This is the letter we’ve sent to the DfE in response to their reaction to the 38 degrees petition…
The text from our letter is below too:
Dear Nicky Morgan,
You may remember an interview some time ago when you told us that you considered yourself to be a ‘listening Secretary of State’. This has left us somewhat confused.
On 3rd May 2016, a petition was presented to the DfE by a delegation of parents; this petition represented the support of over 47,000 parents across the country for teachers to boycott SATs. It was created in response to the increasingly constricted curriculum placed upon our schools and children and as a reaction to the inappropriate and unnecessary testing that currently takes place in our primary schools. Our children are currently the most tested in Europe. We understand clearly as parents that assessment of children is necessary in various forms throughout our children’s lives and we are not against this: appropriate testing allows teachers to inform their teaching based upon the understanding and needs of the children they teach. What we object to is the form of the testing taking place. It is excessive, provides inaccurate results and creates a restricted curriculum. This year in particular it was deeply flawed. It also shows a clear lack of trust in trained teachers to make judgements.
We understand that petitions are probably delivered on a regular basis to Government offices, and are aware that some may slip through the net… However, this one was also accompanied by massive publicity in the form of a children’s strike. This made headline news all over the country and featured on the front page of many newspapers. Parents of well over 8,000 children across the country felt so strongly about the current system of education that they were prepared, for the first time, to take their children out of school to show the strength of their feeling. They were prepared to risk fines, and despite believing very strongly in the importance of their children’s education, they were prepared to remove their children from school – to see if you were listening.
These parents have high expectations of their children; they want them to do well and want to support them to do this. The children spent a day involved in fun, educational activities; they made new friends, they learned new skills and they learned about democracy and how important it is to stand up for what is right. At 12.30, children throughout the country shouted together ‘Nicky Morgan, are you listening?’ in the hope that you were.
But you weren’t.
Instead of an acknowledgement of what took place on that day – a democratic protest that asked you to listen and respond in order to help us to support our children, we have, a month later, received a generic letter signed by Anthony Hunter, Ministerial and Public Communications Division which fails to address the concerns we had raised with you.
We also wrote you an open letter which has been widely publicised and sent to you by a great number of people. Again, no response. You actually cancelled a live discussion due to take place with the TES the day after the strike, rather than address the issue.
The ‘Let Our Kids Be Kids’ protest grew from the concerns of a very small group of parents and in just five weeks spread nationwide. Very little media publicity was generated until the day itself. This demonstrates clearly how strong the concerns felt by parents across the country are – they were waiting for this opportunity. Many parents didn’t find out until the day itself. Many didn’t understand then what was going on in our education system. Many, many more have contacted the group since 3rd May to ask what will happen next…
The SATs have now passed, but the concerns of parents are not gone. In fact, they are growing. It is not only parents speaking out now: educationalists, mental health experts, teachers, unions and headteachers are all now speaking out on a regular basis with regards to the damage the current system is inflicting upon a generation of children. We are seeing groups of headteachers working together to try to create a new, better curriculum; unions galvanising their members into striking
against conditions in schools that create a poor educational environment for our children; mental health experts speaking out against the culture of testing, and we are seeing parents joining forces to create groups to support of this. Across the country, parents are lobbying their MPs to try to change the system of education that is destroying our children’s resilience, enthusiasm and love of learning. What began as a few has now been taken on by many.
We want to work together to see change. We want to make the education system work. We want you to listen to parents, children, teachers, experts in education and mental health and help us to get it right. Together. We want you to do what you promised. We want you to listen and to show us that you are by helping us to change this system.
All of those who want change.