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Is it normal for Y6 SATs to be so all-consuming?

(39 Posts)
MerryMarigold Wed 01-Mar-17 11:12:22

So, ds1 is in Y6. Since Christmas all their homework has been past papers of some sort or another. They have now (since Monday) started their 'SATs programme' which runs until the SATs happen. I was in school for a Maths talk yesterday after school and all the desks have been changed from 'group formation' to rows. This is so they can sit tests constantly. Ds said quite matter-of-factly that they have 2-3 PER DAY! Is this really normal? Ds1 is a very anxious child, I am not sure it's going to be that good for him, but anyway, we are relaxed at home and perhaps it will make him less stressed for the actual SATs (not sure about that, but it's a theory).

I don't remember this level of revision for my A levels or GCSE's. The Head seems to say he doesn't agree with all the government testing, so why he is being so extreme about it?

Is this what all schools do or is ds's school just a bit OTT?

AuntieStella Wed 01-Mar-17 11:27:34

I think your school is OTT. Ours was nothing like this. But if threads on MN are anything to go by, your school is far from unique in adopting that approach, dull and repetitive though it is.

MerryMarigold Wed 01-Mar-17 11:28:55

I'm just not sure how helpful it is to be constantly doing tests. I suppose the good side is that ds1 seems quite blasé about it as it's so constant. I was just shocked that so many per day.

admission Wed 01-Mar-17 11:34:20

No this is not all schools. Schools should be preparing their pupils to take the KS2 SATs test but in a climate where the test is non-threatening and is just something else they do.
Are too many schools desperate to get better SATs results? The answer has got to be yes but achieving that by a forced diet such as you describe is to me not the way forward. Such cramming is also of absolutely no help what so ever to the long term education of the pupils in my opinion.
School need to be taking the longer term view that the KS2 SAT results actually start to be formed from the point that the pupils starts at the school. Get it right in the earlier years and the need for 6 months of cramming is not needed or required.

HelenaGWells Wed 01-Mar-17 11:36:01

It's completely variable depending on the school. Ours were much more laid back. I think they got a good balance. There are schools with better results than ours but we got over the national average and our kids weren't stressed and broken.

Little things made a difference to DD. One day the year six teachers took all the kids into the hall for "an important task" they played music for 10 minutes and let the kids just dance, shout, jump and generally go nuts. That 15 minutes did them all so much good. They did it a few times when things got too much.

MyschoolMyrules Wed 01-Mar-17 11:42:20

Our school is also relaxed about it. Parents do complain that the results are not spectacular and that we are only Good not Outstanding. I am very pleased of the relaxed approach.

BarchesterFlowers Wed 01-Mar-17 11:47:59

Ours is relaxed too, it hasn't been mentioned much yet, DD will be taking them this year. She did say that the head told them all that the tests were just to measure the school and that they shouldn't be getting worried about them/if they were to speak to her. Fab teaching head.

Myfanwyprice Wed 01-Mar-17 12:17:39

That sounds a bit extreme, I thought ds' school was quite focused, but nothing like that!

Since Christmas all maths homework seems to be in sats format, and they are now getting 4 pieces of literacy homework a week - a spag paper, spellings, a reading assessment plus one other piece that varies, usually some sort of extended writing.

Last week they did some practice tests in school and they are going through them this week.

NotMeNoNo Wed 01-Mar-17 12:25:52

It is now.

DS did these SATs last year, the only way the teacher could cram in the amount of stuff they were supposed to know, was practice on practice. And this is from a lovely, creative primary school that also disagreed in principle with them. They didn't set any level 6 papers or have after school sessions but it was hard work.

The school stands or fails by its SATs results so there is immense pressure, and because the material is new, there has n't been an opportunity to gradually teach it over a few years.

Trb17 Wed 01-Mar-17 12:30:41

@HelenaGWells One day the year six teachers took all the kids into the hall for "an important task" they played music for 10 minutes and let the kids just dance, shout, jump and generally go nuts. That 15 minutes did them all so much good.

