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SATs - explaining why they are important to my Y6 DS

(151 Posts)
JustADadHere Sun 11-May-14 21:55:51

My son is currently in a state primary but will be going to an independent secondary school. He is sitting all the Level 6 SATs. He is questioning me as to why SATs are important and why people are getting so stressed about them versus any other assessment. I haven't told him that his secondary school will in all likelihood ignore his SATs results.

What do you think I can tell him? Why ARE they so important?

Elibean Mon 12-May-14 11:16:31

They are more important to the school than to individual kids, in our area, as the local secondaries do their own tests to set. But the kids DO see the SATs as important, perhaps as a way to measure and celebrate their own progress/achievement at the end of primary - almost a rite of passage - and as there is a lot of pride in their school, I think they rather like feeling that they are showing their school off as well as themselves.

At least, that's the impression I've always had. dd is in Y5 so I guess I'll find out next year if it was correct wink

LaQueenOfTheMay Mon 12-May-14 11:35:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

andsmile Mon 12-May-14 12:01:40

The SAT's results may not feel personally important to a child but...

In secondary school they are used (as someone up thread said) to set targets. The assessment data a child arrives with at secondary school stays on their record and forms part of the student profile.

They maybe used to stream the child into a particular set - so yes this affects them.

I think it is irresponsible of parents to tell their child part of their education does not matter. It grossly undermines months of learning in classroom and contradicts the messages from school. Even if it does not affect their entry to secondary school it should still be celebrated as a culmination of teir primary school attainment.

Those SAT results are an indication of their indvidual attainment - yes as someone said, it is their chance to show off what they know as an individual - their indiviual best.

I think it is integral to a child sense of educational values and self worth that what they have been learning is valued - whatever their level of attainment.

In secondary school they are likely to have termly reviews with their subject tutor or form tutor which will look at the current level nd their target level. That asssessment data is something that is actively referred to and talked about with the individual child.

goonIcantakeit Mon 12-May-14 12:46:30

We've been telling DS1 they are just to test the school as our secondary doesits own tests at discovery days. The good thing is that he was quite looking forward to them this morning.

I think it's important to learn at an early age the difference between bits of your education that will enrich, bits that will get you a job and bits that are just hoops to jump through. Otherwise you risk switching off from all three.

Having said all this, I got a knot in my stomach walking on to the playground today. So I am obviously in denial!

reallyrach Mon 12-May-14 12:48:53

We live in Wales and we don't have SATs. However all 3 of my school age children (years 2, 4 and 6) are taking national tests last week and this week. Personally I think year 2 is too young to be taking them, especially as the Welsh education system is based on the Foundation Stage of learning through play!!! They also don't learn in English until year 3 (although my daughter does bring home a Welsh and English reading book now she's in year 2 but that's the teacher's choice and not standard).

My son (year 5) has English Literacy, Welsh Literacy, Numeracy Reasoning and Numeracy.
My daughter (year 4) has English Literacy, Welsh Literacy, Numeracy Reasoning and Numeracy.
My other daughter (year 2) has Welsh Literacy, Numeracy and Numeracy Reasoning.

Last year my oldest two took these tests as well although there wasn't as many as they only started last year.

Apparently they’re tests that all Y2-Y9 children will take at schools in Wales from May 2013 onwards, and are part of a new National Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF).
Their main aims are to:

Give schools an accurate gauge of individual children’s skills and abilities
Help drive up literacy and numeracy standards in children throughout Wales
Paint a clearer picture of how children are performing nationally (until now, individual schools have carried out their own tests in literacy and numeracy)
From now on, the Welsh Assembly Government plans that these will be the only end-of-year reading and numeracy tests schools in Wales carry out from Y2 to Y9

reallyrach Mon 12-May-14 12:49:57

Oops my son is year 6 not 5 lol

andsmile Mon 12-May-14 13:08:12

goo yes I agree with that, there are some bits you just have to jump through.

Its about working to your own personal best. If they dont do as well as expected then that is ok nothing bad will happen to them, they did their best.

Validation and support does not have to mean pressure.

SilkStalkings Mon 12-May-14 13:16:29

SATs aren't important to my children's education. Pretty confident a secondary school could handle adapting streaming and support if my child's levels alter dramatically from the baseline test that SATs is. If not, it will have me to deal with and common sense will prevail (puts on Margaret Thatcher shoes and practises kicking motion.) Ditto if DD screws up and gets told off by her teacher (what she's terrified of) I will kick that teacher's arse.

