Sats: Teachers crank up classroom creativity ahead of possible boycott

Staff will be encouraging pupils to read ‘without stopping to count the pronouns and note the adjectives’ as part of a campaign against Sats

Teachers across the country are trying out more “experimental” teaching techniques and creative classroom activities this week as part of a national anti-testing campaign.

The You Can’t Test This week, which starts today, is gaining support from teachers who have been left angry about assessment, a senior figure from the NUT teaching union has said.

Participating staff are making a concerted effort to introduce more creativity to their classrooms – for example, by holding poetry performances, meditation sessions and exploring maths through music.

One activity outlined by supporters of the week includes “creative writing or reading without stopping to count the pronouns and note the adjectives”.

This year’s campaign has been supported by the NUT for the first time – and it has been tied in with the union’s calls for changes to the assessment system in primaries.

‘An awful lot of anger’

Kiri Tunks, junior vice-president of the NUT, told TES that she expects to see more activities taking place this year – the second year of the campaign – following a difficult year in primary assessment.

She said: “They are very anxious and concerned about the last lot of tests. I think there is an awful lot of anger this year.”

The NUT is planning to carry out an indicative ballot of its leadership members this month, alongside the school leaders’ union the NAHT, on a possible boycott if the government doesn’t make any changes.

“This is another arm of that campaign. It’s something that teachers can do without being balloted. It’s part of a wider push to say to teachers, ‘We are the professionals, we are the experts, and we should be challenging this testing regime’,” Ms Tunks added.

The You Can’t Test This week is encouraging teachers to show that there’s value to all learning that children do that isn’t currently recognised by the “restrictive and reductive” accountability system.

Ms Tunks, a secondary school teacher in Tower Hamlets, said: “It is encouraging people to do more practical and experimental activities, rather than just teaching from the board. It is about starting a conversation about how to teach, why to teach and what to teach.”

A number of schools have started to post their activities on Twitter under #YouCantTestThis.

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However, it was too early to gauge how many schools and teachers were taking part, Ms Tunks said. But she added that there had been “pockets of activity” all over the country – from Oxfordshire to the North East – and a number of parent groups have pledged their support.

Ms Tunks added: “A lot of people who have taken it up are from primary schools, but it isn’t exclusively for primary. It just had the most traction because of primary assessment this year.”

[Source:- tes]