATs is very low key for much of the year - usually the first two terms - and then ramps up very, very significantly after Easter. These are the schools where a boycott would be of benefit to the child - though such a boycott would have to be quite long, and have to involve the preparation as well, because it is that 'build up' that is worst for the children.

As i say, I would support a boycott, especially if this was planned from long enough in advance to give ALL children a totally SATs-free Y6 - ie it was clear from September that SATs would not be taken. I know that in the last SATs boycott it was only the test period itself that was boycotted - by which time most of the damage in terms of stress and curriculum constraint had already occurred and could not be undone.

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