Response To Nicky Morgan

“That is why the campaign led by some of those who do not think we should set high expectations, who want to ‘keep their children home for a day’ next week, is so damaging.

Keeping children home – even for a day – is harmful to their education and I think it undermines how hard you as heads are working. I urge those running these campaigns to reconsider their actions.”

Taken from Nicky Morgan speech at the NAHT annual conference 2016, 30th April 2016

In response to Nicky Morgan’s attack on parents choosing to exercise their democratic right to protest on Tuesday above we’d like to say the following…

Parents supporting this cause, which has the wellbeing and happiness of their children at its very core, are very angry that Nicky Morgan should suggest that they don’t want high standards for their children.

We all want the best but it seems that we have very differing opinions on what this means in practice. Parents want high standards in enthusiasm for learning, high standards in creativity, high standards in curiosity, high standards in self confidence and self worth. None of these parental high standards are accounted for in the SATs.  Many parents feel that these standards have much more worth in real terms for a developing child. Evidence also shows that these standards, so very important to parents, are being undermined by this testing regime.

Achieving high standards in academic learning does not equate to simply measuring test scores in comprehension, grammar, spelling, punctuation and mathematical reasoning … especially when the content is completely inappropriate for the developmental levels of the children. You cannot make children brighter by making tests harder.

We aren’t against tests per se… our amazing teachers measure children’s progress every day and it is right to pinpoint children who may need extra support. However, tests should be at an appropriate level and not be setting children up to fail. This year the government has to recognise that they have got it wrong with the content of the SATs for both year 2 and year 6… we are not alone in voicing this opinion.

Many arguments in favour of so rigorously testing our young children are focused on secondary school exam results at the age of 16. We would suggest to this government that children are perhaps being put off learning at primary level by a dulled down, Ofsted driven curriculum which leaves little opportunity for our wonderful teachers to do what they do best – engage children in the joy and wonder of learning.  No wonder that by the time they reach secondary school many children do not want to engage.

Nicky Morgan states that “keeping children home, even for a day, is harmful to their education” and we want to say that this has caused an uproar among our supporters. What exactly does Nicky Morgan think we do with our children at home that is so harmful?

We’d also like to question, if missing school for one day is so damaging, why so many schools are used as polling stations in the local elections…right in the middle of SATs preparation? And again for the upcoming EU referendum?

This isn’t a day off to play computer games or sit around watching telly.  On May 3rd via #KidsStrike3rdMay we are coming together in local communities, engaging our children in discussions surrounding democracy and British Values, encouraging them to enjoy outdoor learning and taking part in educational visits.

On May 3rd we are taking our children out of school as a protest against a government imposed testing system which we feel is harmful to our childrens’ confidence, self esteem and in some cases their mental health. The testing regime is what is harmful to millions of children NOT a one-day protest with the wellbeing of our children at its heart.

We are listening to our children, our teachers and our headteachers and SUPPORTING them not undermining them.

We wonder if Nicky Morgan is listening too?

PDF Version of our response: Response-to-Nicky-Morgan.pdf
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36 thoughts on “Response To Nicky Morgan

  1. A fantastic response, my children have decided they’d like to work towards gaining a blue peter badge that day & are using ICT to investigate this, when they get home from camping tomorrow (where they have been toasting marshmallows, playing games & helping put up tents working as a team). I do not remember seeing any of that in a SATs paper either 😉

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  2. Fabulous response. Good luck with your protest day, makes me want school age children again so that I could join your campaign, the government need to listen to all the evidence regarding our children’s health, wellbeing and enthusiasm for discovery rather than clinging on to their damaging approach.

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  3. Our kids aren’t in school on Tuesday because of a non-pupil day annoyingly. Also key stage one SATs take place throughout May. The big impact would be to boycott Key Stage 2 SATs. They are specifically timetabled. End the madness of pressure on young children.

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  4. Very well said. We ARE supporting our teachers, our heads, and our educators. We are NOT supporting SATs and exam-led learning.
    The fact that Nicky Morgan has had to resort to trying to undermine the campaign so clumsily is both transparent bullying, but also for one specific reason: she has no better argument against what the campaign is all about. She knows she has no legitimate counter-argument.
    We are angry, Nicky, and we think you and your advisors should resign. Between you all, you are stifling the creativity and thirst for learning in a whole generation.
    How dare you say a day off school with me is harmful to my children’s education! What about the weekends…? Quick – call Sicial Services! In fact, we are planning an educational visit to a Roman ruin, a trip their school is unable to provide during this very topic this term.
    Gosh, how dare you!
    I have written to you, Nicky, this week – will I get a reply? I doubt it. (Would it contain grammatical and spelling errors if I did? Probably). Will you listen to our comments? I doubt that too. But maybe someone above you will, and do something about you and your archaic and irresponsible ‘education’ system.
    We employ you Nicky; please resign – you are not good at the job you have been entrusted with: facilitating the education and inspiration of OUR children.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wrote to Nicky Morgan this week and my local MP. The patronising reply I received- undermining me as a teacher I can cope with but as a parent- as if I don’t want my children to be educated and learn things. I am so angry. I will write again but articles like this reassure me that I am not alone and I am not wrong, misguided, misinformed etc etc

