Norfolk schools boycott Sats tests

Jon WelchHundreds of Norfolk pupils will miss out on Sats tests this week as part of a boycott by headteachers.Jon Welch

Hundreds of Norfolk pupils will miss out on Sats tests this week as part of a boycott by headteachers.

At least 55 schools across the county - roughly a fifth of those whose pupils were due to be assessed - are not taking part after action by members of the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) and the National Union of Teachers.

Teachers claim the tests damage children's education by concentrating on maths and English, squeezing out other subjects. They also allege the tests humiliate schools, cause undue stress for teachers and pupils alike and fail to give an accurate picture of achievement.

Among the headteachers boycotting the tests are Adrian Day, of Bignold Primary School, Norwich, and Keith Wright, of Barnham Broom Primary.

Mr Day wrote to parents explaining his decision, claiming the tests had "narrowed" the primary curriculum and "disrupted the quality of children's experiences in the last year at primary school".

But his stance is opposed by Bignold school governor Tony Callaghan, who said: "I don't think headteachers should be taking part in the boycott; they should be administering the tests until the law is changed."

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Norfolk County Council wrote to all the county's 293 schools with Key Stage Two pupils (aged 10 to 11), warning them they had a legal duty to make sure the tests took place. Of those, more than 200 replied, with 55 saying they would not be staging the tests.

About 600,000 children across England were due to take the tests this week, starting with reading tests yesterday, followed by writing and spelling papers and then maths tomorrow and Thursday.

As well as throwing school league tables into chaos, the boycott could also affect Ofsted inspections as Sats results are a key measure used by the inspectorate when forming judgments on schools.

But Fred Corbett, assistant director of children's services at County Hall, reassured parents that their children would not suffer as a result of the boycott.

"There won't be any direct impact on children missing out on Sats tests further up the education chain," he said.

"Those schools that haven't carried out tests will carry out teacher assessments with pupils receiving teacher assessment grades.

"The teacher assessment grades and Sats grades are often similar and we will be encouraging secondary schools to use the assessment grade and children's previous work to aid the children's transition into secondary school."

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