An open letter to Michael Gove, Nicky Morgan and the Conservative Government

Taken from this original Facebook post which was sent to us and is public

To whom it may concern.

I have just spent the past thirty minutes consoling my 11 year old son. He has been in tears. His tears are over Sats. Since going back after Easter his school days have consisted of maths practice, SPaG revision and then a repetition of the same. He has also had a stupid amount of homework and he had homework over Easter. He is stressed beyond belief.No matter how strong the message from home that Sats have no bearing on his future ( and as an ex teacher I know this to be true!) he has picked up that his teachers will be judged on his performance and is awake long into the night worrying about them.

My son is exceptionally bright. He will do well if he was just allowed to absorb and process but no… his teachers ( who are fantastic and dedicated) must prove their worth to someone in some academic think tank and so they in turn push my child to prove his worth.And this is all wrong! My son’s teachers prove their worth every single day when they care for, inspire and educate my quirkly little boy. They prove their worth when they find a way to help.him remain calm during a hard day, when they listen to me when I say he cannot cope with any more.

If you could see the stress.on his face, the way he drags his nails through his scalp, the way he pinches his face in a form of self harm then I hope you would get an inkling of what your disordered policies are doing to children up and down this country.
But you don’t see it. You don’t see my brilliant, unique, funny boy as a person. You don’t see how his distress feeds into our family. You don’t see my tears as I try so hard to make him understand that it doesn’t matter. You don’t see how my wee 8 year old daughter cries because she doesn’t understand why her beloved big brother is crying and cross. You don’t see. You don’t see me regretting teaching my son that teachers are to be listened to, respected, cared about because then he wouldn’t be taking the responsibility for their success upon his shoulders.

You don’t see. But I wish you did.

You don’t see that my boy knows more about whales, dolphins and sharks than most people and that he has learned how to learn from that interest. You don’t see how eloquently he can speak. You don’t see how achingly well he writes. You don’t see how you are turning my boy off school and education and learning because you have made it all about the test, the results, the grades.
You don’t see.
But I wish you did.
My son wishes you did.
Thousands upon thousands of children up and down this country wish you did.
You don’t see. You surely cannot see because any decent human being with an ounce of compassion in their soul would say enough is enough!

I hope you will see soon.

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6 thoughts on “An open letter to Michael Gove, Nicky Morgan and the Conservative Government

  1. Totally and utterly heartbreaking. My bright, sensitive Year 4 son was in tears at bedtime a few weeks ago because he’s already worried about his Year 6 SATs. His teacher had told the class that the current Year 6s had all failed a practise paper as none of them had got 30 out of 36. The pressure is shocking. I think I’ll be taking my son out of school for Year 6 if things continue the way they are.

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  2. You set out the problem and its impact very clearly and eloquently, thank you. If only they were even prepared to listen.

    I was sorely tempted again last night to withdraw my Yr6 daughter from SATS, when she came home and said that ‘if she failed them she would have to re-take them at the next school’. She’s not very likely to ‘fail’ (once we know what mark that actually represents!) but that’s hardly the point. Kevin Courtney of NUT made the point well last Saturday that children – and their teachers – do need assessments and goals, but that these tests, the reasons for them, and the way they are being conducted, are all entirely misplaced. But I have no desire to make life difficult for her school (which is outstanding so it has been ‘pending an Ofsted’ for many years or indeed her next school, and the DfE seems to have made it rather difficult for parents to act in their children’s best interests by taking them out of school on SATS week.

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    • Thanks for your comment – the letter was actually taken from this public Facebook post as we mention at the top of this post.

      Also The 3rd May was chosen specifically as a NON-TESTING DAY. If a child in Yr 2 is absent for a test day, they may end up taking the test separately from the rest of their class, thus causing more stress. We are hoping that the support of so many parents around the country will encourage teachers to feel that they can boycott the SATS as unions suggest they want to. We want the day to send a strong message to Nicky Morgan that parents DO care about education and want change. An end to the tests prior to 3rd May would mean that we don’t have to take our children out of school. We take our children’s education very seriously but feel that the current regime of constant and inappropriate testing is unfair and unnecessary for both teachers and pupils.

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    • As a Headteacher in a school which apparently ” requires improvement” it is beyond stressful to ensure that the data is improving even when I know that the other schools actually cheat! There is no way that many of the schools who get the results do it in an honest way.
      I feel so disheartened that the children who I teach have these pressures, my teachers are having sleepless nights over the data and are genuinely stressed over the pressures for 85% of the children to reach age related expectations.
      As headteachers we have complained and as teachers we have complained yet we are ” teacher bashed” by the media. Children only get one chance of a childhood and the Sats and accademy issues are making their childhood suffer. I would support any parent who takes their child out for SATS.
      The other issues is that the government have messed up this year with constant changes to assessment – then they go and put the actual tests on the website for key stage 1.
      Reception children are tested and now they’ve decided that this wasn’t correct too- so back to the drawing board, year 1 pupils sit a phonics test- with ridiculous pseudo words- all these tests are so wrong as it is high stakes testing – if schools “drop in standard” a school can be under so much scrutiny.

      I agree with parents please help us to make your child’s education a wonderful one because that’s why teachers became teachers!

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