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Yr 6 SATS in May, how best to help DS ?

(28 Posts)
piffle Fri 11-Feb-05 16:32:01

DS is 10 pretty high achiever etc but is nowstarting to get worried about SATS in May, he ahs asked me to get him some practice papers, but where do I start, which are the best? Or should I leave it?
He sat 11+ and from all accounts has done really well, although will not find out til 28th Feb
Wondering if he passes the 11+ if it may give him confidence in SATS?
He has never been worried about anything before and I wonder if by getting him mockups it might not alleviate his worry
FWIW I think he'll sail through... but if he wants the help should I do it for his sake?
He has been educated in non grammar schools until we moved here to Lincs in Sept last yr, so he has really seen the difference in pressure.

doggiewalker Fri 11-Feb-05 16:45:56

Best way to help him - don't get him practice papers, don't let him worry, feed him well, let him get plenty of sleep and fresh air, and most of all let him be himself.

They will be doing all they need to in school, and if there were any worries about whether he would achieve his potential or not I'm sure they would be letting you know.

Please don't worry, it will only rub off on him. We went through this last year and ds1 got his level 4's, yes I would have liked him to get level 5's but what the hell, he did what he had to do. And my son is a worrier, so we did as little as possible as I knew it would only make things worse.

JanH Fri 11-Feb-05 16:59:11

piffle, DS2's Y6 were forcefed practice papers for weeks on end before his SATs last year and the last thing he wanted was more of the same at home.

If your DS has been under pressure already he is likely to get the same thing at his school; try telling him that getting the best marks he can is for the school's benefit, so is the school's responsibility, and that he really doesn't need to worry, he will sail through.

If he still frets, see if you can do a deal that you won't decide anything until you find out his 11+ result - if he passes that it means he is already OK for SATs and if he doesn't (highly unlikely I would have thought!) then you will take him out and look at what's available and let him choose. (He might just enjoy doing them anyway! )

piffle Fri 11-Feb-05 17:14:13

Glad you have captured and affirmed my gut feeling, that the pressure at school is getting to him, I have never expected him to do anything other than what he is capable of, he does try hard and excels so for him to worry it quite surprising, we had P/T interviews last week and teacher was really pleased with his progress.
I know the school has the best results in the area so I guess they are trying to keep it that way.

I will try and encourage him to chill out, it seems horrifying that a 10 yr old is getting into this psychology already
OH hell it was his birthday yesterday he is 11 now!!! ( I did remember it yesterday btw)

RTKangaMummy Fri 11-Feb-05 17:17:38

Did you do anything for the 11+ ?

If so what?

When did you start?

Was it English, Maths and verbal reasooning?

piffle Fri 11-Feb-05 17:33:25

it was non verbal reasoning and as we moved to the school the week before the test from a non 11+ school so we did some practice tests but only one or two and the school did LOADS of practice tests... here you have to declare your first choice for a school before you get the results...

RTKangaMummy Fri 11-Feb-05 17:35:02

ok thanks

we will be doing it next year

roisin Fri 11-Feb-05 18:33:15

It makes me so sad that we in this country are making children so stressed about 'results' at this age.

This isn't a comment at you piffle - from what I know of you I'm sure you're not putting any pressure on him at all.

But the whole system is screwy. Our school is very low-key about SATs, and very few pushy parents round here, and the kids still get very stressed about it. They pick it up from each other, from the media, from magazines ... I don't know where from

Has he seen papers at school Piffle? I just wonder whether seeing an 'actual paper' might relieve his concerns a bit, when he realises its well within his capabilities? I don't know much about KS2 SATs, but I presume the standard Level 4 test is much easier (though different) to the 11+?

popsycal Fri 11-Feb-05 18:56:22

There were loads of threads last year about Sats....

as a mummy i would focus on reducing the stress and supporting them

as a teacher however, it is unfortunately a different matter!

give me a shout if you have any specific questions

Rarrie Fri 11-Feb-05 19:23:46

Popyscal - can I ask why as a teacher you find them so important? Not a go, just curious? Do you teach primary or secondary?

Just I teach secondary and I think they're a complete waste of time. I wouldn't have the first clue of the SATs results of any of my year 7s. At all the schools I've ever taught it, they have been largely ignored, with the CATs test results used instead.

Just wondered if there is a secondary school that does actually use them?

