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Five things SLT can do to make Sats season better for Year 6 teachers

School leaders need to take responsibility for ensuring the stress levels of their Year 6 teachers are kept low and provide the resource for children to thrive, says this headteacher

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School leaders need to take responsibility for ensuring the stress levels of their Year 6 teachers are kept low and provide the resource for children to thrive, says this headteacher

At this time of year, your Year 6 teachers need looking after. 

The run-up to Sats can be difficult. They are fully aware of their responsibility to ensure every child does as well as they possibly can, and of the potential for a bad set of results to have a detrimental effect on the school. Coupled with this are the challenges of making sure the children are emotionally and psychologically well-prepared for their secondary schools. All this in addition to running classrooms that need to offer the breadth of experience every school should strive to offer, and dealing with the common issues teaching can throw at you. 

If you are a senior leader, there are many things you can to help make the next few weeks much better. Here are five that I think are the most important. 

1. Don’t ever look like you’re worried about the results

SLT members getting stressed or worried puts additional pressure on teachers without making any difference to the outcomes for children. However you may be feeling, make sure this isn’t evident to anyone else.

2. Don’t put pressure on teachers by demanding individual children reach a particular standard

Targets set for a cohort depend on every child making good progress, but make sure your Year 6 teachers realise you don’t hold them accountable for the last four years of the children’s education. 

3. Trust them

Show them that you trust them by letting them get on with teaching the children, and not micro-managing them or spending time checking up on what they’re doing. Part of trusting people also involves listening to their concerns and taking seriously worries about their wellbeing, or that of their colleagues.

4. Make the Sats a whole school issue, not a Year 6 ‘thing’

Make sure all teachers across the school are aware of the end of Year 6 expectations and clarify how everyone plays their part in making sure the children have the skills and understanding necessary to make the most of their time in primary school. It’s much better for children to ‘keep up’ as they go through school, rather than try to ‘catch up’ in the last few months of their time in key stage 2. Children are much more likely to be successful if they join Year 6 with brilliant times tables knowledge and calculation skills, cursive handwriting, the ability to solve problems, and an excellent attitude to learning.

5. Ask your Year 6 teachers what you can do to help, then do it

This one is not just for the weeks up to Sats, but the whole year. Allocate a small budget that will allow teachers time to carry out any additional administrative tasks, or to spend time talking to individual children and their families – and let your Year 6 teachers have free rein in the spending of the budget. They may decide that a short intervention, maybe involving a couple of extra teacher or teaching assistant hours, can help fill in some specific gaps in a child’s understanding that can allow them to access whole new areas of learning. Year 6 teachers are well-placed to know what their children really need.

Roy Souter is headteacher at Stoke Hill Junior School in Exeter



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