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There’s no room for statutory assessments in the midst of a pandemic

November 19, 2020, 10:29 GMT+1
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There’s no room for statutory assessments in the midst of a pandemic
  • Over 1,200 heads and senior leaders sign More Than A Score’s open letter calling for tests to be dropped in the time of COVID-19...
There’s no room for statutory assessments in the midst of a pandemic

Primary school leaders are at the forefront of a growing campaign to cancel SATs and other primary assessments in this school year.

Recently, over 1,200 heads and other senior leaders signed More Than A Score’s open letter to Gavin Williamson MP and Nick Gibb MP calling for the tests to be dropped and almost 60,000 people have signed the campaign group’s petition.

Now, as year 2 pupils take the Phonics Screening Check this term, schools are facing the reality of preparing for and administering a government test, while also dealing with the myriad challenges presented to them by the Covid-19 crisis.

So, why shouldn’t tests take place this year? Headteachers who are members of the More Than A Score campaign believe:

  • Contrary to the government’s view, SATs and other tests are not the way to assess the effects of Covid on children and schools. Schools’ own precise, teacher-led assessments provide all the information needed to see where learning gaps are, how to bridge them and, for year 6 pupils, how to ensure a smooth transition to secondary school.
  • Teacher-led tests mean schools can prioritise the safety, mental health and well-being of children, some of whom have experienced trauma and even bereavement. The last thing any child needs right now is the added anxiety of high-pressure assessment.
  • Too much learning time has already been lost. If pupils are to enjoy a rich, broad and stimulating curriculum, schools cannot waste valuable teaching time preparing them for, and carrying out, statutory tests whose sole purpose is to measure school performance, not further children’s learning.

These heads believe that schools should be held accountable, but basing performance on government tests administered during a pandemic can only produce meaningless data and put pointless pressure on children.

Here’s what heads have to say:

It’s time to speak out

When primary school leaders speak out, the government listens.

If you believe it’s wrong to go ahead with statutory assessments in a pandemic, there are a number of ways to make your voice heard.

  • Write to your MP. It will take less than a minute to let your MP know how the pandemic is affecting your school and why SATs and other tests should not go ahead in this school year. Use this link to send an email – it’s even more effective if you can personalise the template letter provided.
  • Join the More Than A Score school leaders’ group to hear more about the campaign and voice your opinions with government, the media, your local community and school leader networks
  • Sign the petition calling for all statutory assessments in primary schools to be cancelled in the 2020/21 school year.

Spread the word with your local networks. School leaders speaking together will be heard!

If you have any questions about the More Than A Score campaign, email:

Follow the campaign on social media on Facebook at @morethanascore and on Twitter at @MoreThanScore.