I’m an A-level teacher of 15 years, and mother to a 10-year-old son, whom I’ve decided to withdraw from SATs next week.
I made the decision after seeing the mock papers my son brought home over the Easter holidays – stacks and stacks of them. As a teacher I was shocked to discover these tests are more intense than a GCSE or A-Level exam, with one of the maths papers containing an astonishing 36 questions to be completed in 30 minutes. It’s simply ridiculous to expect anyone to take exams at this pace, and as a reflective, slower learner, it’s just not possible for my son. Even A-level students couldn’t handle this pressure.
I am very concerned by what these tests are doing to our children, both in terms of their mental health and perceptions of education. They are setting our kids up to fail, and school has become a misery for teachers and pupils.
I’ve researched the legal advice and implications of withdrawing my son during SATs week, and have decided I’m not worried about this choice. When he moves onto secondary school, he can be measured on his performance in Year 7, and we’ll take it from there. Unfortunately, looking for support from my son’s headteacher, I received none. I was told withdrawing my son would cause lots of problems for the school, and was made to feel guilty.
I feel that the Year 6 SATs test is an 11+ by stealth, opening up all sorts of questions about what they’re planning for our school system. SATs tests, the constant revision and the mock tests at school have turned my son off education and going to school, which is devastating to see as a mother.
Over my years of teaching, I’ve seen the change that’s been happening to our schools and our education system. And more recently, I’ve seen parents beginning to speak out. Too often, we are fearful of the consequences of saying ‘enough is enough’ but, unless we do, this out-of-control testing system could get even worse.