British Teachers Consider Boycott

International Testing

Teachers in Great Britain may soon boycott the administration of at least some of that nation's standardized exams. In preparation for the possible boycott, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) surveyed 30,500 of its members (See Examiner, Winter-Spring 2003). The survey found 82.5 percent supported boycotting the Stage 1 tests given to the youngest children, 71.4 percent were for boycotting the administration of the tests to 11-year-olds, and 64 percent opposed testing 14-year-olds.


Head Teachers, teachers' unions, and parent organizations have united against the tests and are urging the boycott. Teachers charged the tests are unreliable and stressful for children. Research on the pressures felt by six- and seven-year-old test takers has prompted intense debate about the merits of testing such young children. Jenny Simpson of an infants school in Hampshire said the exams ignore research on how children learn and have no positive impact on children's education.


A poll of parents taken in the spring of 2003 concluded that 20 percent of seven-year-olds are spending so much time preparing for the state-mandated exams that they have less time for play, and 10 percent were reduced to tears or losing sleep over the exams.


Margaret Morrissey, of the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, said, "We really are in grave danger of taking their childhood away. Children are in school for a lot of the time. It will really be sad if they lose the time to play with their friends when they are at home as well."