I am feeling rather old tonight, as I write this, and I remember doing my own exams when I was the age that my now Tween is. I remember being under a lot of pressure, because I did what was called “the Common Entrance” and in order to get into the school we wanted me to go to, I needed to pass and get good marks. It’s a lot of stress for kids our age.
My tween, this coming week, sits her SATs tests. At school. Basically, the whole of her last year at Primary School has been geared towards this four days of testing, that she and her peers in her class and children across the country, will do this week. It’s still a lot of pressure. It actually means very little for the children themselves. Our secondary school is really not bothered by her results. and have said they will form their own opinions of her academic abilities, and where she is at.
SATs are basically, in my opinion simply something the school uses to prove they are teaching well. There is no reward for the children for the results they get, they are not doing these tests in order to get into a school they need to prove they can get into, and there is no gain in these tests. The schools and therefore the children are under pressure to do well, for no reason.
The government says:
“If you have a child in year 6, at the end of key stage 2, they will take national
curriculum tests in English reading, English grammar, punctuation and spelling
The tests help measure the progress pupils have made and identify if they need
additional support in a certain area. The tests are also used to assess schools’
performance and to produce national performance data.”
This, frankly, is a load of twaddle. I don’t think making children practice and practice, learn how to do a test paper, and then have to do tests under pressure, is a good way of finding out where a child is at, and what areas they need help in. If by the end of year 6 the class teacher and staff at school can’t tell me where my child’s strengths and weaknesses lie, without the pressure of tests, and results, then we really aren’t working within a very good system.
The children have been doing practice papers, and working through the areas they will be tested on, and it seems like all we have done for the past two months is homework based around these tests. The work they are expecting the children to be able to achieve is harder than I think a child of this age (11) should have to, and some of the practice questions I have seen are worded very badly and in ways that really, I think are not fair on a child to have to answer.
I think SATs are a total waste of time. I remember the stress of having to prove myself at age 11, and the pressure, and I don’t think we should be doing this to our children. I think schools should be able to do their own internal assessments of where children are at, and that the government should be able to trust teachers to work with our kids to the levels each of them can reach, not some ridiculous set of targets that someone in an office has set. Our children will have enough pressure to face.
But I haven’t told my tween this. I won’t. She has worked REALLY hard and has made a lot of effort and has really improved in areas that were not her strong point. She and I have worked through math questions (and I have had to stretch my tired brain back to my own days at school, a long while ago) and she has learned a lot.
She is ready. She is very nervous, although we have stayed very calm and reassuring at home with her about it, telling her she needs to just do her best, and that we are proud of how hard she has worked. She will do fine, her teachers have said so. We are getting her early nights, and making sure she has good breakfasts and that any stress is kept to a minimum this week. We are behind her, and she knows that.
There are children who will struggle this week and for whom, these ridiculous tests that really don’t show much other than that children are hitting or missing a set of standards set by a ridiculous curriculum and national framework that has made school much harder and more stressful than it needs to be, for our children.
My tween has worked hard for this, we are supporting her, even if we think privately these tests are a total waste of time. We don’t really have much choice, although legally children don’t actually have to do the tests, she wants to do them and finish primary school well. We are backing her on that. We may not agree with these tests, but we are supporting her this week as she does them.
If your child is doing SATs in Key Stage 2 this week, we send them all the luck in the world, and we hope it’s not too stressful a week for them, and you!
We would love to hear your thoughts on SATs and if you think they are a good or bad idea? How are you and your tweens coping this week?