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Considering not letting my Y6 child sit SATS

(91 Posts)
thehorseandhisboy Mon 27-Jan-20 16:33:04

My ds has recently been diagnosed with a visual processing disorder. He is having vision therapy, has prism glasses and there are a few adaptions that the school has put in place ie not copying from the board. The prognosis is that the therapy will hopefully help, but he'll have to find ways around his visual difficulties as time goes on.

Understanding that he isn't wired quite right in itself has done lots for his self-esteem. I pursued an Ed psych assessment when he went from being 'exceeding expectations' to 'behind expectations' in maths in a year, along with a number of other concerns. He brought home a stack of tests that he achieved very low marks in eg 8/50 throughout the year. His Ed psych report indicated extremely high scores in some areas, although an extremely low ie 1st percentile processing speed.

Since diagnosis, he has spoken much less about being stupid and has been much more engaged at school.

School are now in full SATS practice mode. He brought home a test today in which he scored 6/26. Although I'm very glad that he finished the test and kept plugging away, I'm really concerned about the effect that this repeated testing and achieving low scores is going to have on his already fragile self-confidence.

He was originally targeted for 'exceeding expectations' in maths and English because of his KS1 SATS results. Last week, his teacher said that he should 'get through' his SATS. This would be good enough for me tbh.

I'm concerned how psychologically damaging him 'not achieving expectation' in his SATS may be. Although I fully understand that children learn by making mistakes and need to learn to fail etc, I sort of feel that he's had enough of that already, and we need to focus on improving his vision as much as possible, working out what he needs adjusting to enable him to do as well and possible and, most importantly, to improve his self-esteem and self-confidence before secondary school.

He'll know what he gets in his SATS, will compare them to his friends etc. He will get extra time, although doesn't think that will help.

It crossed my mind today that I could just keep him off school during the tests. I don't think that's the 'right' thing to do, but in all honestly, I don't think letting him sit tests that his disability creates so many barriers to is either. Not because I care about how he does, but I do care very much about how he is in himself.

Can anyone help me frame this more positively at all?

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thehorseandhisboy Mon 27-Jan-20 16:33:21

Sorry, that was a bit long!

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Happydaysareheretostaywayhay Mon 27-Jan-20 19:09:34

I would keep him home in a heartbeat. I’m not sure how you’d frame it but there’s no way I’d be putting my child through all that when he’s been through so much already.

Pud2 Mon 27-Jan-20 19:22:06

Whether or not he sits the SATs tests, he will still do all the practice tests that the rest of the class do alongside all the other preparation. He will also be assessed for writing anyway as that is not a test. It may be that he doesn’t want to be excluded from going through the same process as his friends, given that they are all on this ‘journey’ together. You can’t shield him from his attainment forever. Surely it’s better to let him take them but support him with the outcomes and emphasise everything he’s good at.

Also, the school will be really unhappy about it if you keep him off during SATs week for a number of reasons. Why don’t you make an appointment with the SENCo or head to discuss it?

Mendeleev Mon 27-Jan-20 19:34:16

Hi,

My son has dyslexia, visual processing disorder and Irlen’s. His scores in the mock SATS last week are very similar. My boy has been referred to CAMHS for the second time and has terrible self esteem issues. He believes that he’s stupid and unfortunately, at 11 years old this has become ingrained.

School were umming and erring about whether he would do SATS initially but now they have decided he will.

My son will do them. He will put in 100% effort and I will be proud of him whatever he achieves. Exams are a part of life and as long as he tries I will praise him.

I know that sounds almost harsh but it’s no good wrapping them in cotton wool.

I can’t say to high school “sorry, he’s not doing any tests or exams”.

In the long run, I hope and pray it will be character building.

cabbageking Mon 27-Jan-20 19:34:18

A) They haven't covered everything they need for SATS.
B) it is too early to be deciding
C) 6 out of 26 is meaningless without the thresholds.
D) School will be hopefully have booster lessons for borderline students
E) Children plateau and peak as they learn. If he is consolidating data he is yet to peak
F) He is has new glasses and therapy, allow time for impact.

olivo Mon 27-Jan-20 19:46:06

My children have sat SATS and CATs and I have never given them the scores as I hate the thought of them discussing and comparing in the playground ( as they did) a well as parents comparing and judging. I told them they did well and left it at that.

