SATS – Really not a big deal!

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 :)

Mama Owl
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Comments

  1. That’s brilliant. I think you have got the right attitude and so has your school, particularly in relation to year 2s. Yes, we might not like these things, but we just have to let our kids get on with them, without putting pressure on them.
    Very well done to all of your kids!

  2. Sounds like it was really well balanced and they all coped well. I’m hoping by the time N gets there, his school treat them the same. (if you write school posts, do come and link up at my #schooldays which opens on Sundays).

  3. Well done to all three of your children and well done to the school s too for managing to prepare the children in a way that hasn’t resulted in them being stressed and miserable. The infant school approach sounds really good – so glad that your boys didn’t really even notice that they were doing SATs and if the worst that the junior school did was make the children a little bored of them, that’s still miles better than getting them stressed about it. #loudnproud

  4. The Year Two Sats went quite well for my son too – I don’t think he realised what they were really, but Year 6 is a lot more full on. Not looking forward to that.

  5. It is nice to read about a positive experience of the SATS compared to the ones in news reports that paint it in a negative light. Testing is one thing you can’t get away from at school. I just hope more schools take a better approach towards them

  6. I really feel children today are over tested and it’s not for their benefit. Is it small wonder so many people are turning to home education?

  7. I am possibly going to make myself quite unpopular right now, but as an Auntie, I hear my sister and sister-in-laws moan about their children being in wrong groups, not being given the right kind of reading book etc etc… so how is a child’s ability tested without a test here and there?

  8. RaisieBay says:

    I have three summer babies so they are all the youngest in their classes. I didn’t keep any of them back and with hindsight I wouldn’t have done so. It’s tough at first but as they get older it seems to matter less. My 10 year old did her SATS this year and they made a huge deal about it, getting the kids to stay behind school three days a week. It was an awful lot of pressure…but on the other hand, my daughter is autistic and we had no problem when refusing to let her stay behind, and she was able to take her tests in another room with a small group of children rather than in a exam environment. She coped admirably.

  9. I don’t agree with the testing method, but fully appreciate the schools and the teachers doing their absolute best to make it fun and not pressurised. I think they do an amazing job. My eldest is in year one and about to do his phonics screening test. He’s really excited about doing a quiz! #ShareWithMe

  10. I must say this mirrors my experience, my triplets did SATS last year and moved up to secondary this year. The first thing they did was test them again and have been tested so many times since it is just second nature to them now. Certainly in year 2 mine didn’t even know it was hap happening. Mine are all summer babies too.

  11. mummyfever says:

    I’ve had two of my four doing them this year and I have to say that school prepared them well without an issue, leaving plenty of time for practice tests etc.we went over some things at home but it was no big deal. Thanks for linking to #sharewithme – hope to see you again!

  12. Well done on all three having a positive SATs experience. Both my kids were fine too – even my August born son who is the youngest child in his year. Their school has the same approach as yours – they don’t make a big deal out of it and the kids don’t really realise that it is happening!

  13. It sounds like you’ve done exactly the right thing, and that your lucky to have your kids in a school that really cares about them and not putting too much test pressure on. Maybe someday things will change, but as they are now it just seems best to help our children be prepared as much as we can!

  14. Mummy Matters says:

    I think it all comes down to the individual schools and how they handle it. My kids have done their Stats but they didn’t have a clue they were doing them because the school didn’t make a big deal of it.

  15. Our school is the same and the kids in Yr 1 do not even realise they are being assessed. They make the Yr6 ones fun too and the kids are rewarded after. I think learning to do exams in YR6 is necessary to help manage stress levels for ones in the future

  16. I think it is a real balancing act. It really depends on the child and the school. I have seen children upset and others bored rigid. Personally I think that it is unnecessary at their age.

  17. Really great that all your kids have done them and come out unscathed. I know our schools really prepared the kids well and made them a fun thing to do x

  18. My little sister did sats last year and the pressure they put on her was ridiculous to the point when she actually had so much anxiety she missed a month of school – they aren’t important tests!!

  19. Am so pleased it wasn’t stressful for them and you. It’s such a worry isn’t it?

  20. Oh you should be proud – well done! We don’t have them in Wales, thank goodness – with three teens, I see the pressure from Year 9/10 onwards and I am glad they don’t have SATS too. Kaz x

  21. Cass@FrugalFamily says:

    It’s generally the schools and not the parents are putting the pressure on the children to achieve and the pressure that my son was put under was ridiculous. No matter how many times I say the scores didn’t matter, the school would say the exact opposite x

  22. serenityyou says:

    my eldest is in year 6 and taken his SATs last month. They had to all have booster lessons and stay behind after school for 45 minutes twice a week, just to prepare for these. Which my son was not impressed with. I have tried to answer some of the practice questions myself and I really struggled!!

  23. My son will be doing his SATs next year so hopefully will go smoothly. Some of the children were very tearful about doing them at his school

  24. I agree, it is up to the school to prepare and reassure them and I would say you are amongst the lucky ones! Glad that is all behind them now and I hope they are all enjoying their summer holidays.xx

  25. Really good to hear a positive story about SATs, well done to your children :-)

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