Following news that Labour claims they will abolish Sat testing for primary school kids should they come into power, a group of parents have universally decided to boycott the Sat testing of their children at Bearlings Primary School, Suffolk in favour of letting them play outside.
One of the parents Heather Chandler reportedly said kids should be out and about investigating the world around them and that "it was far too early" for children aged 6 and 7 to undertake SAT tests. She went on to say that the Sat’s were "unnecessary" and "a waste of time".
Whilst the school declined to comment the chair of governors Rick Gillingham said they wouldn't stop the parents boycott stating "over-testing is certainly something we wouldn't go along with".
"It adds extra pressure they don't really need and takes a lot of teachers' time away from what they should be doing." Said Heather Chandler.
A month ago the Guardian reported that Primary School teachers will be balloted on boycotting the Sat’s due to concerns that they harm children’s mental health due to the unnecessary anxiety the testing produces. If the ballot is successful the NEU members will refuse to administer the tests next spring however this could in theory be navigated by head teachers should they bring in substitute teachers to oversee tests.
The joint general secretary of the NEU said “The days of universal standardised testing, designed more to make judgments about school performance than about pupil learning, are numbered.”
The Sat’s are a matter of great controversy. Many argue the undue strain on children’s mental health is unnecessary and that they should be scrapped for primary kids however there is the counter argument that without accountability at this age the quality of teaching in basic skills such as English and Maths will slip in the absence of a regulated measure that headmasters have to meet with exam results.
Equally some say that the testing results are only used by governments as a yardstick to measure their own success and aren’t benefiting students or schools directly.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said abolishing Sat’s would be "a retrograde step".
He said it would "keep parents in the dark" by preventing them from knowing how good their child's school was at teaching maths, reading and writing.
Jeremy Corbyn’s news grabbing headlines are really just PR given that the current government has already stated that they are moving towards scrapping Sat testing in favour of a new baseline testing at reception age.
The top comment of the BBC article reads
"As a Primary School Head teacher with more than 35 years’ experience I am ashamed of how parents and teachers have sacrificed a broad and balanced education for children for the need of politicians to provide statistics as to how well they are personally doing in government. The obscene nature of preparing 6 and 7 year olds to pass meaningless tests has become a national disgrace."
Understand Our Language: Sat’s are Standardised Attainment Tests
Further reading: The Guardian Article on Parents Boycotting Sats / Childrens Author Fails Sats, Encourages Kids To Dream Big
Friendships were no doubt destroyed yesterday as twitter erupted in tweets for and against the use of SATs in primary schools following Jeremy Corbyn’s announcement of Labours pledge to abolish Primary School formal tests if they were elected.
In front of National Education Union in Liverpool Corbyn delivered the news to loud cheering and whooping. He explained that it would free up schools struggling with funding cuts and full classrooms He also said it would improve teacher recruitment and retention.
Schools are currently ordered by their success on the SATs and this ranking system would be abolished also.
"We need to prepare children for life, not just exams," Said Corbyn
Corbyn claimed they would abolish SATs for 7 and 11 years olds, moving away from standardised testing in place of "the clear principle of understanding the learning needs of every child." The news was received excitedly by the room full of teachers who gave Corbyn a standing ovation.
The National Education Union Joint Secretary supported Corbyn and said he recognised the damage a test-driven system does to children and schools.
Head Teachers also responded positively to the announcement. The Leader of the National HT Association said "everyday teacher assessment and classroom tests" can be used to monitor children's progress.
Obviously as system that holds a school accountable to the results from SATS might be frowned upon by Head Teachers. One head teacher on Twitter referred to SATs as being expected to perform whilst having a gun to your head. Schools Minister Gibbs said he believed abolishing SATS would be a huge step backwards in maths and literacy for UK Kids and would "Undo decades of improvement in children's reading and maths".
"Labour plan to keep parents in the dark.
"They will prevent parents from knowing how good their child's school is at teaching maths, reading and writing," said Mr Gibb.
Here are some of twitters mixed reactions. The general consensus being that SATs do put undue pressure on children at primary age however without them it seems grades and standards slip so some went as far as to propose that the SATs stay but the way in which the data is utilised is the real problem. The ranking tables and the implications to a child’s individual learning journey were all questioned.
The fact that some children are experiencing unnecessary stress as a result of the testing might not be a direct consequence of the testing itself but the manner in which some teachers and schools deliver the SATs internally said one teacher.
