Socialist Worker

Teachers build support for boycott of hated Sats tests

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2658

Protesting against Sats tests in 2016

Protesting against Sats tests in 2016 (Pic: Guy Smallman)

NEU union members across England are campaigning to win a big vote in favour of boycotting the hated Sats tests in primary schools.

The indicative ballot follows a vote at the NEU’s annual conference.

Children are forced to sit Sats twice while in primary schools.

The tests are nothing to do with helping children but are instead used to rank schools and teachers.

They cause extreme stress.

Sara Tomlinson is district secretary of Lambeth NEU in south London and a campaigner against testing. She told Socialist Worker, “In my branch the turnout is pretty positive.

“The turnout is higher at this point in the ballot than it was during our previous ballot. We don’t have an indication of how big the yes vote is. But all reports are that people are feeling very positive about the campaign.”

Hackney NEU organised a “Scrap the Sats” picnic last weekend, while Tyneside saw a “Play not Tests” event on the beach.

Sara said, “There are questions about what the alternative to Sats looks like. We want to talk to teachers about that.

“Real assessment should be based on teacher judgement and what’s best for the child, not government league tables.”

If NEU members back a boycott, a full ballot could follow and a boycott of Sats could take place later this year.

The indicative ballot ends on 2 July.

Big march in Bath against school cuts

Over 1,000 people protested against cuts to school funding in Bath, Somerset, last Saturday.

Head teachers, parents, school workers and children joined the march, organised by Fair Funding for All Schools.

School spending per child fell by 8.8 percent in Bath between 2013/14 and 2018/19. The fall for those in North East Somerset was 6.7 percent. But student numbers and costs have gone up.

Protesters said the cuts mean bigger class sizes, cuts to support staff, less support for children with special educational needs and inadequate funding for equipment.

Some schools have even closed early due to lack of resources.

Many local head teachers spoke out against the impact of the cuts.

George Samios said, “We are having to do more and more with less and less.

“Schools are under more pressure now than they have been for a long time.”

Sixth form staff prepare for a funding fight

The NEU union is balloting members in sixth form colleges for strikes.

It is demanding extra funding for sixth form colleges to counter the impact of cuts on pay and conditions.

The ballot is for discontinuous strikes during the autumn term this year and spring term next year.

NEU union members at The Grove Academy in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, were set to strike on Thursday of this week. The action is against planned redundancies following funding cuts.

The school is a Pupil Referral Unit, which teaches children who have been excluded from mainstream schools.

It’s set to lose two thirds of its budget by 2020.

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A planned strike at Newham Sixth Form College in east London was suspended after workers won concessions. NEU union members had planned to walk out for three days from Tuesday.

They were in dispute over the imposition of term-time only contracts on the tutoring team.

Teachers, parents and anti-academy campaigners were set to lobby Greenwich council in south east London on Wednesday of this week.

The lobby is demanding that the council stops John Roan school from becoming an academy run by United Learning.

The conversion was set to take place on the same day.

No to United Learning conversion Wednesday 12 June, 6pm–8pm, Woolwich Town Hall,London SE18 6PW

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