Teaching union appeals for education secretary to resign

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan

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A MAJOR TEACHING union has called on Education Secretary Nicky Morgan to resign after almost half of this year’s 11-year-olds finishing primary school were said to have failed to meet the new required standard in reading, writing or maths.

They were the first year group to sit a more rigorous set of national Standard Assessment Tests (Sats.) The Department for Education said ahead of the results being published that they should not be compared with previous years.

And last week Ms Morgan described them as “a good start.”

However the National Union of Teachers (NUT) has reacted angrily to the results which they said would be damaging for children. Kevin Courtney, the NUT’s acting general secretary, said: “This year 47 per cent of children will be told they haven’t reached the “expected” standard in at least one of their SATs papers. Last year this figure was only 15 per cent This is extraordinarily demoralising for children who are just about to make the big step up to secondary school. They have been told they haven’t reached the expected standard to start secondary school.

“It is really important that we reassure parents and children that this is not an accurate judgement of their abilities. This is not their failure - it’s Nicky Morgan’s failure.

“To adapt the phrase of Sir John Chilcot, it is not only in hindsight that this failure is clear. Ms Morgan has introduced and presided over a new system of assessment in primary schools whose problems were not only foreseeable, but foreseen. It was clear to most teachers and head teachers that the criteria for teacher assessment did not allow teachers to recognise the strengths of pupils’ work, and that the SATs themselves were going to be a car crash.”

He said the material was too hard and the curriculum was not in place. He also criticised the design of the testing and said that the guidance being provided to schools from the DfE was constantly changing. He even claimed that in some cases pupils were passing the 11+ in order to secure places at academically selective grammar schools but falling short of the Government’s expected national standard in Sats tests.

He said: “The NUT called for this year’s tests to be cancelled and for the whole new programme of primary assessment to be put on ice - but Nicky Morgan wouldn’t listen.

“Instead the Education Secretary pushed ahead with a flawed system that has exposed nearly half of England’s children to an unjustified sense of failure. The key stage two reading test was so badly designed that the pass mark had to be set at 21 out of 50. And now we hear very many concerns being expressed about mistakes in the marking.

“Constitutional authorities tell us that a minister is individually responsible for the general conduct of her department. It is time Nicky Morgan assumed that responsibility. A Secretary of State who demands accountability from schools should apply that principle to herself. Because of the major failings of a key reform, and because of the effect of those failings on schools and children, the National Union of Teachers today calls on Ms Morgan to resign her office.”

The Department for Education said: “We share the same objectives as parents, which is making sure their children get the best start in life.”

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