Throughout the pandemic I’ve been liaising with local headteachers from across the constituency on the issues affecting their schools and pressing for the support that they need to be able to operate safely and provide all our children with the education they need.
Yesterday I raised their concerns on early years settings, support with remote learning, free school meals, testing, and exams with Schools Minister Nick Gibbs. At a meeting just before Christmas, primary heads had impressed on me that going ahead with SATs this year was an unnecessary burden at an extremely challenging time.
I was astounded that Education Secretary Gavin Williamson failed to mention SATs at all in his statement in the House of Commons today, so when I got the chance to ask him a question, I pressed him on the key issue of cancelling the tests this year, as well as sharing my concern over his approach on BTECs.
Though the Minister failed to answer my point on BTECs, he did agree that SATs would be an unnecessary burden and won’t go ahead this year. I was pleased that he was finally clear on the matter, but schools, teachers, parents and children deserve to know more about what’s expected of them in a timely way on all levels of assessment – academic and vocational. So far, BTECs have been an afterthought, on which the Government has abdicated responsibility.