UK Parents and Teachers Complain About Difficult Test

February 17, 2017

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. mar / mɑr / (v.) – to ruin or damage the quality of something
ExampleThe new exam was marred by errors.

2. curriculum / kəˈrɪk yə ləm / (n.) – the subjects given in a school
Example: Our school changed its curriculum by adding a subject called Native Language.

3. hostile / ˈhɒs tl / (adj.) – unfriendly or opposed
Example: His rude comment made her hostile to him.

4. boycott / ˈbɔɪ kɒt / (v.) – to avoid using something or buying a product to show protest
Example: The angry customers boycotted the store.

5. clamor / ˈklæm ər / (n.) – protest or show of disagreement by many people
Example: There is always a clamor against new taxes.


Read the text below.
The Standard Assessment Test (SAT) given to primary students in the United Kingdom last year was marred by complaints from parents and teachers.

The SATs are exams designed to evaluate the learning of children across the United Kingdom in English, Math, and Science. The exams were revised recently to match the new curriculum introduced in 2014. According to a UK Minister of State for Schools, the SATs were made more difficult to set a higher standard for education.

However, data based on the 2016 test results revealed that nearly half of the children moving on to secondary school cannot read and write properly. Furthermore, 665 primary schools failed to meet the new government standards for the number of passing students last year.

The results triggered hostile reactions from both parents and teachers. Russell Hobby of the National Association of Head Teachers pointed out problems in the preparation and administration of the test. He said that the revised exams contained errors and inconsistencies that make the results unreliable.

Other teachers complained about the difficulty of the test, citing instances wherein a child burst into tears and another suffered a nosebleed because of stress. Aside from these instances, several children were reportedly unable to finish the tests.

To protest against the new SATs, campaigners started a petition asking teachers to boycott the tests. Some parents also threatened to pull their children out of school to show their disappointment with the SATs. There is a growing clamor among parents who are saying that the tests are proof that the school system values exam results over a child’s joy in learning.

In response to the criticisms, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said she agrees that children must be allowed to be creative, imaginative, and happy when learning. However, she stressed that children cannot fully express their creativity without literacy.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         How can failing exams such as the SATs affect very young children? Discuss.
·         Do you agree that early education should be more fun and creative? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Do you think that very young children should be given written tests? Why or why not?
·         What are some ways to make children enjoy taking tests? 

February 17, 2017