Saturday 3 November 2007


The Primary Review Group has released yet more evidence to show that the SATs regime that is suffocating schools has got to go.

Teachers know too well how tests and league tables are distorting the curriculum as we are forced to spend too much time concentrating on improving SATs results. Too many of our youngsters are put under unreasonable stress and lose any love of learning.

It would be bad enough if the scores were reliable but, as many teachers have long suspected, this latest research questions whether the results from SATs tests accurately assess a child’s abilities. It suggests that perhaps a third of pupils are awarded the wrong level in tests at the end of Key Stage 2.

Yet these are the statistics that are crunched into computers to give teachers the targets that they are to meet to show they are worthy of passing along the pay spine, or used by OFSTED to judge whether a school is failing. It is statistical nonsense.

This whole testing house-of-cards needs to be knocked over. But Gordon Brown isn’t going to do that willingly. Successive Governments have built their whole damaging system of judging teachers and schools on this system of SATS and league tables.

The NUT needs to use its strength to demand that SATs are thrown out. Assessment should be used to support learning not as a tool to demoralise staff and distort education.

Along with an end to SATS, performance pay and OFSTED have to be ended too. Instead of nit-picking inspections and critical observations, teachers should be able to rely on supportive advisers, with a significant proportion of them being practising teachers on secondment from their substantive posts – passing on their experience and know-how to other colleagues. Teachers should be able to rely on regular progression up the pay spine based on experience, not by dubious judgements of their performance.

Martin Powell-Davies

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