SATs in total chaos

10 May 2016

Commenting on the news of the latest leaked Spag paper, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“This latest leak of questions and answers for today’s Spag test are a disaster for children, teachers and schools. After months of confusion and mismanagement, they mark the dismal culmination of a dreadful year for primary pupils and their teachers. They constitute an experience which must never be repeated; those who have engineered it must be held to account.

“Yesterday’s reading test dramatically revealed the utter inappropriateness of the DfE’s conception‎ of age-appropriate primary education, compared with the interests, knowledge and capabilities of learners – even those judged to be above ability.

“Dozens of teachers reported to the NUT the sheer unhappiness of a testing experience which did not allow pupils to show the best of what they could do, but instead subjected them to baffling, dull and culturally remote material. One teacher wrote ‘I was faced at the end of the test with 28 heads bowed in total silence. We are a good school with above average pupils yet only 2 out of 28 finished the paper.’

“When test design of this sort is married ‎to leaks and maladministration, there is not the slightest chance that primary assessment can provide a fair and accurate representation of what children know and can do. Assessment lacks all credibility: the scores it provides must not be used to inform any judgments about failing or coasting schools, now or in the future. 2016 assessment is a write off, and must be recognised as such by the DfE.

“For six years, the DfE’s method of working has been to freeze out the teaching profession from discussion of central issues of teaching and learning, and to deride expert opinion. The debacle of 2016 is a direct consequence of that approach. The Union calls for a new and inclusive start in primary education, that can give us the curriculum and assessment system that our pupils need. The DfE should understand that teachers will not accept another 2016, and that the attempt to retain a failing system will be very widely resisted. In primary staff rooms, the mood is ‘never again’.”

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