SATs are failing our children

At the age of 10 and 11, children should be enjoying a wide and stimulating curriculum. They should be preparing to take their next steps towards secondary school. Instead, year 6 pupils spend months cramming for Key Stage 2 SATs.  And the pressure on children and teachers will only intensify in the 2020/21 school year thanks to the government’s decision to press ahead with SATs regardless of the disruption caused by Covid-19.

Even without the added pressure of teaching in these uncertain times, teachers have very little time to deliver interesting, varied lessons, as they have to ‘teach to the test’, which means largely focusing on English and maths. Pupils and parents also feel the stress that comes with fear of the stigma of failure – children believe that SATs represent a judgement of their abilities. Worse, more than a third of children taking SATs in the last few years had to be told they had failed just as they were about to start secondary school.

What purpose do these tests serve, anyway? Absolutely none, other than to judge schools against each other. Children become data points and their education is sacrificed to a system obsessed with league tables. It may have been designed to measure schools’ progress, but it’s not working out that way. With such a narrow curriculum, SATs can’t paint a true picture of all that a school has to offer.

According to research from YouGov, the majority of parents disagree with the government’s policy of using SATs and other formal tests to judge primary schools.

  • Only 16% believe it is fair to use SATs and other formal tests to measure a school.
  • 81% feel that their children’s happiness is more important than formal test results.
  • Only one in four consider SATs results when choosing a primary school – it ranks 8th in a list of factors, and league tables are ranked 10th.
  • 73% think that standardised tests put too much pressure on their children.

Research by YouGov in July 2020 measured parents’ attitudes following the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic:

  • 75% of parents believe taking SATs and other government tests in the new school year will add to their children’s stress.
  • Only 8% think that preparing for government tests this coming year is important.
  • SATs are a low concern for parents: only 1 in 10 are concerned about their children missing these and other formal tests this year.

And children feel the same way:

  • Only 17% of those surveyed enjoy practising for tests.
  • 40% of children are already worried about taking SATs in the coming school year.
  • 68% like to work on lots of different subjects.
  • 48% enjoy working on large group projects.
  • 44% like to work one-to-one with their teacher.

This snapshot shows why More Than A Score is campaigning for the government to scrap SATs, along with all formal primary school tests, in the 2020/21 school year. In the interests of our children’s wellbeing, mental health, and their broader education, join our #DropSATs2021 campaign and demand that this over-testing regime is changed urgently.

BIG SATs SIT-IN

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English children are amongst the most tested in the world. If you want to see an end to high-stakes SATs tests, join our campaign.

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Try a sample SATs paper

Want to see for yourself the type of questions year 6 pupils will face? Then have a go at our maths and English papers. The questions have been taken from the 2018 Key Stage 2 SATs tests. Find out how you cope under the same pressurised exam conditions as our 10- or 11-year-olds.

Each test takes 10 minutes. Once you’ve read the instructions, click the timer and begin...

Start the maths test

Start the English test

General

To begin the test, click on the timer to start your two minute countdown.

Good luck!

Times tables test

You must not use a calculator to answer any questions in this test.

Type your answer in the box for each question.

Marks

In this test each question is worth 1 mark each. The total number of marks available is 25. You have 6 seconds for each question.

To begin the test, click on the timer to start your first 6 second countdown.

Maths paper

You must not use a calculator to answer any questions in this test.

Type your answer in the box for each question. If the answer is a fraction, it can be typed using the / key
e.g. 1/2 = ½

Marks

In this test, long division and long multiplication questions are worth 2 marks each. You will be awarded 2 marks for a correct answer. All other questions are worth 1 mark each. The total number of marks available is 14.

To begin the test, click on the timer to start your 10 minute countdown.

English paper

You will be awarded one mark for each correct question. The total number of marks available is 10.

To begin the test, click on the timer to start your 10 minute countdown.


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