Friday 24 October 2014

Teachers threaten primary test snub

Published 01/04/2013 | 15:06

The NUT has called for new tests at the end of primary school to be eradicated

Teachers threatened to boycott primary school testing as they warned it will leave little time for art, music and books.

The Government's new reading check for young children and a spelling, punctuation and grammar test at the end of primary school need to be "eradicated", it was suggested.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) claimed that the primary curriculum is being "manipulated" to bring in "unnecessary" tests that have no educational value. It raised particular concerns about the new spelling, punctuation and grammar test for 11-year-olds which the union said will lead to teaching to the test.

Delegates at the NUT's annual conference in Liverpool called for a campaign against primary school tests, which would include discussing with other unions the possibility of a boycott in 2014.

Joan Edwards, an NUT member from Birmingham said: "Imagine a world without music, without art, without creativity. That's what Michael Gove wants. We as teachers want a more balanced education for our children. We want children to develop a love of reading, not reading for a test. SATS and synthetic phonics need to be eradicated."

Around 600,000 pupils each year take national curriculum tests, known as "SATS" in literacy and numeracy at the end of primary school. For the first time this year, this includes a paper on spelling, punctuation and grammar. Ministers have also brought in a reading test to be taken by six-year-olds after a year of schooling.

The check is based on "phonics", a system focusing on sounds rather than recognising whole words, which has been hailed by ministers as the best way to teach young children to read.

The NUT's resolution said the union "condemned the manipulation of the primary curriculum and teaching methods through the imposition of unnecessary tests, in particular Year 1 phonics screening and the Year 6 spelling, punctuation and grammar test".

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "Too many children are not reaching the expected levels of reading whilst at a young age, do not catch up, and then struggle in secondary school and beyond. The phonics check is based on an internationally proven method to improve children's reading and will ensure no child slips through the net still struggling with this basic skill.

"In recent years too little attention has been paid to basic writing skills. The new spelling, punctuation and grammar test is being introduced following the recommendations of highly respected heads, teachers and experts to ensure primary school children are equipped with the skills they need to progress."

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