Guidance on the SATs Boycott

Guidance for Head Teachers and Leadership Members

What action are head teacher and leadership members being asked to take?

Prior to 4 May, you should continue to undertake all professional/statutory duties relating to the national curriculum tests, including those outlined in the QCDA Guide to handling test papers and scripts.

From 4 May, the action that head teacher and leadership members are asked to take is to:

·         Refuse to follow the test opening, checking and administrative procedures;

·         Refuse to carry out the 2010 tests;

·         Refuse to ensure that all eligible and able pupils take the tests


What should I do with the test papers?

Whilst QCDA will only collect completed scripts from schools, they are obliged to attempt to collect completed papers/make arrangements to collect from every school.

In the circumstances NAHT and NUT agree that the following action is appropriate:

·         All test papers should be stored securely until the end of the 18th May 2010

·         Head teachers should inform whoever arrives to collect the papers/contacts the school regarding collection dates, that there are no completed papers to collect.

·         There is no need for you to complete the head teacher’s declaration.

·         After 18th May 2010, schools may dispose of the unused papers etc as they see fit.


How much of the QCDA Guide to handling test papers and scripts should I follow?

You should comply with all the statutory requirements that are required before 4 May. These are specified in the section, ‘Receipt of Test Materials and Stationery Items’. The guidance document is sent to all schools by QCDA and is available via the QCDA website,


Are members being called on to strike?

No, the action that head teacher and leadership members are being called on to take is outlined above. This is not strike action. Indeed, it can be seen as a continuation of the Year 6 Curriculum.


Am I able to decide to take the action if I did not vote/voted against the action?

Yes, the Union is calling on all KS2 head teachers, deputy head teachers and assistant head teachers to take the action outlined above. Members are free to decide how they will respond to this request, regardless of the way that they voted in the ballot.


What happens if I choose not to comply with the Union’s call to take action?

Any member is free to ignore the call to take action, should they so wish. However, the Union urges head teacher and leadership members to comply, if at all possible, with the call to take direct action and not administer KS2 SATs in 2010. United action will empower all members and hopefully give them confidence and courage to back this campaign wholeheartedly, taking the action called for by the General Secretary.


Why are classroom teachers not included in the ballot?

Classroom teachers cannot be required to routinely participate in administration or invigilation arrangements that do not call for the exercise of professional skills and judgement so will not be expected to undertake such duties relating to SATs. There was, therefore, no reason to ballot classroom teachers.


What should I do with the English and mathematics test papers when they arrive at the school?

You should go through the checking procedures as outlined in the QCDA Guide to handling test papers and scripts, as outlined above. The test papers should then be stored, unopened until 18th May when they may be disposed of as you wish.


My school has been selected to take part in the administration of the Science sample tests. Should I continue with this?

The Union is not calling for a boycott of Science sample tests as this is a model of non-attributable national sampling which the NUT supports and therefore these will remain unaffected. You should therefore continue with these tests.


Who do I need to inform that I am complying with the call to take action and will be refusing to administer the English and mathematics KS2 SATs?

You should inform your Chair of Governors of your intention to take action. Obviously, you will want to communicate to parents, explaining that they will receive accurate information on the progress being made by their children. Click here for text that you could include in a letter to parents. Head teacher and leadership members will also want to discuss the boycott with the pupils in Year 6 who will be affected by the decision not to go ahead with the SATs. School staff will doubtless have been kept fully informed as to the progress of the dispute over SATs and will want to know the outcome.


We have been preparing for SATs since the beginning of September. Why is the boycott only happening now rather than earlier?

For head teacher and leadership members to receive the protection afforded by a lawful trade dispute and successful ballot, the action has to begin within 28 days of the ballot closing. This means that the ballot could not take place until late in the spring term.


If I do the SATs but just don’t send in the papers, will I still be covered by the protection accorded by the ballot?

The action called for is to not administer the SATs at all. If the SATs are administered then this does not fall within the action covered by the ballot.


Am I able to use the 2010 tests at all?

The Union is advising head teacher and leadership members not to use the 2010 tests at all this year and to store the unopened package in a secure location until 18th May. After that date you can dispose of them as you wish.


