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for schools, but as this is the first year since 2019 SATs will be taken due to the pandemic, the results will not be published this year.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.


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