If your child is in Year 2 or 6, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the SATs. Although they are only a few months away, you may still be faced with a number of questions. Your child’s teachers or school may have provided you with some information, but we are here to give you a clear and concise overview of everything you need to know. From the basics to the controversies and future changes, we will make sure we cover the essential information all parents must know.
Overview: what are the SATs?
SATs are national tests that children take twice during their primary school life. The first one takes place at the end of Key Stage 1 in Year 2 and the second one at the end of Key Stage 2 in Year 6. Although their official name is End of Key Stage Tests and Assessments, they are commonly referred to as SATs.v
What’s the point? Why does your child take this test?
The goal of these tests is to compare your child’s level to the students in the class as well as to students across the nation. On a local level, teachers will use the scores to assess the children’s level, progress, and even try to predict each child’s potential GCSE scores. On a national level, local authorities and the Department for Education will use the results to know how well each school is doing in comparison to others, with the aim to improve schools that are struggling to keep up. The goal is not to assess whether your child is passing or failing, but simply to indicate their current level, and that of their school, vis-à-vis the rest of the students and schools in the country.
What does the test involve?
Children are tested on what they have been learning at school. During Year 2, your child will take the official SATs and be tested on reading and maths. In addition, their teacher will assess them on speaking, listening, writing and science.
During Year 6, students will have to take the SATs which will cover English reading, grammar, punctuation and spelling, as well as maths. Writing, speaking, listening and science are also assessed, but by the teacher, not a specific test. The assessment by the teacher also holds value, as the teacher will be able to determine if your child is actually doing better in a specific subject than the test may indicate. In a recent article by Tes, a poll indicated that “more than four in five teachers think that the current Year 6 writing assessments system will not produce honest or accurate results this year”. Which proves that the SATs do not give a full picture of your child’s level or abilities.
The results (raw score – actual number of marks – and scaled score – conversion score which gives a year to year comparison) will be given towards the end of the summer term. In addition, children are expected to reach the national standard (expected standard), which informs you where your child should be at that point in their education in accordance with the Department of Education standards.
The national standard score for Year 2 (Key Stage 1) and Year 6 (Key Stage 2) is 100. In 2017, 61 per cent of children reached it in all subjects. You may have to contact your child’s school for their actual scores, as not all schools automatically inform the parents.
Updates, controversies and plans for the future in 3 points.
Like many of these types of tests, the SATs have been subject to a variety of criticism. The two principal criticisms have been surrounding how much stress children are constantly put under from a young age, and how the main purpose of national curriculum testing is for school league tables.
1) Want to read up on why a parent decided to boycott the SATs and the negative impact the test had on her child? The following article was published in the Guardian in July 2017 and will give you a glimpse into why the exams are not a positive experience for some. As she concludes: “I want my child to love learning and to love school. I want him to have his imagination and curiosity fired up; to learn to live in and love the moment. But where SATs are allowed to dictate so much of how our children learn, the importance of these things is being forgotten”.
2) Additionally, it’s useful to know that after the new tougher SATs were implemented in 2014, many academies failed to make as much progress as the state counterparts. This was outlines in a Telegraph article published in December 2017.
3) The final point to highlight regarding recent SAT updates is the plan to have the SATs, which have been causing considerable controversy, be scrapped by 2023 for the seven-year-olds. Nine-year-olds will have to sit times table tests under new plans. This was decided on in September 2017, when the Department for Education announced that the Y2 SATs will be made non-statutory (so schools will be able to choose whether to administer them or not) from 2023. This announcement will not affect students sitting the exam before that year. For more information on this point read the BBC article.
Should I have my child prepare?
Your child will be prepared by their teachers, principally through past papers. In addition, they will be taught basics skills that they will need for the tests, such as spelling and simple maths.
If you notice that your child is becoming anxious about SATs, which is completely normal, try to remind them (and yourself) that it is not a pass or fail test. However, the results will still play a part in streamlining your child in their future education, especially in secondary school (i.e. which set they may be a part of), so helping your child score well will have its benefits. If you can relax about it (but insist on tutoring and strategic SATs practice in maths and literacy), then so will your child. Children are very sensitive to their parents’ emotions and expectations and this sometimes works to their detriment. The solution is maintaining consistent support and practice so they’re learning in a non-stressful environment.
To prepare, educators like Über Tutors use sample SATs papers to accustom children to answering questions in a test environment. After all, we can hardly expect children to excel at questions they have never practiced in an exam environment. Additionally, we practice skills that are needed individually, for example spelling and timetables, which can easily be reinforced by parents.
As evident in the coverage of 2016, SATs can be a stressful experience for both children and parents. However, it is important to remember that they don’t involve a pass or fail but are meant to reflect how well a child has understood what they’ve been learning at school. This is measured against the national standard, which is a particular score set by the Department for Education, which is expected to be reached by 85% of children sitting the exams.
Preparation for SATs doesn’t have to be nerve-wracking and it’s important to set some time aside for relaxation. As a parent, it is therefore important that you try to not project your anxieties on to your child. Listening to children’s worries and anxieties is equally important as is reminding them that they won’t be asked any questions on topics not covered. Additionally, giving children something to look forward to will give them another motivational boost!
Get in touch for learning support
At Über Tutors we are well experienced in preparing children for their SATs and are fast becoming London’s first tutoring choice. We are renowned for making our teaching fun and instilling a love and curiosity for learning in our students. So, to find out more about our primary school tuition please click here. Alternatively, call 02030867311 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss you needs with one of our education consultants.
P.S.: Remember to set your child some homework that is entirely non-SATs related such as in the image below, set by Mrs Thom of Bucklebury CE primary in Reading. Our favourite has to be “Laugh until your tummy hurts!”