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“Badly Designed, Harmful And Incompetent” – NUT Survey Highlights Teacher Concerns Over KS2 SATs

Overwhelming majority of respondents believe preparations for KS2 assessment have had detrimental effects on children's education and broader wellbeing

  • “Badly Designed, Harmful And Incompetent” – NUT Survey Highlights Teacher Concerns Over KS2 SATs

Today sees the publication of a survey [PDF] by the National Union of Teachers (NUT), which highlights widespread misgivings among primary teachers and leaders at the impact the new system of primary assessment is having on children’s education, health and general wellbeing.

The 12-question survey was completed by 6,613 respondents (including 4,775 primary school teachers and 918 headteachers/senior leaders) in mid-May, immediately following this year’s KS2 SATs.

When asked if “Preparation for SATs has had a negative impact on children’s access to a broad and balanced curriculum,” 76% of all respondents ‘strongly agreed’ and 20.53% ‘agreed’. 1.35% nether agreed or disagreed, while the ‘disagree’s came to just 1.09%.

The survey’s remaining questions gave rise to similarly overwhelming proportions, including the following:

• 80.78% ‘strongly agreed’ that they were concerned about effects of SATs preparation for pupils with SEN

• 55.97% ‘strongly agreed’ and 34.64% ‘agreed’ that the standard expected by KS2 SATs is beyond the reach of the majority of children

• 42.91% ‘strongly disagreed’ and 31.42% ‘disagreed’ that this year’s KS2 SpaG/GPS test had supported the development of children’s writing

• 86.93% ‘strongly disagreed’ that the introduction of new primary assessment arrangements had been well-managed by the DfE

Nearly all (97%) of the respondents also completed a section of the survey asking for their views on whether SATs preparation had affected children in other ways. 89.99% believed it had an impact on children’s wellbeing and mental health, 90.8% on their self-confidence and 86.69% on their engagement and motivation.

According the NUT’s acting general secretary, Kevin Courtney, “The survey shows that 9 in 10 teachers believe the new assessment system is not working on every important point. It is badly designed. Its effects on pupils are actually harmful. Its administration has been spectacularly incompetent. Schools are in effect being judged on a set of numbers and scores that do not provide a valid measurement of students or schools…”

“The Union’s survey offers ample reasons why the DfE should re-think, with policies for primary education that are based on genuine consultation with teachers and expert opinion. The mood in schools is clear: they will not put up with another year like this. It is incumbent upon the Education Secretary to engage with teachers properly and broadly about her approach to pupil assessment and accountability.”

Our survey said…

A selection of comments from primary teachers in response to the NUT’s survey, as seen in its accompanying report [DOC]...

– “It has been farcical from start to finish, the level of incompetency at the very top only matched by the arrogant disregard of our profession’s concerns. Shameful.”

– “When asked their favourite subject they say English or Maths because they don’t know anything else.”

– “The requirements of SPaG and its focus in the interim framework have led to children shoehorning all sorts of wonderful spelling, grammar and punctuation into their writing but with no real effect on the composition, meaning and value of the writing.

“This focus on SPaG is in danger of damaging the children’s creativity and belief in themselves as writers in such a way that a whole generation’s voice could be lost.”

– “Many of the children who previously enjoyed school now detest education. This is a crime and a shame because, in its incompetence, the Government is willingly and knowingly making children hate learning with a passion, rather than harbour an environment of lifelong learning.”

– “I have a severely dyslexic boy in my class who cannot achieve ‘Expected Standard’ only because of his spelling. As he ‘can’t’ spell in the eyes of the Government, he believes that he is not good enough and will never be able to achieve in writing despite my best efforts to convince him that isn’t the case.

“It infuriates and frustrates me, as a teacher with 13 years’ experience, that children at the age of 10 and 11 years old think of themselves as failures because of the ridiculous standards that are imposed on them by the new curriculum.”

– “We’re already working desperately hard to monitor data and prove beyond all doubt that we are doing what we should be doing. Working beyond midnight and on weekends and holidays is considered the norm.”

For more information, visit www.teachers.org.uk or follow @NUTonline

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