They heard from campaigners, headteachers, MP and union leaders. And, most powerfully of all, from year 6 pupils facing SATs this year.
As Layla from Surrey Square Primary put it so eloquently:
“I worry that if I don’t pass one of the tests by as little as just 2 marks I would feel sad that other people would think I am dumb.
“I worry when I think of all the pressure to do well in SATs, even if the school and my parents don’t pressure me – I pressure myself.
“I worry that I could do really well all year but if I have a bad day during the SATS then it is not fair.
“I worry that the SATs doesn’t measure who I am.”
Her headteacher Matt Morden spoke for many of his peers, when he said, “It’s been great to have children back at school but school life has been far from normal. Mental heath and well-being need to be our priorities more than ever. How is it fair to make these children sit exam-style tests at the end of this year?”
Paul Whiteman from the National Association of Headteachers reminded those watching that “the pressure young people feel in SATs season is borne out of the high-pressure nature of the tests. And that will be worse than ever this year”.
From Westminster, Daisy Cooper MP Lib Dem Education spokesperson commented, “If you trust teachers to teach children, you should trust them to test them”, while Conservative MP Flick Drummond said, “The concentration on SATs in the summer term overwhelms everything else.”
We also heard from Alice Bradbury from the Institute of Education at UCL whose recent research around the Autumn term phonics check highlighted the dangers of carrying out statutory tests during a pandemic.
Alison Ali, from More Than A Score, summarised the feelings of many when she said, “It’s time for government to listen properly to the teachers, heads and experts who know children best.” She urged everyone watching to send “a blizzard of letters to MPs”.
But the star speakers were undoubtedly the year 6 pupils who reminded us of the real consequences of SATs in this school year. As Layla concluded,
“This year I worry about everyone being ok.
“This year I worry if we will ever go back to normal.
“This year, I have enough to worry about without SATS!”
A full recording of the event can be found here.