A brave headteacher has gone against the book after BANNING her pupils from taking SATS exams – to stop young children sobbing and stressing over the tests.
Jill Wood said she was willing to put her job on the line to fight the controversial national curriculum tests for the sake of the children’s emotional well-being.
The head of Little London Primary School in Leeds, West Yorks., decided to take the 10 and 11-year-old pupils on educational visits instead of cramming them into the exam hall.
Speaking about the rebellious move, Jill said: “The country is spending billions on children’s mental health, so why are we putting them under pressure?
“We just felt last year we had children sobbing in exams and it upset me so much, I just said ‘I can’t do this again’. They are a ridiculous, unnecessary strain.
“I’m in breach of my contract of employment – but I feel very passionately about it.”
After she consulted with parents and governors, the decision was taken not to participate in this month’s exams.
The school instead opted to measure progress using alternative methods, including learning checks throughout the year and assessments at the beginning of July.
While Mrs Wood stressed she was not against assessments, she argued that SATS made no sense when schools had free reign over how they measured performance during the rest of the year.
She also said they held no weight at secondary schools, which did their own assessments in Year 7.
Jill said: “If one school is measuring in bananas and the other is measuring in pineapples, how can we all sit standardised assessments?
“Why do we test our children in May anyway? There is another two-and-a-half months of learning time.”
Jill added: “Schools should be accountable, but there is a better way.”
Education Secretary Justine Greening announced plans last week to scrap the national curriculum tests taken by six and seven-year-olds from the next school year.
The Department of Education said it would not sanction Little London Primary School or Jill Wood after she banned SATS test – but warned their OFSTED result could be affected.
A spokesperson for the department said it would be down to the local authority Leeds City Council to sanction Mrs Wood.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education said: “There is nothing we would essentially do otherwise than writing to the STA [Standards Test Authority] and governing body and say she has not complied with the statutory duties.
“Formal disciplinary action would be in the hands of the governing body and the local authority.
“The issue for the school is that having no data would affect their rankings in the school tables and in terms of an OFSTED rating – that would be an issue for the school.
“The school could still provide assessment data, but OFSTED might see this as insufficient evidence – and this would affect the school’s performance in its OFSTED report.”
It boasts around 340 pupils and the latest OFSTED report stated 54 of its pupils speak in a different language and over 70 per cent of pupils don’t have English as their first language.
Leeds City Council say the decision for Mrs Wood to ban SATs at Little London Primary School will count as ‘maladministration’.
Steve Walker, Director for Children’s Services at Leeds City Council, said: “We have worked with the Standards Testing Agency to ensure the school are aware of their legal duty with regards to SATs.
“The Standards Testing Agency regard this as a maladministration and will have contacted the governing body of the school who should investigate and respond accordingly.”
Commenting on the affect the SATs ban would have on the primary school, an OFSTED spokesperson said: “We cannot comment in advance of individual school inspections.
“However, when inspectors go into primary schools they want to see that children are progressing. Inspectors typically use a range of evidence to make their judgements.”