NUT to debate tests for 4-year-olds

Published: Saturday 4th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Teachers are today expected to raise the prospect of a boycott of new literacy and numeracy tests for four-year-olds.

A resolution due to be debated at the National Union of Teachers (NUT) conference in Harrogate calls for action to undermine testing in primary schools, working towards a protest against “baseline” assessments as the first step.

Under the outgoing government’s reforms, from next September, infants will undergo liter acy and numeracy checks just weeks after they start in reception. The results will be used to chart children’s progress throughout primary school.

Ministers have insisted that the move will help ensure children leave primary school with a good standard of reading, writing and maths.

But the NUT’s resolution argues that the primary curriculum is overcrowded and restrictive and that a focus on “high-stakes testing” is having a negative impact on children’s education.

It calls on the union’s executive to take action, including “work towards a boycott of baseline assessments as the first step in undermining the basis of testing in primary schools”.

And it says the union should continue to make the case that primary education should be shaped by teachers and educationalists rather than “the political whims of any current government”.

The union is also set to raise concerns that f amily holidays are fast becoming the preserve of the middle classes due to strict new rules on taking pupils out of school in term time.

New rules introduced by former education secretary Michael Gove in September 2013 mean that heads are now only able to grant leave in ”exceptional circumstances” and parents can be fined £60 per pupil for taking term-time holidays without permission.

But a resolution due to be debated by delegates argues that, despite recent advice from heads clarifying their interpretation of the rules, the regulations still unfairly impact on working parents, especially the low-paid.

It says: ”Conference understands that taking children on holiday is not the same as persistent truancy.

”Holidays can provide valuable experiences and outdoor learning opportunities. Giving families time to be on holiday together will also have social and emotional benefits which can be of lasting value and support to schoolchildren.”

Separately, a poll by the NASUWT teaching union, which questioned around 4,600 members, claims that more than six in 10 (61%) teachers say they are working alongside unqualified staff who are working as teachers in their school. Many of these unqualified teachers are regularly taking lessons, planning and preparing lessons and assessing pupils’ progress, the union, which is holding its conference in Cardiff, claimed.

Around two-thirds (65%) said that unqualified staff had been employed because the school had chosen not to use qualified teachers for that role.

Recent government changes mean that academies and free schools are now allowed to hire staff who do not have qualified teacher status.

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: “Parents no longer have the certainty when they send their child to school that they will be taught by qualified teachers.”

Published: Saturday 4th April 2015 by The News Editor

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