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Thank you to everyone who took part in our recent survey to explore how teachers, TAs, and other teaching professionals really felt about SATs and how they impact on school staff and students. We’ve been poring over the results and wanted to share our findings with you. They were very interesting and, sadly, often paint a rather distressing picture.
Here is what we discovered…
When asked if Year 2 children should revise for SATs, 75.3% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that children should not be revising at all, with less than 10% of respondents disagreeing or strongly disagreeing that they should revise.
Opinions were much more divided when asked if Year 6 pupils should revise. 50.8% believed they should not revise, 26% stated they definitely should, with the remaining 23.3% floating somewhere in between, presumably favouring less intense revision sessions than many schools provide.
Whichever side of the spectrum you fall with regards to the need for revision, the fact remains that very few schools go into SATs with little or no preparation. So, should children as young as six be aware that they are revising for an ‘important’ test?
Again, the results were vastly different when referring to the Year 2 vs the Year 6 SATs.
85.9% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that Year 2 children should not be aware they are revising, compared to 48.1% for Year 6. Only 6.3% of people surveyed disagreed or strongly disagreed that Year 2 children should not know they are revising, compared to 29.3% for Year 6.
This one was fairly cut and dry - 75% of schools do provide booster groups and 25% do not.
For those that do provide booster groups, responses were vastly different as to how these groups were run, and how often. Some schools ran groups during the Easter holidays, as well as before the school day started, whilst others had short 15-minute sessions once or twice a week during assembly time for small groups of children to help close any gaps in learning. There appears to be a tremendous discrepancy between how schools approach SATs booster groups.
63.3% believed they definitely were, whilst others stated that it often depended on the cohort of children for that particular year, amongst other factors. Only 6.9% of people asked believed that children were not becoming more stressed about SATs. The picture this paints is a little grim when we consider the fact that we are talking about children as young as six.
Even grimmer were the personal responses many people gave about how children who are anxious about SATs display their anxiety. Common responses were children feeling sick, not wanting to come to school, being teary, anxious, having problems sleeping, headaches, bed wetting, emotional outbursts, negative changes in behaviour and low self-confidence, to name but a few.
When asked how SATs stress manifests itself, one respondent replied:
"Nervous fidgeting during teaching input and follow on work, increased sensitive behaviour, lack of motivation / interest in the curriculum, parents reporting they don't want to come to school" (A.W., East of England)
"I've seen a year 2 child cry during the test. This was an able child. I had to tell him how amazing he was and that what he did in the test did not matter because I already knew how good he was." (F.H., London)
A whopping 87.5% of people believed that the primary purpose of SATs was to assess school performance. 2.7% said it was to inform setting for Year 3 or Year 7 and only 4.2% said it was to assess and improve pupil learning. Several other responses referred to government targets and agendas.
Well, this was interesting (although hardly surprising)! The very large majority of respondents had a very negative view of SATs, often stating that although some form of assessment is helpful as children approach the end their primary career, SATs today have become a source of unnecessary stress and judgement on teachers, schools and children. A common concern were the reduction in other curriculum areas due to the pressures of teaching to the test at a time when children should be enjoying the broad and balanced curriculum that Ofsted agrees enables children to achieve most successfully. Stress, both for teachers and students, also featured prominently, as did the feeling that SATs no longer serve any useful purpose, particularly not for the children themselves.
One teacher said:
"They have completely ruined Primary Education. I’m all for assessment, but SATs are used to judge schools’ performance and so they become central to what is taught, instead of teachers being free to use them for assessment and then design a curriculum that is relevant for today’s children; one that actually educates them rather than tests them." (V.S., East Midlands)
"They are a rod to beat teachers with. Most parents now know that they make no difference to their children's futures, so they openly tell the children not to bother too much about them, as they are just a means of measuring the school's efficiency. This is damaging to teachers' morale, as many children don't make much effort, so that, regardless of how hard the teacher has worked, outcomes do not always reflect their teaching." (W.L., Yorkshire)
So, how do our results reflect SATs in your school? Do they match up with your personal opinions of the SATs, and what do these results tell you about how SATs are used? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Let us know on Facebook or Twitter (@PlanBeeTeaching).
Many thanks again to all of those who provided their invaluable insights and congratulations to Jessica Schuettke who was the lucky winner of our prize draw to win £100 of PlanBee resources!
An excellent resource.
Not what I was looking for. No techniques shown eg tone
Hi Lynsey, we're sorry to hear that you weren't satisfied with our resources this time. Please check your inbox - we have sent you an email :-)
Poor quality. Little depth to the resource
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FREE Mini-Scheme: Ocean Animals
Easy to follow, great slides and differentiated worksheets love them
Thank you, Vicki! We're so pleased to hear that our resources have been useful :-)
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