Do you really need to tell him?

PhysaliaPhysalis Mon 27-Jan-20 19:47:20

G) He will have to be teacher assessed if he doesn't enter instead.
H) You will have to keep him off for longer than SATs week

EeWellIllGoToTheFootOfOurStair Mon 27-Jan-20 19:50:57

Don't make him be the odd one out with his friends! They put in lots of support around sats week and you don't need to feed his results back to him - and regardless, he may do better than you think.

He'd need time out for longer than a week and it just puts more pressure on him to not be doing the things all the other kids are

BubblesBuddy Mon 27-Jan-20 20:13:20

I think he probably should do them. Even if he gets lower scores then you would hope. I tend to agree that testing will be part of life and joining in with the others actually is not a bad thing.

As a Governor, I didn’t get utterly hung up over Sats results at school. However I was very aware that the teachers tried so hard to help DC achieve as well as they possibly could. I never felt that Sats were just for the school either. Yes. Schools are compared with each other on results but teachers also have put a lot of effort into teaching. When parents don’t support the school and DC don’t show for the tests (and indeed go off on holiday to rub the other DCs nose in it) the teachers feel aggrieved and it feels like the parents and DC don’t value their efforts. On balance I would stick with the tests.

thehorseandhisboy Mon 27-Jan-20 22:11:38

Thanks all. I agree that it's right that he sit the tests, although there's no way I'll be able to keep the outcomes from him. The school will tell them (and if they don't tell him he'll know there's a reason) and he's incredibly sharp - he'll find out.

I'm not trying to shield him from his attainment, I'm trying to protect his self-esteem from being further damaged by him sitting tests the format of which are incredibly difficult for him. Hopefully, by the time he's doing GCSE's, his vision will have improved and we will have been able to help him find ways to compensate for the areas that he struggles with.

He is extremely intelligent, and him achieving the desired level would be more than good enough for me. It's the possibility of him not reaching the expected level that concerns me.

I agree that part of sitting them and doing his best is to say thank you to his teacher. She is lovely, but really stretched as she's also assistant head and only has them in the mornings (the Y6 teacher became very unwell in the second week of term, which is awful for her and I appreciate that the school have tried to minimise the negative impact on the children).

He hasn't said anything about not sitting them, to be fair. It just made me feel really sad to look through the test paper this evening, and see that it's not that he can't do the sums, it's that his brain and eyes can't work together long enough for him to do them accurately for an hour.

There's a SATS meeting at school next week - I'll try to have another chat with his teacher then.

Thanks all.

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lorisparkle Mon 27-Jan-20 22:29:38

My ds1 had a reader, a scribe and extra time for his SATs due to his dyslexia. Would your dc qualify for any support like that? He had hated English throughout school until year 6 when it suddenly became fun as he the support he needed.

noblegiraffe Mon 27-Jan-20 22:32:41

Are you sure the school will tell them? They will tell parents but I can’t imagine them giving out scores to the kids.

Loads of my Y7s don’t know what they got in their SATs.

Charmatt Mon 27-Jan-20 22:47:22

Firstly, your son would be eligible for more time and the school should apply for tgat now.

If you keep him off, the guidance states that he should sit the tests at the first available opportunity, which will likely mean that he has to sit in the headteacher's office, segregated from his friends for 2 days sitting tests morning and afternoon to get them done, unless you formally tell the school in writing tgat you are withdrawing him from the tests.

If you do formally withdraw him, he can still go into school and can do other things instead.

Personally, I would weigh up the pros and cons and make an informed decision. Either way, he won't avoid the tests he will have to sit in September when he gets to secondary - they'll do their own CATs testing to for setting.

