Sitting SATs – An Incredible Survival Guide

If you’ve got an Indredible Year 2 or Year 6 Kid, then they are probably about to sit SATs. Don’t panic, we are here with an Incredible SATs Survival Guide!

What are SATs?

Standard Attainment Tests (SATs) take place in year 2 and year 6 to measure students’ achievement. However, they aren’t about individual children, but rather a mechanism to hold schools to account and uncover any weaknesses to improve the education offering for the next year.

Year 2 SATs focus on maths and reading and are relatively informal. They will take place sometime in May, and your own school will set the timetable.

Year 6 SATs are more formal. There are tests in Maths, English grammar and reading. Each paper is 45 minutes long and the tests will take place daily nationwide from Monday 9th May in 2022. All Year 6 students will sit SATs in mainstream school. In specialist schools, children may not sit the exams but will still be graded according to the work they have produced over the year.

Scores are given between 80 to 120, with a score of 100 being the average or ‘achieving expectations’. Parents will receive the results in July. In previous years the results have been published as part of the accountability framework for schools, but as this is the first year since 2019 SATs will be taken due to the pandemic, the results will not be published this year.

A mark less than 100 does not mean your child has ‘failed’. It is interpreted as a weakness in the schools teaching. For our children, who may be very bright but struggle with exams, or who may have academic learning disabilities but stand out in other areas like music, these results may not reflect their true potential. Don’t get hung up on them.

Know what support you are entitled to

The government has set out clear guidance as to what adaptations and supports can be put in place for disabled students sitting SATs. You can find the full guide here.

Reasonable adjustments you can expect include:

  • early opening of test packs to adapt test papers
  • additional time to complete the tests
  • the use of scribes, word processors, or other technical or electronic aids
  • readers
  • the use of prompts and rest breaks
  • the use of accessibility objects in the mathematics test

The types of support your child will need are very individual. If you haven’t already discussed it with your school request an urgent meeting with your SENCO to make sure reasonable adjustments are in place.

Understand the effect on your children

Remember, these tests aren’t really about your children, but are designed to hold schools to account for the quality of their teaching. The tests have been widely criticised since they were introduced in 1991. One study from 2017 claimed the number of students experiencing the negative effects of stress and anxiety had tripled over the previous two years.

  • Explain to your child, if you think they will understand, that the SATs are exams to help the government understand how well the school is teaching. This helps take the feeling of pressure off them.
  • Encourage your child not to worry about them. Children perform better when they are more relaxed.
  • Your child will have been doing test papers in school to practice. At home, you can support them by playing games and reading books but don’t make it ‘revision’, just make it fun family time.
  • Keep your usual routine. It is okay for your child to go to clubs, to a friend or family member, or to enjoy their usual activities. Routine is usually reassuring.
  • Try and get some extra fresh air. If you can walk to and from school this is helpful. At home, perhaps have a snack in the garden or spend time at the local park. Outside time is soothing.
  • Remove as many demands from your child’s day as you can.
  • When you get the results, don’t feel you have to share them with your child. If they have done very well and you think it will boost their confidence go-ahead, otherwise perhaps don’t mention it.

Understand the effect on parents/carers

It is understandable that you will feel stressed out by SATs. You may not agree with testing children so young. You may be worried about the increased pressure this puts on your child. You may be concerned the experience will affect their self-esteem.

  • You must try to relax. If you are tense your children will pick up on it.
  • Don’t fill up your evenings with chores, spend quality time with your children after school.
  • Resist the urge to ask them about the exams – check-in discreetly with a teacher instead.
  • Get early nights with your children as this will help with your own stress levels as well.
  • Find yourself a SATs buddy – another parent who you can talk to about your concerns and share the load together.

Remember, these tests do not impact your child’s school, the support they will get going forward, their EHCP, or any other aspect of their future school career.

If it all turns to custard …

The week will probably pass uneventfully, but here are some places you can get additional support if you need it:

If you are concerned about your children’s mental health and are not currently under CAMHS you can get advice from the NSPCC.

If you live in Bristol, South Gloucestershire, or North Somerset and have a child aged 11 or over, you can speak to OTR about mental health support or access their drop-in centre for young people.

If your child is really struggling with the SATs and it is severely, negatively affecting their mental health, speak to the school SENCO about pausing their involvement. You can also speak to your GP who may be able to sign them off school.

If you want to find out more about the campaign to scrap SATs and rethink all formal testing in schools,  visit More Than A Score.

 

Incredible crafts for all

We love crafts at Incredible Kids and we focus on offering craft stations with high sensory value that help build motor skills and – most importantly – confidence! Here are three great craft ideas for kids who struggle with fine motor skills. They’re fun, accessible, and will help your child build that ‘can-do’ attitude.

Marble painting

 

If you grew up in the 1980s, you will remember marble painting! This is a great activity for children who might need a little extra adult support and there are two great ways to do it.

