Heads must decide on May 3 ‘protest’ absences

Headteachers must decide whether they will record pupil absences related to parent protests over this summer’s SATs as authorised or not.

A petition started by campaign group Let Our Kids Be Kids has around 30,000 signatories claiming they will stop their children attending school in protest over new national curriculum tests due to begin next month. The petition proposes “a day of fun learning out of school”.

The group have also published a template letter parents can use for informing headteachers of their intention to remove their child during the tests, as well as an interactive country map of events organised by boycotters.

Under school attendance rules, children can only stay away if too ill to attend or with advance permission.

If they miss lessons “without good reason”, school leaders should report this to the local authority and councils can fine parents up to £60 or order them to attend parenting classes.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said teachers must record the absence but the choice to authorise it or not “will be up to the head”.

A Department for Education spokesperson agreed that the government “trusted heads to make these decisions”. He also said that parents concerned about their child suffering with stress as a result of the tests should “talk with their school” as “tests should not be a cause of stress for pupils”.

The National Union of Teachers is considering a boycott of all primary testing next year after calling on education secretary Nicky Morgan to cancel this summer’s tests. Other teaching unions have also been critical at the pace of implementation of assessment reform, which they claim is adding to teacher workload.


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  1. I personally think all sats should be stopped as kids are tested all year round and therefore they should not have to spend a whole week sittin exams to get stressed over at a young age to then become ill due to stress !

  2. Julie Evans

    I have a daughter just about to do her sats, she finds school difficult in normal circumstances, but the sats have made coping a 100% more difficult, I am very lucky that her school has done everything possible to try to make it easier for her, but we have enough struggles ahead with high school and I feel at 10 years old she should not be being put through this hell

  3. Kate Tricker

    My 11 year old daughter will be sitting her SATS next month & for the last 2 weeks for 3 days per weeks, her school has been doing SATS breakfast club where the children go in at 8 and have a free breakfast then go over the SATS. She is definitely not fazed by them & if anything is enjoying this. Obviously I can not speak for every child but the parents I have spoken to at school have all said the same. There’s no pressure at all yer when my elder daughter did hers 2 years ago this scheme wasn’t in place and as she us extremely bright had to do the level 6 as well. The only thing that bothered her was the fact those not doing level 6 got to spend the time watching DVDS lol. As parents we don’t put any pressure on either of our girls instead tell them just do your best. I also tell them it’s a time when they can show off to their teachers just what they do know and surprise them, they both liked that idea!
    Personally I think the kids that get stressed are the ones with pressure being put on them.

  4. We were never tested at such an early age and I don’t think we did too bad , I feel frustrated as my eldest grandson went through these tests, ok, but when he got to secondary school they picked up that he was dyslexic and that he needs an overlay to read properly so I think primary schools should go back to basics as my grandson has missed out on so much and is really struggling, he gets so frustrated and angry why wasn’t this picked up sooner???

  5. Nadine

    Why do our children need testing? What do the results prove? This system is absolutely outrageous, how to set children up to fail. I’m fed up of walking into Y2 and Y6 classes and seeing children sat doing test papers! For what? You don’t need a test to know what a child can or can’t do, that is the job of their teachers, they know what their children need to achieve their potential. Children are only children for a very short time, they need to be learning to engage them and give them all the skills for later life. I don’t want my daughters looking back at their childhood thinking they were never good enough just because they didn’t write a sentence with a conjunction, a contraction, a fronted adverbial etc.

  6. Annette Brown

    SATS have been around since the start of National curriculum…what has changed is the emphasis on them. They started as a final assessment/ indicator for teachers but now they are just used as a big stick to hit teachers and schools with. Tests shouldn’t be stressful and if approached in right way wouldn’t be for the vast majority of children…they have moved away from being a tool to becoming over important, and not for the correct purpose.

  7. £60 fine is for an absence over 5 days which is unauthorised and is £60 per parent per child. The recommendation to fine will only be passed to the local authority if the governing body of the school have decided that is what they would like to happen. No absence of 1 day would ever be subject to a fine and it is misleading to say that it would.

  8. Clare

    Testing has a place in the compedium of teaching methods.
    BUT any test should be well designed, the purpose should be clearly defined, agreed upon and fit for purpose.Teaching to tests which are poorly designed and unfit for purpose, limits pupils aspirations, engagement with learning and can seriously undermine their view of themselves as self motivated and curious learners.Teachers who have to administer these tests are not afforded the respect that they, as professionals deserve and are not listened to.All of you out with your children on the 3rd have a great (educational) day. Nikki Morgan take your fingers out of your ears.

  9. Jackie Bailiff

    When I was a kid we were practised every morning with 11+ papers in top class. This resulted in loads of kids going to the local grammar school who were totally unsuited and fell badly by the wayside later on.

    As a farmer friend of mine says you can weigh’t pig as oft as thi likes but it won’t make it any heavier.