The Tylenol test…

We recently heard a story about Tylenol which anyone interested in the SATs debacle should be interested to note…

For those who aren’t aware of Tylenol, it is the American Calpol equivalent, selling little bottles of medicine for children’s fevers and colds.   In the 1980’s some bottles were tampered with and, horrifically, a number of children were deliberately poisoned as a result.  This wasn’t Tylenol’s fault.  They weren’t responsible for the crime… and yet they recalled all products and ceased to trade until they produced a new tamper free bottle and made 100% sure no such incident could happen again.  This is a company acting with ethics and putting child well-being before profits.

Here in England we have a problem with high stakes testing in Primary Schools.  There is widespread acknowledgement that SATs are damaging to children’s mental health.   In 2017 an Education Select Committee of MPs investigated SATs and reported that “the high stakes system can negatively impact teaching and learning, leading to narrowing of the curriculum and ‘teaching to the test’, as well as affecting teacher and pupil well-being.”

And yet here we are… 2 years later… and SATs are still in place in our Primary Schools.

The DfE is not passing the Tylenol test.

Child well-being must be put first, above all else.  Tylenol knew this in the 1980s, putting children ahead of profits and sales targets.  Yet our own education ministers don’t seem to know this in 2019, putting SATs data and PISA ratings ahead of children’s mental health on a national scale.

Headteachers have recently launched an  Assessment Charter  which we sincerely hope many schools feel able to sign up to, but is it enough?!

As part of the National Education Union, teachers are balloting to boycott tests in 2020 and we sincerely hope they do take action at last – but what about children this year?

It’s no wonder parents are starting to take matters into their own hands and take action themselves.  SATs are NOT compulsory for children and many parents are choosing to boycott the tests in protest of this failure from the DfE to listen to their concerns.




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