Thousands of kids could be missing school today but it's not your typical truancy. It's the parents who have decided on a day of unauthorised absence in an unusual "strike" action to protest against exams for 6- and 7-year-olds.
The Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign, which has been encouraging parents in England to keep their children off school today because they are "over-tested, over-worked and in a school system that places more importance on test results and league tables than children's happiness and joy of learning," began as a group of five parents who were "tired of having the same discussion about the pointlessness of SATs."
The U.K. government's controversial academisation programme has been hailed as the biggest shake-up to the education system in decades. Currently SATs (standard assessment tests) are taken by children aged 6 or 7 in Year Two and then again in Year Six, aged 10 or 11, before a third set in Year Nine aged 13 or 14.
The original small group has now grown to thousands and caught the attention of parents across the country. Over 44,000 people have signed a petition to "bring back the creativity and fun" and "say goodbye to repetition and boredom."
Hundreds of organised "educational fun" activities are taking place today, such as nature walks and museum trips. It's hoped that local councillors and MPs will attend some of the events — to hear directly from parents why they don't support unnecessary school assessments and discuss possible alternatives.
Many teachers are backing the campaign and some head teachers have pledged to mark the children taking part in the strike as "educationally absent on the day." Head teachers at the NAHT conference called for a "fundamental review of the assessment of pupils."
"We are not advocating a lack of any form of assessment; we obviously want to know our children are doing well and our teachers need to be able to use their assessment of our children to plan how to help develop their learning further," said the Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign leaders in a press release. "What we are against is unnecessary testing that is not age appropriate. We trust our teachers. They have been trained in teaching and assessing our children. They know what our children are capable of and what they need pushing to do. They also know how to do it well. What we are asking for is an education system that allows them to do this and one that is created in unity with teachers, parents, unions and the Government."
The Government needs to listen to these parents and teachers who ultimately have the pupils' best interests at heart. Missing one day of school won't do the kids any harm. In fact it could be the most educational day ever. Whatever other activities their parents have planned, one thing their children will learn is how important it is to make a stand against something that you know is not right.
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