A LEADING headteacher has called for a boycott of tests for primary school children as school staff walked out yesterday in protest over cuts to education.

Addressing more than 200 hundred supporters of the industrial action at Southampton’s Guildhall square yesterday, headteacher at Valentine Primary School Liz Filer said in her view children were suffering as the result of the Government’s approach.

In calling for an all-out strike from everyone involved in the education sector Ms Filer said it was important that the profession stood up for the children in their care.

In a rousing speech Ms Filer said: “In the autumn term go for an all out strike so we can really show this government what we are about. Talking doesn’t work.”

In attacking the recently revamped testing in primary schools, known as Key Stage 2 tests or SATS, Ms Filer said: “Children sitting in a test room with all the walls blacked out, with no equipment; that is what we have been forced to do this year. We need to boycott those SATs next year and we need to refuse to do them because they are not right.”

Pointing to provisional SATs results for this year showing a huge drop in headline figures compared to last year’s data, Ms Filer accused the government of labelling children as ‘failures’.

She also drew attention to protecting the pay structure for teachers as school budgets continued to be squeezed. Ms Filer said it was important that a national pay structure was kept in place to stop headteachers in more affluent areas offering more generous salaries to attract the best teachers.

She described how at Valentine primary the school was welcoming 28 children in September who required one to one support, which would all need to be funded within her budget.

“I wouldn’t be able to offer my teachers any more than the pay scale agreement which would probably mean me losing them if they were being offered more money elsewhere. That is why it is vitally important we protect that scale to ensure teachers are paid the same no matter where they work.”

Across Hampshire more than 60 schools reported being partially or fully closed as a result of the strike action.

Hampshire’s divisional secretary Belinda Davis said that more action would continue if the secretary of state Nicky Morgan did not engage in “meaningful” discussion.

In response to the strike action In a statement Mrs Morgan accused striking teachers of “playing politics” with children’s futures. She also hit back over the KS2 results, saying: “This is the first year we have assessed pupils under the new more rigorous system and it is no surprise that this year’s results look different to previous years, but despite that the majority of pupils have achieved above and beyond the new expected standard.”