 

 

 

Key development areas:

  • Gross motor control
  • Processing
  • Sensory
  • Proprioception

 

What you need:

Option 1: You need nail polish, water, a small plastic container, a cocktail stick, thick card.

Option 2: You need poster paints, marbles, a large tea tray or similar, thick card and some small tumblers.

 

Method:

Option 1: Pour the water into the plastic container right up to the lip. Take the top off your nail polish and pour a few drops of each colour you want to use into the water. Quickly, before it dries, use the cocktail stick to swirl the colours around a bit. Lay your card across the front of the water for about 3 to 5 seconds. Lift it up and see the swirly nail varnish pattern – called marbling. Leave it somewhere safe to dry.

Option 2: Perfect if your child needs a little more support, or you want to work on gross motor control. Lay your card flat on a tray. Put a squirt of each colour of paint into a separate tumbler – you don’t need much. Drop a marble into each and swirl it around in the cup so it is covered in paint. Drop the marbles onto the card in the tray. Holding each side of the tray, gently rock it from side to side so the marbles roll around, creating paint trails. You can support your young person with the tray rocking by placing your hands on the underside.  Leave your painting to dry.

Both methods are guaranteed to create a beautiful artwork your young person can be proud of.

 

Sparkle-dough

 

This sparkly homemade molding dough is fun to make and use!

 

 

 

 

Key development areas:

  • Maths
  • Motor control
  • Processing
  • Sensory
  • Proprioception

 

Recipe:

8 tbsp plain flour

2 tbsp salt

60ml warm water

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Food colouring

Glitter

 

Method:

Put the glitter to one side until the end. Mix the dry ingredients together in one bowl, and the wet ingredients in another. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a spoon. When the mixture becomes tacky, fold in the glitter and use your hands to bring it together into playdough.

Use this sparkly dough to make shapes, pretend to cook, stretch and bend – get those fingers working!

 

Spray-paint

 

 

Is your young person the next Banksy? Here is a great way to find out! This craft is a fun way to practice precision motor skills and create a great canvas without the pressure of using a paintbrush. It’s also great if your young person doesn’t like to get messy as they can keep their distance from the paints!

 

 

 

Key Development areas:

  • Fine motor control
  • Visual Processing
  • Sensory
  • Proprioception

 

What you need:

Two or three old spray bottles washed out, and/or squirty bottles like mustard bottles or washing up liquid bottles.

 

Method:

Mix up some water with food colouring, a different colour for each bottle. Alternatively, if you have an area you can easily clean, use water-based craft paints.

Layout a canvas, piece of cardboard, thick paper, or old wallpaper, and let your young person spray paint them with the bottle to create a beautiful piece of art.

Have fun and share your arts and crafts with us on Facebook!

Incredible Kids – Adventure for Everyone

By Jai Breitnauer, Incredible Fundraiser

Every Good Boy Deserves Football – who else remembers that from recorder lessons at school? It was a memory rhyme, a way to remind yourself of the order of the notes on the bar. But I used to think, what if the boy can’t play football?

 

Now, 30-odd-years later, I have a good boy who can’t play football. It’s not that he doesn’t want to play. He struggles with anxiety that prevents him from joining in. He has a stutter which means he cannot communicate clearly and quickly. And he has dyspraxia with a processing delay, which means that kicking the ball is hard work. But he still plays football, because he has a great bunch of friends and an empathetic teacher who have set the game up to make his life easier. For example, they have invented the ‘elbow rule’ – if the ball happens to be flying toward you, and you internally panic, and you put your arms up across your face to protect yourself from impact and the ball bounces off your elbow and goes into the goal, well, that counts. That happened one day, resulting in my good boy scoring the winning goal and the pitch went wild. Everyone celebrated, even though that wouldn’t fly with the FA.

At Incredible Kids, we believe there is no reason why everyone can’t just join in. If something is hard for our young people, we make it easier. If the rules of the game need to be adjusted, that’s fine. If we need to adapt play to be louder, quieter, more or less sensory, then we do it. We are truly accessible – everyone can join in with our adventure if they want to, or we will support them to have their own.

If you have been thinking of coming along, but you’re worried your child won’t fit in, don’t panic. That is an understandable response to have when you live in a world that often can’t or won’t adapt to your young person’s needs. Feel free to send us a message, we are happy to talk through your concerns. Or just come along and give us a try. We have over 150 children attend our sessions each week bringing with them a range of physical, learning, and social and emotional needs and it is our job to meet those needs.

Our parents and carers have described Incredible Kids as their ‘safe place’, a space where their young person can ‘be themselves’, a ‘place where we can all relax.’ Incredible Kids is here as much for the adults as the young people. We are here to create a community and connect like-minded families. In the words of Maui from one of our favourite films, Moana, you’re welcome!

Interview with an Incredible Kids Playworker

Q: Tell us what you do for Incredible Kids?

A: My name is James and I am one of our incredible playworkers!

