Leeds headteacher bans ‘ridiculous’ SATS tests

Jill Wood, headteacher at Little London Primary School, Leeds, has put her job on the line after refusing to run SATS this year. Picture: James Hardisty.
Jill Wood, headteacher at Little London Primary School, Leeds, has put her job on the line after refusing to run SATS this year. Picture: James Hardisty.
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A Leeds headteacher was so upset by her 10 and 11-year-old pupils being in “floods of tears” during SATS exams she decided not to run them at her school this year, despite the move putting her job under threat.

Jill Wood, from Little London Primary, said she was willing to take a stand against the controversial national curriculum tests for the sake of the children’s emotional well-being.

After consulting with parents and governors, the decision was taken not to participate in this month’s exams, instead opting to measure children’s progress using alternative methods, including learning checks throughout the year, as well as assessments at the beginning of July. During SATS week earlier this month, pupils were instead taken on educational visits to Whitby and Ingleton waterfalls.

She said: “The country is spending billions on children’s mental health, so why are we putting them under pressure?

“We just felt last year we had children sobbing in exams and it upset me so much, I just said ‘I can’t do this again’. They are a ridiculous, unnecessary strain.

“I’m in breach of my contract of employment, but I feel very passionately about it.”

While she stressed she was not against assessments, she argued that the standardised SATS made no sense when schools had free reign over how they measured performance during the rest of the year. She also said they held no weight at secondary schools, which did their own assessments in Year 7.

She said: “If one school is measuring in bananas and the other is measuring in pineapples, how can we all sit standardised assessments?

“Why do we test our children in May anyway? There is another two-and-a-half months of learning time,” she added.

“Schools should be accountable, but there is a better way.”

Her comments come the week after hundreds of parents backed Leeds headteacher Jo Fiddes, who labelled the controversial tests as “cruel” and an “unnecessary pressure”.

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