Exclusive: Could you do the Sats question that made pupils cry?

Tes reveals the controversial maths question from this years Sats test which teachers described as 'horrible' 

hadrs sats question

Make two straight cuts along the grid lines to divide the rectangle into two squares of different sizes and one rectangle…


This was among Sats questions faced by 600,000 Year 6 pupils earlier this month, and it had some of them in tears. 

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Headteacher Simon Kidwell, of Hartford Manor primary and nursery school, in Cheshire, said the question was “really tricky” and criticised that fact that it only carried only one mark. 

He said: “The children lingered and got frustrated. When you get a question like that which carries only one mark it’s not very helpful. It doesn’t test what the children know, it tests their spatial perception.”

sats question

Chris Dyson, head of Parklands primary, Leeds, said he could see the children’s “puzzled looks”.

“My brain doesn’t work like that, so I would have missed it out," he said.

“I say to kids it’s no good looking at a question for 10 minutes and panicking because that’s not going to make the maths fairy come and sort it out!

“But you do need questions like that for the gifted and talented.”

Tes columnist Michael Tidd, head of Medmerry Primary, West Sussex, provoked reaction when he tweeted about his own difficulty on answering the question.

Meanwhile, teachers took to Tes forums to comment on the paper. One said: “Was it just me.... Draw 2 lines for the three shapes?!?!? Horrible"

Another said: “Arithmetic was OK, pretty much as expected and the children coped well with it. Reasoning was another story. GDs were OK with most of it, but the 'draw two lines' question had more than one in tears. I had to look at it for several minutes before I could see the answer!”

Another said: “The whole thing hovers between ridiculous and cruel to children. Questions written to trick children, arithmetic questions that need so much work done that I doubt most adults would finish in 30 mins. The end result is a snap shot of each child's ability.

"It doesn't measure hurdles overcome, recognise the undoubted progress children make as learners. It is obscene beyond belief and i genuinely hope there is a boycott next year.”

Ten and 11-year-olds across the country took the KS2 Sats in reading, maths and spelling, punctuation and grammar (Spag) earlier this month at a time when the NEU teaching union is preparing to ballot primary school members on whether to boycott the controversial tests.

The tests consist of a spelling test, a Spag question paper, a reading test, an arithmetic test and two maths reasoning tests.

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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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