Whatever your take on this is certainly has polarised teachers, heads and parents and is obviously a contentious subject. It is this writers opinion that a one size fits all system is unlikely to be best for everyone and a more holistic approach would surely offer an advantage to schools with the resources and training to deliver a more wholesome solution however many teachers are over worked already and adding the pressure of concocting their own individual monitoring methods might be detrimental to the teachers workload and therefore overall quality of their delivery.
We don't have the answers here but it will be interesting to see whether proposed changes pre-election and actual changes are the same if Labour do take power.
There were several useful suggestions from teachers and one which seemed to float to the top was the idea of reducing time restrictions and making the whole experience less stressful as a whole. Surely whether of not primary SATs are abolished these considerations should be addressed.
Laura Donnelly of the Telegraph has reported on a study by The American Cancer Society which shows a sharp upturn in obesity related cancer instances in younger people. The study used data from half the population of the USA over a 9 year period to conclude that whilst cancer is seen as a disease of the elderly that obesity related cancers have increased dramatically in the focus group of 25 to 29 whilst other cancers either declined or remained the same.
British experts have warned that this might reflect a similar threat the UK population as our obesity rates are growing much faster than in the states. The UK's obesity rates have risen a startling 92% since 1991.
"For example, while annual rates of bowel cancer fell by 3.65 per cent in those aged 80 to 84, and by 2.96 per cent, in those aged 60 to 64, they rose by 2.41 per cent in those aged 25 to 29, and by 2.38 per cent in those aged 30 to 34." wrote Laura Donnelly.
The overarching concerns are that these disturbing increase in cancer rates due to obesity could completely negate our advancements in the NHS's ability to combat cancer. Experts who undertook the study have warned that screening for obesity is their recommended solve for this which would be very much inline the NHS new take on preventative healthcare.
Lead author Dr Hyuna Sung said “More than half of adults who were 20 to 49 years old between 2010 to 2012 reported poor dietary habits, such as eating little fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fish and shellfish at the same time as eating too much salt, fast food, and sugary drinks”
Recent reports have shown that 2.3 million kids are inactive and that physical literacy in the classroom is imperative to ensure the next generation grows up in touch with their own health needs and used to moving.
70 million young children will be overweight or obese by 2025 if current trends continue according to the Childhood Obesity Foundation.
Flexible seating is imperative to schools adopting a culture of activity and increasing their pupil’s movement levels. Student Standing Desk Trials for classrooms are available here.
On Topic: Childhood obesity rates soaring
Many children spend at least nine hours a day sitting down and with anti-sitting research on the rise and a daily target of 30 mins in exercise, teachers are beginning to integrate active learning into their classrooms to combat childhood obesity and improve their academic results.
The BBC has published an article detailing new research on active students.
"International research found that after three years of physically active learning, pupils were still more attentive following the activity...After one active lesson, a child can improve their Maths performance by as much as 16%. If your child learns in an active way, after two years, they could be four months ahead in maths and spelling compared to traditional seated classroom learning."
We reported last month that childhood obesity is responsible for a record breaking 5 year reduction in our children’s expected lifespans. The BBC article breaks down the benefits of combining movement and learning. In only one 45 minute active learning session a child can do 9 minutes of exercise, hitting a third of their daily target.
Andy Daly-Smith for the BBC explained that recently the National Association of Head Teachers passed a motion to encourage all schools to adopt physically active learning. Running around the playground to answer maths questions or getting outdoors for forest schools are just some of the ways UK schools are trying to get their children active.
Super Movers is a popular classroom based approach to active learning and uses videos of well-known children’s characters such as the Worst Witch to get children interested in the active learning experience.
The Worst Witch sings and dances about percentages in a supermovers video.
Meanwhile the International Journal of Health Promotion and Education has reported that students given standing desks have been found to participate more in lessons than those sitting down. A study of 282 students aged seven to ten years old for two terms, showed those with standing desks were 12 per cent more likely to answer questions or join in class discussions.
With the research that being active improves brain connections, focus and academic results combined with schools feeling the increased pressure to achieve new daily movement targets and some US schools going all-standing you should expect to see standing desks and active learning on the rise throughout the UK.
Brits work some of the longest work weeks in Europe and UK firms are beginning to buck that trend by offering their staff 4 day working weeks.