MAFIL Tue 28-Jan-20 01:59:52

I can understand your feelings, but I think there are some potential unintended effects of not doing the tests as far as his self esteem and mental wellbeing are concerned. He is going to have to do all the preparation anyway, and with his new glasses you may find that his attainment improves significantly between now and May. Even though it seems unlikely that he will reach his full potential by the time the tests come around, he will have worked hard I am sure - he sounds like a lovely young man who is doing his best in difficult circumstances. If he doesn't sit the tests, you run the risk of him feeling that all that work wasn't enough and that his improvements weren't sufficient. This could dent his self esteem as much as not getting really high test scores especially if he interprets it as his Mum not thinking he can

Obviously you know your son best and I wouldn't dream of telling you what to do. I'm just throwing some thoughts out based on my observations of my children going through SATS. Their school didn't make a big deal of the results but they did celebrate the children's efforts and focused on everyone trying their best and supporting each other. Quite a team spirit developed. The end of the exams was a significant event and kicked off the start of leaving primary and moving on, if that makes sense. It is quite a rite of passage. It might not be the same at your school of course, but if it is I wonder what the effects of not fully being part of it might be? I woukd talk to the staff, and probably leave a decision for a while as a lot could change between now and May and the right path may become clearer.

notangelinajolie Tue 28-Jan-20 02:19:23

The primary mine were at didn't give out SATS scores, just the levels. We had no idea what scores they got. And there was no rule that said we must tell our kids the level. Let your son take the tests but don't over share the results in any great detail with him. All he needs to know is that he did very well and that you are very proud of him.

Bimbleberries Tue 28-Jan-20 07:38:56

What was the 6/26 for? the maths? Just one paper? It's worth looking into why.

Is it that he has missed enough work over the past year that he didn't know how to do the questions, or was it a problem with reading the number, or writing his answers, or seeing the signs, etc? Particularly on the calculations paper, the layout is very similar from paper to paper, and if he is secure on how to do the questions, then there must be adaptations that would allow him to see it properly - whether that's larger print, or a reader, or coloured paper, or whatever. The reasoning paper is more variable/unpredictable with the questions, and children do have to be able to work out what they need to do to answer a question, but again, difficulties reading/seeing the question should not be the reason they get something wrong - the school must provide adequate adaptations if this is the case.

On the other hand, if it's that he has missed a great deal of work over the past years and has fallen behind, then perhaps the booster classes now will help him catch up, if his vision is improving, and/or if he can have the same adaptations for all the practice work/papers.

It would still be useful information to the secondary and to you to know what he is currently able to do at the time of the SATs, as long as it is measuring his ability, and not affected adversely by vision issues. If he is still behind, then they can put in appropriate measures to help him catch up next year. You can keep reassuring him that they understand he has had difficulty over the past terms, and that they recognise how much improvement he has made. But if he is still performing below where he should be, then identifying those areas and helping him is what the schools should be doing. If he is NOT underperforming in terms of his skills and ability, but it is just that he is unable to show those on the test because of vision issues, then there really must be adaptations to allow him to access them in a more suitable way. It is not just extra time. What else does he think might help?

TeenPlusTwenties Tue 28-Jan-20 08:40:23

@noblegiraffe

Different primary schools have very different methods of handling SATs results.

Our primary they were given an envelope at home time of Friday addressed to parents. A very sensible method if you ask me. Plus they never made a fuss about 100 being the 'magic' score. So when DD got 100, 97, 96 she didn't know that 2 of her scores were not to standard.

On the other hand I have read here of children being called up 1 by 1 to be told their scores at school. And certainly of being given the results as 'they are their scores'.

OP What is his mental maths like? He should be able to have a reader and a scribe if needed I'd have thought. That could help a lot. (Or an electronic reader for the English? - my DD has slow processing and is having one for Eng Lang GCSE).
Plus in general 'test technique' may be coming in to play. DD's scores went up a lot once she started doing practice tests as we saw the certain issues that were easily fixable.

thehorseandhisboy Tue 28-Jan-20 08:41:41

Mendeleev I'm sorry to hear about your ds's difficulties. It's heart-breaking isn't it? I do hope that he gets the support that he needs through CAMHs.

MAFIL you're right, and that's exactly how I've been thinking about it until I had a blip yesterday. His older sister is now in Y8 and her sats passed me by completely!

noblegiraffe you're right. There's a couple of months between the tests and schools receiving the results, it may be easier to keep them from him if necessary that he feels now with the full-on SATS mode.

The school said that he can had extra time or a 'prompter' not both. The current plan is extra time and him being in a room with other children who may struggle to focus for long with a member of staff to support them to stay 'on task' rather than individual prompters as a way around this.

