Education

‘Let Kids Be Kids’: Parents and children protest against SATS

Protests in Brighton against SATS. Image: Frances Ainley

Protests in Brighton against SATS. Image: Frances Ainley

Across Britain today, children and parents have been protesting, by staying off school, against increased testing of primary school children.

The turnout in Preston Park, Brighton for the ‘Let Kids Be Kids’ rally was one of the biggest in the country, with more than 500 children and parents gathering to protest against Department for Education directives, including  SATS exams for six and seven year olds.

The atmosphere at the park was vibrant but relaxed, with lots of arts activities, sports, music, dancing and some good old-fashioned running around in the sunshine.

Local DJ and festival organiser, Lucy Small played a DJ set for almost two hours much to the families’ enjoyment.

But the serious nature of the day, and why many parents turned out, is not just because of their resentment of exams for young children, but in disapproval of the education system and National Curriculum in general.

Another major concern is the lack of creativity the curriculum allows time for and the level of anxiety many children experience, given the huge potential for being branded ‘failures’.

Children’s Laureate and Brighton-based author and illustrator, Chris Riddell, spoke at the protest and said the event would help teach children an important lesson.

Chris Riddell read out a poem at the rally and in his following speech, said that SATS testing for seven-year-olds is an important issue.

He echoed the parents’ anxieties, saying there are legitimate concerns about the validity and value of testing at this age.

We should be turning children into readers with the pleasure that gives rather than relying on a testing culture.

On the other side of the fence, Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan condoned the policy saying that taking pupils out of school ‘even for a day is harmful to their education.’

Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb also disapproves of today’s action, claiming the issues parents and children are protesting about have been misinterpreted.

However, Mr Gibb was not able to answer one of the controversial SATS exam questions, put to him this afternoon by Martha Kearney during an interview on Radio 4’s news programme, The World at One.

He even retweeted a parent’s mockery of the mistake:

Meanwhile, the children I met seemed to be enjoying a day of play in the glorious Brighton sunshine.

But they are also aware of the issues being debated and protested against.

I spoke to 11 year old Louie and 6 year old Cheska:

The turnout at the event shows the strength of feeling and the determination of parents to make their voices heard.

Many of them took a day off work to join the nationwide rally, but they enjoyed a day of play with their children, learning some new skills to boot (tight-rope walking being one of them).

Father-of-two, Seth learning to walk a tight-rope. Image: Frances Ainley

Father-of-two, Seth learning to walk a tight-rope at ‘Let Kids Be Kids’ day. Image: Frances Ainley

 

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