Saturday, 11 April 2009

NUT intend strike action over SATs

The Daily Mail reports that the country's biggest teaching union is today expected to give the go-ahead for a controversial boycott of the national testing system. Members of the National Union of Teachers are expected to vote overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action to scupper SATs for seven and 11-year-olds.

But Schools Secretary Ed Balls told NUT members gearing up for what is being seen as their biggest battle yet with the Government that they cannot just refuse to comply with the law. Government lawyers are considering the legality of the boycott amid claims teachers may be in breach of their employment contracts if they refuse to abide by national education policy. The boycott would involve refusing to administer SATs in spring 2010 for more than one million primary school children unless ministers agree to axe them.

The country's biggest head teachers' union will put a similar industrial action call to its members in May. In a speech to the NUT annual conference yesterday, Bill Greenshields, the union's ex-president, urged members to back the boycott. 'We will end this child abuse,' he said.

But the planned action has split the teaching profession. Other unions fear ministers will be less likely to implement changes to SATs to avoid being seen as bowing to union pressure. Mr Balls has given clear hints he wishes to change the testing system and league tables accompanying results but has said he has 'no intention' of abandoning tests in some form.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

League Tables published today

School league tables are published today. Read them at Today's league tables show around 150,000 pupils failed a performance measure the Government is introducing.
They show the proportion of pupils who took SATs for 11-year-olds last summer and achieved the Government's expected level in both English and maths.
As many as 27 per cent of pupils started secondary school in September without having met the benchmark, this morning's figures show.

Youngsters who missed the benchmark will need extra help to cope with the curriculum at secondary school because they failed to reach level four in the core subjects of English and maths.

Separate official figures showed yesterday that a fifth of bright children - those who exceed Government expectations at 11 - make no progress in key subjects in their first three years at secondary school. More than 20 per cent of pupils who gain level five in English and science are still at level five three years later after 'coasting' once entering secondary school.

Opposition politicians said teaching should be better tailored to pupils' abilities.
The trends emerged as the Government faced fresh criticism over the decision to publish today's tables amid claims they are tainted by last summer's marking fiasco.

The headteacher of the top primary school in the country has warned cramming for Sats tests would only result in short-term success. Lorraine Cullen of Hall Meadow Primary School said pupils needed to be "thinking" learners to see real long-term improvement.Hall Meadow and Combe Church of England Primary School in Witney had more pupils than any other school in England who achieved level five - one level above that expected of 11-year-olds - in the tests.Mrs Cullen said that their results did not come from drilling the pupils on the exam script. "I think that you get a certain amount of success doing that but you will never sustain it. 'We do very little work around preparing for tests. We spend our time developing children who are thinking, motivated and active in their learning."