4 July 2017
Commenting on the DfE publication of Key Stage 2 tests, and the percentage of pupils reaching what Government has decided it is the expected standard in the core subjects of Maths and English, Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said;
“Teachers and pupils have put in many extra yards to get these results: many will be pleased, or relieved, at what they have achieved. But overall the results make sombre reading. As the House of Commons Education Committee concluded earlier this year, we have a primary assessment system which ‘does not improve teaching and learning’.
“Today’s results show that 61% of pupils reached the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics in 2017 (compared to 53% in 2016). They tell 39% of 11 year olds that they have not reached ‘the expected standard’ for their age group and are not ready to begin secondary education
“This demoralising situation says less about the efforts of teachers and pupils than about the deep flaws of our current system. Designed to hold schools to account, it treats primary children as collateral damage.
“In an NUT survey of 2,300 members, conducted at the end of this year’s SATs, teachers revealed the costs of the current system (1). 95% thought that the demands of SATs reduced pupils’ access to a broad and balanced curriculum. Music, art, history and geography are among the subjects that miss out as schools are pressured into a narrow focus on aspects of Maths and English
“84% thought that the high stakes system had a particularly negative effect on children with special needs and disabilities. In some schools, harsh decisions have been made. As one teacher underlined: ‘Due to a shortage of additional staff, priority is given to those who are deemed to have a chance at passing the tests’.
“This is a situation that should trouble Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman. She recently spoke of her concern that schools are turning themselves into exam factories rather than providing a well-rounded education. Today the Union calls on her to act on this concern. By announcing that Ofsted inspectors will not be guided by schools’ performance in narrow, damaging and unreliable tests, she could send a powerful signal to primary teachers that a genuinely new approach to assessment and accountability is on the way.”
NUT survey: SATs having damaging consequences for both children and schools, 25 June 2017.