A protest against standardized testing for six- and seven-year old children generated the support of tens of thousands of parents, some of whom gave their kids permission to skip the tests.
The “Let Our KIDS Be KIDS” movement came in response to required Year 2 testing that parents and some educators feel is onerous and developmentally inappropriate. The organising group stated their motivations simply on their website:
“We’re sick of whinging in the school yard about the state of things and think it’s time to make a stand.”
Parents across England kept their children out of school to prevent them from having to sit for the exams, with many local events and protests organised at the last minute. The numbers on participation are unknown, but the Department for Education will likely have statistics on testing participation in the future.
Critics of the testing echo similar sentiments to the ‘Opt Out’ movement in the United States, which has rocked the mandatory testing regimes in states such as New York. The tests, they say, are stressful, high-stakes exams that try children’s physical and mental faculties at too early an age and without a justifiable benefit.
Past Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen wrote that, “One ex-headteacher and now school governor wrote to tell me of ‘six to seven-year-old pupils who, during the testing period, were crying, visibly shaking and reportedly waking up at 4am unable to sleep.”
“Then there’s the sheer selfishness of the whole thing. Thousands of parents get to indulge in a day of virtue-signalling while schools are left to pick up the pieces. Are the organisers aware that if unauthorised absences at a school exceed a certain threshold, that school is ineligible for an Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ grade?”
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan was criticised harshly this weekend at the National Association of Head Teachers annual conference, with some of the pressure coming on the subject of SATs exams. Morgan defended the testing as necessary and important parts of ensuring that every child in Britain receives an adequate education and that the government is able to improve institutions.
Labour said that the government’s insistence on a testing culture is fostering “chaos and confusion,” with a host of UK education unions agreeing.
Schools minister Nick Gibb was put on the hot seat on the World At One radio programme. He was given a test question from an exam for 11-year olds in which he was asked whether a specific element of the passage was a preposition or a subordinating conjunction. Gibb answered the question incorrectly, claiming that his wrong answer showed just how important it is to teach grammar properly:
“This isn’t about me. This is about ensuring that future generations of children – unlike me incidentally, who was not taught grammar at primary school – we need to make sure that future generations are taught grammar properly.”
Parents who organized protests created events that included social activities such as listening to music and group walks, writes The Mirror’s Mark Ellis. After the testing day had concluded, Let Our KIDS Be KIDS released a statement that explained their optimism toward assembling stakeholders to identify a solution to the testing problem:
“Parents have shown their massive support today for their children’s teachers and have demonstrated clearly that they want to see a change. We need to see teachers, unions and the Government working together with us now to find a way that works. Not just a way to pass tests, but a way that encourages a lifelong love of learning in our children and that develops, through a curriculum rich in a wealth of experiences, the confidence, imagination and passion for learning that will help our children to succeed.”