Members of the National Union of Teachers voted at their conference this weekend to boycott SAT's (national tests) for primary children. The NUT has given the Government till the summer to come up with a plan to end SAT's - otherwise the union's members will boycott them along side members of the National Association of Head Teachers - together these two unions comprise the vast majority of primary teachers and head teachers. Many delegates at the conference spoke of their frustration at having to do tests which they considered to be - as many delegates put it - statutory child abuse. Not only do the tests cause huge amounts of stress to many children they also force teachers to stifle their creativity as they attempt to make sure that their pupils get good results. The pressure on schools is huge because SAT's are published in league tables (rankings) which then expose a school to vilification from the press and politicians if the results are not good. The punitive inspection regime is also used to harrass schools and teachers who politicians believe are not up to scratch. One example of the pernicious effect of the pressure for good results was given by a delegate who taught at a centre for children who had been excluded from schools - often because they had horrendous emotional and behavioural difficulties caused by terrible family cicumstances and poverty. The government is now demanding that such pupils aim to get five A to C grades in their end of school tests - when the main aim of the centre is to enable them to take part in learning at all. One young teacher said that the only time she and the children enjoyed lessons was in the two months at the end of the summer term when the SAT's were over because then as she put it - 'no-one cares what we do' - so at that point she could use her and the children's interests and creativity to have really exciting and stimulating lessons. The SAT's were brought into even more disrepute last summer when a US firm EIS was given millions of pounds to mark the tests and failed to do so on time or to an adequate standard. This caused so much embarrassment to politicians that they were forced to abandon all SAT's for secondary school children. Wales and Scotland have already abandoned SAT's. Now there is a huge groundswell in England against testing - not only from teachers but also from academics, parents and of course the children themselves. This time members of the NUT are determined to finish them off for good.