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Last Updated: Friday, 7 May, 2004, 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
Parents protest over Sats tests
exam room
Teachers also complain that the tests narrow the curriculum
A couple are keeping their 11-year-old daughter off school while her class take Sats tests next week because they say the tests are ruining her education.

Andrew and Rachel Green, who live in Bristol, say preparation for the national tests has turned their daughter, Ella, off school.

They have written to the Education Secretary, Charles Clarke.

The government says parents cannot withdraw their children from the tests.

Ella's parents say she used to love learning and going to school but that this changed this year.

"In her earlier years her enthusiasm for school and learning was a joy to behold," said Andrew Green.

"However, if she were to use one word to sum up this year it would be the word 'boring'.

"Nearly every day she complains of being bored, and longs for the weekends.

"In the mornings, she often goes back to bed after dressing, in an effort to postpone the day for as long as she can.

"She is desperate for next year and the chance to start secondary school."


Dr Green and his wife do not blame the school for preparing the children for the tests, but say the tests inevitably lead to a narrower curriculum, with creativity being the biggest loser.

They complain that repeated revision of areas to be covered in the tests leads to boredom.

At 11, children in England are tested on maths, English and science, - as they are again at 14. At seven they are tested on English and maths.

Critics of the testing system say other areas of the curriculum get neglected.

The enforced boredom our daughter has had to endure is a form of abuse
Andrew Green
The head of school inspections in England, David Bell, highlighted what he called the problem of a two-tier curriculum, with maths and English being better taught than other subjects.

In their letter to Mr Clarke, Ella's parents wrote: "To our minds the enforced boredom our daughter has had to endure is a form of abuse.

"I am not imagining a utopia where all learning is enjoyable at all times. But the level of boredom she is experiencing is cruel and unnecessary."

'Statutory duty'

The Department for Education and Skills said it did not comment on individual cases.

A spokesperson said: "National tests provide objective evidence, against a national standard, of what children have learned.

"Teacher assessment draws on evidence from classroom work, observation and discussion throughout the year

"The school has a statutory duty to administer the tests and tasks and parents cannot withdraw their child from them".

The national school tests, often called Sats, are taken by children in England at seven, 11 and 14.

The results of the tests at 11 and 14 are published and are used to draw up league tables.

Children in Wales take national tests at 11 and 14, in Northern Ireland at 14, while those in Scotland are tested between the ages of five and 14, "when they are ready" and at the teacher's discretion.

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