The SATs effect: teachers’ verdict – Summer Term 2017


Our survey of 2,300 National Union of Teachers primary members shows a widespread lack of confidence in Government assessment and accountability and a growing conviction that it needs fundamental change.

Read the full report here: https://www.teachers.org.uk/…/fil…/sats-survey-8pp-11128.pdf





The Union is now considering the next steps in the campaign for an assessment system that works for children.





“The NUT welcomes this report. It lays the basis for a serious conversation about primary assessment, going well beyond the narrow limits of the DFE’s current consultation. The committee’s judgment that ‘this high stakes system does not improve teaching and learning’ coincides exactly with the message that teachers and parents have been sending to government. Its rejection of statutory tests in spelling, grammar and punctuation, its concern for creativity in writing and for a broad and balanced curriculum are all welcome.

elta-poster-comp2016-comm20-webThe report’s publication shows that the deep unhappiness of parents and teachers about primary assessment is now reaching the higher levels of politics. The case for the current system has been demolished: it is riddled with problems and cannot continue. If the next government does not grasp the scale and the scope of the problems identified by the Committee, then it will face a rising opposition, armed with the arguments that are presented in this report.”

Kevin Courtney, NUT General Secretary

Parents groups campaigning for education






We want to build pressure on the Government and lobby MPs locally about SATs, primary assessment and the damage being done. To get more members involved in the debate, the Executive has developed the a statement for school groups to discuss and endorse.

You can download the statement here:  school-campaign-statement-v2

elta-poster-comp2016-ks2-2nd-webParents want their children to be treated as individuals, but Government policies are in danger of turning our schools into exam factories. Students in England are now the most tested in Europe, with children labelled as successes and failures from as early as four years old.

This exam factory culture is causing high levels of stress and anxiety among our children. ChildLine reported a 200% increase in counselling sessions related to exam stress between 2012-13 and 2013-14 (Childline 2015)

The NUT is working to challenge the oppressive obsession with tests which are skewing the curriculum, putting children under too much pressure and being used to unfairly judge schools and teachers.

We are calling on the DfE to:

  • Disregard the use of data from 2016 tests for the purposes of school accountability and inspection – this will break the link between assessment and accountability.
  • Convene an independent and expert review, informed by consultation with all interested groups, to produce recommendations for the revision of curriculum and assessment in primary schools.

If the DfE is unwilling to make the changes needed, the NUT’s national executive has indicated its willingness to boycott. The NUT is meeting regularly with the NAHT and ATL to ensure as much co-ordination as possible.

More than a Score Conference

There will be a conference to coordinate a community response on Saturday 3rd December. Details to follow

School-based Action this term

You Can’t Test This: 15th May onwards

You Can’t Test This weeks are when teachers show that there is value to all of the learning and development that children do that isn’t currently recognised by the restrictive and reductive system of school accountability that is used to assess children.

Find information, resources and ideas here

Better without Baseline

We are working with a coalition of groups and individuals who share our concerns about the testing of 4 year olds.

The NUT believes that teachers should be allowed to exercise their professional judgement in how best to support the children they teach. Teachers should be able to establish the capabilities and development needs of children in a way that is appropriate for that child and that does not label children as failing or below expected levels from the start.

Researchers believe it is likely a baseline check will be unreliable and statistically invalid due to the age of the children and the fact they will be in a new and unfamiliar setting. There are also concerns the check will be damaging to children’s wellbeing, engagement and attitudes to learning.

A 1:1 test will be time consuming and impact on the time school staff can spend settling children, most of whom will still only be four, into their new environment and routine.

Early years settings will need to resist the pressure to narrow their focus in order to prepare children for the test, and families may face anxiety and confusion if their child is found to be ‘failing’.

The Union believes that teachers need to protect reception children starting school from the stress and potential damage to their well-being, engagement and attitudes to learning of having to undergo formal testing.

Read more about the Better without Baseline campaign

Exam Factories

“…the current system of measuring pupils’ attainment and using this to judge schools and teachers is deeply damaging to children and young people, and does not foster the skills and talents that are needed in higher education or in employment…” Emeritus Professor Merryn Hutchings, London Metropolitan University (Exam Factories? p. 7)

This independent research, commissioned by the NUT,  breaks new ground to uncover the  impact on children’s education, day to day, from the ways in which schools are measured, ranked and compared using very narrow ranges of data.

The report reveals negative impacts on:

  • the breadth of the curriculum
  • teacher pupil relationships
  • pupils’ emotional health and well-being
  • students’ perceptions of the purpose of education
  • different groups in particular.

John Cridland of the CBI and Lucie Russell from the children’s mental health charity Young Minds joined the Union at the launch of the findings.

Take action

A chorus of concern from different quarters is building because of the effect of the Government’s approach to testing and targets.

Use this report to broaden this coalition: talk to colleagues, parents and governors about why the Government’s approach to accountability needs to change.

Teachers – tell us how you are challenging the exam factory culture in your school.

Parents – read the report and share your concerns about exam factory culture in schools.

Useful documents and Links


Exam Factories


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