Sats over... I time for sumo

Schools get inventive as Year 6s wind down after taxing national tests.

WRESTLING IN inflatable sumo costumes, biscuit-dunking contests and making bridges out of newspaper have been among the activities that primary schools have been holding to help their 11-year-old pupils wind down after last week's national tests.

This year's key stage 2 test papers were seen by teachers as the fairest yet, although some complained that the mental maths paper and the spelling test had been particularly difficult.

Rod Woodhouse, headteacher of Essendon CofE primary in Hertfordshire, said he was happy with the content of the exams, although he felt the long writing task, in which pupils were asked to design a leaflet, had been unclear.

"After the last tests on Friday, the children were doing painting and there was loud music thumping out of the classroom, so it was a quite light-hearted afternoon," he said.

"We are not a Sats factory. In the end, these tests don't affect their education one iota."

Headteachers have predicted maths scores will jump this year to 80 per cent of pupils reaching level 4. But when the same cohort of children did their key stage 1 tests in 2003, results dropped from the previous year: 180,000 fewer pupils reached level 2b.

Maths and English results have both risen by 22 percentage points since 1996. Gordon Brown has vowed to fund one-to-one numeracy tuition for pupils who fall behind.

South Farnham community junior school in Surrey is one of the largest schools to have got all its pupils to level 4 in previous years. Andrew Carter, the head, said: "I thought the papers were fine and a fair reflection of the curriculum.

"On Friday the children relaxed. They went out on the field and had an ice lolly and played games.

"I don't think it needs to be the significant issue that everybody makes it into. Just do them and move on."

Teachers have been swapping ideas on The TES online staffroom about how to help their pupils wind down after the tests. Activities which some have tried included a sumo afternoon and holding a version of The Apprentice television series.

But it was not all fun and games. One reported they were stuck with "some stupid bloody transition unit for secondary schools".

'Show your workings'

Some of the stranger answers given by pupils were in the Year 2 tests and optional tests for Years 3, 4 and 5, as well as the national exams. Here are some teachers' favourites as reported on The TES website.

tedmabel: "Year 3 maths. Asked to show his working, he drew a beautiful picture of his head and next to it an arrow and 'I did it in here'."

Lottie24: "On the level 2 numeracy paper, the question 'Draw a ring around the person who is 11th in the queue' had one of my EAL children draw a beautiful diamond ring around the person 11th in the queue!"

Mrs Paddington: "When we were doing practice questions last week, we had a question 'Sound cannot travel through a ______.' He wrote 'hoover'. Bless him, there is a certain logic there."

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