Newsletter - June 2003


The NUT's campaign to ensure that the last round of SATs really does become THE LAST ROUND OF SATs, has begun.

The first stage of the campaign was a survey of all members which revealed that 84% were against testing at 7, 11 and 14.
This was followed up by a unanimous vote at the Union Conference at Easter to ballot for a boycott of the tests at Key Stages 1, 2 and 3. Although teachers’ delegates were angry that they would have to put children through another set of tests, they were confident that, with a concerted campaign, they would be the last.

Since our first boycott, called off in return for some concessions on workload, there has been growing disquiet amongst teachers who are forced to deliver these tests and who have seen the curriculum weakened and diluted and turned into a rigorous testing regime which forces out creativity and imagination.

Last year the Liberal Democrats conducted a survey which underlined what teachers already know, that children were "stressed at seven", and that the symptoms of stress included bed-wetting, stomach upsets and sleeping difficulties

The NUT is confident that the campaign will have the support of parents and colleagues in other unions, and other professionals working in education. Some children’s authors have already got together and put their names to the campaign, criticising the tests for destroying the practice of reading for pleasure and discouraging reading whole books. (See Pat Tomson’s comment in the box).

Please sign the petition, No More Sats, which has been sent into schools with this newsletter, and return to the NUT office.

We have also sent a copy of the newspaper,
Campaign Teacher
to every school in Bradford. It is a special issue devoted to the SATs campaign. Please look out for it in your staffroom, or ask your school rep.

Charles Clarke has attempted to head off a confrontation by a move to make the content of the tests a little less restrictive, but his proposals will not satisfy teachers.

"What the government has offered is inadequate and is certainly more spin than substance…..It is high time teachers took a professional stance against the SATs. If a boycott is the only way of stopping them we must not shirk from that step."
John illingworth, ex President of the NUT and candidate for General Secretary of the Union.

"The Education Secretary should have followed Wales and scrapped the tests for 7 year olds altogether. Teachers will be bewildered that he has not taken such an obvious step. Nor will they understand why tests for 11 and 14 year olds have not been scrapped."
Doug McAvoy.

"I suppose I must be an educational failure. I sat the English test. I failed to get full marks – and I had written the story on which the test was based. Presumably I had failed to fully understand the intentions of the author. The story was from my book A Chest of Stories for nine Year Olds."
Pat Thomson, children’s author.

"If the SATs were of any use then private and independent schools would have nabbed them for themselves years ago."
Jon Berry, Conference delegate.


If you needed a reminder of the level of lunacy and nastiness that passes as policy amongst the extreme right, you could do no better than read the British National Party’s education manifesto for the recent council elections. It is entitled "Education - End Trendy Failure".

On the training of teachers, all recruitment from Teacher Training Colleges (sic) where "discipline is disparaged and traditional teaching methods not taught exclusively" would be ended. Instead, retired teachers with at least 30 years (sic again) experience would train new teachers in the classroom.
As far as literacy is concerned, BNP councillors would oppose the teaching of Asian languages to classes containing any "native British children". And where "foreign pupils have not achieved a satisfactory standard of English they should be taught separately so as not to drag down and hold back native English speakers."
Plans for lunch time sound like a mixture of George Orwell’s 1984 and a 1950s Borstal, as "Canteen-style catering will be phased out and replaced by one choice of meal for all pupils, eaten in staff-supervised sittings which all pupils must attend". (Followed, presumably, by staff–supervised throwing up sessions of all pupils who hate sprouts).
Ideas of racial superiority even apply to the menu, as apples and pears have to be grown locally. But, to be fair, they would allow bananas to be imported.

As can be expected, some concern is shown for equal opportunities issues - they would seek to ban "the teaching of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle choice."

All these changes would be underpinned by iron discipline in the classroom as teachers "smack disruptive pupils".

In the words of Mel Brooke’s film "The Producers" : "Watch out, here come the master race." Especially if you have been trained at a trendy college, if you are not heterosexual, if your first language is not English, if you don’t like custard, if you are not partial to smacking or to being smacked, or if you are a French apple.


The NUT nationally has contributed to the Bradford Festival by sponsoring a kite making project.

Traditional craftsman Nazir Malik now lives in London with his family but was born and learnt his kite making skills in Lahore in Pakistan.

Nazir has recently led workshops at Carlton Bolling College, Barkerend Primary School, Dixon’s CTC and Cartwright Hall. Young people learned how Nazir constructed his kites using traditional methods, and then made their own often supplementing traditional materials with plastic bags, fabric, silk etc. They also watched a video of the kite festival in Lahore, which involves kite fighting competitions, to which Nazir returns every year.

Bradford's first Kite Festival was held on June 14th and 15th with workshops and participation events.


A number of useful publications have recently become available

New and Expectant Mothers
The HSE has brought out a leaflet on what provision should be made by employers to safeguard the health & safety of pregnant women and new mothers. It covers things like a specific Risk Assessment, time off for ante-natal checkups and breastfeeding on return to work. You can get a free copy from HSE Books on 01787 881165.

School Visits Near Water
The DfES and Central Council of Physical Recreation has produced a guidance document aimed at teachers who organise and lead outdoor educational visits that take place near or in water. It covers such activities as walks along river banks or seashores, collecting samples from ponds and streams or paddling or walking in gentle, shallow water. Copies can be downloaded from or

Child Safety Week
23-29 June is child safety week. The focus is on serious accidental injuries that lead to 400 fatalities as well as putting over 120,000 children in hospital each year. A package of materials including booklets, leaflets, videos and posters can be obtained from the Child Safety Week hotline number 020 7689 4535.


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