Pupils in year 6 spend a week in May sitting high-pressure tests in English and maths. These tests are taken under strict exam conditions. Many schools spend months beforehand focusing on these subjects meaning children can miss out on history, music, drama, art or a range of learning experiences, drastically narrowing the curriculum.
When the SATs results are announced in July, pupils are told if they have ‘reached the expected standard’. For the last few years over one-third of pupils have been told that they have failed to meet expectations.
The government uses the results of KS2 SATs to judge schools. Some secondary schools also use SATs results to set targets for GCSEs, sometimes in a range of subjects not just English and maths.
Many secondary schools don’t assess pupils solely by their year 6 SATs results. Instead, they use other ability tests to stream or set them. This is because they do not always trust the SATs results.
It’s absurd that schools are measured on the basis of a narrow set of tests taken by children under exam conditions. And branding children as failures just before they start secondary school risks turning them off learning altogether.
Headteachers and primary school leaders believe SATs and the current assessment system should be changed:
96% have concerns about the pressure of SATs on the well-being of pupils
98% think teachers are put under unnecessary pressure because of SATs
93% think SATs lead to a narrowed curriculum
76% believe that SAT results are an inaccurate way of predicting a pupil’s future performance at secondary school
71% agree that SATs should not be used to set pupils in secondary
93% believe that the government should review the current system of standardised assessment