Ballot planned over 2020 SATs boycott

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
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Members of the National Education Union have backed plans that could lead to a boycott of “all high-stakes summative testing within primary schools”, including next year’s SATs.

The motion, which was passed after a heated debate at the union’s annual conference in Liverpool over Easter, instructs the NEU to conduct a ballot of primary members to see if there is appetite for a boycott of all high-stakes testing in the 2019/20 academic year.

The ballot, which the NEU’s Executive Committee had argued against, is expected to take place next term. The NEU executive had attempted to amend the motion to remove the instruction to ballot, but this was defeated by delegates.

The final motion states: “Conference instructs the executive to ballot all primary members for a boycott of all high-stakes summative testing within primary schools for the academic year 2019/20 thus allowing teachers to make the decision about what testing assists their students.”

Commenting after the debate the NEU’s joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “The resolution reflects the deep unhappiness of primary teachers in England with their current, SATs-based system of assessment. There can be no lasting solution to problems of children’s wellbeing, teacher workload, curriculum narrowness and teaching to the test unless our assessment system changes.

“The tide has turned against the government. Its assessment policies are increasingly rejected by parents, by international organisations like the OECD and by political opinion.

“The NEU will continue and intensify its campaign to replace current arrangements for primary assessment with a system that supports children’s learning.”

Meanwhile, the Labour Party is to launch a consultation in the coming months over alternative forms of assessment after leader Jeremy Corbyn pledged to scrap the both SATs and Baseline Assessment.

Speaking at the NEU’s conference, Mr Corbyn attacked “SATs and the regime of extreme pressure testing” for the negative impact it was having on children’s wellbeing.

The consultation is also expected to include discussion about the future of the phonics screening check.

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