Sheffield children shouted for ‘freedom’ as they played on a swing after being taken out of school by parents in protest at Government policy.
They held up signs and banners in Endliffe Park at one of three ‘strike’ events in the city as part of the national Let Kids Be Kids campaign.
There were also protests in Doncaster, as parents expressed their anger Government changes to the SAT exams.
Ben Kohn, 38, from Crookes, took his two children aged seven and five out of school for the day. He said the changes were putting ‘increasing stress on teachers and children’.
“Children are sitting unnecessary tests at seven and six years old,” he said. “I don’t think it’s right to treat children like that. The Government is just doing it so they can score and grade schools against each other and justify different policies they want to bring in.”
The changes include anew marking system for Year 2 and 6 children taking their SATs. It gives a single national standard result, and the standard considered a pass has been raised. The new system also only allows for a pass or fail.
Children are now starting to study for their Key Stage 2 SATs in Year 3, so pupils as young as seven are being taught complex grammar rules such as expanded noun phases.
With children riding a swing and shouting ‘what do we want? Freedom. When do we want it? Now,’ in the background, Mr Kohn said: “I don’t think it’s treating the children as they should be treated to allow them to fulfil their potential and learn in a fun-filled environment.
“The changes are preventing them from learning. We learn more in an environment where we are allowed to be creative and not just concentrate on learning the meaning of different grammatical terms.”
Mr Kohn said his seven-year-old daughter had become disillusioned with school as a result of the changes.
“It’s an important lesson to teach my children about the importance of standing up for what you believe in. My eldest knows why we are here. We have spoken about it and she agrees with the reasons.”
National Union of Teachers joint secretary for Sheffield Simon Murch said the union fully supported the protest.
“I went to two of them today and I think it’s exactly right,” he said. “Parents are seeing these SATs for what they are, which is something that doesn’t belong in our education system.”
Mr Murch said teachers were just as concerned as parents about the changes.
“It’s been awful. It’s not just the teachers who are up in arms. Headteachers, governors, pretty much anyone concerned with schools is against what’s going on.
“The Government wants schools to fail, so they have ramped up expectations. Kids in Year 6 are doing the work that Year 9s would have done. Schools are not going to hit their targets, so they can push forward academisation. And the people caught in the middle are children.”