By reducing lunch hours and annual leave to 45 mins and by 20% respectively Gloucester based outfit Radioactive PR have been able to adopt a 4 day working week and MD Rich Leigh says of his newly reinvigorated staff base “There are two ways to make money in my line of work,” he says, “retain clients and get new ones. Miserable, tired staff can’t do either.”
Last year, more than half a million UK workers were signed off with work related stress or anxiety. Nick White, MD of Iwantastandingdesk.com said “encouraging good mental health in the workplace is absolutely imperative. Britain are notoriously behind trend internationally when it comes to integrating good work/life balance and positive healthy culture into their workplaces.”
“We work with a large number of companies who are invested in their employee’s well-being and frequently report to us that integrating standing desks, reduced work hours and other healthy work space initiatives result in their teams outputting higher quality work and demonstrating incredible loyalty. Not to mention all these measures increase recruitment quality as companies are striving more and more to improve their in-house offering to attract the best talent.”
France recently made it illegal for companies to expect their workers to answer emails out of hours but Britain just hasn’t kept up with our European neighbours and often work long hours often unpaid averaging 10 hours overtime a week and only 34 minute lunch hours.
The EU working time directive sets a limit of 48 working hours a week. Britain is the only EU member that allows workers to opt out of this and work longer hours. Trade unions however believe this is subject to “widespread abuse.”
Videogame companies are one of the worst culprits for insisting on crunch development cycles where staff often report on spending weeks to months not seeing their family’s due to the incredible pressure to meet deadlines. This is frequently regarded as “normal part of the job” but is affecting 76% of the industry despite being clearly unsustainable and damaging to long term productivity. According to research some workers report bouts of depression and low morale following the tech industries notorious crunch periods.
Standing meetings are often shorter, allowing firms to reduce wasted workplace time which research has shown is as damaging to productivity as cannabis smoking.
The Green party and Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress have both campaigned for the implementation of a 4 day working week citing increased automation as an opportunity for companies to spread the benefits of increased profits to its staff base. Should this begin to occur critics might argue that 4 day work weeks as a result of automation might inflate into the development of worklessness as companies begin to realise they need their staff base less and less.
Mark Price former MD of Waitrose believes the increase of the 4 day working week sends the wrong message and suggests that “work is bad and should be done less” he also believes that the public sector can ill afford to reduce working weeks in line with the private sector without increasing taxes to cover this. “I can’t imagine there is much of an appetite for that.”
Should 4 day work weeks be adopted in private sector could that make working for vital public services less appealing and have a negative impact to recruitment in services such as councils and NHS?
Wherever you land on the subject, there appears to be a need to improve our approach to work place health.
Crunch is bad for mental health but can we be more productive by working less? Latest research from Perpetual Guardian, a wealth management firm seems to suggest so as they report an increase in productivity by 24% in firms that take up the 4 days weeks. Following in his firm’s footsteps, Gloucester Managing Director Leigh asks the question “why not give it a try?”.
Two major health research reports have been released detailing the links between children’s screen time and the growing rate of short sightedness and long term obesity – identified as one of the key causes of cancer.
The World Cancer Research Fund undertook a global review, considering 80 studies involving more than 200,000 people and identified childhood screen time as a major contributing factor in the development of cancer causing obesity.
“Multiple health issues are reportedly tied to increased screen time however this is a by-product of our time. Children are raised on eBooks in schools now. When using devices at a standing desk at in monitored time frames, children sit less and remain active counteracting many of the negative impacts to their health.” Said Nick White, MD of iwantastandingdesk.com
The WCRF has found links between obesity and 12 major cancer types including breast, prostate, and colon, liver, ovarian, kidney and pancreatic disease.
Short-sightedness has more than doubled in the last 50 years, scientists conclude this is a direct response to increased screen time and King College London have dubbed the issue “digital myopia” as they say every hour spent in front of a computer in childhood increases the risk of short-sightedness in children by a staggering 3%.
Sugary drinks and in- game advertising have both been identified within the report as having some of the strongest contributing factors to childhood obesity and rising health problems.
A paper launched by researchers from the University of Salford in January details suggestions and methods for adults to combat the rise of screen time. Dr Adam Galpin said "Families would benefit from balanced and sensible guidance on how to minimise risk and harmful behaviour whilst encouraging positive uses of digital media.”
More than one in five children are considered obese by the time the leave primary school according to new official NHS data.
