Parents take children out of school in SATS protest

Nicky Morgan-RESIZED

Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, said the strike is harmful to children’s education. Pic: Policy Exchange

Large numbers of parents across east London took their children out of school today (May 3) in support of the nationwide strike against tougher SATS tests enforced by the Department for Education.

Spearheading the campaign, Hackney Parents Supporting Education (HPSE), opposed what it described as tougher SATS tests for primary school pupils that they argue can have an impact on the mental health of young children.

Alongside other east London groups, they joined the organisation ‘Let Our Kids Be Kids’ in a nationwide protest.

The parents of children who did not turn up to school risk facing a £120 fine for unauthorised absence. No figures for absentee children are yet availaible.

Nicola Kent of Hackney Parents Supporting Education, one of many who took their children out of school today, said: “My son loves school, and we love and respect his teachers for the hard work they do under ever-increasing pressures from government.”

“We are furious these experienced professionals are not being trusted to assess our children’s development using their expertise but are instead forced to use crude and unnecessarily stressful exams.”

She said that she is especially concerned about the increase in mental health problems for children, which have been associated with heightened pressure in schools.

‘Let Our Kids Be Kids’ was launched by a group of Year 2 parents who felt they’d had enough of testing and a lack of outdoor activities.

A ‘Let Our Kids Be Kids’ spokesperson said: “We can’t see any point to these exams and want and end to them. We want our kids to be kids again.”

“Petitions have been signed, letters have been written but no one is listening. This government seems determined to destroy our children’s childhoods and turn education into another privatised commodity.”

Anna Edmundson, another parent from HPSE said: “All SATS test is the ability of our six and seven year olds to sit tests in exam conditions. They squeeze the joy out of our children’s learning and fail to equip them for life in a modern, ever-changing world. To thrive in the future our children will need curiosity, open-mindedness and creativity – not a detailed knowledge of suffixes and noun phrases.”

“We are in favour of teachers testing our children’s ideas, imagination, opinions and their ability to express themselves. That sort of testing is taking place every moment of every school day and encourages our children’s growth and development.” Edmundson said.

The parent driven organisation has gained almost 46,000 signatures on its petition calling for an end to SATs testing and called on parents across the nation to join today’s strike.

Activities took place nationwide. Several Hackney groups organised outdoors activities in the community, as well as in other boroughs in east London.

Hackney Parents Supporting Education have taken part in a variety of activities, including pond dipping at Woodberry Wetlands and outdoor play at Epping Forest.

Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education, said: “Keeping children home even for a day is harmful to their education and makes the lives of dedicated teachers harder. I urge those running these campaigns to reconsider their actions.”

Schools Minister Nick Gibb added: “These tests are vital in helping schools to ensure that young children are learning to read, write and add up well.

“The truth is if they don’t master literacy and numeracy early on, they risk being held behind and struggling of the rest of their lives. We’d urge the organisers of this campaign to drop their plans because it simply isn’t fair on children to deprive them of a day of their education.”

Both supporters and opposers of the strike have expressed their opinions using the hashtag #KidsStrike3rdMay on social media:

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