Bury Parents’ protest puts fun back in learning

Parents and children on an outdoor learning day in Nowton Park to protest at testing seven-year-olds 
Picture Mark Westley ANL-160305-171734009
Parents and children on an outdoor learning day in Nowton Park to protest at testing seven-year-olds Picture Mark Westley ANL-160305-171734009

A group of parents who joined yesterday’s national SATS exam protest organised an educational day out for their children in Nowton Park.

They aimed to show children learning can be fun, which they say has been lost from schools because of a Government ‘obsession’ with testing children as young as seven.

Parents and children at Nowton Park for the anti-stats protest day.
Picture Mark Westley ANL-160305-171711009

Parents and children at Nowton Park for the anti-stats protest day. Picture Mark Westley ANL-160305-171711009

A petition by the Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign was signed by 40,000 calling for a boycott of this month’s primary school tests.

The day at Bury St Edmunds’ Nowton Park was the idea of qualified play therapist Helen Hopkin-Jones, whose son Oliver, seven, is due to take the tests. She stressed teachers were doing a ‘wonderful job’ but felt they were being forced to ‘teach to the test’.

“We want children to be allowed to learn through fun and play,” she said. “We need assessment but we also need the children to be inspired.

“We want children to be happy to learn because they are being given the opportunity to learn in a creative way and we want teachers to be given the opportunity to do that.”

At Nowton Park they had a story teller involving the children in creating stories and activities included crafts and sports coaching.

Jessica Fields, from Rougham, went with her sons Alfie Sherman, eight, and Oliver Sherman, six, and said they responded to the outdoor learning.

She added: “We’re sending out a message about the curriculum which is quite dull and boring for children.

“Sats in year two are just for Government statistics, not helping their education.”

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said they could only prosecute if head teachers classed it as an ‘unauthorised absence’ but he added: “A lot of schools classed it as an educational day when they went out and did something.”