If you agree these tests are wrong…

Louise Regan is a primary headteacher and Senior Vice-President of the National Union of Teachers.

This post first appeared on Louise’s Facebook page and has been shared hundreds of times.

I am a primary head teacher and have taught in primary schools for the past 26 years. I started teaching when SATs were first introduced and have never thought they were a good idea, but this year has been a disaster from start to finish.

Before I explain why that is I want to apologise. I want to say sorry to my staff and my children. I am sorry that I didn’t act sooner, that I wasn’t brave enough to stand up at the start of the year and say ‘no’. We all knew it was going to be bad but I really couldn’t have imagined it would be this bad.

The year has been chaotic from start to finish; the testing regime being just one part of that. From the Key Stage 1 SPAG test published on line for several months without the DfE noticing, to the terrible Year 6 tests which have left nearly half of our Year 6 pupils being told they are not good enough.

So to those young people moving on to secondary school I say to you ‘Well done’ for working hard and trying your best. Your school and your teachers have not failed you – this government has.

Over the past few days I have heard some terrible stories: head teachers sent home and told not to return; Year 6 teachers blamed for the results and told they can no longer teach in Year 6. These are people’s lives, people’s livelihoods: teachers went in to the profession to make a difference – we have a system set on destroying them.

To my staff and my children – again I am sorry – you are amazing – each and every one of you – you are individual, you are unique and no child should ever have to be tested on a standardised test because you are not standard.

No teacher should be made to feel they have failed when all they have done is work as hard as they can – often too hard to implement something which shouldn’t have been implemented.

So now a request to all of you – parents, teachers, head teachers, school staff:

If you agree that these tests are wrong and should go…

If you really believe, as I have heard many of you say, that this year must be the last year that we put our children through this…

Then please do not allow the 6 week holiday to numb your pain.

Please remember what this has done to our schools and our children and please do something: write to anyone and everyone, put pressure on politicians and let us all together build a campaign to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Our children should leave primary school confident learners who are looking forward to secondary school, keen to learn and develop their skills but also people who have respect and understanding for those around them and who will grow in to well-grounded young people who can contribute positively to our society.

I, for one, cannot do this again I hope others join me to say enough is enough. Our children deserve so much more.

Louise Regan

Do something now:

Find out more about what the National Union of Teachers campaign on Primary Assessment

Get involved with the community Campaign groups Rescue our Schools and Let Kids be Kids

Sign the Let Kids be Kids petition to suspend the SATs

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Nothing about us without us: why we need disabled teachers networks

Colleen Johnson is Vice-Chair of the NUT Advisory group on Disability Equality in Education and a joint Equalities Officer for Birmingham NUT.

Why do we need disabled teachers’ networks?

A disabled teachers’ network seeks to challenge barriers in teaching where they exist, for example, initially at entry to training and at entry to employment. It seems completely unacceptable that our great profession does not truly reflect society in general. We must correct this, not just because it’s fair and just but because such visibility is important for disabled youngsters, disabled parents – and society as a whole!

Evidence has shown that disabled teachers are less likely to be recruited, retained and promoted. This is discriminatory and it must be challenged at all levels.

What is a disabled teachers’ network?

A disabled teachers’ network is a group of disabled teachers who organise, campaign and support each other to challenge all of the above. Together we can share a better vision of the future ( yes, even in these challenging times).

It is important that members know their rights, take ownership of the social model of disability and share our difficulties and our successes around reasonable adjustments.

We know that disabled teachers ( with visible or invisible impairments) are reluctant to identify but we must get over that and trust our union.

What next?

After liaising with Vin Wynne who is a Senior organiser with responsibility for disability, I have drafted an initial plan for a Midlands regional network. This plan will be shared with the Midlands region who will contact members who disclose as disabled, or who have accessed support around physical/sensory or mental health impairment, or who have had their fitness to work questioned by their employer.

Once contact is made, we can begin to arrange a regional based event so we can share our vision and experience.

What I need from Midlands-based disabled teachers

It’s simple really:

Your name
Basic contact details
Expression of interest

What if I’m not in the Midlands?

Talk to your Divisional Secretary or Regional Secretary to find out what is happening in your area. If it’s nothing, start something up!

And check out the NUT website for information and advice

Remember “Nothing about us without us”

Colleen Johnson, Birmingham NUT