In just over a decade child obesity rates have risen more than a third and are now at a record high. More than 24,000 children in England are now considered severely obese whilst a staggering 116,000 children are deemed obese.
Statistics captured are from the national childhood measurement programme.
"Obesity is a problem that has been decades in the making - one that will take significant effort across government, schools, families and wider society to address.” - Public Health Minister Steve Brine explained how the government has already removed a high level of sugar from children’s diets by enacting the sugar tax which has funded vital school sports and breakfast programmes and they have bold plans to half the amount of childhood obesity by 2030 by implementing Chapter Two of the Childhood Obesity Strategy such as preventing junk food advertising on television before 9pm.
Children with obesity face four times the risk of developing type 2 diabetes according to a study published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society. Whilst 41 Million children worldwide are regarded as obese according to research. Nick White Managing Director of iwantastandingdesk.com reflected on the growing trend “Without additional activity being including into daily learning hours, childhood obesity is going to become a problem at an educational level. Obesity becoming prevalent means lower activity levels and productivity reducing primary schools educational outcomes.”
Iwantastandingdesk.com offer standing desk schools trials here – Standing desks in schools encourage movement, improve productivity and help fidgety children engage whilst remaining active.
Five years ago the London Olympic Games came to a close. They were inspirational and the UK was fixated. At the time, the country was promised that the end of the Games would not mean the end of the success story, that there would be a lasting legacy for sport participation. But it hasn't happened.
The government gave Sport England £1bn to invest in grassroots sports, and Jeremy Hunt, then Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, said the Games provided an "extraordinary chance" to "reinvigorate this country's sporting habits for both the young and the old".
He described it as a "once-in-a-generation opportunity, a real golden moment for the UK".
But there has been virtually no increase in participation in sport. The UK is still one of the most inactive countries in the world.
We love our sport and exercise at I Want A Standing Desk but we always maintain that what is the most effective activity is "every day activity".
Sport should be the "icing on the cake" over and above walking, stair climbing and of course standing.
Standing desks are not the total solution but they can play a significant part in getting a large percentage of the UK population out of a chair and active on a daily basis.
Today we spent the morning with Alex De Palma shooting the all new EIGER Pro Standing Desk in a white screen studio. It's a highly organised affair. Lighting, positioning and a detailed schedule of all the shots we need to showcase the product effectively.
We can't wait to see the results and get them on the website asap!
We have put 3 standing desks (sit-stand) into one of Manchester's largest and most forward thinking Council offices for a 6 week trial.
Today we attended their Health and Wellbeing day to explain face to face with employees the benefits of active working and standing desks. The response was overwhelmingly positive.
In the UK just 1% of office workers use any form of sit-stand desk compared to Scandinavia's 90%.
The employees were really quite unaware of how long they were sedentary and the implications of it.
Everyone who we spoke with were extremely keen to test the JackDesk's and EIGER'S.
We'll keep you informed.
Today we dropped off 3 standing desks (a BigJack Manual, a MiniJack and an EIGER Laptop) for a 6 week trial at one of Manchester's largest councils.
The UK workplace is definitely starting to understand the negatives of sedentary behaviour and how standing desks are a significant part of the solution to improve health and well-being.
"We're being asked more and more for solutions around active working and are delighted to trial this range of standing desk solutions" said the Health and Wellbeing Manager.
We'll keep you updated.
Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson doesn't need much introducing as one of the UK's most famous and successful paralympians. She is now at the head of UK Active. Prior to the recent UK elections she wrote about her manifesto to get Britain more active. This is what she said...
Thursday sees people across the UK, some for the first time, put pen to paper on ballot papers in pursuit of a brighter future. Many of the challenges we must overcome to achieve this – a stretched NHS, an ageing society, divided communities, the economy and the impact of Brexit – have rightly featured heavily in this election campaign.
A sedentary lifestyle significantly increases risk of up to 20 conditions including heart disease, type-2 diabetes, cancers and mental health problems. But there is a golden thread which runs through each of them that we cannot afford to overlook: physical activity.
The miracle cure
Dubbed the “miracle cure” by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, physical activity has the power to transform our health, communities and our economy. The potential rewards of an Active Britain are huge. But if we fail to act now, the consequences will be disastrous.
Physical inactivity causes twice as many deaths as obesity and costs the UK economy an estimated £20 billion each year. Living a sedentary lifestyle significantly increases risk of up to 20 conditions including heart disease, type-2 diabetes, cancers and mental health problems.