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    • Training days (INSET days – IN SErvice Training) are just that. They are there to help the teachers keep up today with all the latest matters like Internet safety, pupils wellbeing…more recently the anti-radicalisation Prevent strategy….these are not ‘days off’ for the staff. Please get your facts right before posting.

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      • Your children have exactly the same amount of school days each year regardless of when INSET days are held. It is a statutory requirement that pupils are at school for 190 days per academic year.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, the teachers are in work and learning, but the children are not, and these are in term time.
        The point people are trying to make, is that keeping children off school in protest is no more likely to be detrimental to their education than an INSET day.
        Many families attend cultural events, visit museums, explore outdoors, and participate in all manner of educationally enriching experiences during these INSET days, and are likely to provide similar experiences on protest days too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The comment was not claiming INSET days are days off for the teachers. But they absolutely are days off for the children, so must be detrimental to children’s education according to Nicky Morgan’s own argument.

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      • Children get 13 weeks a year off school. Surely they can choose a day within the actual holidays to train staff? My son’s school Sent a letter to all paren’t saying they could have the day off school for the tour De yorkshire! If that was a parent wanting their child to have an extra day off school to have a bank holiday weekend away, they would have been fined.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think Liz’s comment was intended to be ironic. I.e. It is ridiculous (and inconsistent) to suggest that one day off school is so detrimental to children’s education.

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      • You asked “Surely they can choose a day within the actual holidays to train staff?”
        Actually, many years ago the then Education Secretary did just that. Mr Baker took 5 days off the school holidays and gave them over to INSET days – so the contact days in school were not affected at all and kids continued to get the same number of days in school as before. Thus in effect, an INSET day is just a kid’s school holiday entitlement sliced off the longer holidays and popped in term time. It was and is the teachers who have lost 5 days from their leave…

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    • We cannot speak for Liz or anyone else here but wanted to reiterate, as the original founders of #KidsStrike3rdMay that we all SUPPORT teachers and think you do an amazing job in VERY difficult conditions due to the National Curriculum and SATs that are imposed on you.

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  5. S.P.I.C.E Nicky, Social, Physical, Intellectual,Creative and Emotional development thats what children need.
    A great response and so important to send .
    Interesting the links she makes to Korean education who interestingly turned their system around at the same time as Finland both producing great results , Korea hot house kids, Finland have fun and what a surprise that Korea have higher rates of suicide in their young adults , grrr that woman is such a numpty

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  6. Well said! She has no idea and no experience in the matters of educating children. So out of her depth she may need Boaty Mcboatface to rescue her!

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  7. Fantastic response, beautifully written. Thank you for articulating so clearly exactly why so many of us parents and teachers are beyond frustrated and beyond angry at this continued twisting of the truth and ducking of our concerns for our children. So grateful for the work of this amazing campaign.

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  8. It’s a great response and as a teacher and parent of a toddler I am ever fearful of where this education system is heading! When I started teaching the focus was on developing enquiring minds through creative lessons; now it is about learning facts by rote. We are no longer developing children ready for the challenges of secondary school and the step up in educational study, instead we are teaching to test for fear of a whole school failure. The teaching profession has increasingly lost its autonomy over the years, which has been stifled by the growing rigour and power of primary testing. I therefore find it laughable when Nicky Morgan dares to insinuate she is in fact deigning to give choice and freedom back to teachers. Scrap the testing and then teachers may well feel this is true. Our children can only be inspired by education when it is taught in an engaging manner at school and alongside this their parents are encouraging and supportive of the importance of education. Without the two, it matters not how much you test a child.

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  9. If Nicky Morgan is correct why is it that all our teachers and heads are actually supporting what we’re doing? Or is a day with them just as “damaging” as a day with us?

