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How much do Primary SATs matter when picking a school?

(33 Posts)
user1485823317 Tue 31-Jan-17 00:48:52

We're in the process of moving to a new flat in London and since our DS1 will be going to school soon, this move determines what school he'll start at in reception.

One of the schools in our neighborhood is often recommended and has an (old) outstanding Ofsted, and a reputation for creativity and diversity. Excellent!

But its SATs scores are not great in comparison to neighboring schools. I am not English so I don't even really know what these are and what they test! A friend said that high SATs scores may just mean that the school is really teaching to the test and not doing much else.

I like the idea of a creative, happy school that isn't too intense . . . but are middle of the road/low-ish for the neighborhood SATs a warning sign?

smellyboot Tue 31-Jan-17 07:38:01

SATS only a part of the picture and not the be all and end all. GO visit and choose based on what you see and like. Be realistic too

AnotherNewt Tue 31-Jan-17 07:42:01

You need to look at the schools.

Because if they are getting good enough SATS whilst providing education in a way you like and without needing year 6 being solid exam prep, you might find you prefer that to the outstanding SATS but a more exam focussed approach.

Tomorrowillbeachicken Tue 31-Jan-17 07:55:09

I think a very low stats score would put me off tbh. I looked at them when I made a school choice for my son who started in reception. I also looked at ofsted and the phonics test in year one too though and spoke to other parents when I made my choice.
Ultimately the SATS weren't the number one thing for me but there was a school I removed from my choices due to very poor sats results in both year 2 and 6 as well as a very bad ofsted, which particularly outlined child safety issues.

Autumnsky Tue 31-Jan-17 11:00:31

I think SATs score is important, a happy school with not very low SATs score is good, a happy school with really high SATs score is better. I certainly wouldn't choose a school with low SATs score, this definitely flags up some problem, be it the poor teaching or the overall low ability of the students.

However, an outstanding school's SATs won't be too low. If the SATs score is really low, Ofsted won't make it outstanding. I think it should be fine.

BlueChampagne Tue 31-Jan-17 13:25:51

A lower SATS score may mean that the school places more emphasis on a well-rounded and enjoyable curriculum rather than the government measure, as your friend has suggested. Have the results declined since the last Ofsted? If it's about 4 years since they were last inspected, they will be due again soon.

As everyone else has said, visit the schools and quiz the head on their SATS results. If you're really keen and it's a Local Authority school (rather than an academy), then public minutes of governors' meetings should be available on the website, and you can find out what the head has said to the governors about the results.

A child's SATS results will not affect their future in any way. Secondary schools re-test them in Y7!

GieryFas Tue 31-Jan-17 13:47:35

It would prompt me to ask why, to look at the most recent Ofsted, ask current parents etc. In general, I think that a good school is one that gets good SATS while at the same time providing a nurturing, rich and happy environment. It's not an either / or - a really good school can do both, with some exceptions around intake, blip years etc.

bojorojo Tue 31-Jan-17 16:55:21

If you check on the government's latest data for schools you will see it is progress they are measuring. Average Sats results may indicate lack of progress or a less bright cohort. Does the school have a poorer catchment and do other parents choose the higher performing schools leaving this one with lower achieving children?

I think the vast majority of schools do care about Sats but they care about progress even more! No school really tinkers with the basic curriculum because they will not get a good Ofsted report if they do. No school invites a poor Ofsted inspection either if they can help it.

I would look at all the other things the schools do. Humanities, sport, music, art etc. This is where schools can get creative. The teachers can make learning fun and challenging but must ensure good progress follows. You should be able to get everything.

Feenie Tue 31-Jan-17 18:18:20

A child's SATS results will not affect their future in any way. Secondary schools re-test them in Y7!

Not strictly true. Some schools re-test them in Y7. And all schools are set targets from individual pupils' results. How schools set about meeting those individual targets will obviously affect a child's future in some way.

