Parents keep children off school in protest over controversial exams

Parents have kept their children off school for the day in protest over controversial tests for six and seven-year-olds.

The action comes after more than 40,000 people signed a petition supporting a boycott of Year 2 Sats by teachers.

The Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign has organised the day of action in protest at children being "over-tested, over-worked and in a school system that places more importance on test results and league tables than children's happiness and joy of learning".

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan had warned that missing school even for a single day would be "harmful" and called for those behind the "damaging" campaign to reconsider.

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Sats tests help 'identify children who need extra support' says schools minister

  • Report by ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner

Parents took their children out of school today in protest at tests that they say are overstretching schoolchildren.

Sats tests for six- and seven-year-olds aren't new, but many believe they have increased in difficulty over the years.

Supporters of the tests say this is the only way to ensure that pupils who are struggling can be identified and helped.


New SATs 'ensure children master basic skills'

Chris McGovern is a retired headteacher with 35 years' teaching experience Credit: PA

New tougher SATs "ensure" schools help children master basic employment skills such as literacy and numeracy.

Campaign for Real Education chairman Chris McGovern criticised Tuesday's "Let Kids Be Kids" campaign, saying using children as part of the protest is a "sure way of upsetting their sanity and wellbeing".

Mr McGovern said British school-leavers are shown to be doing "very badly" and believes the UK has become an "education basket case".

OECD figures reveal by the age of 15 UK youngsters are up to three years behind 15 year-olds in parts of the Asia-Pacific.

Mr McGovern said the latest figures are tantamount to a "betrayal" of the younger generation.

"Yes, we need to let kids be kids but we need to ensure that they have a future, too", he says.

"SATs are an educational health check. For short-term pain they provide long-term gain".

School strike: 'SATs stress like Charles Dickens scene'

"Let Our Kids Be Kids" campaign kicks off Credit: Good Morning Britain

SATs exams are leaving schoolchildren "disengaged and stressed", according to some parents.

Thousands of children are being kept at home on Tuesday as part of a Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign against tests for six, seven and 11-year-olds.

Ben Ramalingam, who is keeping his five-year-old son off school, said some parents believe the situation is turning into a "mental health crisis".

"We are concerned parents taking a stand, we don't want our kids to be stressed out by the time they become teenagers because they have been inappropriately taught", he said.

"Our children are being pushed towards rote-based learning. It is like something out of Charles Dickens".

Jane Clout said: "I'm a grandmother and I sent my children through the state system in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and when I first started taking these boys to school I was struck by how primary schools have improved.

"But this is like going back to the 1950s".


Children boycotting school in protest over SATs

Schoolchildren in Lancaster are among thousands not going to class today in protest over rigorous new testing for six and seven-year-olds.

Good Morning Britain Correspondent Katy Rickitt is with a number of children who are campaigning against the SATs - introduced to the curriculum last year.

School strike: 'No time in curriculum for test preparation'

Former headteacher Kit Messenger says tests come at the expense of other skills Credit: GMB

Children should not be trained for tests at the expense of developing "essential" skills such as reading, writing and grammar.

Former headteacher Kit Messenger, speaking on ITV's Good Morning Britain, said she does not favour test preparation "to the sacrifice of skills that are absolutely essential for children's futures".

Although she advocates rigorous maths and writing teaching, Ms Messenger places more emphasis on developing workplace skills such as resilience and interpersonal ability.

Ms Messenger added exams "do not necessarily tell you where children are", and that "there is not the time within the curriculum" to prepare children for tests".

"If you look at the quantity that is required for teachers to teach in order for children to be successful in the papers now - it is to the sacrifice of everything else," she said.

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