Parent power as pupils are kept at home in Sats test protest

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan.

Schools braced for parents to stop their children attending today after tens of thousands signed a petition supporting a boycott in protest over formal testing of six and seven-year-olds

The Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign wants parents across England to keep their children off school today, saying they are “over-tested, over-worked and in a school system that places more importance on test results and league tables than children’s happiness and joy of learning”.

The petition, signed by more than 38,000 people, added: “We want our kids to be kids again and enjoy learning for learning’s sake, not for Ofsted results or league table figures”

However Schools Minister Nick Gibb urged campaigners to drop their plans saying it was not fair to deprive children of a day’s education.

According to the campaign’s website parents are taking part across Yorkshire with events planned around the region.

In an open letter to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, published on the Let Our Kids be Kids website, the parents who launched the event claim they “represent the voice of parents across the country” who “want an end to Sats (standard assessment tests) now”.

They wrote: “Do you want your legacy to be the confident cancellation of unneeded and unnecessary Sats, showing you are listening to your electorate and the teachers you claim to support ... or the overseeing of a shambolic testing regime desperately unwanted by millions of people to the point that this country saw its first open parent revolt?

“You have the power to stop these tests. Now. Our children, our teachers and our schools deserve better than this.”

Sats are taken by children aged six or seven in Year Two and then again in Year Six, aged 10 or 11 at the end of primary school.

Mr Gibb said: “These tests are vital in helping schools to ensure that young children are learning to read, write and add up well.

“The truth is if they don’t master literacy and numeracy early on, they risk being held behind and struggling for the rest of their lives.

“Children should only ever be taken out of school in exceptional circumstances and we’d urge the organisers of this campaign to drop their plans because it simply isn’t fair on children to deprive them of a day of their education.”

Parents are being urged by the campaign to keep their children off school for “a day of educational fun instead” and the national campaign’s website includes posts from hundreds of groups or parents indicating they will take part in another activity rather than attending classes.

One suggestion is for a “fun day of learning at the Eden Project” while other groups of parents across the country were planning nature walks or trips to museums.

Shadow education secretary Lucy Powell said she did not condone the action but claimed ministers had “ridden roughshod” over the concerns of headteachers and parents about Sats.