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Sad that SATs drill has started already...

(35 Posts)
pointythings Fri 13-Sep-13 18:26:01

DD2 is in Yr 6 and had her first lot of homework back today. 2 out of 4 pieces were SATs drill: spelling/grammar and a reading comprehension sheet. Nothing creative, nothing involving research, nothing that involves the child taking any initiatives.

The school got 'requires improvement' during a visit from Gove's Poodles this summer, largely due to disappointing SATs results from a cohort known to be on the weak side. Now it looks as if my DD will be paying the price in a wasted year of endless drill to get the stats right. I'm sad.

ReallyTired Fri 13-Sep-13 18:41:12

I'm sorry that your daughter is going through SATs hell. My son had a similar experience last year. Year six is a wasted year of education. I feel that there must be a better way of assessing the quality of schools than key stage 2 SATs.

Most secondary schools ignore SATs and use intelligence tests (CATS) for settings or they test the children themselves after half term.

Bunnychan Fri 13-Sep-13 18:48:00

There is a new emphasis on spelling & grammar- a new test/ new expectations of what children should achieve by end of year 6. Maybe, they're trying to see we're they are at or trying to bring the children up a bit more. May be discuss it with the teacher if you're concerned!

CPtart Fri 13-Sep-13 18:58:38

My year 6 DS school has had OFSTED in these past two no homework this weekend!!

pointythings Fri 13-Sep-13 19:18:28

Bunny I know about the SPAG test - and I suspect this is what caused a lot of problems last year. However, DD spent a heck of a lot of time in Yr5 going over the subject matter over and over and over and over again. She knows it. In the online sample test she only dropped 3 marks. She does NOT need 9 months drilling in this and learning nothing new. I find it hard to believe that any NT child would need this.

Oh, and one of the other two pieces of homework is a load of spellings. She doesn't have to write them out in the far too tiny boxes they always provide and hand them in, so I'm not going to make her write them - they are words she should know anyway.

Cheryzan Fri 13-Sep-13 19:29:55

What's wrong with spelling, grammar and reading comprehension for homework?

I'd be thrilled if my DC got this type of hw. This is what I want them to learn how to do in primary school!

ReallyTired Fri 13-Sep-13 19:42:54

My son actually enjoyed the SPAG test as it was about the only new stuff he did in year 6. I believe it improved his writing as he knows the grammar rules he is supposed to follow.

I suppose the issue is that this year's year 6s have spent two years preparing for the SPAG test.

pointythings Fri 13-Sep-13 20:01:34

Cheryzan there is nothing wrong with this - if I didn't think that this was going to be exclusively their homework for the next 9 months. Unfortunately that is exactly what I think the situation is going to be, because the school are bricking themselves about OFSTED.

I would like my children to learn a lot more than just spelling, grammar and reading comprehension. A hell of a lot more. It's tragic that schools are under so much pressure to look good in the league tables that they are hardly bothering to teach anything useful any more.

It is perfectly possible to teach correct spelling and grammar in the context of more wide-ranging writing. DD1 managed it.

ilovemountains Fri 13-Sep-13 20:09:04

But their homework is not exclusively this is it, you said it was 2 pieces out of 4. Seems a good balance to me.

Cheryzan Fri 13-Sep-13 20:11:50

If your child is good at this stuff it's easy to under estimate the importance of it.

If your child was not doing so well you might be more pleased that school were concentrating on these very important fundamentals.

ReallyTired Fri 13-Sep-13 20:18:44

"If your child is good at this stuff it's easy to under estimate the importance of it. "

Teaching to the test does not help a non academic child and this is partly why many secondary schools ignore SATs.

I want my children to be taught the basics, but not taught to the test. There is a huge difference between teaching to the test and true understanding. Children who are taught to the test flounder at secondary when they are tested in a completely different format.

Cheryzan Fri 13-Sep-13 20:33:55

Which part of spelling, grammar or reading comprehension do you not want them to learn?

How can you teach spelling to the test?

Reading comprehension is understanding what you read. What bit of that do you object to?

SATs are not the problem. Illiterate 11 year olds may well turn out to be one though.

pointythings Fri 13-Sep-13 20:36:19

ilovemountains the 3rd piece of homework is their spellings. The 4th piece of homework is maths - converting grams into kilograms, e.g. 500 grams = 0.5 kilograms. All SATs related stuff, actually. Not a single thing in there that relates to their topic (Normans) or requires anything but filling in worksheets. I don't call that balance.

Cheryzan yes, my child is good at this stuff. Which is why I expect the school to continue teaching her things, not to go over the same thing again and again for the sake of the SATs. They managed to differentiate homework well previously, now suddenly they can't. My DD loves school and loves learning. I worry that at the end of Yr she won't.

DD1 did SATs at a different school because we were 3-tier at the time. She did not start drilling until January and it was not nearly as heavy as this even when they did start. DD's year group did very well.

reallytired I completely agree with children floundering at secondary. DD1 settled into secondary very easily and did not experience any 'Yr7 dip' because her SAT scores weren't artificially inflated.

You don't fatten a pig by weighing it.

Cheryzan Fri 13-Sep-13 20:38:37

Primary school is the last time kids get taught English every day.

