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SATs - Am I a fool not to care?

(40 Posts)
AnnIonicIsoTronic Sat 01-Dec-12 23:38:55

My current school

56% @ level 4 maths and English
5% @ level 5 maths and English

45% FSM; 60% ESL

DD and Ds are at various points in their respective careers there - apparently both on track to be part of the 5% & don't they know it!

Have I been naive to disregard the raw academic attainment in favour of woollier concepts? I wanted warm and positive for my little reception babies - but I want fuck-off solid skills and attainment for my secondary school entering pre-teens,

IndigoBelle Sun 02-Dec-12 06:55:04

They're on track to get level 5 in maths and English - and you wonder if you should be concerned?

Ahhhh, no. You don't need to be concerned.

mrz Sun 02-Dec-12 07:07:04

"As set out in the Secretary of State’s letter to Tim Oates, we are removing the current system of levels and level descriptors as recommended by the Expert Panel. Instead, the focus in the new draft curriculum Programmes of Study for English, mathematics and science is on describing content that makes clear both what should be taught and what pupils should know and be able to do as a result. We will not be replacing the system of levels, but will consult further on how attainment should be graded as part of the statutory assessment arrangements."

so depending where your children are in their school careers there may be no levels for anyone to worry about

AnnIonicIsoTronic Sun 02-Dec-12 07:35:03

It's not about level chasing - but they do reflect the fact that my kids are top of their class, but wouldn't be top of a class at another school.

I worry whether without pace setters in the class, and higher academic demands overall, it won't get the best out of my older DC.

Not sure if I'm expressing myself clearly.

Himalaya Sun 02-Dec-12 07:35:19

No I don't think you are a fool, or at least if you are I am with you.

I went for the warm, friendly, mixed option rather than thr pushy, sats oriented, middle class one for primary, and I don't think it was the wrong choice for my DCs.

But it does have implications for the transfer to secondary, particularly if you manage to get them into a high attaining school.

They will go from being top of the class and not really having to try too hard to being in the middle behind a cohort of kids from pushy primaries that did year 7 level maths, English and French in year 6.

Of course they will be able to catch up, but the shift comes at the same time as teenage attitude, hormones and the quest for self-determination kick in and they may decide they are not top set material ("not a kean-o" as my 13 year old DS says) just at the time when you want them to get serious. Particiularly in Maths and English my son has struggled because he wasn't as well drilled as some of the kids from other primaries, and it has been hard to get him to put the extra effort in.

Of course it also depends how naturally bookish and conscientious your kids are. If they are voracious readers they will probably make up the difference themselves.

AnnIonicIsoTronic Sun 02-Dec-12 07:49:15

In that case - should I reverse all my initial cynicism about SATs factories & transfer them somewhere where the whole Y6 will be basic skills revision?

IndigoBelle Sun 02-Dec-12 08:02:15


Dont move them. They're doing very well.

You don't even know how well they're doing because level 5 is such a broad description.

Yes they may end up in the 2nd set not the top set in secondary school. Who knows? That may or may not knock their confidence. You can't predict.

Your secondary school may not even stream. Not all do.

But in most secondary schools there's lots of movement between sets.

send them up to secondary school happy and confident. And keep them at a school you and them are happy with.

Himalaya Sun 02-Dec-12 08:11:25

No, don't move them. They will have plenty of time for being pushed through the exam factory at secondary.

Without getting overanxious about it you can get them to do some extra homework (Letts workbooks etc...) under the guise of SATs and secondary school preparation.

yellowsubmarine53 Sun 02-Dec-12 08:16:15

I think you're right to keep your children where they are, and also right to be aware of the potential difficulties in secondary school transfer.

My friend's dd won a music scholarship to the 'highest performing' (and most strikingly middle class) school in our borough. Her dd had been 'gifted and talented' in Maths at her outstanding (and fairly middle class - 20% FSM) primary. She was put in the 4th set out of 5 after the internal setting tests.

Her situation was affected by the fact that the very great majority of the other Y7s been tutored for some time. My friend is very firmly of the view that spending Y5 and Y6 practising SAT paper after SATS paper was only good for the school's stats - like the rest of Y6, her dd found the adjustment from being spoon fed SATS answers to thinking for herself very difficult.

maizieD Sun 02-Dec-12 11:09:48

Your children are clearly absolutely fine and would probably flourish anywhere they went.

I feel extremely sorry for the 44% of pupils who are below L4 in English; this school is failing to teach them to read adequately (EAL and FSM are absolutely no excuse) and very seriously limiting their life chances.

merrymonsters Sun 02-Dec-12 11:16:35

I agree with maizieD.

I wouldn't be happy with a school with those sorts of results.

teacherwith2kids Sun 02-Dec-12 11:19:29

You are actually asking a different - and more interesting - question from the one your title suggests!