 

 

Q: How did you get involved with Incredible Kids?

A: My sister is disabled and she inspired me to seek out work experience in special schools. I wanted a part-time job while at University and found Incredible Kids through the student union job site. I liked the idea of providing a safe space for families to spend their time together.

Q: What’s your favourite thing about Incredible Kids?

A: I love playing with the children, who are all amazing. Working with the charity is the most enjoyable and fulfilling job I’ve had.

 

Q: Tell us about an Incredible time you had with Incredible Kids?

A: Seeing children come out of their shell and getting involved is probably the most incredible thing to see. I can remember playing a game of football where all of the children engaged with each other and the playworkers.

Q: Last question; Can you tell us a joke?
A: How do snails clean their shells? Snail-varnish!

James is one of the playworkers you might see at an Incredible Kids session. Make sure you say hello and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

 

 

The power of a small gift

Micro fundraising and collective giving are important ways to support charities like Incredible Kids

 

These days, giving some loose change to a good cause is pretty common. Whether it is a charity box by the shop till, or a local child with a sponsorship sheet, most people give a few pounds here and there through the month. On average, British people donate £27 a month to good causes.

Charitable giving wasn’t always this way though. Back before the reformation in the 16th Century charitable giving and care was provided almost exclusively by the church. Social aid for the needy was mixed in with medical care, and monasteries acted as hospitals as well as places the very young and the very old could go for food and shelter if they had no one else.

After Henry VIII shut the monasteries down, charitable giving had to be taken on by others. The modern tradition of Christian philanthropy was born with the very wealthy and pious building alms houses and hospitals for people who would otherwise have no shelter or care. The association with wealth and charitable giving persisted well into the 19th Century. People felt embarrassed about giving small amounts; giving had to be big and bold and glorious. Although giving was no longer just the domain of the super-rich, a charitable gift would have been one off and substantial and many people chose charities to support for life.

When President Franklin Roosevelt was elected US President in 1933, this changed. Roosevelt had suffered from polio just a few years before and had to learn how to walk again after experiencing debilitating paralysis. In 1938, during his second term as President, Roosevelt founded the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis to combat polio. Stage and screen star Eddie Cantor encouraged people to give small amounts of money to raise funds for the organisation in the lead-up to Roosevelt’s birthday. He said, ‘nearly everyone can send in a dime’ and noted that everyone, even the children, would be able to show their support in this way.

Over the next month, thousands of people sent postcards to the White House with dimes stuck to them. The letters swamped the post room raising $268,000 in total. This strategy, encouraging people to give small and manageable amounts regularly, continued to be used by this organisation which became known as March of Dimes in the 1970s. Since then, other charities have taken on this strategy.

The great thing about small gifts, or micro giving as we call it today, is that pretty much anyone can do it. A dime is equivalent to £1.50 today. This is a manageable amount for most and it soon adds up.

People often don’t give to charity because they can’t give a big amount. When donating people want to be able to hand over £10 or £20, or even more. But the March of Dimes proved how powerful micro giving can be. A lot of people giving a small amount is just as good as a few people making a one off larger donation.

Would you like to be an Incredible Micro giver? We have set up a special micro giving page where you can regularly donate small amounts. Remember the golden rules of charitable giving – make sure you and your family have everything you need and if there is any leftover, think about how much you can afford to give. Never get into debt to donate.

Stay Incredible!

 

 

Meet our Incredible Team!

This week we talk to Incredible Elle, our Service Manager

Q: Tell us what you do for Incredible Kids?

A: My name is Elle and I am the Service Manager at Incredible Kids. I make sure that our families have a welcoming, safe and stimulating environment when they visit. I also get to plan all the fun activities!

Q: How did you get involved with IK?

A: Before working at IK I was a children’s nursery manager. I enjoyed this but wanted to work specifically with children who have disabilities and additional needs. When I saw the Service Manager job advertised I felt like I couldn’t not apply for it! It looked like the perfect job for me as it was fun and was working with children and their families.

Q: What’s your favourite thing about Incredible Kids?

A: I have always loved working with children and their families, supporting them and creating inviting environments for them to explore based on their needs and interests. I really love the ethos of Incredible Kids and what they set out to achieve. I want to make a difference in people’s lives. But my absolute favourite thing is hearing the feedback from our families and what impact we have had on their lives. I often get told by various parents that we provide a safe space for them where there is no judgement. I love that we are stopping our families from feeling isolated!

Q: Tell us about an Incredible time you had with Incredible Kids?

A: One of the incredible times I have had was with a child who was too nervous to walk through the door when they arrived for the first time. We listened to what they needed, made some adjustments to minimise their anxieties and they finally felt ready to go inside after they observed everyone and settled into the environment.

Q: Last question; Can you tell us a joke?
A: What do you call a dinosaur that’s sleeping? A Dino-snore!

Elle is at every Incredible Kids session. Make sure you say hello and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.