Parent power as Calderdale pupils are kept at home in Sats test protest

Picture: PA
Picture: PA

SCHOOLS are braced for parents to stop their children attending today after tens of thousands signed a petition supporting a boycott in protest over formal testing of six and seven-year-olds

The Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign wants parents across England to keep their children off school today, saying they are “over-tested, over-worked and in a school system that places more importance on test results and league tables than children’s happiness and joy of learning”.

The petition, signed by more than 38,000 people, added: “We want our kids to be kids again and enjoy learning for learning’s sake, not for Ofsted results or league table figures”

However Schools Minister Nick Gibb urged campaigners to drop their plans saying it was not fair to deprive children of a day’s education.

According to the campaign’s website parents are taking part across Yorkshire with events planned around the region, including Calderdale.

In Todmorden, protest events are taking part in Bramsche Square this morning, with events coordinated by parents at Ferney Lee School.

Organisers said: “Some of us at Ferney Lee School are joining the nationwide protest in protest agains the ridiculous pressure being piled on our kids in the form of Year 2 and Year 6 SATS.

“These tests have recently been changed to become so difficult that those with masters degrees are struggling to answer some of the questions, and Year 6 kids now have to retake their SATS at secondary school if they ‘fail’.

“What message does that send our children?

“We want to show our support of our lovely schools and teachers - who we know are deeply unhappy at having to ‘teach to the test’ rather than encourage play, creativity and a joy of learning. Keeping the kids off school is intended to send a message to Nicky Morgan and the rest of the Government that we support teachers in wanting these tests scrapped.”

Sats are taken by children aged six or seven in Year Two and then again in Year Six, aged 10 or 11 at the end of primary school.

Mr Gibb said: “These tests are vital in helping schools to ensure that young children are learning to read, write and add up well.

“The truth is if they don’t master literacy and numeracy early on, they risk being held behind and struggling for the rest of their lives.

“Children should only ever be taken out of school in exceptional circumstances and we’d urge the organisers of this campaign to drop their plans because it simply isn’t fair on children to deprive them of a day of their education.”

Parents are being urged by the campaign to keep their children off school for “a day of educational fun instead” and the national campaign’s website includes posts from hundreds of groups or parents indicating they will take part in another activity rather than attending classes.

One suggestion from Cornwall is for a “fun day of learning at the Eden Project” while other groups of parents across the country were planning nature walks or trips to museums.

Shadow education secretary Lucy Powell said she did not condone the action but claimed ministers had “ridden roughshod” over the concerns of headteachers and parents about Sats.

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