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SATs results - how important when deciding re primary schools?

(90 Posts)
smother Wed 12-Jan-11 10:34:28

I'm about to submit my DD's application for primary school (state). We had decided on our 3 choices of schools based on visits, ofsted reports, talking to other parents etc.

I was feeling fairly happy with our choices but looking at the Sats results that came out today, our first choice school has done really badly compared to the other two - would that put you off? How much importance did you place on Sats results when choosing your DCs schools?

PatriciaHolm Wed 12-Jan-11 10:54:57

I'd want to know if there was a specific reason for it - if other years had been good and this is an anomaly, it's likely something happened to disrupt things this year. If everything else about the school is good and you're happy, then the SATS are a minor element.

Chaotica Wed 12-Jan-11 11:04:28

I didn't take them very seriously at all. But then the school we liked has a high intake of children who don't speak english on arrival.

BUT Since my DC has been at the school, it has become apparent that the teachers expect the children to be low achievers and teach them accordingly. So they haven't a chance to do better. I'd be very wary of the reasons they give for low results.

(We were happy with other aspects, but the Ofsted plummetted after we'd applied and before our child started. And good teachers left.)

IndigoBell Wed 12-Jan-11 11:05:43

From my personal experience I'd always choose a school without excellent SAT results.

I'd want to know the price paid for those good SAT results. Pushing / hothousing children, driving out SEN kids, caring more about SAT results than the children......

amberleaf Wed 12-Jan-11 11:13:13

Im with Indogobell.

Chaotica Wed 12-Jan-11 12:32:18

That's what I thought, Indigo and Amber. (And that's why I'm fuming at the school I've chosen...)

IndigoBell Wed 12-Jan-11 12:34:24

Chaotica - can you move schools? Bad quality teaching is bad quality teaching.

Elibean Wed 12-Jan-11 13:40:12

OTOH, value added figures give some useful indications, I think.

smother Wed 12-Jan-11 13:45:12

this is really really helpful, thanks very much - I feel new to all this and trying to work through the decision-making process. Anyway, I looked back at past years and this does seem a blip so I just phoned the school and asked them about this years results and the head put it down to 4 statemented children and a higher % of those without english as first language - it's a very small school (only 1 class per year intake) so i can see this might account for some of the variation.

anyway, i'm really inrerested in indigobell's view on being wary if sats are too high - this is a very important point I hadn't thought of. as i say, very new to all this and not really sure of how to make sense of all the information now available about schools... also as far as i can see, general gossip and what other mums (and it is usually mums) say about schools and the kind of reputations they have seem to be very influential in whole thing

KangarooCaught Wed 12-Jan-11 13:48:22

I'd look to see if they had any level 5s as an indicator that they stretch the more able, not just get all through the test at level 4 (the important one for a stat obsessed HT) come what may.

IndigoBell Wed 12-Jan-11 14:26:39

What % of kids are on the SEN register? If this is much lower than average than that screams alarm bells to me.

Should be at least 20 - 30%

But of course schools can be good and have good SAT results. Just it doesn't automatically mean they are......

granddesign Wed 12-Jan-11 15:07:02

Agree wholeheartedly with Indigobell...very good SATS results ring alarmbells for me - Middle class area where parents get their kids tutored, kids sat doing practice papers through the whole of Year 6, teaching to test, the minute the exams were done teachers stopped teaching. Little focus on stretching kids beyond Level 4. Kids left primary school completely bored with education and who could blame them.

I'm not saying it happens at every school that gets good results but I'm suspicious. Aiming for high results can have unwanted side effects and given these results are only of use to the school and prospective parents - it seems a lot to put a kid through for very little personal benefit.

mrz Wed 12-Jan-11 18:23:08

I would look at a number of years results rather than the latest and CVA as an indicator of how well children have progressed. Level 5s doesn't show automatically mean they have stretched children.
Indigo we have high levels of SEN and LAC and good SAT results

IndigoBell Wed 12-Jan-11 18:48:35

Yes, there is no reason why kids on the SEN register should do badly. And there are great schools that get good results and also happen to be great schools.

