HEADS WILL BOYCOTT SATs

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SATs tests are being used as a ‘big stick’ to beat state schools with, says the president of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT).

The determination of teachers and head teachers to go ahead with a boycott of next week’s tests is hardening, and NAHT President Mike Welsh described school league tables based on SATs results as an exercise in humiliation.

‘Seeing a quick data fix by pushing children through hoops does not embed learning,’ insisted Welsh.

He told delegates to the NAHT conference in Liverpool that some head teachers had lost their jobs ‘directly due to the use of Sats data as the basis for inspection’.

‘Assessment has to be proportionate, fair and supportive,’ he said.

‘Accountability should not be destructive by being permeated by a lack of trust.’

Attacking the league tables, he demanded: ‘We must move away from the football metaphor of saying that unless the manager achieves promotion this season then they should face the sack.

‘Schools are organic, as with all organisations. Over a few years we can be on top form some of the time and pretty good most of the time and occasionally have a hiccup.

‘Just at the time the school might want some support. . . along comes Ofsted and instead we get a punitive, clunking fist which demoralises rather than enthuses.

‘It talks of raising expectations and then only uses the big stick to do this.’

Welsh also called for professional teaching standards to be upheld and not undermined by cost-cutting measures under the next government.

The SATs boycott, days after the election – opposed by Tory, Liberal Democrat and Labour Party leaders – is expected to affect over half of England’s 17,000 schools, despite the efforts to break it with threats of teachers having their pay docked or even being dismissed by local management.

Meanwhile, the NAHT also warned that schools could have their budgets raided after the election, as part of the drive to make spending cuts.

The NAHT said in a statement that as part of a softening-up process, schools could well be accused unjustly of ‘hoarding cash’ when that is clearly not the case.

‘We have urged the Department for Children, Schools and Families to clarify systems and processes in local authorities,’ said NAHT General Secretary Mick Brookes.

The government claims there is almost half a billion pounds in what it calls ‘excessive balances’ held by individual schools.

But the NAHT said the assumption that schools were sitting on vast amounts of wealth was ‘fictitious’.

The NAHT, which represents about 28,000 school heads, said its research showed the real number of schools with uncommitted balances above the threshold allowed was 1,574 schools – much lower than a reported estimate of 7,000.

l The Scottish teachers’ union EIS could call the first national teachers’ strike north of the border in more than two decades.

The union is considering a one-day stoppage across the country over cuts to school spending in Scotland, which have already provoked mass protests.

ADES, the body which represents council education bosses, believes schools are experiencing the most serious spending cuts in 30 years.