Page last updated at 18:10 GMT, Saturday, 2 May 2009 19:10 UK

Should head teachers boycott Sats?

boy writing
Results are used to make league tables

Head teachers have voted in favour of balloting their members on whether they should boycott next year's Sats tests in England. Do you think this is the right move?

The news came after Schools Secretary Ed Balls called on them not to take what he called irresponsible action and vowed to reform the assessment system.

But the National Association of Head Teachers voted in favour of balloting, if all other avenues were exhausted.

The heads argue the tests put pressure on children and narrow the curriculum.

Sats are taken by 11-year-olds in England.

Are you a head teacher? Are you a parent? Should head teachers agree to boycott Sats tests? Do you think Sats tests are useful in monitoring pupils' learning? What could replace Sats tests?

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Your most recent comments:

It sounds like excuses from teachers who are afraid of tests and the monitoring of their performance. Why are teachers having to narrow the curriculum to focus on 3 subjects? Are the teachers simply not up to the task of teaching English, maths and science in the allotted time? It sounds like the teachers need better training or schools need to open for longer so teachers have more time to teach the kids. Of course, training and extra hours will mean reducing their 4 months per year holiday and leaving work at 3.30 every day. It's easier for the teachers to blame tests or the government than to admit their own shortcomings or risk having to work real full time hours like the rest of us.
Matt, Trowbridge, UK

Swings and roundabouts... we parents want to know how well our children and the schools are doing, but we get so much rubbish published by way of results and the "expert" opinions of these tests that they've become nothing more than a political device and that's not doing our children any good. Yes, we need a good testing regime at all age levels but testing should not be at the detriment of actual teaching. We need this fixed now, not after another generation have gone through a system that's already bogged down with political tinkering.
Alex Bailey, Corby, England

My daughter is taking SATS this month & has learnt almost nothing new since Christmas - all she does is prepare for the SATS. This cannot be right

Ending SATS for 11-year olds would be a great mistake; teachers and parents need an objective measure of progress at this critical stage between primary and secondary schooling. It is a measure of the school's success in ensuring minimum standards are reached for every pupil, thereby highlighting any need for extra support to make up any deficiencies. Every child only has one childhood education; it must not be allowed to fail. I remember how my son aged eight couldn't read; the school did not take it seriously enough, always expecting that he would catch up of his own accord. He didn't, so we intervened. We need all teachers to be brought up sharply against the real level of achievement of every pupil, and get an objective critical evaluation of it.
Michael Thomas, Dinas Powys

Oh those poor teachers and kids having to be assessed. If I told my boss that my annual appraisal puts too much pressure on me, he'd laugh and wish me luck in finding a job where I won't be assessed. If the head-teachers boycott the SATs they should be given their P45s, just like those of us who actually live in the real world would get if we refused to do our jobs.
Matt, Trowbridge, UK

So the teachers don't want to carry out the tests that highlight their incompetence - what a surprise. It's their job to carry out these tests, and if they refuse to do their job, they should be dismissed for breach of contract. Our schools are run on our behalf by our democratically elected government, not by the unelected teaching unions.

Sats in Year 6 are not about how and what rate the children are learning. The only benefit is for the school and teachers, so they can say, "look how wonderful we are". My eldest daughter spent months doing old Sats papers and little else. Children are tested in the first few weeks of secondary school. All Sats do is add unnecessary stress to children.
Julie, Hampshire UK

Teachers, including heads, should just get on with doing what the government tells them. The government is elected by the people - teachers are not. Having traded off the last 13 years of over-funding, they are on notice for a massive reduction in funding and ultimately pay. This is one seriously comfortable career path. Do your jobs, follow the legislated arrangements and stop whining how hard you work. You have no idea.
James, London

James- you clearly have no clue about education, frankly I would rather trust the professionals- IE THE TEACHERS - people who are fully qualified in educational matters not some UNQUALIFIED ministers and politicians....Do you really believe everything a politician tells you?
Dazz, Worthing

I think that there is too much testing in schools, but the trouble is we do need to have an independent method of checking a child's abilities and how well they are doing at school. It is far too easy for a teacher to fix results for their favourites.
Andrew Allen, London, England

Look at the present situation - many kids leaving school now have no qualifications. Did anybody ever think that the pressure children have to cope with these days at school must be unbearable, which is causing lots of children to have mental health problems? Did the odd bods that bring in all these new exams ever think that not all children are the same? And why is so much pressure put on them when the whole world is in dire straits because of greedy capitalists? What are we teaching our kids? How to survive the urban capitalist system or should we be teaching them how to help one another because that's how you create a fair society not through academia and irrelevant subjects that they will never use at the work place?
Bob, Cambridge

It would not be so bad having Sats once in Year 6, but some schools are testing those children three times in one year, thus setting those who are not going to do well up for failure - and not teaching them for three weeks.
cackle, Ipswich

Sats need to take a back seat. A much more important issue is that far too many children cannot read, write, spell or speak properly.
Mike, Ivybridge

Getting rid of an assessment of children at 11 would make our children fall even further behind their peers in Europe. Life is hard and Sats is a good start to learning. You only get out of life what you put into it.
Taylor, Sussex

Of course they should. With all these higher exam results we all know the standard of education of our children is getting higher and higher each year. All those who say it's an education industry stitch-up and all those 'educated' children who cannot read, write or do basic maths are products of the Daily Mail readers' rants. We are on to them and they know it. Those who can do, those who cannot.....It's about the children, not the poor teachers.
J Karran, Merseyside

I stand and applaud the heads' association for what they have done - stood up to the government and given them a shot across the bows. Sats and the useless league tables that they generate have caused several 'unexpected' social and educational issues in their wake, none of which are good or helpful.

