Socialist Worker

Teachers back boycott of new primary school assessments

by Sadie Robinson in Harrogate
Issue No. 2447

Teachers protesting against the new tests

Teachers holding a protest against the new tests (Pic: Socialist Worker )

Teachers in the NUT union have backed a boycott of "baseline tests" that the Tories want to force onto four year olds.

Delegates to the union’s annual conference in Harrogate overwhelmingly backed the action at the weekend.

They voted to "begin a campaign towards a boycott in the summer term 2015, in time for members to be able to boycott the baseline assessments in the summer of 2016".

Baseline assessments are set to be rolled out in reception classes from September 2016 and the Tories want to trial them this September. Schools are pressured to choose their tests from six private providers.

Many delegates argued for the "seventh option" —to boycott them.

A motion instructed NUT leaders to work with the Too Much Too Soon campaign and the Charter for Primary Education. It condemned the primary school curriculum and called for the union to fight for a different kind of education for young people.


The motion also noted that no mainstream party had expressed any opposition to the new primary curriculum or testing regime.

Sara Tomlinson from Lambeth, south London, said children face "death by testing" and that teachers must "act urgently to stop these tests becoming part of our school routine".

Simon Boxley from Havant in Hampshire said tests for four year olds would also have an impact on two and three year olds because of "the downward pressure of teaching to the test".

Delegates backed an amendment agreeing that "schools should not take part in the early trial". It also agreed to work with other campaigning groups to "persuade schools not to start the scheme in September 2015".

Jemma Fowler from Oxfordshire said tests turned "children into statistics". Claire Gray from Hackney, east London, said that "children would be deprived of a childhood" if the tests go ahead.

Paula Champion from Cambridgeshire said the union was sending a clear message to schools. "Do not go for early adoption. Go to your head and say you do not want to do the tests,” she said.

But Paula said some teachers felt the union could have done more to lead the fight against early years testing. She said that some felt under pressure to choose a provider for the tests.

"It is unacceptable for our union to leave them in that position," she said. 

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