Sats: 'It's heartbreaking telling children who have worked their socks off that they're not at the expected standard'

5th July 2017 at 15:23
Sadly, not all pupils will find that their hard work has paid off. I just hope they can see the bigger picture – there is more to them than a test result, writes one teacher

If we roll back 18 years to when I took my Sats in Year 6, I do remember being aware that they were a "test", but I don't remember preparing for them and they certainly didn't stress me out. I was just busy enjoying being a child, spending time with my friends and I loved school and learning. 

Now I am on the other side. I am a Year 6 teacher seeing children sitting their Sats and it is a completely different story.

Since September we have been preparing for them and the children have spent mornings, lunchtimes and even holidays attending sessions to help them pass.

Some children take them with a pinch of salt but some children worry endlessly about them. Some even have extra pressure from their parents to make sure they pass them.

I, myself, have two views on the Sats.

On the one hand, I think for some children they work incredibly hard in Year 6, striving to achieve, and it does help many to make big leaps in their learning. It can help children to stay focused and reach their full potential.

There is one child in my class who joined our school at the start of Year 5 with no English. She is hard-working and has managed to achieve the expected standard in all subjects and is now nearing greater depth. Sats have helped challenge her, giving her something to work towards and she will be incredibly happy with her results. 

However, on the other hand, they can be stressful for children, making them anxious and worried. I have always tried to find a balance, ensuring that the children are prepared but are not worried about them. But for some children, they will worry regardless.

Crushing children's love of learning

On top of this, Sats have caused some children to lose their love of learning – working to pass a test simply does not motivate them.

There are also children who have attended booster sessions, worked hard in every lesson and made progress but will have not met the expected standard. For these children, knowing that they have not reached the expected standard will have profound effects on their next steps in education.

Then there are the children who achieved a 98/99 standardised score – can we really say these children are not at the expected standard because on one day they were a few marks off?

Lastly, I feel sorry for the many children who are in a school where they have narrowed down the curriculum to just English, maths and science because the school needs to ensure that its results are outstanding.

Although schools should be teaching a broad and balanced curriculum, I know that many have succumbed to the pressures of data targets and looming Ofsted.

I believe if we continue to put this pressure on schools, teachers and children, we will end up losing even more teachers from the profession and children will lose their thirst for learning.  

On Friday, when my class receive their Sats results in their reports, many will be overjoyed and feel that all their hard work has paid off. 

But I feel incredibly sad for the lower ability children who have worked their socks off this year who will be labelled as "not at the standard". How heartbreaking this will be to read for many of them.

I just hope they take the results with a pinch of salt and continue to believe that there is more to them than a test result. 

The writer wishes to remain anonymous

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