Headteachers raise concerns over SATs system

20 May, 2011

Headteachers raise concerns over SATs system

“A good school helps every child to fulfil their maximum potential”

Headteachers have claimed that this year’s SATs test papers favour pupils from middle class backgrounds.

Some members of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) claim that the national curriculum tests taken by 11-year-olds measure background rather than ability.

While extra tuition for children is a clear influence on their SATs results, some members of the union said this year’s exam texts also favoured pupils whose parents regularly take them out on trips.

This year’s English test featured a booklet called Caves and Caving in Davely Dale – a Visitor’s Guide, taken from a 2003 newspaper article, the NAHT said.

Meanwhile other members of the union criticised the reading and writing papers for failing to include any element of fiction.

One NAHT member said: “When half of our English curriculum is rightly about fiction, this is dreadful.”

The move “smacks of political interference in a bid to increase test scores” as boys score best in factual writing, he added.

NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby said the union had to keep repeating concerns that the SATs assessment system is designed to produce results that can be put into league tables that “say nothing of the standard of teaching and everything about the social privilege or deprivation of the school’s location”.

“A good school helps every child to fulfil their maximum potential, academically and personally – recognising that they start from very different places,” he said.

“The current system of Sats and league tables makes no recognition of progress, rewarding schools on their intake not their achievements. This year’s SATs contributed, once again, to injustice – favouring those who already have the greatest advantages.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “This year’s reading and writing tests – like all Key Stage 2 tests – were rigorously developed by experts, including current teachers, over three years and trialled with sample groups of around 4,000 primary school pupils before being cleared as fair.”