Parents throughout England kept their children home for the day in protest over the new SATs exam given in primary schools.
It is unclear exactly how many children were kept out of school across the country, although a social media campaign pushed for parents to participate in educational activities with their children in place of attending school.
However, councils have warned that these parents could face fines of up to $175 if they participate in these ‘strikes,’ while critics of the movement say students are being used as “political pawns.”
While many head teachers have said they will look the other way concerning absent children, local authorities say absent students will be marked as “unauthorized,” which could cause added trouble for parents, writes Javier Espinoza for The Telegraph.
Let Our Kids Be Kids campaigners argue that the new tests being given to six and seven-year-olds are putting too much pressure on students and asking “age-inappropriate” questions on English and math. They go on to say that the UK Government is using tests that are usually meant to take a closer look at school performance to be a more formal exercise that result in children feeling like “failures.”
A petition calling for a boycott of primary school tests was signed by over 40,000 parents. Supporters of the campaign say that the exams create a culture of over-testing in schools, writes Heather Stewart for The Guardian.
A number of parent presenters offered the petition at the headquarters of the Department of Education in London. Among the parents was a mother named Caterina with a son and daughter in a school in Nunhead, South London, who said that while school was “amazing and creative,” it put “too much pressure” on six and seven year olds, reports Sean Coughlan for BBC News.
The campaign organisers say children 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 group has raised concerns over the new exams, given to seven and eleven-year-olds in the country, which are causing changes to be made to the curriculum that they say causes it to become”dull [and] dry.”
Campaigners have also written an open letter to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, warning that schools are becoming “exam factories,” and that testing adds undue stress, which is making students feel like “failures.”
Morgan, meanwhile, has said that taking children out of school even just for one day can be “harmful to their education.”
Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw has rebutted these arguments, saying that in order to improve social mobility, children must not be allowed to fall behind at any age.
“The government is right to introduce greater structure and rigour into the assessment process. Those who oppose this testing need to consider England’s mediocre position in the OECD education rankings,” said Sir Michael. “As I have long argued, children who fall behind in the early years of their education struggle to catch up in later years.”