The government has sparked outrage after it contacted parents telling them to delete tweets about their children’s SATs exams.
The Department for Education (DfE) sent around a dozen messages on Twitter, saying parents were threatening the “confidentiality and integrity” of the exams by discussing questions online.
While one father had asked why his child needed to know the value of Roman numerals in a maths exam, another complained his daughter had struggled to spell “coarse” in a test due to her teacher’s “very broad Irish accent”.
The department contacted both social media users - among other parents - last week, asking them to “remove” the tweets.
Unlike GCSE and A Level exams which are sat at specific times, SATs tests can be taken at any point during a two week window, meaning they are vulnerable to cheating.
But the DfE’s messages caused controversy among parents, with some refusing to delete their posts on the grounds that the exams are “cruel and unnecessary”.
Others social media users ridiculed the DfE’s attempts to maintain the confidentiality of tests that thousands of children have already taken.
But a spokesman from DfE defended the move - and its decision to let schools decide when pupils should take the tests - saying the government wants to make the exams “convenient for schools”.
“We trust schools to manage them [the tests] themselves,” the spokesman told HuffPost UK, referencing school staffing levels as one of the reasons not to set specific dates.
He added that schools should make students and parents aware that the exams must be kept secret during the testing period.
“Not all the tests are taken at the same time, so when parents put up tweets, they could compromise the test.
“If parents stop doing it, it’s not a problem.”
The spokesman added in a later statement: “We ask that parents help us ensure the smooth administration of the tests by ensuring that test content is not discussed online and that all test materials remain secure until 22 May to allow children who were absent last week to take the tests this week using timetable variations.”
SATs exams are used by primary schools to assess a pupil’s progress through Key Stage 1 and Key 2.
Taken in Year 2 and Year 6, they test children on topics including reading, grammar, spelling, writing, maths and science.
Last month, the government announced plans to scrap SATs tests for Year 2 pupils, with plans to replace them with teacher assessments for four and five-year-olds.