Teachers in Leeds are to boycott next month's national tests – the 'Sats' – for primary school children.
Two teaching unions announced yesterday that members had voted to refuse to administer the tests for 10 and 11-year-olds. They claim the tests "humiliate and demean children" and create unacceptable levels of stress and uncertainty for staff.
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Schools taking part in the boycott will remain open during the testing period – May 10 to 13 – but children will have extra lessons or take part in creative activities instead.
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The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) both voted for the boycott. However, the other big classroom union, the NASUWT, is opposing the action.
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In Leeds, most headteachers are members of the NAHT or NUT so the boycott is expected to have significant support.
NUT Leeds branch secretary Patrick Murphy said: "We have been working for a long time for this to happen and we think it will be a big success in Leeds.
"The NAHT and the NUT represent the vast majority of heads and deputy heads in Leeds and we're confident that most schools will take part in the boycott.
"It is too late in the school year not to teach to the Sats tests but what we can do is not open the test envelopes and not administer the tests.
"We hope that this might signal the end for Sats, which only now exist in primary schools in England after they were scrapped in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland."
Mr Murphy said the boycott would mean that, for the first time in years, the Government would be unable to compile its controversial annual league tables.
As well as unfairly comparing schools, the tables were used to determine levels of pay and have also led to heads losing their jobs, said Mr Murphy.
Schools Secretary Ed Balls criticised the boycott decision. The Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Morley and Outwood insisted that headteachers had a statutory duty to administer the tests, and a "professional and moral duty to put the best interests of pupils and parents first".
He said: "We urge those heads who voted for action to think hard before disrupting children's learning."