Activists in the NEU union are organising in advance of an indicative ballot for a boycott of Sats in primary schools.
Primary school children face two rounds of the hated tests, which cause stress and narrow the curriculum. The NEU agreed at its annual conference last month to ballot all primary school members for a boycott of Sats for the academic year 2019/20.
An indicative ballot will begin on 4 June.
Jess Edwards is a primary school teacher in south London and a member of the NEU’s national executive committee. She told Socialist Worker, “We have started contacting reps in schools and providing resources about opposing Sats.
“We will be ringing all reps and activists, and encouraging people to hold meetings in their schools. We will also divide up schools between reps to go in and speak at meetings.”
Stefan Simms is divisional secretary of Ealing NEU in west London. “We have a reps’ meeting next week and we’ll be discussing how best to get the vote out,” he told Socialist Worker.
“NEU activists everywhere need to organise meetings before the half term at the end of May so we can hit the ground running when the ballot starts.”
Sally Kincaid, divisional secretary of Wakefield and district NEU, said workers there met last week to discuss the ballot.
She told Socialist Worker, “When I said to one Year 6 teacher that we were balloting for a boycott his reply was, ‘What can I do to help? My best year of teaching was the last time we boycotted.’
“We split up schools with members and no reps that will be visited over the next few weeks.
“We are also going to get postcards produced that secondary school teachers and parents can fill in and take to local primary schools to show their support.”
Stefan said that activists need to put forward an alternative vision of what education can be like. “Lots of people understand that Sats are bad,” he said. “But many teachers went through Sats as children and it’s all they know.
“Many ask what we would do if we didn’t so Sats. We have to talk about having a broader-based curriculum that isn’t limited to English, Maths and Science.”
And he said there are reasons to be optimistic. “Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn opposes Sats as does the Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Layla Moran,” he said.
“We should use this. I hope to get our local councillors to agree to a statement opposing Sats and supporting our ballot.”