The UK government is planning to bring in testing for four year olds in England. Below is a report from Sara Tomlinson of London, one of the teachers leading the fight to boycott the tests.

 

At this year's National Union of Teachers conference in the UK, I was a delegate from Lambeth, the branch that began the Primary Charter, and moved the motion asking for a clear mandate to ballot members in time to boycott baseline testing. One deleagate, Simon Boxley, talked about a child in his Reception class who, having been pretty silent up to then, suddenly discovered whilst changing for PE, that if he talked into his plimsoll, his voice changed. He was able to demonstrate this fact to a school assembly and the whole class went on to investigate this interesting pheonomenon. Such a methodology and curriculum, based on following the interest of a child, will be under threat if a culture of testing comes down to the Early Years. 

 

Many schools have already signed up to the pilot, and are arguing that the Early Excellence model is close to what we do now. But a system where some schools will use one method, some schools another, some schools will deliberately give children a low score in order to show progress and others will aim for an accurate picture, is fundamentally flawed. This data will then be used to judge teachers all the way through the child’s life. As Neil Leitch of the one of the many groups opposing the tests said, they will potentially produce 'inconsistent or unreliable results.'  

 

The six private providers will make money from this test introduction and the GERM privatisation movement will creep into the sanctuary that is the Early Years.They had to sign up 1,638 schools before the end of April, in order, say the DFE, to make comparison possible. This has lead to heavy marketing, pressure on Local Authorities and from LAs onto schools to sign up. These private providers also run seminars and training courses and there will be a whole new market for books for parents on how to prepare for the test. One of the providers, as an example, sells a basic package for £3.50 per child, which is redeemable from  the government, but schools can buy a 'progress' package at £7.00 per pupil, or an 'Inspection Ready' package for £8.50 per pupil. This will see millions pounds of public funds poured into merely producing flawed data.

 

All the speakers spoke convincingly about the need to get a boycott in place and to have guidance for  members of the NUT about how to boycott now. Our biggest allies in this campaign are parents. We also need to work with the highly effective groups like and and gain access to networks of parents who will help us to make the tests unworkable.