A Good Day To Bury A SATS Boycott

We certainly live in changing, and uncertain, times. At the time of writing this, we could, in a day or so, have any one of at least three possible government permutations. More pertinently, the next education secretary could be either a Conservative (Michael Gove), a Lib Dem (David Laws) or the current incumbent, Ed Balls. Actually, Ed Balls is the least likely option, as he will no doubt have leadership matters on his mind.

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But it is an unprecedented state of affairs. And therefore a good day to boycott SATS exams for 11-year olds. At least if you want to escape censure, but perhaps less so if you’re looking to make a point. After all the talk of schools acting illegally, taking Headteachers to court is not exactly high on any party’s agenda right now.

However, once all the current party-political-horse-trading-dressed-up-as-‘The Nation’s Interest’ is over, it would make sense for whoever takes over at DCSF to take a cool, detached view of this week’s events in schools. The boycott will have significant implications – this year’s primary school league tables will be meaningless, for a start – but will the roof fall in? I doubt it. 

Many of the 300,000 kids who have avoided the test, will still be assessed anyway on reaching their secondary school, not least because of the discredit which teaching to the test has brought. Mr Balls might like to pretend that schools don’t drill-and-skill their kids, but the evidence was there yesterday in the remarks of Headteachers who went ahead with the SATS: ‘We’ve been preparing our children all year for these exams’ went the justification. 

So, it’s perhaps too much to hope that the next government will find a less manipulative (and manipulated) way to measure primary students’ progress. Who knows, it may even be based upon trusting their teacher’s honest assessment.

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