Sheffield parents to take pupils out of school in protest at SAT changes

Rose Butler and Kate Jacob are taking their children children Willem Butler Lee, eight and Sophie Horsfield, 10, out of school next week in support of the the teachers striking. Picture: Andrew Roe
Rose Butler and Kate Jacob are taking their children children Willem Butler Lee, eight and Sophie Horsfield, 10, out of school next week in support of the the teachers striking. Picture: Andrew Roe
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Classrooms across Sheffield will be quieter than normal today (Tuesday, May 3) as parents show solidarity with teachers by taking their children out of school.

A day of action will take place to protest against changes to SAT exam marking and the Government’s plan to force all school to become academies.

Parents and their children will meet at parks across the city to vent their frustration and anger at the changes.

The events are part of a national day of action set up by the Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign group.

Rose Butler, from Hunters Bar, will take her son Willem Butler Lee, eight, out of Hunters Bar Junior for the day to join parents in Endcliffe Park.

She said: “It’s a children and parents strike in support of teachers and the NUT. There’s a lot of petitioning and Facebook groups and it’s really gaining momentum.”

The Government is introducing a new 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.

“They have made the grading higher and harder,” said Mrs Butler. “But there’s also a much stronger concentration on grammar and literacy, rather than the content of children’s work.”

She added: “Many parents are against SATs anyway, because they feel they are not at an appropriate level for children of that age.”

Compounding these concerns is the Government’s recent announcement of plans to force all schools to become academies, taking them out of local authority control.

“There is a general feeling against the move toward academies,” said Mrs Butler.

“Children are feeling really under pressure at junior school and teachers are feeling very under pressure to put into place the new standards.”

Protest events will take place at Endcliffe Park playground from 10.30am until 12.30pm, at Thornill Woods from 11am to 3pm, and outside the Meersbrook Park Pavilion from 11am.

Visit letthekidsbekids.wordpress.com for more information about the campaign.