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SATs results this year will be ‘useless’ and tests should be cancelled, say school leaders

Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary

Today (Friday 18th March), school leaders’ union NAHT publishes the results of a survey of its members on SATs in 2022. The survey received more than 2,000 responses from school leaders in England.

  • Only 8% agreed that the results would provide meaningful data about their school’s performance.
  • Only 10% of respondents agreed that 2022 SATs data would be a reliable indicator of children’s attainment or progress.
  • Only 1% felt that KS1 SATs should go ahead as planned this year, and only 3% felt KS2 SATs should go ahead as planned.
  • Only 11% of survey respondents trust that Ofsted will not draw conclusions based on SATs data alone and that they will not draw comparisons with performance data from previous years.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“Primary schools have experienced severe disruption due to Covid this year – just as much as in 2020 and 2021. And that disruption has not been felt evenly – some schools have been harder hit by staff and pupil absences than others, meaning children have had very different experiences of teaching and learning.

“For that reason, the results of SATs this year really can’t be compared, either with previous years or with other schools. There is a real danger that the data from these tests could paint a very misleading picture of an individual school’s performance and lead to incorrect conclusions being drawn.

“Teachers don’t need SATs results to tell them about a pupil’s progress. They are already constantly assessing that, and are more aware than ever of what each child needs to help them recover any lost learning from the pandemic. SATs are not something teachers find valuable for assessment and are simply a distraction during a time when there is still significant disruption in schools.

“The week schools will need to spend putting children through these tests could be far better spent focusing on teaching and learning. That is particularly true this year given the time pupils have already missed from school due to Covid.

“SATs are really used to assess schools more than pupils – but the data from this year’s tests will be largely useless when it comes to judging a school’s performance. If the government is determined that SATs must go ahead, the data should only be used at a national or local level, and not to draw conclusions about the performance of individual schools.

“Although the government has told us that SATs data will be treated with caution by inspectors, local authorities and Regional Schools Commissioners, our members tell us that they simply do not trust that this will really be the case. The government needs to do a lot more to convince schools that SATs should go ahead as planned and to rebuild the trust of the profession.”

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