I am delighted to be able to write the first blog for the ‘new’ New Marske Primary School website. Over time, this area will provide a fantastic opportunity for staff and pupils to communicate with our school community on a variety of topics. As we enter the first week in May, my topic for the first blog is SATs.
Traditionally in primary schools, May is the month when pupils in year 2 and year 6 take part in the ‘end of key stage’ assessments. These ‘Standard Assessment Tests’ (SATs) are used to provide teachers with information about how pupils are working compared to pupils of a similar age. These tests are also used to hold schools to account for the performance of their pupils.
If you have been watching the news over recent months you will know that this year, the SATs tests are causing a bit of a stir. This is mainly because pupils in year 2 and year 6 will be tested against the national curriculum 2014. The expectations in this curriculum are much more challenging than the previous curriculum, with the new tests reflecting this challenge. This, coupled with new methods of assessment across the whole school and some last minutes changes to assessment processes from the Department for Education, has created a sense of uncertainty in primary schools.
That said however, I feel that our pupils are well prepared for these tests. Our pupils in year 2 and year 6 have worked so hard over the year to meet this new expectation. We have excellent teachers in these year groups who have taught your children well and will leave them in an excellent position when they are tested.
It is important to note that the SATs in year 2 and year 6 are implemented in totally different ways. In year 2, pupils might not even know that they have taken a test. Within this year group, a teacher’s assessment of where a pupil is with their learning is the main method of assessment. Tests, when used, are used to support teacher judgements. These tests are often administered in small groups, with limited restrictions on time. A pupil can work really well through out the year and have a poor test result. This might not affect their overall grade, as the teacher has a range of evidence to suggest that they are working well. This can also work the other way; a pupil can find certain concepts really hard during the year and have a fantastic test. The teacher will have to make a judgement about the pupils understanding of the area, rather than just abiding by the test result.
So in year 2 there are no set dates for tests. The tests have to take place between the 3rd of May and the 30th May. Our year 2 team expect to use the tests towards the end of the month. For information about the year 2 tests, follow this link to a short film on the topic.
In year 6 the tests are much more formal. Tests take place on certain days:
o Monday 9th May – Reading
o Tuesday 10th May Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar – paper 1 (short answer) and paper 2 (spelling)
o Wednesday 11th May Maths paper 1 (arithmetic) and paper 2 (reasoning)
o Thursday 12th May: Maths Paper 3 (reasoning)
The tests generally take place in the hall, with small numbers of pupils working in smaller rooms to avoid any anxiety. These tests are taken under test conditions and are restricted by time. For information about the year 6 tests follow this link to a short film on the topic.
In year 6, teacher assessment is still used, but the test score is important as this score is used as a judgement of where pupils are with their learning. A pupil can have a poor test result, contrasting their performance over the year, and that result will be used as evidence about their overall performance within primary school.
This time of year is particularly important for our year 2 and year 6 pupils. Regular attendance at school, engagement with homework and the best personal preparation: a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast, will all help them as they take part in a the activities that year 2 and year 6 pupils have to take part in.
As a school we want our pupils to do the best they can so that they are ready for their next stage of learning. For children to do well we know that this cannot happen with some intensive testing in year 2 and year 6, it must be through good quality teaching, learning and assessment in all year groups. Rather than jumping a tall fence in one go, it’s better to have smaller steps to take you there and this is what all of our year groups do.
For more information about the end of key stage tests, please follow the link to this short film from the Department for Education.