Have your say: Teachers call for SATs to be scrapped amid mental health fears

By Conor Matchett
Tuesday, 14 May, 2019, 16:17
Teachers are calling for SATs to be scrapped due to pressures they place on students (Photo: Shutterstock)

Almost 95 per cent of teachers do not want primary school pupils to sit SATs exams due to fears over their effect on the mental health of children, a survey has revealed.

The news follows the Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to scrap the controversial tests if there is a Labour government.

He said it would free up schools struggling with funding cuts and over-crowded classrooms and end the practice of basing school league tables on the results.

The government has said it is phasing out SATs for Year 2 pupils with new assessments for reception classes planned.

Problems sleeping, headaches and low self-esteem

With SATs taking place from this week, a survey by PlanBee has highlighted concerns from teachers as to the impact of the tests which both Year 2 and Year 6 pupils are required to sit.

Teachers have said that they have noticed children experience physical side effects to the stress of exams, such as trouble sleeping, headaches and bed-wetting.

They have also highlighted emotional changes, such as an increase in mood swings and a drop in self-confidence.

Other teachers have witnessed children feeling sick, not wanting to go to school and being teary or anxious.

Children crying during tests

One teacher who responded to the survey said they had seen a Year 2 child cry during one of the exams.

They said, “I’ve seen a Year 2 child cry during the test. This was an able child. I had to tell him how amazing he was and that what he did in the test did not matter because I already knew how good he was.”

More than 85 per cent of respondents to the survey said they believed the main purpose of the exams was to assess school performance rather than help track and further pupil’s education.

Becky Cranham, a former teacher and lesson planner at PlanBee, said, “We know that many children are becoming more stressed about SATs at a time when they should be enjoying the broad and balanced curriculum that Ofsted agrees enables children to achieve most successfully in their school careers.

“However, the pressure put on teachers to achieve particular SATs results – and the subsequent pressure teachers then have to put on their pupils ­– means that in reality many curriculum areas are pushed aside in favour of ensuring children are ready for the tests, particularly in Year 6.

“Why on earth are we still bothering with SATs?”

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This article originally appeared on our sister site, The Yorkshire Post