RTKangaMummy Fri 11-Feb-05 19:29:38

what are CAT results?


popsycal Fri 11-Feb-05 19:38:36

Hi I am a year six teacher and jhead of year six in a large middle school

I personally dont think they are at all important but the school does as they are judged on the outcome....lots of politics!!!

Rarrie Fri 11-Feb-05 20:00:40

CATs are cognitive abilities test - so its like non verbal reasoning etc. Usually done by kids when they get to year 7.

tigermoth Sat 12-Feb-05 09:29:42

hi piffle, does your son have any idea how the other children in his class are doing? Is the school preparing the class for SATS?

I say this because my Year 6 son knows how his friends are doing in SATS preparation tests, as they compare marks. He knows he is mostly doing OK, and when he's trying, he can get level 5s (though he sometimes makes silly mistakes!). He seems to have a good understanding of what he can achieve and what he can't.

The school (coincidently, like yours it came top in our borough last year) holds booster classes after school twice a week. All the year 6s attend. Ds gets a bit of extra SATS homework, too. His booster class teacher is really warm and friendly, so even though ds has the extra work, I think she manages extremely well in not making ds feel pressurised.

He also knows the SATS are for the school's benefit - as I'm sure your son does. And ds is a pretty laid back sort of boy regarding school work, so that is helping. DS was far more worried over the 11+.

As your ds is new to his school, perhaps he feels shy about asking the other children how they did? perhaps the combination of being new, and having SATS pressure from the teacher, has made him extra stressed? I know my son doesn't have to get all answers right to get a high level 5, for instance, but if he saw his mark out of context, it might look like he was not doing too well. If you think it would help, can your son's teacher tell him roughly where his marks fall in class?

Sauvignon Sat 12-Feb-05 13:43:18

SATs results aren't at all important to children, although handled properly they can help by teaching children the benefits of preparing for exams and by encouraging independent, focussed work. Handled badly, they can do the exact opposite.

However, they are immensely important for schools. Every autumn we receive huge amounts of data based on our valued added scores (measures of individual children's progress from Year 2 to Year 6), compared with schools nationally and county wide. They also compare them with schools with similar entitlement to free school meals, and are broken down between girls and boys. Page after page of data, graphs, analysis and comparisons.

Head teachers are assessed on their results, as are teachers, as their pupils' value added goes towards their performance management and therefore their eligibility for higher salaries once they reach the top of the pay scale. Poor SATs results can trigger an OFSTED or mean that your school is targeted by the LEA and inspected and action planned endlessly. Schools are basically categorised as highly effective, effective or failing, depending on their results, and it doesn't matter how fabulous the ethos of the school is, how much support you have from parents or how creative and enjoyable the children's education is, schools, teachers, governors and Heads will still be judged by their SATs results. Not to mention league tables. It all ultimately affects how much power a Head has to run his/her own school. If you are 'failing', your school will effectively be taken over by the LEA. It happened to ours in the 90s, and I'm so glad we've pulled through it.

Incidentally, categorisation can be skewed by three things, which schools battle constantly to overcome. 1) If a child is absent for whatever reason - illness, bereavement, holiday - on the day of the test, they are still included. At our school last year, we had one parent who took their child out of school for the week, and another whose mother died the day before SATs started. Their results were still included, and resulted in our categorisation going down. 2) If you have children who are entitled to free school meals, but whose parents, quite reasonably, don't want to declare their personal circumstances to school, then you will be placed in a higher band and be judged against higher criteria. We currently have 7.6% entitlement, and are presently categorised as C (just about effective). If all our entitlements were claimed, we would be in the next band and would probably be a A or B school. 3) You are penalised if you welcome special needs and statemented children, as they, by their very nature, progress at a slower level than other children. Many schools who have 100% SATs results make life very difficult for children with special needs, and so their parents take them elsewhere, to schools such as ours where we try to be inclusive and to educate children for life rather than for tests. Furthermore, this year the rules for extra time, test breaks or readers have been tightened, so it will be even more difficult to get the Level 4s.

