The SATS Uproar – what is it all about?

Posted: 2nd May, 2016. Topics:

SATS – and no … in this case SATS does not stand for Standard Army Training System or Small Applications Technology Satelite; it stands for Standard Assessment Tests for Schools that at the moment many parents are querying for their six and seven year olds. Click here to read all about it!; and five year olds: Click here to read this story.

Here’s what the Huffington Post says about it all - click here to read their blog.

It was all highlighted to me last week when my LinkedIn account popped up with the image above, and a parent had only that day emailed me about this story and the LetOurKidsBeKids campaign saying, “This campaign is gathering momentum.  The fact that Abbotsholme gives parents the chance to opt out of all the negative things this campaign deplores is great and is the reason our boys came to Abbotsholme in the first place.”

According to reports, the new SATs exams mean children as young as five are now being tested on material such as punctuation, times tables and fractions – two years earlier than before.

The campaign, started by a small group of parents, is planning a national boycott on May 3rd 2016 – urging parents to keep their children off school for a day of fun-learning activities as a show of support.

So what are SATS in a nutshell? Since their inception in 1991 for seven, 11, 14 and 16 year olds, they have caused controversy from all quarters: unions, teachers, and now parents. Fewer than half of children reach the targeted grade in 1995, four years after it began, although in 1999 results started to improve. In the early 00′s teachers admit correcting papers in a number of schools, and claims are made about the stress it puts pupils under. In 2002, schools fail to meet the expected level four pass rate of 80% and although there was an improvement in 2004 the controversy continues.

LetOurKidsbeKids campaign run by Year 2 parents against SATS label them as ‘…endless testing by an OFSTED driven, dull, dry curriculum aimed solely at passing National Curriculum Tests.’ They want education to go back to ‘… the creativity and fun…’ They go on to say ‘…outdoor learning has decreased, childhood anxiety has increased, games have been replaced with grammar, playing with punctuation.’

In response to this, we at Abbotsholme believe that education should be about balance. Schools should not be exam factories churning out rows and rows of pupils who know how to pass exams for exams sake. Where is the life lesson in that? How many people can put their paw up with me and say that getting on in life is not just about passing exams and academic excellence? It’s about team playing, communication, working with people as well as academics. Its about the balance – just as with everything in life.

School should be about academic learning AND sports, outdoor learning, music, arts, drama, camping, kayaking, den-making, helping sheep give birth to lambs, climbing, hiking, team games, riding, gaming, coding, financial management, the seven habits of highly effective people etc. It should be about real life.

I have always thought – and it has been pointed out to me on many an occasion and is written in our white information book –  that our unique education for life begins with allowing children to be children first.

Hirch – the Dog that Blogs!

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