School principals have decided to urge ministers to cancel Sats exams next year amid the pandemic.
Holding statutory tests during this school year would be “nonsensical” and “harmful” to students’ mental health, the principals told the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) annual conference.
Delegates heard from a number of school principals before passing a motion calling on the national executive to campaign with the government to have all legal exams in elementary schools abandoned by 2021.
Michelle Sheehy, director of Millfield Primary School in Walsall, said, “In the circumstances we are in this year, it would be unfair, nonsensical and frankly not at all beneficial for the Department of Education (DfE) to insist on legal tests.
“On the contrary, it would be detrimental to the mental health of our students and would hinder the progress they will make. We are not allowed to participate in this. “
The Sats exams for 6th grade students, which are used to compare the performance of the schools, are scheduled for May 2021.
The elementary school tests were canceled in the summer as part of blocking measures.
Speaking of the tests, Chris Gaffiney, a leader in Staffordshire, told the conference, “You haven’t been missed this year. It is now an opportunity for us to think differently about how we want to create our school system. “
Speaking at the virtual conference on Friday, Paul Gosling, director of Exeter Road Primary School said, “I think every time you mention sats and tests we should say, ‘We need the Covid tests in schools.’
“The only tests that should be discussed right now are to make sure there are enough tests in place for teachers, staff and children to have access to.”
He added, “We shouldn’t be focusing on sats testing for next summer.”
Jim Nicholson, a conference delegate, said, “It is absolutely absurd that we should even have to have this as a motion, and what it does is to actually expose the total separation of the government and its department. “
Speaking to the conference, NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman said the Sats exams will encourage school principals to “serve the data master” rather than the children they care about.
He said, “Schools and families need solutions now. They need solutions so that their schools are properly funded. The exams will be done before next summer. We take the pressure off of sats so that the children can be properly taught. “
A DfE spokesman said: “We plan to have the statutory primary assessments in the summer of 2021, while the statutory introduction of the basic assessment for reception has been postponed to September 2021.
“We launched a £ 1 billion Covid catch-up package to directly address the effects of lost teaching time due to the pandemic. School principals and principals have the flexibility to choose how to spend in the best interests of their students. ”