I’m a bit late writing this post but I didn’t want the whole SATS topic to go by unnoticed as I’ve had THREE children doing them this year!
My 6yr old twins who are in Year 2 (KS1) and my daughter who is in Year 6 (KS2).
I’ve seen the masses amounts of media coverage about the SATS over the last few months, about how unfair the examinations are, especially on the Year 2 children, who are 6 or 7, depending when their birthday falls. I’ve read numerous posts about how children are stressed out and upset about them and of course I get angry that my children this year are having to undertake much more challenging and difficult exams than ever before….. but in all fairness, my kids haven’t been in the slightest bit worried OR stressed.
Even though I don’t agree with the extent of what’s expected, I would like to give a slightly more positive experience of the SATS this year.
My twins are the youngest in their class (August born premature… meaning they should’ve been born into the school year below) and I’ve made no secret of the fact that I feel they should’ve been allowed to start school a year later, but unfortunately my local council didn’t allow this. Even more unfortunate for us is the fact that had we’d gone through the process now, we would’ve been allowed, due to the Summer Born campaign.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that my twins are VERY young in the school year so when I heard they would be tested like this (proper exams), I was obviously concerned. It just didn’t seem fair. I downloaded the new pilot SATS paper to check out what my twins would be expected to know and do at 6 years of age and I was shocked!
There was no way my boys would be able to answer these types of questions. To sit and WRITE down answers clearly…. they can barely WRITE! Not in any kind of well structured sentences anyway! And to do it all in a set amount of time too?
I spoke with their teacher who reassured me that even though they were working on all the test requirements, they were doing it in such a way that the children just thought it was all part of their everyday learning. There was no pressure at all and the children were pretty much unaware they were taking exams. They would just be presented with the SATS papers at various intervals throughout May, as part of a lesson. She agreed that some of what the children were expected to know at this age was simply ridiculous, but actually, they had covered a lot of it and the children were picking it up fast… and happily.
She said the results of the tests wouldn’t be taken into account in her end of year assessment of the children. She would assess them on their overall achievements and progression throughout the year.
This made me feel at ease. I thought the school were handling this well and I decided that it didn’t matter how my boys did in the SATS. They’re SIX years old and I know they’re improving all the time. Which is all that matters to me.
I totally get why there was a huge group of parents who boycotted the SATS this Summer though. Kids this age just need to enjoy school, play and be kids.
But, if this is the way that schooling is going, if this is the way my children are going to be assessed from now on, then I do feel like it can’t be ignored. I need to help them. I don’t want them to lag behind their peers. So we did look at the papers occasionally at home, without mentioning the ‘test’ word and just to cement what they were doing at school (in a fun way). Actually I was quite surprised at how much my boys knew already, especially when it came to grammar. Even I get confused with nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives! They don’t. They know what each of these words mean.
It just goes to show that a school CAN prepare our young children well for these tests, without it being an issue and without it being stressful.
Maybe we are the lucky ones, I don’t know. I don’t expect my boys to have performed well in their tests. In fact, they may have just sat there and not written anything down at all for all I know! But they didn’t mention any exams or tests once, and were their usual happy selves throughout, so it obviously didn’t phase them one bit!
It’s all good.
Equally with my daughter, she too wasn’t worried.
Again, for the record, I do think it’s unfair, the extent of what they’re having to know and understand at 10/11 years old and unlike the Infants, the Junior school have been FULL ON with the Year 6’s for the SATS. Their teachers, both Maths and English, have been thoroughly going over papers and practicing them since the middle of last term…. which proves just how important the results are for the school and how the difficulty levels of these exams have stepped up about ten notches this year.
The kids were fed up with all this English and Maths study, although they’ve made up for it since with lots of fun activities… but none of them were miserable I have to say. No child was stressing, or upset or worried as far as I know. Plus the extra work paid off. My daughter knew what she was doing (mostly) and felt quietly confident. I’d already made it clear to her that there was absolutely no pressure from us. As long as she tries her best, that’s all that matters.
I’d read stories of Year 6 children in some schools being in floods of tears after the first SATS paper! My daughter came out of school that day like she does every other day. Happy. She said she missed out two questions, shrugged her shoulders and said it was quite difficult, but she thinks she did OK. And that’s fine by me.
Honestly, the SATS aren’t that important… only for the school’s purpose (makes them look good, or not) and for the Government. They will make little or no difference to my daughter’s life as she moves on to secondary school. Working hard for these SATS can only stand her in good stead though for future schooling and again, I wouldn’t want her to fall too far behind as this can affect a child’s confidence just as much as pushing them too hard, in my opinion.
It’s got to be a fine balance.
I think we got the balance just right this time.
My three beautiful children have done their SATS and come out of them unscathed.
I’m so proud