I guess that part of the issue is that we're still working out what interventions will help minimise the problems caused by his processing disorder. More time should help, but only if he understands how to pace himself and the importance of checking his work. It's not that he can't do the work, it's partly that he panics and then loses focus/concentration and partly because his processing problems mean that stamina is difficult for him.

On a positive note, his stamina with reading has improved immensely since he began using a Kindle at home. He started by making the font bigger which seemed to stop his brain rushing ahead of his eyes, although he's now using a smaller font and the very clean and regular layout combined with his glasses are making a big difference.

Thanks so much all, I feel much less anxious about it this morning. You're right that it's very early days in his treatment (he's less than a month into visual therapy and has only had his glasses for a couple of weeks) and that May is still some time away.

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thehorseandhisboy Tue 28-Jan-20 08:44:21

TeenPlusTwenties his mental maths is very good, and I think you're right that test technique will be the thing that makes the biggest difference.

There are booster classes galore over the next few months, so hopefully things can only get better for him.

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TeenPlusTwenties Tue 28-Jan-20 08:49:29

It's not that he can't do the work, it's partly that he panics and then loses focus/concentration

This bit is common to many children. learning 'test technique' in y6 really helped my DD going forward into secondary. learning not to panic, to move on if you get stuck, to read the question carefully and note whether it is addition or subtraction or whatever, can all make a big difference.

Also with DD, learning she didn't have to attempt every question in maths - that the end questions were for the 'top table' kids not her.

bookmum08 Tue 28-Jan-20 09:01:13

You need to talk to the SENCO and his teachers to discuss help needed - someone reading the questions to him, or writing for him or extra time etc. They have to provide this surely? Find out now what works best for your son.
(I would say to not do the sats cos they are pointless and stupid but unfortunately it isn't just the 4 days of tests but the whole frigging year stupid things should be scrapped)

TeenPlusTwenties Tue 28-Jan-20 09:07:56

DD was first year of the 'new' SATs and I think the year really benefitted her. (I know this is an unusual view on MN). The school had a quiet focus (didn't bang on about them the whole time), but the consolidation in maths, and the test technique learned really helped her going forward.

What didn't help was the SPaG stuff, but that is due to the curriculum not the SATs themselves. The amount of time that was wasted attempting to teach her finer points of grammar would have been much better spent on getting capitals and fullstops in their proper place.

Bimbleberries Tue 28-Jan-20 09:22:40

Things like the font and spacing and size can also be adapted on SATs papers though. If things like that would help him visually, then start talking to the school now about adaptations. You might have to keep pushing for them to arrange some of these things. It's easier for them if they have the 'extra time' children in another room with a general prompter, but you want to make sure your child gets what he needs specifically, rather than what is easiest for them to arrange. Extra time and a general prompter might be fine for him, but if you think there are other things that would help, do suggest them, try it out, experiment now, and find out. Test taking strategies and learning how not to panic, how to keep them in perspective, etc, is a really good skill for secondary as well. Not making them a big deal, but giving him things to tell himself, to face the challenges but know that he doesn't have to do all the questions; that it is to find out what level he is working at rather than a pass/fail; that it is part of a picture of how he and his school are doing, but not the whole picture - and that everyone knows that his score on the tests is only one part of it; that he can skip questions and go on; that he should double check his working, and make sure he's noticed things like +/- signs; all that sort of thing is helpful and can be done without making him feel pressured or inadequate.

thehorseandhisboy Tue 28-Jan-20 09:29:44

Bimbleberries that's interesting about font, spacing and size being able to be adapted. The lovely SENco left at Xmas (I know...) and the temporary one is covering two schools so very stretched.

I'll speak with his teacher about whether it would be useful to meet with her, maybe when we've worked out more at home about what adaptions will help him. He has a visual therapy review in April, and that should give us more info about his strengths and areas of difficulty.

My goal for secondary school is to have him fluently touch typing (we started an online course and have paused it as it's a bit much with vision therapy/music practice etc but will pick it up again in a few months), and arrange as much as possible for board work etc to be available to him on a closer screen ie laptop. Ironically, I've always really limited computer time although it's looking like technology will be very useful to him.

Thanks so much all - your responses are all very much appreciated and helpful.

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