Open Letter Regarding SATs

Assessment is a vital part of the school system, and it is right its implementation is debated. However, Labour’s pledge to scrap SATs without any idea of a replacement could lead to lower standards and greater inequality for our children.

Contrary to common belief, English pupils are not over-tested by government – with formal exams only in Year 6 and Year 11. If these are overly stressful for some children, then it is more about how they are prepared for them by others, not the tests themselves.

Research shows that externally-set and marked exams are the most accurate, fair, and objective way to assess what pupils have learned over time. Having standardised tests across all schools enables teachers and others to understand which approaches work best. Our most vulnerable pupils are the ones who benefit the most from this.

Furthermore, it is our most vulnerable children who would be most disadvantaged by any move towards teacher assessments. Research is clear that it is these pupils whose work is disproportionately impacted by natural unconscious bias. Also, at a time when workload is a major issue driving people out of the profession, putting more onto the shoulders of teachers could be disastrous.

SATs are not perfect, and in the past they have caused some schools to narrow their curriculum; but the tide has turned on this, especially with Ofsted’s heightened focus on educational breadth and richness.

Scotland saw what happened when they threw the testing baby out with the bathwater, which is why they reintroduced national tests. We would urge caution before England makes the same mistake again.


Mark Lehain Director, Parents and Teachers for Excellence
Mark Adams Senior Vice Principal, Magna Academy
Janella Ajeigbe Head, Churchill Gardens Primary
Sarah Barker Assistant Headteacher
Sam Baxter Principal, Elstow School
Tom Bennett Behaviour Advisor
Katharine Birbalsingh Head, Michaela Community School
John Blake PTE Advisory Council
Adam Boxer Teacher
Matthew Bracewell Teacher of Mathematics
Elaine Bracken Year 6 Teacher
Helen Brothwell Principal, Queen Elizabeth’s Academy
Cassie Buchanan Headteacher, Charles Dickens Primary School
Prof. Tom Burkard
Matt Burnage Teacher
Dame Sally Coates Director of Academies, United Learning
Christine Counsell Independent Education Consultant
Leora Cruddas Chief Executive, Confederation of School Trusts
Dame Rachel de Souza CEO, Inspiration Trust
Ian Dewes Executive Head of the Dunchurch Schools’ Federation and National Leader of Education
Lee Donaghy Teacher Educator
Jo Facer Vice Principal, Ebbsfleet Academy
Joshua Fisher Deputy Headteacher, Mercia School
Amy Forrester Teacher
Stephen Fraser Retired Primary Headand  Former National Leader
Chris Glover Head of Maths
Emma Glover Vice Principal, Astrea Academy Sheffield
Linda Greaves Teacher
Rt Hon. Robert Halfon MP MP for Harlow
Claire Heald Standards Director & Executive Principal, Inspiration Trust
Jane Heron Deputy Principal, Bedford Free School
Cathie Hewitt Headteacher, Angel Oak Academy
Mary Hind-Portley Teacher
Ruth Hollingsworth Assistant Headteacher, Mercia School
Jonathan Hutchinson Teacher
Andrew Johnson CEO, West Norfolk Academies Trust
Hywel Jones Deputy Director of Education, Astrea Academy Trust
Ruby Judge Maths teacher & SLE
Naureen Khalid
Michaela Khatib Executive Head, Cobham Free School
Janet Lehain Teacher, Bedford Free School
Barnaby Lenon Dean of Education, University of Buckingham
Andy Lewis Assistant Headteacher, St Bonaventure’s
Antony Little Headteacher, Cromer Academy
Stuart Lock Executive Principal, Advantage School
Jo Marshall Teacher
Steve Mastin Independent Education and Curriculum Consultant
Zuzanna McClintock Year 6 Teacher and KS2 English Lead
Tara McVey Vice Principal, Towers School
Michael Merrick Teacher
Tim Mills Executive Headteacher, Angel Oak Academy
Munira Mirza Former Deputy Mayor for Culture and Education, London
Tim Oates CBE Assessment, Research and Development Group Director, Cambridge Assessment
Andrew Old Teacher and Blogger
Martyn Oliver CEO, Outwood Grange Academies Trust
Mufti Hamid Patel CBE Chief Executive, Star Academies
Robert Peal Assistant Head of Teaching and Learning, West London Free School
Naveen Rizvi Mathematics Curriculum Advisor, United Learning
Calvin Robinson Teacher
Christopher Rossiter Chief Executive, Driver Youth Trust
Ben Rothwell Assistant Head, Victory Heights Primary School Dubai
Chloe Sanders Assistant Principal, Saint Martin’s Catholic Academy
Jonathan Simons Public Policy Consultant
Luke Sparkes Executive Principal, Dixons Academies
Sallie Stanton Director of Education, Advantage Schools
Hannah Stoten Teacher
Claire Stoneman
Sam Strickland Principal, The Duston School
Will Tanner Director, Onward
Michael Tidd Primary Headteacher
Richard Tutt Principal, Magna Academy
Kim Walton Executive Principal, Astrea Academy Sheffield
Shirley Watson Executive Principal, Dixons Academies
Dean Webster Headteacher, Mercia School
Sir Nick Weller CEO, Dixons Academy Trust
Chris Wilkins Executive Headteacher, St. Ninian Catholic Federation
Lee Wilson Chief Executive Principal, Outwood Grange Academies Trust
Clive Wright Headteacher St Martin’s Catholic Academy
Cassie Young Head of School, Brenzett Primary School