But equally there are bad schools that get good looking SAT results.

Next year I have to choose between two secondary schools for my DS1 and I am choosing the one with the worst results - because it has worse (but improving) results.

Now I know I've been badly burned. What I don't know is how typical my experience is. I don't know what proportion of schools with good SAT results are actually good schools - but I don't get the impression that it is exceptionally high and choosing the school with the best results is a no-brainer.

mrz Wed 12-Jan-11 19:26:12

I think it is important to work out whether results of the children are more important both types of school can get great results but I wouldn't want to work in the first kind.

mrz Wed 12-Jan-11 19:26:32

or not of!!!

southeastastra Wed 12-Jan-11 19:34:22

have to say am pleased to see so many boycotts!

lovecheese Wed 12-Jan-11 20:11:58

granddesign - very well put.

ShoshanaBlue Thu 13-Jan-11 17:53:50

How bad are the results?

Personally, I'd go for a school that has about average SAT results and I'd be wary of a school that had consistently low results. Sometimes, teaching is poor, leadership is bad and sometimes low expectations are the norm.

I'd also be wary of a school that had consistently high results for some of the reasons shown above.

Sometimes SATS results fluctuate because sometimes some schools will just have one bad class! Lots of schools have high proportions of children that don't speak English but they don't necessarily have bad results. Also some years may have more SEN children than other. Results will fluctuate often in smaller schools because they're done on percentages.

I think that SAT results are a factor of consideration, but I would personally not place it as the most important one.
I think that the ethos and the atmosphere of the school is the most important consideration. My child is SEN but I don't particularly suspect she will do badly in SATS at all, but what is important to me is that she is getting appropriate support for her needs and that she is reaching her potential.

DilysPrice Thu 13-Jan-11 17:59:30

I would be extremely wary of a school with very bad results, and would not accept "high levels of ESL" as an excuse. Other than that I'd take then with a pinch of salt, in context.

mloo Thu 13-Jan-11 18:03:03

SATS overwhelmingly (on average, year on year) reflect the social intake,not the quality of teaching. This is a sad truth.
A blip in the results wouldn't worry me, many low results suggests the school has to teach children with many social problems. That isn't always bad, either, but it can in some cases lead to a culture of low achievement.

I am also wary of schools with consistently very high results; when you hear a story on MN about crazy school attitudes re attainment and what a child of age X should be capable of, it's usually a state school with Outstanding Ofsted and high KS2 results (presumably trying to keep things that way).

toeragsnotriches Thu 13-Jan-11 19:26:59

If your child is joining in reception, bear in mind that the
SATs results represent the teaching and environment of the school while those Y6 takers were learning there. In other words, they represent what's been going on for the last seven years - not what might happen while your child is there.

I'd say it's far more important to have been happy with what you saw in the KS1 classrooms when you visited. If they're joining in reception, KS2 is still a while away. Also, if the head is good, and likely to stay, that should be a consideration.

Also, a blip in the results could've been caused by lots of things. If it's a big one, they should be receiving support from the LA to remedy any teaching/learning issues.

littlebylittle Thu 13-Jan-11 22:20:59

I wouldn't be concerned about consistently high sats results, but consistent 100% results ring alarms for me. It smacks of selectivity, which can be as sneaky as making some people feel uncomfortable when visiting, or an admission that they're "not good with lower achievers". Both these said to parents who chose my last school over a school with almost 100% in everything for over five years. A high achieving school in mixed catchment - gold dust.

littlebylittle Thu 13-Jan-11 22:22:56

As in thAt would be - not the school I was referring to

space2010 Sat 15-Jan-11 00:54:18

Sorry if someone has already mentioned this, can you see what the stats (if they done them) for year 2 were as well. I know in the school my son goes to the year 6 stats were not great but year 2 were outstanding and way above average.....

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