If they leave primary without being able to read and write properly they do not have a hope in hell of learning the basics in secondary.

It is vitally important your child leaves Y6 able to read, able to understand what they've read, able to spell, and able to write.

If your child can do these things consider your child very lucky and don't begrudge other children the extra practice they need.

pointythings Fri 13-Sep-13 20:40:07

Cheryzan learning lists of spellings has no effect on whether a child can use those words correctly in real life writing. A child learns far more effectively by reading and writing widely.

Reading comprehension also need not be tested by doing endless SATs practice - you do it by - er - reading books, talking about the content, writing about the same themes, researching background information, discussing the books in class. Then - yes, you can test. But not every single weekend.

Somehow, miraculously, I learned how to spell, how to read critically and understand subtext, and how to use correct grammar. In four languages, and all without endless testing. Are today's children really so much thicker than my generation?

pointythings Fri 13-Sep-13 20:41:09

Primary school is the last time kids get taught English every day

Really? DD1's Yr7 teachers would me surprised to hear that.

See my post above about alternative methods for achieving the desired outcome.

GetStuffezd Fri 13-Sep-13 20:42:39

OP I genuinely see your point and I think it's awful that some schools put so much emphasis on SATs in y6 (although it's obvious why they do.)

However, as a Y6 teacher it's massively frustrating to receive pieces of work from children with wonderful vocab; brilliant research skills and great creativity - but which is not written in a clear, lucid and effective way. The SPaG stuff may boring and the test is a JOKE but I welcome any exercises which help children write more coherently.

Cheryzan Fri 13-Sep-13 20:44:40

Um. Some kids learn to spell by reading. Most don't.

If your child can't do a few easy worksheets without complaint she will struggle lots in secondary school and in life.

Not everything is fun and entertaining and challenging.

GetStuffezd Fri 13-Sep-13 20:49:13

Oh and the poster who claim year six is a "wasted year of education" -can fuck off-- should stop making wildly generalised statements.

pointythings Fri 13-Sep-13 20:52:59

Cheryzan I didn't say she couldn't do them without complaint. She does them easily in no time flat and gets absolutely nothing at all out of them. I'm just saying she should not be doing them every single week. I will be keeping an eye on the nature of the homework she is getting.

GetStuffezd I absolutely see your point too, but there has to be a balance. Last year, DD was set pieces of short, targeted writing with a very clear purpose and objectives. If she produced something which was creative and wonderful but which completely missed the point, she was told so. Those were exercises which genuinely worked. They made DD think and plan her writing. They made her think about choosing appropriate vocab and they made her plan the structure of what she was writing. It was good quality useful homework and the improvement in her writing was profound.

Now we get this, and I'm afraid it is because the school is on the run from OFSTED.

Please don't think I'm ducking out of the conversation now because I'm not - I'm just going to bed but will be back tomorrow.

friday16 Fri 13-Sep-13 23:29:52

largely due to disappointing SATs results from a cohort known to be on the weak side

Or a cohort that had been let down by weak teaching and poor interventions. How do you tell the difference?

nextyearitsbigschool Sat 14-Sep-13 07:13:03

My DD has also brought home SAT's reading paper for homework and I am delighted. She is a very bright girl who is not meeting her potential which I believe is largely done to never being taught the basics especially in reading comprehension. This kind of work is exactly how I learnt at school and I want her to be able to do these well precisely because it will prepare her well for secondary. The least of my worries is her doing interesting research based topics in year 6, I want her concentrating on her core skills so that she's ready to take on new challenges next year. SAT's prep is no different to the work children sitting independent and grammar exams are putting in and far less than what children who are in 11+ prep schools are doing.

Friday, you can tell the difference if this cohort had the same teachers, interventions, methods and conditions as the last cohort, yet do not make the same progress, no matter how hard the teachers try. You can tell if you know your class really well because you have followed their progress through school since Reception, and have contributed to staff meeting after staff meeting discussing that cohort and possible ways to help them.
Only Ofsted and this daft government think that all children are the same, learn in the same way and will fit into uniform boxes. This is particularly problematic to small schools with small cohorts, where 2 or 3 children make a huge difference to your statistics. Funnily enough, when the 2 or 3 are exceptionally able and exceed the benchmark, no-one praises the teachers and the teaching for their results; it is only when the results fall 'short' of the benchmark that it is the sole responsibility of the teacher.

hillian Sat 14-Sep-13 07:36:26

Reallytired said it all! DS1 spent all last year preparing for SATS too.
Think of year 6 as the one in which our children are taught exam technique (but nothing else - unless they get hot housed for a level 6).

lljkk Sat 14-Sep-13 07:57:12

That's not drilling. Drilling is when they do barely anything away from SATs agenda during school hours, too. And they bring home only SATs types questions, and they stay after school for special clubs to do extra prep for SATs, and school constructs special sets to try to reach L6, L4, whatever in a targeted transparent way. And they expect the kids to spend Easter holidays practising papers (DC school did absolutely none of that last year, btw, in spite of its "Satisfactory" rating).

There is nothing to stop her from taking the initiative to research the Normans or other topic work. That's the point of initiative, doing stuff off own back.

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