All around the country parents, teachers, school leaders and children have been getting involved in the combined campaign of the National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Head Teachers to end SATs tests in primary schools. Many “SATs Saturdays” – activity days in local town centres – have been held and the support from the public has been overwhelming on Saturdays in July, August, September and October.
Later this term both the NUT and the NAHT will be asking members who teach in maintained primary and middle schools where Key Stage tests are still taken, (they have been discarded in secondary schools) whether they think SATs should be abolished and whether, if called upon in a formal ballot, they would be prepared to take action to not prepare for and administer SATs in 2010. It is vital to show government the strength and depth of feeling on this issue, by members and head teachers voting Yes in substantial and overwhelming numbers in these indicative ballots later this term.
Thousands have already signed the NAHT/NUT joint petition to end SATs and support is also growing among contemporary authors such as Phillip Pullman.
Two “End SATs” newspapers – one for teachers and one for parents and governors – have been centrally produced to raise the profile of the campaign.
Maximum strength and unity between the NUT and NAHT needs to be developed to ensure a good response in the indicative ballots, as the government appears loath to banish SATs in England, a principal method of policing and curbing teachers. Only a strong professional voice combined with growing parental opposition will kick this costly and mechanical, enthusiasm-draining process into touch.
Releasing the teaching profession from being coerced into spending so much time teaching to the test will liberate the curriculum and allow a broader, more interesting and creative educational environment for the next generation of our children. Moreover, it will also encourage teachers to reclaim other parts of their professional life from the irksome control and interference of soulless management dogmas, data crunching, league table tyranny and bureaucratic overload.