Sats: pupils in tears after sitting 'incredibly difficult' reading test

Teachers report that even able children could not finish the test, and claim it was a 'demoralising' experience for some pupils

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Pupils have been left in tears by the first of this year's Sats, according to teachers who have branded the reading test “incredibly difficult”, “ridiculous” and “bloody tough”.

The paper was taken by almost 600,000 pupils this morning. Teachers on the TES forums have reported that even able children were unable to finish the test.

“The texts weren't so bad but the questions and the wording of them (vocabulary etc) was like something I have never seen before. I'm staggered,” said one teacher.

“The questions were ridiculously hard from the start and I had a child in tears within five minutes, because in her words, 'I don't understand the questions'. This wasn't even a less able child,” another teacher commented.

'The hardest test I've ever seen'

The new deliberately tougher Sats were introduced this year, to reflect the new national curriculum which was introduced in 2014. The government said that the new standard would be set at around the old level 4b, which 80 per cent of pupils achieved in reading last year. But there has been growing concern over the spring term that the standard the children are expected to meet is higher than this.

“That was, without doubt, the hardest reading test I've ever seen. Unbelievable. I'm so angry right now,” said a teacher. “That has completely demoralised a number of children in my class. It wasn't even like the sample paper they released. Much harder.”

Some said the test being sat by 10 and 11-year-olds was really suitable for 15 year-olds.

"Dreadful!" one teacher wrote. "Children who had succeeded previously in the 'sample' test were sobbing! More able not finishing. If ever a test was set up to prepare children to fail, this was it."

However a Department for Education spokesman said: “The 2016 reading test was developed in the same way as the sample test. Trialling of the 2016 test showed that the difficulty of the paper was broadly similar.

“These tests should not be a cause of stress for pupils ‎- they help teachers make sure children are learning to read, write and add up well. The truth is if they don't master literacy and numeracy early on, they risk being held behind and struggling for the rest of their lives - we are determined to prevent this by helping every child reach their full potential.”

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