Portsmouth council to become second in the country to call for SATs to be scrapped in primary schools

COUNCILLORS have vowed to lobby government to scrap SATs in primary schools.

Portsmouth council is calling for SATs to be scrapped for primary school children
Portsmouth council is calling for SATs to be scrapped for primary school children

Following a heated debate at a Portsmouth City Council full council meeting yesterday councillors agreed to write to the education secretary calling for SATs and other 'high-stakes' testing in primary schools to be binned, making it the second authority in the country to do so.

Labour councillor Tom Coles, who proposed the motion, said: 'The current system puts an avoidable and unnecessary burden on teachers, students and parents. High-stakes testing distorts the work of the schools.

‘It narrows the curriculum, has an increase on the stress levels of pupils and adds to the workload of teachers.

'Having spoken with teachers, I was told the tests are designed to test the effectiveness of the teachers and not the advancement of the children.'

He was backed by Lib Dem education cabinet member and former teacher, Cllr Suzy Horton. 'This is something I have been talking about for 30 years,' she said.

'I actually walked away from a job I loved on a matter of principal. High-stakes testing leads to unhealthy competition pitting children against children, teachers against teachers, schools against schools and authorities against authorities.'

The decision proved contentious and yielded 23 votes in favour, with 10 against. Five councillors abstained.

Cllr Luke Stubbs, a Tory, said: ‘There's a repeated phrase of "high-stakes." For the children these aren't high-stakes because if you fail your SATs you will still be able to carry on with school. They are high-stakes for the teachers.

'There has to be some system, parents have a right to know how the school is performing.'

His peer Cllr Terry Norton added: 'In a time when 66 per cent of employers say they take on the person rather than the qualification we must do more to make sure children can find their talent and what they want to do in life.

'But my problem with abolishing tests is it leaves children without aspirations.'

St Helens Council in Mersyside became the first authority to pass a similar motion earlier this week.