Backlash over Morecambe MP’s SATs comments

Let Our Kids be Kids campaign. Lancaster and Morecambe. Picture by Gemma Sherlock.
Let Our Kids be Kids campaign. Lancaster and Morecambe. Picture by Gemma Sherlock.
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Parents have hit back at an MP’s claim that they are using their children as political pawns in a campaign over controversial exams.

The group have spoken out over “shocking” comments made by Morecambe MP David Morris.

Let Our Kids be Kids campaign. Lancaster and Morecambe. Picture by Gemma Sherlock.

Let Our Kids be Kids campaign. Lancaster and Morecambe. Picture by Gemma Sherlock.

This comes after hundreds of letters in brightly coloured envelopes were given to the district MPs to support the Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign, which calls for a government review of SATs for Year 2 and 6 pupils.

Mr Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, said: “I am deeply concerned that this group have been politicising children and I have received complaints from parents at a number of schools about the way in which these signatures have been collected. The majority of parents locally agree with me that the ultimate goal is the best education for their child and that exams are a vital part of their education.”

The group have said the campaign is not political but aims to avert a crisis for children’s mental wellbeing and future employability.

A Lancaster and Morecambe Parents Defending Education spokesman said: “This is far from politicising our children, we are responding to the stress they have been placed under.

“Mr Morris has consistently failed to discuss the very real and well documented problems with the SATs tests, even refusing to meet with parents and headteachers from schools in his constituency who visited him in parliament in June.”

Mr Morris was unable to attend a meeting with the group to receive 300 letters but has offered pre-paid envelopes and has promised a response from the relevant minister.

Hundreds of parents and pupils from Lancaster and Morecambe have got involved in the Primary Colours letter campaign via Let Our Kids Be Kids.

Strikes earlier this year saw thousands of parents, teachers and pupils protesting against academisation, cuts to school budgets, pupil testing and teacher workloads.

Government figures showed 50,000 teachers leaving the profession last year.

Meanwhile at Dallas Road Primary School parents and pupils handed their letters to Lancaster MP Cat Smith.

They spoke of the pressures they are facing from taking the Standard Attainment Tests. Karen Loynd, parent to two girls at St Peters Primary School, said: “I am not against testing but testing should be at the right time set by the right people.

“There’s pressure on the parents as well because we are trying to get our children through this.”

Cat Smith, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, has said she will raise concerns with ministers.

She said: “There is a real sense of whether or not the children pass or fail.

“We are hearing about children waking up in the middle of the night panicking, when it’s totally out of character and I am worried about the level of pressure that we are putting on our young children.

“Obviously it is right to assess children but the way we go about doing this is sometimes affecting these children’s mental health.”