Omg I can't tell you how much I LOVE this! DD is in Y6 and the stress is getting to her. This would help so much.

ifcatscouldtalk Wed 01-Mar-17 12:39:17

merry it must depend on the school or possibly what year the tests were taken. I sympathise as my daughter's primary was very similar sounding, she is year 7 now. I do remember a lot of testing. Her teacher was leaving and she wanted to get the results before she went. They got very good results but I had an almost depressed 11 year old. They put SATS clubs on in the Easter holiday and had meetings with parent's. I think it was all for their school statistics as the secondary school didn't even go by sats results. Pressure all the way. I wasn't impressed.

OdinsLoveChild Wed 01-Mar-17 13:18:44

Our primary school does extra classes at 8am and 3.30-4pm every weekday for SATs boosters and they do small study groups of 3 or 4 pupils through each day. Although they say the booster classes are optional I have known parents receive phone calls at 8.15am asking them where their children are and staff deliberately not letting the year 6 students out at 3.30 but instead just getting on with more SATs crap revision hmm

I did manage to keep my DD out of the booster classes. She has anxiety and they made her worse with the constant demands for improvements on the sample papers.

My DS isn't too thrilled about the idea of doing them either so I will also keep him out of the booster classes.

I know the high schools don't use them at all and in some cases the students were coached so much to pass the exam they actually didn't learn anything else other than the exam paper for the whole of year 6. These students do really poorly at high school sometimes because their education is too narrow.

SATs are just a tool for primary schools to assess their teaching success. Unfortunately they put immense pressure onto children to do well when in reality they shouldn't teach to the test paper, they should teach a wide curriculum and encourage fun and individuality in the children who will then go on to be interested in education and become well rounded children.

bojorojo Wed 01-Mar-17 13:21:03

I am a governor of a primary school. No, we are not doing this over the top practicing. We are teaching the Y6 curriculum! How can the children do all the papers if they have not atually covered the curriculum? We do like them to be aware of what the papers will look like, but constant practicing this early is dull, dull,dull. (How many old papers are there anyway? It was a new test last year and that had precious few practice papers!) It is counter-productive. It turns children off learning. Our children jump and shout at playtime! (Not all want to do this.) We also encourage loads of sport. Children can get engaged with lots of activities which allow them to let off steam.

PatriciaHolm Wed 01-Mar-17 13:37:57

I'm also a primary governor, with a child in Yr6 (and one in Yr7!)

We're not doing anything like that. They are practising the topics for SATs, and doing Mocks this week, but covering the Yr6 curriculum widely too - they've just been doing China for example. School is also practising some mindfulness with them to help them relax, and doing lots of jump and shout too! What your school is doing may well be counterproductive if they end up with a class full of demotivated, stressed kids by May.

MilkRunningOutAgain Wed 01-Mar-17 14:04:13

My school is unhappily cramming my poor DD and all the other yr 6s and yr2s. Past paper after past paper after past paper. Yesterday her teacher made her stay in class and do yet more long division practice instead of going to her after school netball club. There are vast quantities of intervention study groups arranged and rearranged before and after school & during lunch most week days. It is hard to keep up with, the teachers are snappy, all-in-all joyless and stressful. School is aiming for outstanding OFSTED. I am aiming for DD to leave as unscathed as possible in the summer, can't wait!

ifcatscouldtalk Wed 01-Mar-17 14:19:08

milk I felt exactly the same last year. I still look back and think wtf was that all about. Also what upset me was her love for school was gone. Up until year 6 she loved school. Touch wood that's coming back now. I wonder how long until this current system is scrapped? Sounds like some schools have got the approach very wrong.

WhoKn0wsWhereTheTimeG0es Wed 01-Mar-17 14:30:05

Not like that at my DC's school, they are working hard but not constant past papers and no booster sessions. The homework has stayed the same as it always has been, one project type piece a week, one lot of spellings a week and maths once every half term. Good Ofsted and above average SATS scores with the same teacher last year.