PiqueABoo Mon 12-May-14 13:18:55

I told Y6 DD I'm sure she'll do well, but everyone knows what she can do because of what she has done all year, so it doesn't matter if she glitches this week.

Meanwhile I'm inwardly fretting because she was under the weather today (cold etc.) and upstream secondary does set Y7 maths based on the SATs...

TeenAndTween Mon 12-May-14 13:30:24

During y7 my DD changed sets for maths, English and ICT - the only 3 subjects she was set for. In a good school, setting should be fluid.

MarathonFan Mon 12-May-14 13:32:33

I hate SATs and the way all teaching in year 6 is to the test but sadly I do think they are important to the child. Agree they were never intended to be used that way, but they are.

Firstly, whilst most secondaries do their own tests, they often do put children in groups according to their SATs results initially. They will move them if the subsequent test show the initial setting was badly wrong but it's much easier to stay in top (or bottom) set than it is to be moved up if your test results are marginal.

Also, the progress each child is expected to make in secondary uses KS2 SATs as a base, so the yr6 SATs determine the secondary school's ambitions for them. Yes, some children will do better or worse than expected but all the targets set for them will be based on their yr6 results (even if they go to grammar!)

PastSellByDate Mon 12-May-14 13:43:35

Hi JustaDadHere

Agree that in your DS's case - as he's off to an independent school, possibly having taken a competitive exam to enter - SATs are not desperately important. But it will be good practice - because odds are he'll be tested a lot in those first weeks of Y7 at his new indpendent (private) secondary school.

However SATs are only one of many measures the school will take into account in relation to predicting his expected results at GCSE/ A-LEVEL.

I am only a parent and frankly am only really familiar with the state sector - but KS2 SATs are the base-line score against which progress in secondary school is measured by OFSTED. Rumour has it Gove is about to insist that independent sector schools are also subjected to OFSTED inspections.

For example DofE have this table showing how KS2 SATs relates to GCSE grades at end of Key Stage 4 (Year 11): - the first green squares in each row are basically the lowest expected achievement (but the underlying statistics suggest that achieving higher - further along on GCSE grades - becomes less and less likely the lower your KS2 SATs result).

So in essence scoring NC L6 at KS2 SATs means it is highly likely your child will achieve A possibly A* at GCSE (end of KS4). It is of course no guarantee but it does suggest the direction of travel, if you like.

Now again, it may not seem hugely important, but parents considering your DC's primary school for their own children will look at his year's KS2 results next year (this year's KS2 2014 SAT's results will be released Dec 2014). So people considering his school will be impressed to see that the school is capable of getting pupils to NC L6 (o.k. maybe well supported pupils at the school, whose parents do quite a bit of enhancement through 11+ prep/ tutoring/ etc...).

So if your DS liked his school, enjoyed going there and learned a lot whilst he was there, doing well on the SATs helps to convince other families that this is a good school. It helps to make his school/ teachers look good to prospective parents/ to OFSTED.

Obviously one student alone can't make a huge difference, but as a group their Y6 results as a whole will be looked at by prospective parents and every L6 or L5, as well as high % attaining NC L4 or better in English/ Maths combine will all help parents to decide whether the school is right for them or not.


Wordsmith Mon 12-May-14 13:58:07

As everyone else has said, SATs mean more to the school than the child. My DS1 (currently Y9) took KS2 SATs in 2011 and there was very little stress about them - they did a few practice papers etc but didn't pile too much pressure on the kids. When he got to secondary school they assessed the kids within the first term and that was what determined their streaming for the rest of Y7.

As he got level 4 for both his Maths and English SATS he will be expected to get at least grade C at GCSE, which shouldn't be a problem.

However DS2 takes his KS2 SATs next year and I can already see that this experience will be completely different. The amount of pressure the current Y6s are put under is phenomenal compared to 3 years ago. They have to do practice papers at home and extra homework, and virtually every less on is cramming for SATs. My DS2 will be hard pushed to get level 4 in maths and I can envisage the pressure he's going to come under from his teachers next year. It's all very well saying 'do the best you can' if his teachers are constantly telling him 'that's not year 5 standard work.'

I can't help thinking there must be a better way.

JonSnowKnowsNothing Mon 12-May-14 14:00:22

Excellent post by PastSellByDate.

