Fury after girl tells mum of SATs stress and says her friend is suicidal as ‘she’s not getting the right marks’

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A mum has shared her daughter’s stress over forthcoming controversial SATs tests after she revealed they were making her friend suicidal.

The 10-year-old girl broke down to her mum over the controversial Year 6 exams which are going ahead despite opposition.

There have repeated calls to axe the tests, sat by children in Year 2 and 6, from parents and teachers who believe they have made schools into exam factories and turned children against education.

Last year, following a consultation, the government announced it would be scrapping the Year 2 (Key Stage 1) tests from 2023 – replacing them with different assessments – but for now children will continue to sit them each May and the Year 6 (Key Stage 2) tests will continue unchanged.

Now the mum of one girl has written to the campaign group Let Our Kids Be Kids, revealing her daughter’s misery over the exams – and the impact it is having on her friend’s mental health.

Protest against SATs tests
Protest against SATs tests

The mum, who wanted to remain anonymous, said her daughter’s comments had left her ‘angry and speechless’.

She said: “I’m so sad tonight at speaking to my 10-year-old daughter currently preparing for year 6 SATs. She came home plonked herself down and started to cry. I asked her what was wrong and she responded ‘I’m just so stressed. Every day we are doing practise tests. It’s all we do and I’m not scoring very good marks and because we mark each other’s, the other kids are making fun of me for not scoring well. All I hear is sats sats sats. I used to like school but I hate year 6!’.

“This has left me speechless and angry at the pressures being put on our children! She later told me that her friend has said she wishes to kill herself because she’s not “getting the right marks” and her parents will be really disappointed. This should not be coming out of 10/11 year olds mouths due to these bloody tests that have no input into their adult lives!!! I just don’t know how to help her apart from the usual comforting words!”

Parents have previously protested against the tests, with many feeling the questions – which are now harder than ever following changes to the curriculum – are too difficult and putting pupils under unnecessary pressure at such a young age.

Back in 2016, Let Our Kids Be Kids spearheaded a school strike day, urging parents to keep their kids off for a day a show of defiance against the exams.

Speaking about the parent’s letter, a spokesman for the campaign group told the M.E.N.: “To receive emails from parents in such a state of frustration and concern about their children is deeply worrying. For the DfE to repeatedly ignore these concerns is deeply depressing.”

And she expressed her disappointment that the government is continuing to bring in tests for young children.


She said: “Although the parental strike action in 2016 resulted in a parliamentary enquiry into SATs and a recommendation to scrap tests for seven-year-olds, the DfE have actually planned to increase testing in primary schools.

“Five year olds face a ‘baseline assessment’ within weeks of starting school, six year olds a ridiculous phonics screening test, seven year olds continue to face SATs which are widely recognised as being developmentally inappropriate, eight year olds will soon have a rigorous maths test and the last two years of primary remain dominated by a farcical curriculum centred around fronted adverbials and practice SAT papers.

“Child development experts are being ignored, parents concerns are dismissed and the mental health crisis amongst our young children continues.”

Parents in Manchester have told us they are all too aware of the stress the tests put some pupils under.

Mum Victoria Connolly said: “My daughter is in Year 2 and has SATs this year. She isn’t particularly bothered but some children have not wanted to go to school and have been really upset about it – there are constant meetings with parents and teachers and it just feels too much for such small people.”

Mum Lauren Bradshaw added: “I totally agree it’s too young. Kids need to be kids as long as possible. They deal with so much now from a young age they don’t need the stress of exams too.”

Ashton MP Angela Rayner, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, believes the testing system needs reviewing and there needs to be more investment in mental health support for children.

She said: “Our children should not have to pay the price for the chaos that the government has created in primary assessment.

“The next Labour government is committed to reviewing the system, including Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 SATs.

“The Tories have also cut back support for the most vulnerable children rather than invest in the early years and services like mental health provision.”

“A Labour government will bring an end to the neglect of children’s mental health, investing £90m a year to extend schools-based counselling, and increasing the proportion of mental health budgets spent on support for children and young people.”

The government insists it does all it can to ensure ‘the burden on pupils is kept to a minimum’.

And it says scrapping the Year 2 SATs before the new ‘baseline assessment’ is established would mean there was no way of measuring pupil progress.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Assessments at primary school form a fundamental part of a child’s education, but they are not intended to cause stress to pupils. We continue to trust teachers to administer tests in a way that does not put undue pressure on pupils, and certainly not harm their wellbeing.

“The primary assessment reforms in England aim to free up teachers to educate and inspire young children, while holding schools to account in a proportionate and effective way.”

Helplines and websites

Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org .

Childline (0800 1111 ) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won’t show up on your phone bill.

PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.

Depression Alliance is a charity for people with depression. It doesn’t have a helpline, but offers a wide range of useful resources and links to other relevant information. http://www.depressionalliance.org/

Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts. Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying. http://studentsagainstdepression.org/

The Sanctuary (0300 003 7029 ) helps people who are struggling to cope – experiencing depression, anxiety, panic attacks or in crisis. You can call them between 8pm and 6am every night.



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