Kids’ Strike goes ahead in Banbury in protest at forced academisation and SATS testing

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Concerned parents in the Banbury area have joined the national Kids’ Strike today in protest at SATS testing and plans to force all schools to become academies.

One dad, who asked to remain anonymous, designed educational activities at home while supporting the strike.

He said he believes SATS tests are putting too much stress on teachers, stifling creativity and putting children under unnecessary pressure.

“As a parent, it’s a chance to show my support for our hard-working schools and teachers, recognising the immense pressure they are under (and in turn, our children) as the Department for Education continues its test-obsessed mandate. “This high-pressure culture ignores the ability of our teachers to assess and respond to pupils’ needs appropriately - as well as reducing children’s engagement in learning for learning’s sake.

“It’s no secret the teaching profession is in a crisis of low morale. SATs and the attempt to privatise our children’s education through forced academisation are simply adding to the problem.”

This dad spent the day doing maths through cookery, baking bread and spending time measuring and building a rabbit hutch in the garden.

Parents have been organised on social media on a page called Let Our Kids be Kids.

“From what I have heard today it’s going really well. The teaching unions are delighted it has at last inspired discussion They say they can’t suffer another year of this chaos of SATS being constantly changed,” he said.

He said the Department for Education (DfE) has published, updated or clarified at least one document on primary school testing every other working day since the new school year began in September.

Examples reported during the campaign of how SATS tests for seven to ten-year-olds are deemed excessive include the need for the children to understand subordinating conjunction, modal verbs, transitive verbs, intransitive verbs.

The strike is also a demonstration of protest against government plans to force all schools to become academies by 2020.

A parent and former school governor has appealed to current governors not to be swayed into academy status because they feel it is inevitable.

“The Kids’ Strike has been organised by parents concerned about... the proposed forced academisation of all schools by 2020/22 but also about the testing regime.

“I share many of the concerns of the organisers, particularly on forced academisation.

“The advice schools are receiving is that they should jump before being pushed. If anything there is outright hostility in most primary schools for becoming academies. At best, most see it as a distraction, at worst as an attack on local democracy and participation - and a big, costly hassle.

“This would mean we end up in a situation where our education system is effectively privatised, with oversight provided by a democratically-elected council removed.

“Even many in the Conservative Oxfordshire’s Conservative council lead on Education, Melinda Tilley has even described the proposals as ‘bonkers’, so our council does not want schools to become academies either,” he said.

“There needs to be a proper debate about this in our community. Without this, we are sleep-walking into a privatised education system and a situation from which it will be very dificult to return.”