I hope this goes to explain why some schools and teachers are so anal, stressed up and obsessive about results. At our school, we try very hard not to be, but it really doesn't do us any good, professionally.

piffle Sat 12-Feb-05 14:13:51

wow all that on 11 yr olds shoulders!
The teacher has said the school usually gets let down on the writing section in the English tests
My ds is an absolute whiz at maths and science, and always has scored well in literacy although he is losing interest in it now...he does know other kids marks as they are doing portions of old papers now and DS is doing well usually in the top 3 in the class, although he fluctuates most in the writing, hence his concern - I guess the teacher is projecting!
He is left handed, messy as buggery, so there is not a lot I can do with him really!
our borough is really competitive, a lot of over filled primary schools, all excellent. And one excellent co ed comprehensive and two excellent single sex grammar school.
His school is Catholic whether that makes a difference I don't know?
I just find it hard to make him relax when he gets opposite message at school.
And while I do not push him, I do have high expectations from him as he is a very bright and able child. I feel this is reasonable but then I do think I encourage him in a caring sharing non competitive way.
Am getting very confused about this now!!!

roisin Sat 12-Feb-05 18:20:32

Are you on half term now Piffle? Hope he manages to have some R&R and de-stress time.

Tigermoth - it's great to hear that SATs are not causing the same stresses as 11+ in your household. Hope it continues! He sounds as though he is doing very well. When do you get the results of 11+/school admission?

tigermoth Sat 12-Feb-05 19:44:20

piffle, mu son's teacher said the same to us about the writing tests being the most difficult - especially for the boys. She said this is a national trend, however. As she's also a marker of SATS English papers for different boroughs, she ought to know. She said that the SATS papers are increasingly choosing so-called 'boys subjects' for English comprehension and other English test stuff as a way of better engaging the boys.

TBH I feel all examined-out, after the 11+ preparation. In the lead up to the 11+ I promised ds we would not put pressure on him to do well in the SATS tests. He was working with us at home during the summer holidays, before he took his 11+ and that's quite enough pressure for this year. I'd like him to try hard and do well, for the school's sake, especially after reading sauvignon's message.

Piffle, as your son is usually in the top three, any good pointing out to him how many children in his class got level 4s or above last year? Being a maths whizz, he should see from last year's results, he's in with a very good chance of doing ok. But I bet you've done this.

I do think the papers are hard - especially the English writing one. I was very surprised by how high the standard is, and what children have to do to get a level 4 or 5.

Roisin - we hear the results around 2nd or 3rd March.

piffle Sat 12-Feb-05 20:28:32

I agree the 11+ was more stressful as it went directly to the school choice and if you had your heart set on a grammar school place for your child here, then you had to put your money where your mouth was and put it as first choice or risk not getting a place even if you passed the 11+!!!
But as DS is naturally very academically competitive, he would personally by really upset and register it as a fail if he did not get really excellent results in the SATS.
So part of me wants to encourage relaxation and indifference, but in the long run I wonder if it could cause more trouble. I feel a responsibilty to assist him in his drive for the results.
I am truly not a pushy mother - he has always been like this as school - at the moment he is really poorly with flu so he is laid out, nature has its own ways of dealing with the stress I guess.
I cannot believe they get marked on handwriting, all letters being a uniform size!!!! I thought neat and legible writing would be perfectly adequate, certainly in a 10 or 11 yr old and most definitely in a lefthanded child!!!

piffle Sat 12-Feb-05 20:30:27

And yes the school is preparing them, they do two practice sheets a day - parts of previous papers etc - and are due for one real time, real situation exam in each subject on the first week back from half term...

tigermoth Sun 13-Feb-05 08:34:59

Very difficult, I agree. My son isn't so academically competitive at the moment. I know he wants to do well in the SATS but won't be heartbroken if he is not in the top 5 in the class. There's a girl in his class who is extemely clever, nearly always comes top in everything, and ds accepts this.

Do you think hormones are playing a part in this? I don't want to dismiss your son's feelings as a phase he's going through, but it might mean his competitive streak has intensified at the moment.

Your son's illness reminds me a little of what happened to me many years ago when I was in Year 2 of grammar school. I failed the 11+ (I was called 'a slow developer' by my primary school teacher, whatever that means). However, at secondary modern, I suddenly turned into a swot. I was really stressed about going to big school, and got very shy and withdrawn. My parents put no pressure on me whatsoever. The school put me in for the 13+ (a test taken by a few children each year who had slipped through the 11+ net). I passed and went to grammar school. I could keep up ok and was happier there. However, at the end of that school year, with end of year tests looming, I got it into my mind that my test results would be awful, especially in the sciences which I found hardest, and I would be sent back to seconday school in disgrace. The exams became the focus of all my starting a new school worries.

