In an ideal world, booster groups and extra revision would not exist.
In an ideal world, children would come to Year 6 with a secure understanding of key grammar and arithmetic concepts.
In an ideal world, you wouldn’t be plugging any gaps and you would solely teach the Year 6 curriculum in enough time so that when Sats come around in May, it’s just another day.
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But this isn’t an ideal world. Unfortunately, some children don’t come to Year 6 ready to start that curriculum and instead have gaps to be plugged.
This is where I, as a teacher new to Year 6, think boosters are a good and useful idea. And I have had great success with them so far.
Here are some tips and thoughts about the process:
Sats boosters start in class
Boosters and extra revision start from the minute they walk through the door in September. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some evil Miss Trunchball who makes children stay behind from September but I have learned to be smart with what I’m covering.
Easy wins include early-bird maths (also known as morning maths) as the children are coming in. We also have maths meetings during the afternoon; these are 10- to 15-minute sessions where we cover key concepts, basic facts, misconceptions.
If you base your questions around the gaps you have found, that’s an instant whole-class booster revision session.
Choose your timings carefully
Boosters will run at lunchtimes this term at my school. Children will go for an early dinner and then come to enjoy some wonderful grammar or arithmetic practice.
This works as you aren’t keeping children behind after school (which eats into your time) and you’ve got the kids while they are at full energy.
Short and snappy
Around 30 minutes maximum is our running time. After that, you start to lose the kids and all concentration is gone. Have a clear plan of what you want to cover (start small!) and build on that each session.
Don’t make it another lesson
As great as we all are as teachers, no child wants to sit there and listen to their teacher drone on at them for another 30 minutes. Include games and quizzes. Use resources that are out there: Sumdog, Rockstars, Hit the Button, Monster Sats.
With the above being said, they are still attending boosters for a reason. These are the children who need that additional direct teaching time and if they leave not able to understand the concept you were trying to address then the booster has been a waste of time.
Pick the one thing you want to cover that session, a quick input and then practise and application time. That way you are able to see where individuals are making errors instead of generalising.
Find a pal
During the first half of the spring term, it will be the Y6 team running boosters. However, we will absolutely be getting everyone involved after that if needed. It has to be a team effort. You can’t do it all.
Get TAs, HLTAs, other year group teachers, volunteers, anyone who is free can work with a child or a group. We offer days in lieu for any member of staff who helps out with boosters
A treat never harmed anyone
A biscuit and some orange squash is always a quick boost before starting. Boosters aren’t for everyone and we all hope to get to a position where we don’t need them but for now, while we (or at least I) do, this is how I plan to run mine.
Maaria Khan is a Year 6 teacher and English and maths lead at Athersley North Primary, South Yorkshire