If we want the NHS to survive and indeed thrive, we need a radical shift towards prevention over cure. For the NHS, tasked with finding billions in efficiency savings by 2020, around 70 per cent of its budget is currently consumed by the treatment of long-term conditions such as the above.
Put simply, if we want the NHS to survive and indeed thrive, we need a radical shift towards prevention over cure. Our focus must switch from waiting to treat illness to proactively promoting wellness.
Our children are less active than ever
The obvious place to start is with young people. Today’s children are the least active ever and we need a serious shake-up of the school day if we are to save Generation Inactive from a lifetime of ill-health.
It’s not just a case of buying more bats and balls for the PE cupboard, we have to embrace creative solutions. That’s why there should be a commitment to the regular measurement of children’s activity levels – as we do with all other subjects – to measure progress and ensure that those children falling behind receive extra support.
We know healthy habits are heard-earned and easily lost, so why not roll out active mile schemes across the country, as a sure-fire way to ensure children are moving every day? And better still, let’s use money from the sugar tax to open up schools as summer camps so that all children – particularly the most deprived – have access to free activity sessions and healthy meals.
Giving our children an active start in life is essential, but how do we help maintain active lifestyles once they’re out of the playground and into the workplace?
The toxic toll of sedentary office culture is wreaking havoc on our workers’ health. Many workers struggle to fit exercise into their busy days, leading to higher rates of absenteeism (which costs the UK £29bn a year) and reduced productivity across the workforce. Now is the perfect time to spark a sea change with some sensible policies to boost both bottom lines and the wellbeing of our workforce.
Why not support businesses (and not just the big ones) by making it easier for them to offer employee benefits such as gym memberships? The Treasury could broaden the hugely successful cycle to work salary sacrifice scheme – estimated to have saved £5.1bn through health benefits accrued through participation – to encompass gym passes, fitness products and accessories.
It goes without saying that active schools and workplaces will bring huge physical and mental health benefits, but it’s the societal impact of physical activity which is often overlooked. By putting physical activity at the heart of community infrastructure, we can empower all sections of society to lead more active lifestyles.
Whatever choice each of us makes on Thursday for who should lead Britain over the next five years, one thing is clear. In order to build a happier, healthier and wealthier nation, we must strive to make physical activity the natural choice for all aspects of life.
Today we went to meet with Ian Holmes, the head teacher of Thorner Primary School in Leeds (UK) after a one month trial of our EIGER Junior classroom standing desks. Ian is one of the leading supporters of active learning in educational environments - both inside and outside the classroom.
So much so that he has had a running track (it's bright blue!) installed around the playing field to help with their commitment to the Daily Mile - www.thedailymile.co.uk. It was even opened by Johnny Brownlee the UK Olympic Triathlete.
Ian trialled 7 EIGER Junior standing desks in Year 5 with great success. The children really liked the option of standing as to sitting and loved the fact they could adjust the height themselves.
Some children found it hard at first but this only validated the need for them to spend less time in the chair. By the end of the 4 weeks the children were used to standing more and were disappointed when they left the classroom.
Ian is going to be recommending the inclusion of a number of EIGER Junior classroom standing desks for every classroom.
Today we were invited by DELL EMC UK education department to join their road show in Manchester and showcase the new EIGER Junior standing desk to their customers.
IT and EIGER'S work perfectly together especially with the latest Dell Chromebooks that were on display.
IT and sitting are in the DNA of most people and this needs to change.
Wouldn't it be fantastic to have a new generation of children entering the workplace knowing that using technology doesn't mean sitting all day.
A third of Britons are putting themselves at risk of an early grave because they do hardly any exercise, a new report reveals.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) today warns that swathes of the population are needlessly heightening their chances of developing potentially fatal cardiovascular diseases by as much as 35 per cent.
The research also finds that there is a significant risk of illness even among those who do exercise sufficiently, due to the length of time many of them spend sitting down at work.
The Government recommends that adults undertake at least 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity a week, such as cycling or fast walking, as well as exercises to strengthen the legs, torso and arms on at least two days a week.
But the BHF’s Physical Inactivity and Sedentary Behavior Report 2017 finds that in some parts of the country nearly half of adults are not meeting the official guidelines.
Every day activity is key to human health. Less time in the chair is a must. Using a standing desk for some of your working day is one of the many options to move more.