MilkRunningOutAgain Wed 01-Mar-17 14:30:23

I agree ifcats. Pleased your DD is feeling better in yr 7. My DD is going to a secondary I trust to teach beyond the curriculum, her brother is there so I know it does. I really liked the primary until there was a complete change of ethos with a new head a few years ago, this head is just so ambitious, I'm afraid his priorities don't coincide with mine, I'm not fussed about DD meeting expectations as , for her, they are wildly unrealistic.

longdiling Wed 01-Mar-17 14:35:43

Sounds horrendous and nothing like my kids school thank God. They get some papers home for practice and do a few in the class but not to that degree. It would have been awful for my eldest if they had, just the relaxed approach to the tests was stressful enough for her.

MerryMarigold Wed 01-Mar-17 15:34:02

Thanks all. I feel more empowered to email the Head. I don't really agree with it, but wondered if it was normal in this day and age. Interestingly, it is an outstanding school, but we have been there 2 years and it's not been that outstanding for us. (Other school was 'Good' and much better).

The good side is:
- They have their school residential for 1 week in March so that will break it up a bit
- Easter holidays

So far, heard nothing about any boosters in holidays and we're going away so NAH, can't do it.

Apparently (according to Ds) they are going to spend the final term on geography, history, science and art! So I guess they will cover those curriculum topics then. At the moment it is purely past papers and going through them after they have been done. I don't know where they are getting the papers from. I guess they are just using old papers even though they may be different. Sometimes it seems like a paper may be purely angles (based on homework), so it may be they do it by topic but 'exam style'. I guess he will leave with good exam technique.

ifcatscouldtalk Wed 01-Mar-17 16:40:40

Good luck merry. I take Ofsted outstanding with a pinch of salt. It doesn't mean it'll be outstanding for every child that goes there. Also sounds like your son has some nice things to look forward to as well. milk slightly off topic but am so over the moon my DD is settled and happy. V long story but we also changed her secondary school in January! Bit drastic but lots of bullying and no returned calls from school and a terrible gut feeling about the whole thing every day! She is finally enjoying school, making friends and doing well. We will write off 2016.

Roomba Wed 01-Mar-17 22:25:04

I thought DS's school was overdoing it as they've been doing a lot of practice tests since Christmas, but it's nothing like I've read on here. No before/after school/holiday groups, and they are doing a bit of other stuff in between.

Even so, my school loving DS is coming home each day moaning about how bored he is with school now. I'm really worried he will be put off school completely just in time for his demanding first year of secondary!

DS sees it all as utterly pointless as he has his place at a grammar confirmed, they test again at the start of Y7, so 'what is the point of all these boring tests all the time?'. I can't answer that one to his satisfaction really!

GallivantingWildebeest Wed 01-Mar-17 22:31:39

Roomba - if your Ds thinks these tests are pointless, just wait till he gets to grammar. There will be assessments in every subject every 6 weeks. Dd finds that boring...

Op, I completely agree with you. Dd was turned right off school in year 6 as the school taught to the test all damn year and she was in extra groups to sit the level 6 papers. Eurgh. Far too much pressure. Am dreading next year when Ds is in year 6...

MsJolly Wed 01-Mar-17 22:43:12

DS is in year 6-they are working hard and getting through it-tests only once per half term and no before or after school nonsense and all get break and lunchtime to let off steam. They have some small intervention groups as necessary, but during normal school time.

Had a school SATS meeting before half term-lovely to see the whole year 6 team of teachers calm, cool, happy with things and happy to continue as they are. Great approach!

I would be very concerned to see anything different to what I am seeing tbh and would be certainly talking to the school to find out why they think stressing the kids out and overworking them is of any use. Our school is also aiming to be outstanding, so that's no excuse to treat children as some of you seem to be describing.

kesstrel Thu 02-Mar-17 07:21:43

Sounds to me like your Head may be making a political point. 'Look what these awful SATS are forcing us to do'. Never mind that other schools don't find it necessary.

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