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Parents experience Sats pressure for themselves

Hundreds of parents take the tests, as part of a 'Sats sit-in'

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Hundreds of parents take the tests, as part of a 'Sats sit-in'

Hundreds of parents spent this morning being tested on their knowledge of adverbials and long division, as part of a national Sats sit-in day.

The event was organised by campaign group More than a Score, which wants the current testing regime to be overhauled.

About 300 parents took mini Sats tests – two papers consisting of 10 grammar questions and 10 maths questions taken from past Year 6 papers – at 15 venues around the country.

Samir Zerguine, who has sons in Year 4 and Year 6 at Surrey Square primary in Southwark, London, was one of the parents tackling questions, such as 5,776 – 855*, without a calculator this morning.

He said the event changed his mind about the tests.

“It opened my eyes,” said Mr Zerguine. “Before, I didn’t realise how serious these Sats were. Kids need to have a good score because it affects their education in future.

“I think there is too much pressure on kids at this age. These kind of tests should be in secondary schools, not primary schools.”

Laura Parkes, whose son is in Year 4 at the same school, said: “I don’t agree with the exams at all. Education should be about [developing] well-rounded children and if they find enjoyment in education they will be more inspired to learn; if they associate education with feelings of anxiety, stress and fear, it will not make them want to learn.”

But some parents thought the Sats were useful. For Amina Ibrahim, whose Year 6 son will be taking the exams next May, the exercise was a good way to help her understand how he would be feeling.

“I agree with them doing Sats,” she said. “I want to help him to improve and encourage him to do his best for the future.”

Surrey Square headteacher Nicola Noble said that while she did not disagree with testing per se, she was concerned that Sats were not a level playing field – and that denoting children at the "expected standard" was too simplistic.

She told parents about a child who had failed the maths test by one mark – because he had not drawn a symmetrical shape neatly enough.

“He was sobbing,” she said, “and saying he was rubbish at maths. That was the feeling he went away with over something as silly as that.”

Madeleine Holt, spokesperson for More than a Score, said: “It’s madness to brand an 11-year-old as a failure just as they are beginning secondary school. And it’s madness to use these tests as a measurement of a school as a whole.

“What’s more, Sats affect children’s targets for all subjects at secondary school. This means children who do well in Sats could be told they are failing if their marks from Year 7 onwards do not match their Year 6 results.

"The government must listen to the concerns of teachers, experts and parents, and take action to protect our children’s education and wellbeing.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Most parents understand that assessing the extent to which children have grasped what they have been taught is an important part of education. The key stage 2 tests check that children can read, write and add up well, which lays the foundation for success at secondary school and beyond. 

“The tests at the end of KS2 are based on the new national curriculum, which rightly raised expectations of what children should be taught.”

And how did the parents do in the mini Sats tests? Ms Ibrahim said she had been “too nervous”, Ms Parkes said the tests gave her trouble and Mr Zerguine joked: “I am alright at English and maths, but not in the way they teach kids these days. I need an upgrade!”

* 5,776 – 855 = 4,921

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