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SATs are putting ‘too much pressure’ on children, claims head teacher as she fights against testing children at five

PUBLISHED: 10:22 08 March 2020

Rebecca Loader, headteacher of Clare Community Primary School near Sudbury, is taking her concerns about SATs to Westminster Picture: CLARE COMMUNITY PRIMARY SCHOOL

Rebecca Loader, headteacher of Clare Community Primary School near Sudbury, is taking her concerns about SATs to Westminster Picture: CLARE COMMUNITY PRIMARY SCHOOL

CLARE COMMUNITY PRIMARY SCHOOL

The headteacher of a west Suffolk school will tell MPs at Westminster that Government testing is putting too much pressure on primary school children.

Rebecca Loader, head of Clare Community Primary School near Sudbury, will be sharing her own experiences of SATs and other standardised assessments on Tuesday, March 10, at a briefing for MPs organised by the campaign group More Than A Score, which is calling for an end to government testing in primary schools.

The Government is pressing ahead with tests in English and maths for four and five-year-olds when they start school despite strong opposition from teaching unions.

More Than A Score says this will mean that from September, primary school children will sit formal Government tests in five out of seven primary school years, but a Department for Education spokesperson insisted there would be fewer tests overall.

They said the Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA) was not a formal Government test, but a teacher-led check that will replace the SATs taken at the end of year two.

Mrs Loader, who is part of a panel of headteachers for More Than A Score, said instead of putting all this pressure on primary schools educators should be focusing on fostering a love of learning.

"Schools are crying out for money to support growing rolls, growing numbers of children with additional needs and disadvantage, and funding to be allocated more fairly throughout the country.

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"Meanwhile, the Government is spending tens of thousands of pounds on new statutory tests such as the reception baseline and year four tables test which add absolutely nothing to school leaders' own assessment of their schools or their pupils, and in fact take valuable time away from the business of actually teaching. When will they listen to the professionals?"

Mrs Loader, who has been head at Clare Community Primary since April 2017, said however mindful her team were of not putting pressure on pupils "it does affect some children".

She added: "We want children to start secondary school being keen. If they have been classed as not at the expected standard for SATs the message given to the child is almost 'you are being written off'."

The briefing for MPs will be hosted by Caroline Lucas MP, Layla Moran MP and Jack Dromey MP.

Mr Dromey said: "It's time for the Government to get in-step with what parents and teachers really think about standardised testing in primary schools. These tests are damaging to education and to our children's wellbeing. Time and again they harm, not help our children to get on."

Research from More Than A Score with headteachers found that 93% of heads believe that the Government should review the current system of standardised assessment and 86% of heads have negative views on the new Reception Baseline Assessment.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "It's hugely important that we understand how much progress our children make in primary schools and the Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA) will create the starting point from which to measure this. It will also lighten the load of assessment in primary schools, as the intention is for the RBA to replace the SATs taken at the end of year two.

"There is currently a national pilot of the RBA and the feedback we have received from school leaders is largely positive."

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