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  10. If one day off school is harmful to a child’s education, why is my grandchildren’s school being forced to close for two days this term to accommodate polling?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great reply!! What I would like to say to Nicky Morgan as well is that if she thinks that missing one day of school for a 6-7 year old is so detrimental it proves our point that expectations for and pressure on our kids are inappropriate for our age. Missing a day of school may be a problem for a pupil in the run up to GCSE or A level exams, but certainly not be for primary school kids!

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  12. This is what I posted on my FB in response. to your post:

    Great Response: “You can’t make kids brighter by making tests harder.”

    And if Nicky Morgan thinks ONE DAY off school for the 3rd May strike is seriously damaging to our children and calls our parenting into question then what the hell is the point of SIX WEEKS off at summer…..

    6 weeks out of school, 6 weeks that parents fret and worry about childcare and balancing finances. 6 weeks that are meant to golden and care free but where we probably doubt our parenting even more…. 6weeks were you will argue kids should run free, play, use their imagination, be unconstrained…. All the things they don’t get to do at school because stats are more important.

    35 working days to spend carefree with our kids when most of us get 21 days leave a year. Get real Nicky, you’re pissing off pretty much every parent I know right now…..

    I got 4 A*s in my GCSEs, 2 As in my A Levels, a 2:1 at uni, run my own business and am about launch my first book. But… I got 5 out of 10 on the KS2 English test paper; I knew 2 and guessed 3 and no bloody clue about the other 5….

    When will our politicians ever understand what real day-to-day life is like…??

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  13. I suspect she did not feel this way when thousands of primary schools
    Close across the country on election days. Funny how when it may benefit her you don’t see her protesting.

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  14. A great piece – the only bit I would dispute is about Ofsted. DfE is driving the curriculum, not Ofsted. It is those ill informed ministers and their civil servants who have developed the policies and the tests that are dominating the school experience of our children and crushing the hard working teachers who are trying to keep childrens interest and enthusiasm alive despite government attempts to destroy creativity and love of learning by rote learning and working to the answer rather than asking questions

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    • It is fear driving the curriculum. Inspections should be to check everything is running smoothly, and highlight areas needed for training, with a re-inspection if improvements are required, to check that actions have been taken. At the moment, it really feels like Ofsted are there to try to catch schools and settings out, and many practitioners feel fear when faced with inspectors.
      Perhaps if inspections of this nature were carried out on the government, with threats to shut them down if they didn’t pass muster, and checks to make sure they were meeting the required actions to improve (with the correct evidence and statistics, of course), then maybe, we would all feel things were being carried out more fairly.

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  15. Im confused… so finland is apparently rated top education system in the world where education is centered around play and happiness…wouldnt you as a person in charge look to where the best education is and where the children are the most grounded and content… 1+1=2 but obviously not to nickey

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  16. I can’t stand that line ‘a day out if school will harm the education of your child,’ that MPs throw around. They kept pretty quiet when we all got a day off for the Royal Wedding or was it the Queen’s birthday?? I forget which. Only when it suits them. GRRRRRRR

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  17. I am apoplectic. The only person damaging our children is Nicky Morgan. I honestly didn’t think we could get anyone worse than Gove – I was wrong. I am a Year 2 teacher and hoping that most of the parents take the day to do some lovely creative learning with their little ones instead of the day of teaching to the test I unfortunately have planned again for tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. When the KS1 SATs were first introduced my daughter became very stressed, nightmares, sleep walking etc. With her fantastic school I took the decision to remove her from the tests. Did this harm her education? Were my standards not high enough? As her parent I thought I was taking the best care of her mental well being that I could. Not taking KS1 SATs had no discernable impact on her education – she went on to gain a PHd.

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  19. Fantastic response! As an ex-teacher I think this is long overdue. I saw my Yr 1 grandson’s report recently – 3 sides of A4 with detailed comments about everything and nothing, couched in language that many parents would find confusing but obviously fulfilling Ofsted criteria. What are we doing to our children to bureaucratise their education so that all the joy is sucked out of it? My grandson’s teachers are brilliant and he loves school but how long before he’s turned off learning and bored and resentful?

    Thank you for this wonderful campaign.

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  20. Tests for 6 and 7 year olds? For heaven’s sake, they should be out exploring the environment and learning through play. Best educational experience I’ve ever seen for children that age is participating in the Kentwell Tudor Re-enactment – where they join parents or guardians in playing the role of Tudor people, and interacting with visitors in a very safe environment.

    They’ll learn more in a week there than they will from years of ‘teaching for the test’. And they’ll get to do it while having huge amounts of fun, too. Both our nieces did it, and both have benefited enormously.

    Except, of course, that dear Mr Gove took the Tudors out of the National Curriculum for children of that age… [Good grief, will this government EVER get anything right?]

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