As the government executed a U-turn on compulsory academisation of all schools, thousands of parents were keeping their six and seven-year-olds off school to avoid subjecting them to Standard Assessment Tests (SATs).
These competitive tests, designed to identify winners and losers in an educational process increasingly resembling an obstacle course, are seen by teachers and parents alike as at best a waste of time. At worst, we might add, such tests play a key part in branding some students as ‘failures’ even before they have departed infancy, eroding their self-confidence and preparing them for a likely future as docile wage-slaves.
Campaign group Let Our Kids Be Kids ran a petition calling for the SATs boycott, which attracted 45,000 signatures, and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) declared its dissatisfaction with the tests. On the day of the boycott, 500 different protests and boycotts took place.
To compound the government’s embarrassment over the ‘kids’ strike’, schools minister Nick Gibb was unable to answer a SATs literacy question designed for six and seven-year-olds. Radio 4’s World at One presenter read him out this sentence: “I went to the cinema after I’d eaten my dinner,” then asked Gibb whether the word ‘after’ was being used “as a subordinating conjunction or as a preposition?”
Answers on a postcard please. (SATs strike: teachers turn blind eye to absences as thousands of children miss school in protest by Rachael Pells, Independent, 3 May 2016)