Corbyn announces move in speech to National Education Union conference
In a speech to the National Education Union’s (NEU) conference in Liverpool today, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn will set out his party’s plans to abolish the “regime of extreme pressure testing” for primary school children.
The policy would relieve pressure on a schools system forced to cope with overcrowded classrooms, the first cuts to school funding in a generation, and an ongoing crisis in teacher recruitment and retention.
Too much pressure on children
Corbyn will criticise the testing culture in England’s schools, which makes our children among the most tested in the world, and will announce that the next Labour government will scrap SATs for seven and eleven year olds along with baseline assessments for reception classes.
High-stakes and high-stress testing is placing primary school pupils under huge pressure, leaving some in floods of tears or vomiting through worry.
Labour will consult with teachers and parents to develop a more flexible and practical system of assessment that is tailored to individual pupils and “prepares children for life, not just for exams”.
Trust in teachers and a broader curriculum
The new system will trust and empower teachers to deliver a broader curriculum, not a rigid assessment regime. Labour has previously committed to encouraging teachers to remain in the profession by scrapping the public sector pay cap and ending cuts which have led to teachers begging parents for money to pay for basic supplies.
On primary school testing, Corbyn will say:
We need to prepare children for life, not just for exams.
SATs and the regime of extreme pressure testing are giving young children nightmares and leaving them in floods of tears.
I meet teachers of all ages and backgrounds who are totally overworked and overstressed. These are dedicated public servants. It’s just wrong.”
On Labour’s alternative assessment:
Our assessment will be based on clear principles. First, to understand the learning needs of each child, because every child is unique.
And second, to encourage a broad curriculum aimed at a rounded education. When children have a rich and varied curriculum, when they’re encouraged to be creative, to develop their imagination, then there’s evidence that they do better at the core elements of literacy and numeracy too.
And on teaching:
Teachers get into the profession because they want to inspire children, not pass them along an assembly line.
We will raise standards by freeing up teachers to teach. Labour trusts teachers. You are professionals. You know your job. You know your students.
“Jeremy Corbyn gets it”
Commenting on the announcement, NEU Joint General Secretary
Dr Mary Bousted said:
Jeremy Corbyn gets it: he recognises the damage that a test-driven system is doing to children and schools; he understands what needs to change; he sets out ideas for education which will make sense to parents and teachers.
The NEU has long advocated an assessment system that has the trust of teachers and school communities – one that will support children’s learning and raise standards of attainment in our schools.
We look forward to the return of a broad and balanced primary curriculum and to the rekindling of the spirit of creativity in our schools. We welcome Labour’s commitment to work with the profession in order to develop these ground-breaking policies further.
On education – and on the NHS, public services and our entire social fabric – Labour ‘gets it’.
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