The question you seem to me to really be asking is

'My children are high performers in a school which for completely valid reasons has a relatively low-performing cohort. It is a good school and I like it, but I worry whether
a) They will achieve their full academic potential [regardless of what level they get in SATs, as I think that we can all agree that SATs don't measure actual academic ability with any accuracy in many schools due to heavy coaching and spoon feeding]
b) They will find the transfer to secondary hard, because they will move from being 'the top few' to 'the middle many'

I think that you have to dig a long way below SATs results to find out what you need to know. Are your children being challenged e.g. by being given extension work in all lessons or by very clear differentiation of what they do in class? Do they have a peer group to work in (ie, is the 5% 1 child, as it would be in a 20 intake school, or 5 or so as it would be in a 90 intake) and do those children work together on a regular basis? Are they working hard, or are they obviously 'finding life easy'? Are there any social difficulties attendant on them being 'the top of the class'?

I moved DS from a school where he was the 1 child who made the 5%, because he wasn't being challenged, didn't have a peer group, was bored and demotivated because 'I'm not learning anything', and had become a selective mute because of the social difficulties his 'differentness' caused. However, if your answers to the 'digging deeper' questions are not as negative as mine were, then I don't think that the 'headline' results should worry you IYSWIM?

teacherwith2kids Sun 02-Dec-12 11:21:41


I agree with your point up to a point - BUT if many of the EAL chilren arrive in the middle of Year 6 with no English (as opposed to arriving as EAL in Reception and remaining with the school all through) then the school has had very little influence on their standard of English at the end of Year 6!

IndigoBelle Sun 02-Dec-12 12:37:47

Teacher - you know that only kids who have been in the school system for at least 2 years are counted in the results.

So the EAL kids must have arrived at the end of Y4 or before.....

Is 2 years long enough? (That's a genuine question - because I don't know )

teacherwith2kids Sun 02-Dec-12 13:29:38

Sorry Indigo , you are right of course (we don't go up to Year 6 so the intricacies of Year 6 reporting are lost on me).

It will depend, I should imagine, on the country of origin and the nature of the arrival of each of the children. A child refugee who arrives from a war zone with no previous exposure to English and no previous education is a different proposition to one who moves into the area who is from a community which speaks another language at home but in which English is an established and known second language

teacherwith2kids Sun 02-Dec-12 13:31:55

I just felt that a blanket 'EAL is no excuse' was perhaps not taking into account all the factors which might be in play in this particular school.

IndigoBelle Sun 02-Dec-12 13:36:47

I agree.

Sometimes it's reasonable to expect EAL kids to reach a L4, and sometimes it isn't.

But I would say most of the time it's reasonable to expect them to get a L4 and it is the exceptions, like you pointed out, who wouldn't.

The majority of EAL kids have been in this country all their life, and started school at 4 along with everyone else.....

yellowsubmarine53 Sun 02-Dec-12 17:01:45

It's true that the majority of EAL children have been in this country all their life and started school at 4, but certain areas and certain schools have EAL profiles which are very different to this.

54% L4 in a school with EAL children who have been bilingual since they could speak and in the education system since they were 4 is poor. I agree, MaisieD, that this children have probably been let down.

I don't think it's as simple a statement to make in schools with 50% churn in KS2, only 50% of the Y6s there since reception, about 20% of Y6 who enter in Y3 or Y3 with no English and never having been at school before...

maizieD Sun 02-Dec-12 17:46:29

I agree, yellowsub. I was a bit hasty...

Do many primary schools really have such a hugely transient population? (genuine question)

yellowsubmarine53 Sun 02-Dec-12 17:49:00

Several ones of the ones near us do...

mrz Sun 02-Dec-12 18:13:45

We often have children arrive in Y6 maizieD...a neighbouring school had 2 children arrive last week ...both complete non readers and I confess we felt relief.

teacherwith2kids Sun 02-Dec-12 18:42:20

I have had 5 new children join my class since September.

cumbrialass Sun 02-Dec-12 18:47:31

50% of my Year 6's have joined us since year 3, including 25% since the beginning of Year 5. Since my class is now full to overflowing, I'm hoping no more join, I had one Year 6 start at Easter last year as her previous school felt that "she would benefit from being in a smaller school" Not surprisingly she was a level 2.

IndigoBelle Sun 02-Dec-12 18:50:08

The junior school my kids go to (Y3 -6) have a third of the kids join the school after Y3. (and a third leave obviously)

The mobile population is in someways more of a problem than EAL, FSM, SEN or whatever because the class is constantly being disrupted with a new child.

IndigoBelle Sun 02-Dec-12 18:50:23

The junior school my kids go to (Y3 -6) have a third of the kids join the school after Y3. (and a third leave obviously)

The mobile population is in someways more of a problem than EAL, FSM, SEN or whatever because the class is constantly being disrupted with a new child.

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