Please take time to read this letter of support from one of the thousands of our supporters who will be joining #KidsStrike3rdMay …
Dear Nicky Morgan,
Enough is enough. I can no longer remain silent about the relentless and extensive destruction you are wreaking on our education system.
The changes to the KS1 SATs tests have finally tipped me over the edge: I cannot stand by and watch you mercilessly set up my children, other people’s children, an entire generation of children to fail. Some of the children taking these tests are just SIX years old – too young for formal education in many other countries, yet the British government deems them old enough to be subjected to the stress and pressure of high-stakes tests which are now apparently designed to fail all but the most exceptional children.
One of my children is currently in Year 2 and is due to take his KS1 SATs next month. My older children took their SATs as expected, yet this year, I have tried and failed to find even one single compelling reason for my son to take the new, much harder KS1 SATs.
I cannot find one way in which taking the KS1 SATs will benefit my child.
In previous years, I allowed my children to take SATs because their teachers reassured me that my children could cope with the content of the tests. This year is different. My child is in Year 2, yet since the curriculum reforms, he is now expected to know what was previously expected knowledge for children in Years 3 and 4. The change of curriculum has been sudden and drastic, without making allowances for the fact that it takes time to teach and learn this level of knowledge – time our teachers and children have not had. I am forced to draw the conclusion that the children in this cohort are being set up to fail their KS1 SATs. Why would any parent want their child to fail at six or seven years old? Why would any parent want to risk their child developing a lifelong sense of failure about themselves so early on in their education?
This year more than any other year, SATs have impacted negatively on the school curriculum. Curriculum reforms which place greater and developmentally inappropriate demands, greater stress and greater pressure on our children are clearly not in the best interests of our children. Children need a varied, creative, enjoyable, stimulating curriculum designed to inspire in them a lifelong love of learning, not a stifling curriculum which has been stripped right down to the ability to memorise and regurgitate maths facts and arbitrary grammar terms which are unlikely to be of use to them in adult life. Will any future employer ever be interested in the mark they got in their SATs? This is most definitely NOT an attack on our teachers and headteachers, who still do an amazing job of delivering a stimulating and creative curriculum in our schools in spite of government directives. If schools are having to find ways around government directives in order to provide an appropriate and stimulating curriculum, why should parents believe you when you tell us that your directives are in the best interests of our children?
In previous years, I allowed my children to take SATs because I was confident that my children’s teachers would administer the tests in a low-key, stress-free manner. And they did an outstanding job. This year I see the increased demands of unrealistically high-stakes testing in KS1 are placing an unacceptably high burden on my child’s wonderful teacher in that she must not only achieve the impossible task of teaching several years’ worth of knowledge in just a few months, but must also work so much harder to protect our children from the stress of the new KS1 tests. When stressed and overworked teachers have to strive their utmost to protect our children from the stress and pressure of government tests, why should parents believe you when you tell us that KS1 and KS2 SATs are in the best interests of our children?
In previous years, one of the reasons I have allowed my children to take their SATs is because it would reflect badly on our lovely school and teachers and their years of hard work if I withdrew them. This year is different. This year, I find myself debating whether it would reflect badly on our school if I were to actually allow my child to sit KS1 SATs which appear designed to make him and his teachers and his school fail. In other words, even the perspective that taking the SATs might be useful to our school is an argument that now easily falls apart.
Why make children take SATs tests they are apparently designed to fail? When these SATs results are released and virtually every school and every child in the country is found to be “below standard”, will the government take into account that teachers and children have had too little time to get to grips with the unrealistically high demands of the sudden education reforms? Or will these results be used as government propaganda against a “failing” education system, so academy chains can be brought in much more rapidly to “rescue” these hundreds of “failing” schools? This government has already repeatedly shown itself to be excessively manipulative and dishonest – can parents really trust that the SATs results from this cohort will not be manipulated in a devious way? Who will profit from the rapid academisation of hundreds of “failing” schools? In exactly whose best interests is this? If this is indeed the direction in which our education system is heading, I cannot allow my child to be part of a KS1 SATs results cohort which will be used to further discredit and damage our schools and teachers. This is an abuse of my child, an abuse of his teachers and an abuse of your position.
For the above reasons, I fully support a national boycott of the 2016 KS1 and KS2 SATs. I will be keeping my children off school on Tuesday, 3rd May and standing alongside thousands of other parents across the UK, who fully support our teachers, headteachers and their unions in boycotting this year’s KS1 and KS2 SATs. Our participation in the 3rd May Kids’ Strike Day is a vote of no confidence in you; it is a vote of no confidence in David Cameron; it is a vote of no confidence the Conservative Party’s ability to run an effective education system in the UK.