5th January 2024

Teachers and Pupils already feeling under pressure from Government SATs

  • 71% of year 6 teachers have already done practice papers under exam conditions
  • Only 15% have done no SATs preparation this school year
  • Almost half of teachers already feeling under pressure to deliver results
  • 43% say some pupils are already worried about failing

Primary schools may be busy with the hectic run-up to Christmas, but exam practice for government SATs has already begun in over two-thirds of year 6 classrooms, according to new research from Teacher Tapp* for campaign group More Than A Score.

The formal tests in English and maths will not take place until May, but 71% of year 6 teachers surveyed say they have done practice papers under exam conditions this term. Only 15% report that they have done no preparation so far in this school year.

The government measures whole-school performance on the outcomes of the tests, placing the spotlight on one year group, and the research highlights the consequences for educators. Almost half of year 6 teachers (46%) and 41% of heads say they are already feeling under pressure to deliver results.

The research also highlights concerns about pupil wellbeing: 43% of teachers report that some pupils are already worried about failing.

Although the majority of teachers and heads do not agree with using SATs to measure school performance, they must adapt their teaching to suit the government’s accountability measures. Over two-thirds (67%) of year 6 teachers confirm that they are delivering interventions to pupils who are behind their peers, specifically to support them through the tests.

Alison Ali of More Than A Score comments, “We know that the vast majority of schools do everything they can to make year 6 a stimulating learning experience for 10- and 11-year-olds. But heads, teachers and pupils are at the mercy of a system which places too much emphasis on one set of tests taken under exam conditions. Cramming, practice papers and pressure to pass are not the way to encourage a love of learning. It’s time to change the system.”

* Teacher Tapp is a daily survey app that asks over 9,000 teachers questions each day and reweights the results to make them representative. The sample size was 1,311 heads, year 6 teachers and SLT.


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