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Headteachers condemn ‘immensely frustrating’ Sats website failure

School leaders have branded a Government website failure on the day of primary Sats results as “immensely frustrating” (PA)
School leaders have branded a Government website failure on the day of primary Sats results as “immensely frustrating” (PA)

School leaders have branded a Government website failure on the day of primary Sats results as “immensely frustrating”.

Primary schools across the country attempting to access year six pupils’ results have reported the Primary Assessment Gateway website crashing.

James Bowen, the union NAHT’s policy director, said it is “completely unacceptable” the site “should fail like this today”.

“Results day is stressful enough for school leaders – this really doesn’t help,” he said.

Gareth Letton, executive principal of four primary and special academies in Nottinghamshire, said trying to use the site is “reminiscent of trying to get Eurovision tickets”.

Ben Thomas, deputy headteacher at Ranikhet Academy in Reading, described the site as an “absolute shambles”.

NAHT has previously criticised the fact that Sats tests are going ahead in 2022, warning they will be “useless” because of the severe disruption experienced by pupils during the pandemic.

In a survey of more than 2,000 school leaders carried out by NAHT in March, just 8% said they thought the tests would provide meaningful information about their school’s performance, while just 10% said the data would be a reliable indicator of pupils’ attainment or progress.

And school leaders within the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) criticised a decision by Government for Ofsted to use 2022 Sats data as part of its judgement of curriculum impacts.

While the Government will not publish the 2022 Sats results in league tables, it said it will produce the “normal suite” of accountability measures to be shared with schools, local authorities and academy trusts to inform school improvement.

It will also give the data to watchdog Ofsted to “inform inspection activity under the Quality of Education judgment, for example, on the impact of curriculum decisions”.

ASCL general secretary Geoff Barton said in March it makes “no sense whatsoever for Ofsted to use data from this year’s Sats and GCSEs to judge schools”.

A cross-party group of MPs has organised a parliamentary briefing on Tuesday – on behalf of campaign group More than a Score – to express their opposition to Sats.

Labour’s Emma Hardy, Tory MP Flick Drummond, Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Munira Wilson and Green MP Caroline Lucas will express their doubts about the tests.

Ms Hardy is expected to say: “Parents agree with heads and teachers: the time has come to find a way to measure primary schools which doesn’t place the burden of an entire school’s performance on the shoulders of 10 and 11-year-olds.”

Ms Drummond is expected to say: “I believe that time spent preparing for Sats could be better used for teaching subjects in depth. Testing is good but should be designed as a tool for feedback to individual teachers and schools, rather than being used to monitor and penalise them.”

Primary schools across the country will receive their Sats results on Tuesday.

The tests assess pupils’ progress in English and maths.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “We’re aware that some schools are having issues accessing their key stage two assessment results this morning.

“We recognise this will be frustrating for schools and are urgently speaking with our delivery partner, Capita, to try and resolve the issue as soon as possible.”