Now, can we please get back to letting the nation's teachers do their job, and give our children the world class education they deserve, and not 'teaching to the test' that they suffer at the moment?
The Old Goat, in the North

My children's primary school started failing and no one noticed. It is very difficult for governors to know if their head is doing a good job. Without Sats the task would be even harder. Keep them.
James, London

Yes boycott. These test prove nothing of a child's ability. Not every child is an academic. Like most exams in school they're fairly pointless today. Children are leaving school with the paper saying there educated but when put to the test sadly lack the ability to think for themselves.

Bring back the old schooling methods, teach about this country's history. Give the schools back to the teachers and keep the government out. If parents want to know about their child's education talk to the teacher - it's easy. But that's not what this government wants; sadly they want little obedient Blair/Brown clones. Thank God I removed mine from the education system.
Noooodles, Pembrokeshire

I was part of the last generation of children that sat their 11+ (I passed by the way). I had no problem with it and I see no reason why children shouldn't be able to cope with the modern version. As I see it, this has nothing to do with 'pressure' on children, but everything to do with Labour's 'Blame Culture'. If a child failed an 11+, the child was to blame. Now, if a child fails a Sats test, the teacher is to blame. The Sats for 11-year-olds should continue, however it has to be accepted that some children are not as bright as others. The blaming of teachers must stop!!
Barry Quick, North Devon

Ed Balls said: "We must ensure that parents and the public get the information they want and need about the progress of every primary age child and the performance of every primary school." I'd like to tell him (as a member of the public) that I neither need or want this information!
Martin Ibbotson, Lancashire

For once and only once I agree that this is irresponsible action. But!! the government has failed to listen. No one thinks these tests are worthwhile, apart from politicians.
John, Workington, England

I think it puts far too much pressure on children. My daughter is taking the test shortly and lately she has been very stressed. The school has been doing past Sats papers since Christmas and she has really hated school this year. The last year of primary school should be enjoyable not all just about Sats
Claire, Bath

"Is it the teachers who don't want to stress themselves or the children?!" Raj

Raj, you have missed the point go back and read what head teachers are actually saying...then comment.
Dazz, Worthing

Sats were and are instruments by which children's education is politicised. This is a government that gives the impression it cares about education and about children's best interests. Rubbish. It cares about test results and qualifications. The two things are very different. The grades received by Sats candidates become nothing more than sticks with which to beat school leaders. GCSEs etc., are nothing more than qualifications for work.

Education is about professional teachers engaging children with learning, not spending two years preparing them for the next set of meaningless tests devised for them by a government in search of data which is intended for political manipulation. Perhaps if we educated our children rather than throw test after test at them we'd go some way towards building decency into an increasingly selfish and immoral society.
Jim, Cumbria UK

Yes. It's good to see teachers doing something positive for education.
Herbert, London, England

I have said for years Sats should be done without parents and children knowing; it will then give a proper picture of how the school performs. Maybe the heads who want it stopped do it in fear of being shown their schools aren't performing as well as they should!! Keep them!!
Su, Manchester

I am a retired head teacher and I am a parent. I live in Scotland, so Sats do not affect me. I do not agree that head teachers should boycott Sats. The reason is that they have a duty to apply the law and a boycott would lose them the moral authority to require others to comply with things with which these others, personally, disagree.

However, I think that the motion is good in that it sends out a strong message about the malign effect that Sats and 'league tables' have had on morale, on creativity and on good learning and teaching. Assessment is important and valuable for a number of good reasons and is an essential part of education. Most of the individual items within Sats are good items. The problem is the unjustified, generalised conclusions drawn from the results of Sats.
Alasdair Macdonald, Glasgow

Education in this country was ruined by the comprehensive system in the 60s. Children are leaving primary school unable to read or write. Bring back old-fashioned teaching methods; they worked and will work again. I feel desperately sorry for today's children, they are so let down. Children in the developing world receive a better education. It isn't difficult to teach a child to read and write and add up!
Lynn Scoones, England

Fire them. They either do what they're paid to do or they go job hunting. They ruined education in this country nearly fifty years ago, and they'll do it again if they're allowed to do as they please. Sack them lot of them.
Darkseid, Llangollen, North Wales

SATS tests are simply a snapshot of pupils, teachers and parents under untenable pressure. Yes, they must be scrapped - they are meaningless, apart from allowing Labour to demonstrate how good they are at the manipulation of statistics.
Lesley, Cornwall

I'm a parent and seriously concerned about the state of affairs in the education system. Not having any competitive periodic tests which help all to gauge a child's progress is like flying a plane blindfolded. Is it the teachers who don't want to stress themselves or the children?!

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