Is there anyone else who is able to administer the tests?

The responsibility to carry out the actions outlined above lies solely with the head teacher. It is therefore not appropriate for anyone else to undertake these duties. The Union is aware that the National Governors’ Association has advised its members as follows:

“The duty to arrange the tests falls directly on the headteacher and is clearly an operational matter. If the boycott goes ahead the governing body should not get involved in operational matters and should not get involved in the administration of the tests.”


What do I do if my governing body or my local authority puts me under pressure to administer the SATs?

You should contact your Regional Secretary as a matter of urgency. A list is attached to this guidance.

What if my governing body or local authority threatens to deduct my pay? 

Generally speaking an employer cannot make deductions from the pay of employees except for well recognised deductions such as for tax and national insurance. The position is more complex when there is an industrial dispute.  The law does appear to give the employer scope to argue that the employee is not working fully in accordance with their contract and then make an “appropriate” deduction in pay. This principle also seems to apply when the industrial action is action short of a strike as in this present dispute. However, our leadership members will continue to work full time. We do not accept that in this dispute, in which members are working their full hours carrying out all duties other than those related to SATs, that there is any justification for any deduction. Governing Bodies which seek to make deductions will open themselves to challenge on the amount of any deduction. The Local Government Employers have argued for deductions of pay but have noticeably failed to suggest an appropriate amount for the deductions.  We also strongly refute the argument put by the Local Government Employers that governing bodies must make deductions from pay otherwise they will be condoning the industrial action. They will not.  In the 1998 industrial action on national curriculum tests no governing body was challenged for a refusal to make deductions. If you are threatened with any deduction in salary, please contact your association/division secretary or your regional office.


What if my governing body or my local authority threatens to send me home?

Such an attempted “lock out” would be a foolish and quite unnecessary escalation of the dispute.  Any governing body or local authority doing this would be failing to understand that our dispute is with the Secretary of State and not with them. Employees can only lawfully be suspended from work if there is a legal power to do so and good grounds. We say that there are no good grounds for any suspension in this present dispute. It may be that the governing body or local authority will seek to justify a suspension on the grounds that they refuse to accept what they say is a partial performance of the contract of employment. We respond that any suspension would cause serious problems at school. There is absolutely no need to stop the leadership team from staying at work and carrying out all the tasks they are willing to perform.


What should I do in terms of teacher assessment?

Teacher assessment arrangements should go ahead as normal. All schools with pupils at Key Stage 2 are required to submit end of Key Stage 2 teacher assessment levels to QCDA. The period for submission is between the 3rd May and the 9th July 2010. The teacher assessment judgements for QCDA must cover the core subjects of English, mathematics and science. Schools are also required to report teacher assessment level judgements in both the core and foundation subjects to parents, carers and guardians. Some local authorities have arrangements to submit teacher assessment data on behalf of their schools. Where this takes place schools will be informed of local authority arrangements.


How can I ensure my teacher assessment is robust?

Some schools and local authorities have already developed systems of moderation either across clusters of schools or across the local authority as a whole. It is good practice to ensure that there is ‘external’ moderation in some form or another, even if this is limited to in-school processes between teachers.


What is Ofsted’s position on this?

Ofsted will issue guidance to inspectors in the summer term. Head teachers and leadership members will need to ensure that they have robust data on school performance to present to the inspection team, if undergoing an inspection. Inspectors will look to see whether the teacher assessment data is robust. Members undergoing an inspection will need to make available their teacher assessment data. The data has to show pupil progression. Data that should be provided to Ofsted will include the 2009 data and also the data for 2010.


What if parents complain about the fact that their child is not able to take the 2010 SATs?

By keeping parents as well informed as possible, this may avert any need for parents to complain. However, any formal parental complaint should be treated in accordance with the school’s parental complaints procedure.


What should I say if I am approached by the media?

Any request for comment from the media should be referred to the Regional Secretary.


Is there additional advice for members?

More advice is available and is constantly updated on the NUT website You should contact your NUT Regional Secretary if you have any further questions.




BOB STAPLEY/PADDY MARSHALL                       tel. 020 8477 1234