It is that time of the year with SATs coming up, that the big debate raises its head again about why we put our children though the pressure of exams at this young age. Many educationalists argue that SATs are a pointless government driven test that has no place in the system. Whatever, the debate is the fact is children still must do the SATs in year 6 and this can be a stressful time for children and their parents. As a teacher and a parent it is important to put the tests in perspective. Although they can be important – as they are often used by secondary schools to set from, they are no real gauge or barrier to your child’s success in their later school career. Bare this in mind. My own views on the SATs are complicated and often contradictory!
SATs for schools are a benchmark of how successful the school are, so you can rest assured that your child will have been well prepared for the tests. However, there is only so much a school can do. So I think it is time well spent doing some practice with your child- using the workbooks that are readily available. A few sessions a week or just 15 minutes a day are all that it would take to provide your child with an extra confidence boost, which will help them in the tests. If doing some extra work at home is the norm then the SATs preparation will not need to even be anything new for them. Some children don’t worry about the tests whereas others do- you know your child. Try to find ways to make sure they realise that the SATs are not anything to worry about and they just need to do their best.
As a teacher I do know that the SATs scores are often used for setting, certainly in the first year of secondary school. They are still often used by schools to predict GCSE scores. In that way they are important. My own son when at primary school was a “normal” child and he gained slightly above average scores in his SATs. I did do some extra work with him in the run up to the SATs, but there was no pressure from my side. He sailed through the tests without a care. Looking back I wish I had done more with him! I had the advantage of knowing that SATs are used to predict GCSE results.. as a result when he started secondary school he was in middle sets ( totally fine! ) and was predicted a rather mediocre array of GCSE result predictions.
Children all make progress at different rates and the failing of SATs is that if your child does not do well in them, it can label them for their secondary school career. As a result of my sons “ average” predictions it meant he was overlooked for gifted and enrichment programmes that the secondary school provided. Even though my son always achieved way over his predicted results, the school did not take current achievement into account – they only looked at his predictions -that were based on his SATs results!
This is my cautionary tale- not all secondary schools are the same – but some do base a lot of data around the SATs so that is why SATs are still important.
SATs are not a benchmark of future results for many students – who go on to over achieve and under achieve while at secondary school! But doing badly in SATs can make a child feel demoralised and sometimes make them label themselves as a failure, but also excellent SATs results can make those students over confident and begin to coast in secondary school.
Although I would love to say that SATs don’t matter and that you should take a totally relaxed attitude towards them, I do know that in reality they can matter. So, if I could do parenting again I would do a little more SATs preparation with my son!