Friday, 5 February 2016

Are you worried about SATs?

For anyone who doesn’t know, SATs are compulsory school tests for Year 6 children (10/11 year-olds).

To give them their full title, they are actually ‘End of Key Stage Tests and Assessments’, but as EOKSTAAs was a hard sell for any government, even in piss taking mode, they are sticking with Standard Assessment Tests, or SATs.

They are designed to measure whether a child is achieving national standards of education, as they end a key stage of schooling, where most children in England head to high school next year.

In reality, they are a mechanism for pitting schools against one another, and for governments to manipulate data to provide excellent sound bites in parliament and in press briefings.

They are of zero benefit to a child

I say, or type, zero, but actually I guess the main benefit is for a child to experience a formal test environment.   Which of course, is of massive benefit, because in adult life I’ve lost count of the times I’ve found myself in a test environment, where my future life quality hinges on if I score badly.

I sat through a recent parents meeting about SATs where all I learnt was that:

a) These new SATs have been designed to give the current government five straight years of guaranteed improving statistics
b) Parents ask the most pointless, meeting prolonging, questions
c) Loud sighs are still socially unacceptable
d) I’d lost a hour of my life I wouldn’t get back
e) I’m perhaps more bitter and angry that I thought

Of course I’m interested in my child’s schooling, and his educational development.
But I can keep a track of that by doing his homework with him, listening to him, and generally paying attention.  That sort of thang.

My little treasure, like many Year 6 children no doubt, has started to worry about his SAT tests.

I’m doing all I can to limit that concern, and telling him they shouldn’t concern him.  They count for nothing, and all he can do is answer the questions put in front of him.

“What if I get shouted at for doing badly?” 

I’m cut from a different cloth to Max, as I’ve never cared about shouting.

Even as a child, I was never really in trouble, but that certainly wasn’t because I feared a ‘telling off’ because I’d worked out that a telling off actually amounts to absolutely nothing.

They are just words delivered at a higher volume.

If a teacher shouts, unless its to get a quick response to a child safety issue, it’s generally a sign they’ve lost control and frustration has boiled over.  Let’s not forget teachers probably feel more pressure for SATs results than anyone.

I’ve been treading the delicate line of getting my son to adopt the same approach, without losing respect for his teachers, or missing the point completely, and deliberately winding up school staff and wasting his time there.

I don’t want him thinking that as SATs don’t really matter he shouldn’t try his best, as that’s not my point at all.

Any child whom can blank out pressure, analyse and interpret a question correctly, WILL do well as an adult, regardless of what test score they get, or whether their learning is secure, emerging, developing, exceeding or obliterating expectation.

SATs are a chance to practise that skill.

So should you worry about SATs?


Read my school reports, I never did enough, or supposedly paid any attention.

Read my exam paper scores, and I had eleven C+ GCSEs, three A Levels, a Higher National Certificate in Business, a Professional Diploma in Logistics and to top it all, this bad boy:

They knew nothing.

Beat the system before the system beats you dudes.