Nothing my parents said made me stop worrying. In my eyes, they simply could not understand what I was being taught at school or what was expected of me by the teacher, as they were not with me in the classroom. True, the teachers were putting a bit of pressure on us to do well, but few of my other classmates reacted like I did.

I revised like crazy, getting up at 4.00 am each morning to work, and literally worried myself sick. I became ill and missed half my exams in the end. When I arrived back at school a girl said I had come top of the year in biology and I thought they were mocking me. I then looked at the results pinnind in the noticeboard, and found the girl was right. I had also done very well in chemistry and physics.

I can vividly remember how I felt during that time and it is as if an alien took over my mind. I am not a perfectionist or a scientist by nature. Exam worry stayed with me up to '0' level. The next year again, I got sick at exam time and had to miss some of my tests. But the worry got less each year. By 'A' levels, I was finding it as hard as most of my friends to get motivated.

I don't think my parents could have done much to change me when I was revising. They didn't keep trying to argue me out of my worry. My mother kept reminding me she loved me, exams results didn't matter to her, but she didn't persist in reasoning with me. This was good as my worry was rooted in an undeniable fact: my mother could not possibly know about the pressures and details of my day to day school life. The best thing my mother did was to let me get on with it, accept I was worried, and support me - ie she used to bring me lots of early morning cups of tea when I was revising and tested me on my tables etc if I asked her to.

Sorry, this is a bit of a ramble, I was just reliving the past there! I don't know what I'll do if my son worries about his SATS, but I can remember what it was like for me to worry about exams.

piffle Sun 13-Feb-05 09:31:11

Golly, you sure were a worried child - I am so afraid that might happen, hence my not wanting to push my expectations.
I know though that ds is not a swot, he has done very well just by cruising, he is one of those very lucky kids who is just very gifted that way.
But I do worry that once the pressure hits, he will struggle to find the necessary skills to work hard and will not want to be middle of the road, so will stop trying
This is what happened to me when I went to girls grammar school.
Do your experiences as a child change the way you parent with regards to situations like this?
Maybe if my mum had pushed more I would have tried harder, but she gave all appearance of not giving a flying f* as if A passes were what all children did...
Oooh like with you Tigermoth this brings back issues in abundance!

tigermoth Sun 13-Feb-05 12:54:17

I know my own experience of the 11+ has affected me in one way: I strongly believe my son needs to go to a school with high expectations of its pupils. I don't mean a results factory, but somewhere where he will feel nothing is out of his reach if he shows aptitiude and works for it. The all girls secondary modern school I went to, in the early 70's, prepared girls for non professional jobs. It was accepted that was your destiny. To go to university, or have a big ambitions, was to buck the trend. At the all girls grammar school, aiming for university or a big career was far more the norm. The difference in expectation was immense and I know it changed my perception of myself, at a critical time, when I was becomeing more self aware.

This experience means I am really hoping my son goes to a school with high expectations of him, be it grammar or comprehensive. Unfortunately as the comps in our area seem to be underperforming, my confidence in them is not high.

As for other issues, I am positive there are things bubbling under the surface - I was surprised how stressed I was when my son was preparing for his 11+ and when we visited secondary schools. Luckily, my son is such a different type of child to the one I was - much more confident, sociable and laid back - so that helps keep my projected worries at bay.

tigermoth Sun 13-Feb-05 13:01:13

just a thought, grammar school teachers (well teachers at any school really) must be very used to seeing gifted children realise they can't cruise forever. I guess as long as your son has good teachers, the risk of him losing interest will be less.

I think the end of primary school time is a time of realisation. It is for me, anyway. I realise that as a parent I am losing power to influence my son's schooling. It was my efforts, not his, that got him to his primary school. It will be his efforts, not mine, that will determine what secondary school or ability steams he ends up in.

piffle Sun 13-Feb-05 13:53:26

It is a time for changes for sure, our worry is our ds's lack of organisation, he is REALLY bad and in fact his teacher said she had grave concerns about him managing a the grammar school timetable and homework demands unless he got his life in order.
He is very forgetful (read disastrously) about routine things, while brilliant remembering facts and figures.
We are working on this now, re organising his room, setting him achievable tasks.
I had none of this help or concern as a child entering secondary school, so I know it is going to help him.
The grammar school is one of the best in the country well in the top 6% and it is extremely driven by academic achievment, my gut feeling is ds will excel and step up his game, but I need to be assured and to prepare him in case he is not that ready for it. I was mightily impressed when we toured the school and ds is very excited about going. So fingers crossed...

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