Sats: More than 3 in 4 parents oppose statutory tests in primary

01 Aug 2022
Exclusive: 90% of teachers surveyed also said they are not satisfied with the current assessment arrangements, a new survey finds

More than three-quarters of parents think there should be no statutory assessments in primary schools, a survey for an independent commission has found.

The Independent Commission on Assessment in Primary Education (ICAPE) has said that 76 per cent of parents who took part in its research thought there should be no statutory assessments in primary school, and just 16 per cent thought there should.

It also found that most teachers (92 per cent) said they were unsatisfied with the current system of assessments. 

The survey, which was carried out by the NEU teaching union on behalf of ICAPE, collected responses from 1,124 educators and 536 parents between May and June this year.

The research also found that 72 per cent of parents strongly agreed that the current system narrows the curriculum.

And the majority of teachers taking part said they did not believe that the baseline assessment, key stage 1 and key stage 2 Sats, the phonics check and the multiplication tests benefited children’s learning.

The strongest reaction was to the KS1 tests, in which 90 per cent of educators disagreed that they benefited learning.

A similarly high percentage of respondents felt this way about KS2 tests (88 per cent).

One respondent said that Sats are “only about league tables” and that they “inhibit” the Year 6 curriculum as teachers “feel the pressure to get them ready for the tests at the expense of a broad and balanced curriculum”.

Just 6 per cent of educators thought the current system was a good basis for accountability.

Earlier this month, government data showed that 59 per cent of pupils met the expected standard in all three areas of reading, writing and maths in this year’s KS2 Sats, a drop from the 65 per cent achieved in 2019 before the pandemic.

In May, Tes revealed that ICAPE was reviewing the evidence behind Sats and other primary assessments used in schools.

Today, ICAPE co-chair Professor Dominic Wyse said that the “strength of negative feelings” around statutory tests in the country ”should be of great concern to all”. 

Professor Wyse added that parents involved in the research also agreed “with the majority of teachers that the tests are not serving a sufficiently useful purpose”.

Following the release of the provisional findings today, ICAPE co-chair Professor Alice Bradbury said the responses from parents and carers suggested “a strength of feeling about assessments which I have not seen before in previous research”.

“Parents are worried about the impact of Sats, particularly on their children’s stress levels, and appear to agree with most teachers that the system needs to change.”

The commission will make its final report and recommendations in October of this year.

Source: TES