Ontopofthesunset Wed 01-Feb-17 10:51:37

Also how do the results compare to the national average? It may be that this school has a particular reason to have lower results than other nearby schools - perhaps they have a great reputation for SEN or a specialist unit. How big is the differential? Remember one child is usually about 2% in a 2 form primary.

bojorojo Wed 01-Feb-17 16:59:14

Attainment and progress do affect the future of children, particularly if they cannot access the secondary curriculum. If a poor result is due to poor teaching, then it definitely means a lot of catching up will need to be done, whether they are tested at secondary school or not. That is not a great position to be in.

user1484226561 Wed 01-Feb-17 17:24:45

primary sats scores are irrelevant to anything

Tomorrowillbeachicken Wed 01-Feb-17 22:23:53

How on earth are they irrelevant? If a very low amount of children are able to score the average score why is that?

bojorojo Wed 01-Feb-17 23:08:10

For normal people they are not irrelevant and neither will they be for the children who continue their education at secondary level. Of course Sats should not be taken as the only criteria for choosing a school. Progress is the big one. However poor Sats results can possibly tell you that the type of child at the school. Do parents engage with the education on offer, is there high SEN, or just lots of below average children? The worst type of school is the one full of children who under-achieve. It is extremely difficult for parents to interrogate Sats results, so the progress data is slightly more useful. It does, of course, only apply to one year group of children. How other children are doing is not on a public web site!

Ontopofthesunset Wed 01-Feb-17 23:16:48

And remember if it's data for 2016 the tests were a new format so no one knew what exactly would be in them and the progress data has been calculated by a new formula which isn't directly comparable to the old levels.

In fact back in September the leader of the National Association of Head Teachers, Russell Hobby said this about the 2016 primary school data:

"This year’s assessment system has been characterised by chaos and confusion. There is still time for the government to reconsider the publication of inaccurate institutional data in December, and we again ask them to do this. The government should suspend the floor standard for 2016, halt interventions based on the misleading results and place a strong health warning on the national statistics.”

So frankly if you're just looking at last year's data I don't think you can tell too much from it. If it's a pattern over years, it might be more worrying.

user1484226561 Thu 02-Feb-17 17:29:06

For normal people they are not irrelevant and neither will they be for the children who continue their education at secondary level. sorry, can't even REMEMBER the last time I knew the primary SATS data for a child I taught at secondary. Its never relevant.

Tomorrowillbeachicken Thu 02-Feb-17 17:36:19

Except we are talking about people looking at prospective schools for people's children not a teacher researching what the student before they got to them.

user1484226561 Thu 02-Feb-17 17:47:42

exactly, can't think why anyone would take a blind bit of notice of SATS. or ofsted reports. Its beyond me.

Feenie Thu 02-Feb-17 18:24:15

sorry, can't even REMEMBER the last time I knew the primary SATS data for a child I taught at secondary. Its never relevant.

Except for the targets the results generate that you have to meet at gcse....

user1484226561 Thu 02-Feb-17 18:32:12

Except for the targets the results generate that you have to meet at gcse....

not even for that, we use CATS ( not that I have any faith that they can accurately generate targets either, as privileged children undoubtedly have an advantage in CATS- but they are more reliable than SATS)

spanieleyes Thu 02-Feb-17 18:46:27

You might use CATS but the government uses SATS!

Tomorrowillbeachicken Thu 02-Feb-17 18:48:48

I think it's best not to bite.
It's worrying if a teacher would think that a school doing badly in sats and with a bad ofsted could be giving children an equal chance to one with good ofsted and sats.

user1484226561 Thu 02-Feb-17 18:50:10

there are several nationally used formula, to be honest, they really don't mean much to anyone. Just to ofsted, who talk bollox non stop anyway.

The targets set at age 11, whether SATS, CATS or something else, are irrelevant nonsense. The statistics they generate are meaningless.

Feenie Thu 02-Feb-17 18:58:33

I'm sure your carefully considered opinions will prove very useful to the OP, user98765432100000.

user1484226561 Thu 02-Feb-17 19:02:33

I've hd decades to consider my opinions very carefully, Feeni. The statistics have no meaning. They are no basis to make any decision or judgement about a school.

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