‘Sats reading tests too middle class, and would have no relevance to inner-city children,’ teachers say

Children lacking social capital are doubly disadvantaged by the new reading test, teachers claim

Teachers are furious that the key stage 2 reading test discriminates in favour of middle-class pupils.

As TES has reported, many 11 year olds left school in tears, after sitting the reading tests. Many have taken to social media to complain about the paper.

One wrote on Facebook: “My issue with today’s reading test was the ‘middle-class’ element to them and today’s relevance.

“The paper…would have had no relevance to inner-city children or ones with no or little life skills.

“As a teacher in Year 6 today made me feel sad – sad for the children, sad for the teachers and sad for the schools whose results may mean ‘requires improvement’.”

And a Year 6 teacher from the South of England told TES that the vocabulary of the test was inaccessible to her pupils, most of whom rarely leave the estate on which they live.

She added that the paper tested of their vocabulary knowledge, rather than their reading ability. Without specific advance knowledge of the vocabulary used in the test, she was unable to prepare them sufficiently.

TES is unable to disclose any specific details about the paper, as its contents are embargoed until 20 May, when all pupils will have taken the test.

In 2011, Sats tests came under similar criticism. The National Association of Headteachers argued that the reading-comprehension text – drawn from a booklet called Caves and Caving in Davely Dale – A Visitor’s Guide – favoured those pupils whose parents are able to take them out on regular trips.

And, last year, an examiner wrote a piece for TES explaining how difficult it is to write questions with a context that is equally accessible to all pupils: “For example, questions that refer to music might alienate a deaf candidate,” he wrote.

This year, many teachers expressed similar frustrations on Twitter:

@tes wow I feel better knowing it wasn’t just me. Achievement that there were no tears. Test for middle class able white girls. So angry

— sara h (@saraherriott) 9 May 2016

@tes What a surprise! Traditional text with language & general knowledge linked to middle class upbringing rather than quality of teaching

— John Bocking (@JohnBocking) 9 May 2016

@rashush2 @SusanGodsland @DTWillingham @honeypisquared @tes @jon_severs Seemed to be a test of how middle class & literary your parents are

— Clare Sealy (@ClareSealy) 9 May 2016

@Trundling17 @MrTRoach @Ed_Dorrell no doubt – did it have a character called Orlando eating papaya he bought from Waitrose? :-)

— Jules (@JulesDaulby) 9 May 2016

The Department for Education was approached for comment.

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