Year 6 pupils frustrated by Sats question stinker on trainers

15th May 2009 at 01:00
Washing up bowls and trainers didn't give pupils a lot to run with in uninspiring exams, teachers say

In primary schools around England this week, pupils were busy writing about the qualities of trainers and deciding what influenced their choice of washing up bowl.

The decision to ask 600,000 11-year-olds to spend 45 minutes writing a report about testing out a pair of size six trainers provoked disbelief and cynicism among some teachers - who saw it as a "boy-friendly" task. Last year only 61 per cent of boys reached the expected level 4 in writing, compared with 75 per cent of girls.

But others disagreed, saying that there was plenty of scope for creativity, although they admitted it fell short of the comedy potential of last year's topic of Pip Davenport, the Victorian fairground ride inventor, possibly the only person from a key stage 2 Sats paper to have a Facebook page.

Tony Witte, head of Rosebrook Primary in Mansfield, said: "We want our children to show off and be creative in their writing. How do you expect a child to write for around 45 minutes on a report about a new pair of trainers?

"As an adult I would struggle to write on such a topic at length. Some of my children were in tears and were at a loss to know what to write. Not because they cannot write reports, just that the topic was pretty dire."

Justin Kelly, deputy head of Tadworth Primary in Surrey, said: "Youngsters today may well like trainers, but to write about them for 45 minutes including all the devices necessary to achieve that ultimate level 5 - ellipsis, brackets and the like - seems a mission impossible."

But Sparkler4, on The TES forum, disagreed, saying: "It depended on how creative the children wanted to be. I saw that one of the children had written about the trainers having a boost button. Some also wrote about the fact that the inbuilt toe warmer was useful."

The writing test asked pupils to describe a busy place, and a spelling test incorporated into a story about the conservation areas of Tanzania.

The science test on Monday was the last one to be taken in its current form, following the recommendations of the Government's experts' group to scrap it pending the new primary curriculum.

The two papers were seen as tricky, with a question about why plastic is a good material for washing up bowls being discussed at length on The TES forums. While being waterproof was one scientific answer, the fact that plastic comes in different colours seemed to betray more business nous than the Sats markers may be looking for.

`I was not nervous. They are just normal tests'

This year for the first time, pupils at Kew Riverside Primary in London (pictured, left) sat down to take the key stage 2 tests.

The school was set up seven years ago, and has been admitting children a year group at a time. William Imber Coxhead and Charlie Williams, both 11, were among those first children when they started in reception in 2002. They are now among the 13 children in Year 6 who are looking forward to secondary school.

William said: "One memory I have is back when we were in giraffes (reception class) we used to have a piece of toast and then a lie down for five minutes.

"I will miss my friends and the teachers here. I've always been in the top class so it might be intimidating being in a school where there are pupils older than me."

Charlie said: "I was not at all nervous about the tests because they are just normal tests. It's been a joy to be here and I've really enjoyed it right through to Year 6."

Perhaps it was more nerve-wracking for Rachel Phillips, headteacher, who phoned from maternity leave to check all was well.

For old times' sake: the science Sat

A sample of this year's science Sats questions - the last year such questions will be administered to all pupils

Which of these things would do most damage to the lungs?

a) drinking alcohol

b) eating fatty food c) smoking cigarettes d) not exercising

(1 mark)

An experiment is carried out in which a piece of paper is folded and the time it takes to fall to the floor measured. The more times the piece of paper is folded the quicker it falls.

The children have some ideas to explain why the paper fell at different speeds. Only one idea is correct.

a) Carlton: The folded paper is heavier than the unfolded paper

b) Tasha: There is more friction on the folded paper

c) Rosie: Gravity is stronger on the folded paper

d) Luke: There is less air resistance on the folded paper

(1 mark)

Jo wants to find out if the number of complete turns of the key affects the distance a toy truck travels.

Tick two boxes to show which two things Jo must keep the same to make her test fair.

a) toy truck

b) person winding the key

c) tape measure

d) the surface the truck is on

(1 mark).

Related content:

Science Boot Camp


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