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Call for primary school boycott has little impact on classrooms

Somerleyton Primary School head teacher Louise Spall.

Somerleyton Primary School head teacher Louise Spall.

A campaign calling for a one-day boycott of primary schools in protest at Sats tests pupils are due to take this month sparked debate but appeared to have limited impact in our classrooms.

The Let Our Kids Be Kids initiative, which grew from a Facebook group, sparked yesterday’s day of action in protest at children being “over-tested, over-worked and in a school system that places more importance on test results and league tables than children’s happiness and joy of learning”.

Sats are taken by children aged six or seven in Year Two, and then again in Year Six, aged 10 or 11, before a third set in Year Nine, aged 13 or 14.

However, of more than 40 schools that gave information to this newspaper, 33 said no pupils were absent because of the boycott.

Schools minister Nick Gibb sent a series of tweets defending the tests, and said: “NC [National curriculum] assessments are designed to ensure that schools have taught pupils the fundamental skills they need for secondary school.”

He said they were “not high stakes for pupils, and pupils should never be made to feel anxious about how they perform”, and they focus on the basic skills required for success in later life. He added: “NC tests focus on reading, writing and mathematics as the basics, but schools should teach a broad curriculum beyond these.”

Louise Spall, headteacher of Somerleyton Primary, near Lowestoft, said: “Everybody is here as normal today; as we take assessments as part of our everyday learning so children feel as little pressure as possible. Assessments are getting harder and as a result children are having to achieve more.”

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