UK Parents Critical of SATs Exams Form Group, Protest

(Image: WikiMedia)

(Image: WikiMedia)

Thousands of parents across England are planning to keep their children home from school on Tuesday, May 3 as a form of protest over a difficult new national exam.

As part of the nationwide Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign, Year 2 parents are planning to take their children out of school on May 3 in protest over the testing of six and seven-year-olds.  Unexplained absences could result in fines being assessed.

The recently introduced SATs exams have faced controversy, with many saying they are tougher and “stressful,” with children as young as six who are beginning to refer to themselves as “failures.” Children as young as five are now being tested on such topics as punctuation, time tables, and fractions.  Previously, this did not happen until two years later, writes Emily Norton for The Lincolnite.

The group wrote a letter on the subject to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, saying that children were being asked to learn about topics before they are developmentally ready to handle them, reports Hannah Richardson for the BBC.  The letter goes on to discuss the issue of children’s mental health, which the group says could be at risk due to an increase in pressure faced as a result of the new exam.

So far, over 26,000 supporters have signed an online petition against the introduction of the new exams and the “Ofsted driven curriculum.” The group’s Facebook page has nearly 20,000 likes.

Emma Oliver-Townrow, a parent in Lincoln and organizer of the campaign group Parent Power, referred to the new system as “factory farming of children.”  She went on to say that while she would not discourage her own children from participating in the exams, she believes them to be “nonsense.”

“We have had enough of endless testing, enough of teachers not being trusted to teach, enough of an Ofsted driven curriculum aimed solely at passing SATs,” she said.

Oliver-Townrow went on to say that because past petitions found no results, the strike, set to take place only days before six and seven-year-olds take the exam, is the next step in their efforts to be heard by the government.

“Parents feel that this government seem determined to ignore very serious concerns, ignore all the evidence of how to nurture the young in our society and instead turn education into another privatised commodity.”

In discussing the main goal of the group, she said that it is not meant to be a reflection on area schools or teachers, but a way to ensure that the government hears the message that they are against the new SATs and the Ofsted-driven teaching.

She added that the campaign is meant to allow children to be kids again.  It is a show of support for teachers and previously used learning-based curriculum.

The national movement currently has over 11,000 members and is coordinating strikes throughout the country.  Letters are being provided by the organization for parents to give to their local schools, letting officials know they stand in support of those who choose to take their children out of school for the day.  The letter also states readiness to boycott the upcoming exams if necessary.