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Testing 11-year-olds: the never-ending battle to get Sats started

As KS2 Sats week approaches, deputy head Michael Tidd offers secondary colleagues a glimpse into the struggle to simply get students ready to start the papers, let alone complete them

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As KS2 Sats week approaches, deputy head Michael Tidd offers secondary colleagues a glimpse into the struggle to simply get students ready to start the papers, let alone complete them

Right, let’s have everyone sitting in their places at the end of each table.

Jacob, please don’t clatter the chairs – just wait until Annabel has sat down before you try to pull yours out. Yes, I know there’s not much room, but it’s just for this week.

Now, remember everything we’ve talked about. You need to read the questions carefully, especially the bits in bold. Remember Adrian, if it says “tick two”, then I don’t want to see only one tick on the page… again!

The test lasts for 45 minutes – don’t worry Jamie, you’ll still get your full 15-minutes playtime – and there’ll be a timer on the board to help you.

Remember, if after 20 minutes you’re still on question 5, then you probably need to pick up the pace. Although, if you’re in Mrs Smith’s special group, then probably don’t worry about the questions after the staples in the middle of the booklet.

Now, as soon as I start giving out the papers, we must have absolute silence. Nobody must talk until the very end of the test.

What is it, Amy?

Fine… nobody must talk unless it’s to talk to me.

You can ask me to read things to you, but I can’t help you with what things mean, so there’s no point in even asking. If you’re not sure of an answer, just have a go. You might get lucky. Let’s hope so!

As soon as you’ve got your test paper, you must write your full name on the front in the boxes. 

No… look more carefully, Alex – there’s a separate box for each name.

Elvis?! I didn’t know that was your middle name, Nathaniel.

George… surely you must know how to spell your middle name by now? You’re 11 years old. No, there’s only one ‘a’ in David.

I’m not even going to ask who’s remembered to put capital letters on their names – surely that’s a given by now?

Remember, for the school name, there are two L’s in Valley, but only one in school.

Good grief, Matthew, I hope your handwriting is going to look better than that inside the test, otherwise the marker won’t be able to read a thing!

What’s the matter, Katie? Well of course you don’t have a mirror, Katie – this is the grammar test. No, you don’t need a protractor either; just your pen will do.

Aaron, why is that reading book on your table? Sorry? No, you won’t be reading quietly when you’ve finished: you’ll be checking your answers and checking them again. Let’s not forget the issues you had last time with circling instead of ticking – you don’t have time for reading!

Rebecca… what are you doing? If they’d wanted all of the letters shading in on the front cover, they’d have done that themselves. Save your ink, please.

Right… is everyone ready to begin? You’ll have 45 minutes. Remember to put your hand up if you would like to ask anything.

What is it, Katie?

The toilet? Now?!

Michael Tidd is deputy head of Edgewood Primary in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire. He writes weekly for TES and tweets at @MichaelT1979

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