Blackjackcrossed Mon 12-May-14 14:31:42

Yes the teacher and her constant banging on about "year six thinking" all year has become a bit of a joke among the dcs.
I don't think it's a good idea to try and fool your kids about the importance of these exams....they are not stupid, Sats are not what learning is all about and many a child has switched off after the exams due to the pressure. I'd rather my dcs trusted me rather than pretend these exams mean something. Thee are things at school I don't agree with, there are things the dcs don't agree with but we all know that sometimes hoops are there for jumping through and they better get used to it.
All year I have told ds - I expect you to work hard for your benefit, not for the Sats, they are a minor blip.

mummytime Mon 12-May-14 14:52:51

Not all schools prepare like that (Wordsmith) and they some will even come out with great results.

Hogwash Mon 12-May-14 15:26:15

They are not as important as CAT tests and measure something entirely different - but they seem to be good practice at exams and are a useful indicator of how good a school is (I think, if you take into account the value added stuff).

What is annoying though is that they pretty much stop work in our school once they have been sat and waste weeks of term.

gleegeek Mon 12-May-14 15:30:10

Our school have been virtually horizontal about SATs this year!

Dd went in today completely relaxed. I have told her they are mainly to assess the school and how well she has been taught throughout her time there not just in Year 6.

Her school was judged to be RI in their most recent Ofsted. I fully expected a revision onslaught but no, no extra classes/booster sessions/past papers coming home shock. Last week they did a couple of tests in the hall to get used to the exam environment and that's been it.

I like this attitude in the main, but am concerned that our children will be in competition with dcs from other pushier schools when they get to Secondary. Dd has suggested that we will carry on doing bits and pieces of work just to keep her brain ticking over over the holidays so she performs to her potential at Secondary.

mummytime Mon 12-May-14 15:56:57

gleegeek - its a good thing! Believe me, those pupils who have been pushed have "forgotten" it all at secondary - it comes as a shock to their parents when their levels fall.
My DD has done a bit of low key prep, nothing last week as they had a week off from SATs to relax before the exams. She only had boosters for her Level 6 Reading, and is actually going to sit level 6 Maths having not had the extra teaching (others have, she just wasn't put in that class).

After SATs DD's school does a whole extra topic which they have been starting since Easter.
The best thing to do this summer is read a lot.

PiqueABoo Mon 12-May-14 16:12:27

"They are not as important as CAT tests"

FFT claim SATs are better predictors of GCSE outcomes than CATs, but that predictions based on SATs+CATs are better than SATs alone. I've repeated that claim in a few places and have yet to see it demolished. Having played with some national data, KS2 SATs sub-levels do seem to correlate quite well with GCSE grades.

I understand some schools reckon CATs are the bees-knees and make SATs irrelevant, but suspect some of them are largely repeating what the vendor says to justify the money they spent on the CATs.

andsmile Mon 12-May-14 17:04:33

I maintain they are important for the reasons pique has said above.

They predict the outcomes of your childs GCSE's.

It amazes me that parents do not seem to see that each year sets the foundation for the next and so on.

They are important for the child's future, granted not right now in year6. Invalidating part of the education cycle of learning and assessment conveys negative messages to the child implicitly.

wonderstuff Mon 12-May-14 18:04:58

Our school (secondary) use them, in conjunction with CATS to set and predict GCSEs, they set the expectation, a child coming in on 3s will not be expected to get brilliant GCSEs, a child getting 5s will be in higher sets, regardless of CATs will be expected to get decent GCSEs.

Wellthen Mon 12-May-14 18:25:20

Mummytime - all children forget things over the summer, they are away from learning for over a month! I notice a dip after just the easter break. secondly, the start of secondary involves huge amounts of social learning. Academic learning will naturally dip while they get used to everything new.

I also second andsmile - there is a bigger picture here. If sats results are good, your children's school will be left alone to do their thing without pressure from Ofsted. The school will be expected to keep up these high standards but will be allowed to do it without extra stress. The school can focus on what they think is best for the children and not Ofsteds new pet peeve.

MumTryingHerBest Mon 12-May-14 18:27:07

PiqueABoo genuine question as DS is in yr4. Do secondary schools test all subjects with SATs or just those assessed in yr6 at primary level?

mummytime Mon 12-May-14 18:39:04

Not all secondary schools treat SATs data the same - even in the same town (one here sets based on SATs, another only sets in year 7 in one subject and that based on SATs and MIDYrs and in house testing).
There are plenty of children who don't get amazing SATs but come out with A* GCSE (Maths and English).

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