One head’s challenge to Nicky Morgan: ‘Take the new Sats and let’s see if you meet the Year 6 standard’

A primary school leader has launched a petition asking the education secretary to sit the new KS2 national tests. The reason? So Ms Morgan can understand just how tough they really are

A message from a primary school headteacher to education secretary Nicky Morgan: you have six minutes to answer the following questions. Work in silence, and show all your calculations.

  1. 678 × 54 = ?
  2. 234,897 – 45,996 = ?
  3. 15.4 – 8.88 = ?
  4. 3,016 ÷ 13 = ?
  5. Multiply a quarter by an eighth.

Michael Bailey, head of St Peter’s Church of England Primary in Leicestershire, has launched a petition calling on Ms Morgan to sit key stage 2 tests.

Introducing his petition, entitled “Let’s see if our MPs can meet Year 6 standard”, Mr Bailey writes: “I don’t believe the government or the public truly understands the demands made on our Year 6 pupils…

“Although I believe we should have high expectations for children’s learning, I do not believe pushing more and more of the secondary curriculum into the primary school’s domain is the right way to achieve this.”

He therefore called on MPs to sit the tests, “in order to help them understand what they are expecting of our 11-year-olds, and consider if this is what they really want children to experience within our school system”.

Unecessary panic

For example, one section of the maths test requires pupils to answer 26 questions in 30 minutes. “That’s going to panic a lot of children unnecessarily,” Mr Bailey argues.

He also criticised the English paper, saying that it expected children to learn archaic points of grammar. “It seems ridiculous that, just because a politician remembers doing something at their private schools years ago, it should appear on our tests today,” he told the Leicester Mercury.

“We’re robbing children of their childhood and making them stressed out and depressed, when we should be allowing them to enjoy their learning, and building a solid foundation for them to continue their studies.”

In TES last month, Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teaching union, highlighted the difficulty of the English key stage 2 tests, and criticised the “Gradgrind regime” that created them. “What is tested is what is taught, and the danger is that children experience a passive literacy curriculum where their abilities as apprentice language-users and creative writers will be neglected because there is just so much grammar to get through,” she said.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education that it was unapologetic about the tests: “Parents rightly expect use to ensure that their children are leaving primary school having mastered literacy and numeracy,” she said. “That is why we have tests at the end of key stage 2.”

So far, the petition has more than 1,300 signatories. Sign it here.

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