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SATs: Stop the Damage

We’re hearing from more and more parents who want to take their children out of SATs – but they have been told by headteachers they can’t. This is simply not true. The most extreme case – featured in the Independent – is the school where parents were told their children had to sit Sats even if they had a minor illness.

Heads and parents need to know their rights. Headteachers have a statutory duty to make sure their pupils take Sats ‘where eligible’. Those last two words are crucial. They also have a duty of care to their students. They ignore this at their peril. An investigation over safeguarding could be far more serious than a dip in results.

As for parents, it is possible to withdraw your child from Sats in Year 6 by taking them out for just four half days when the tests are underway. We know of no case of anyone being fined for sats withdrawal, and you are likely to have to take them out for five whole days to trigger a fine of £60. You can check out the situation in your area by researching your local authority’s code of conduct for unauthorised absence (which should be on your council’s website).

With Year 2 Sats and the phonics check in Year 1, it is much harder to take your children out without the consent of the headteacher. This is because Key Stage 1 Sats can be sat at any time during May – so you would have to take your child out for awhile month to be sure they didn’t sit them. With phonics, a child can be given the test at any time over a fortnight in June.

Let’s keep up the campaign to end these pointless and damaging tests for good. For more legal advice and other ways in which you can protest please check out more than a score’s action toolkit at

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