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Debate: Should SATs be scrapped?

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SATs – Stress Activating Time Snatchers, or Sensible Academic Tests of Success? Five of our contributors have their say

Huw Thomas — Headteacher

Of course, if by SATs you mean our current national tests reported on in league tables, then it’s obvious that we should scrap those monstrosities in a big bonfire, and dance around the heaps of burning papers. They are responsible for the reduction of children’s learning, deadening of imagination, corrosion of primary science and the constriction of Year 6.

If, by SATs, you mean a standardised means of keeping a tally on consistent standards, then of course, we shouldn’t scrap them. We should introduce them. The drive to standardise assessment has meant an overall rise in learning, with schools recognising that it’s our job to turn out literate and numerate children.

The problem is that the current tests aren’t SATs. They aren’t actually about assessment. If they were, we wouldn’t boost and cram. We would just assess. By placing so much focus and pressure on that one hideous punishment we call SATs week and then parading schools through the press on the basis of those results, making them the obsession of inspectors, our current system doesn’t assay the abilities of our children.

SATs are good. However, we should get rid of the current bulls**t imitations and introduce some genuine means of assessment.

Sue Cowley — Education writer

My instinctive reaction to this question is ‘Of course’! The amount of testing we inflict on children has the potential to do many kinds of damage. There’s the stress of repeated testing; the loss of self-esteem for less able children who feel they have ‘failed’, and the unnecessary pressure on staff, with all the time and workload implications involved.

Even if teachers avoid the temptation to ‘teach to the test’, they still have to waste time that could more helpfully be spent on learning. It’s questionable whether SATs have any educational value – as the saying goes ‘You don’t fatten a pig by weighing it.’

The amount of testing we inflict on children has the potential to do many kinds of damage (Sue Cowley)

But is this a knee-jerk reaction? Are there any good reasons to hang on to SATs? There is one thing that really annoys me about the officials who run education; something that makes teachers’ lives far more difficult than they have to be. And that’s the constant meddling – the constant changes that are ‘done to’ teachers. The minute we get one new initiative under our belts, another one comes along and we have to change direction yet again.

If SATs were scrapped, this would mean yet another change. So perhaps there’s something to be said for just leaving things alone.

Rosie Warden — Year 4 teacher

SATs – Stress Activating Time Snatchers, or Sensible Academic Tests of Success? Having taught Year 6, my feelings lie strongly with the former. Clearly, it is helpful to have a benchmark to use as a measure of progress, and to compare children during the transition process between Key Stages, but what is wrong with using teachers’ professional assessment against National Curriculum levels?

The Government preaches creativity through ‘Excellence and enjoyment’, but then serves children up with a platter of tedious questions in a hostile environment, which is alien to the multi-sensory group work they are used to. I was told to spend the spring and summer terms going through past papers with children as practice for the tests, and found that they ended up underperforming through boredom.

The other problem is that the scores are used to ‘rank’ schools, though the data does not take sufficient account of value added. Yes, you are able to exempt SEN or EAL children from the tests, but the overall percentages are still calculated on the number of children in the year group. I think most teachers would say SATs are hardly a fair judgement of the hard work that goes on.

Janine Wynne — Year 6 teacher

Although SATs can be stressful and exhausting, I believe that there are some benefits to the current system, both for teachers and children.

The importance of SATs gives a sense of urgency to Year 6, which helps us to focus on raising achievement. Many teachers provide booster and revision sessions to ensure that the majority of children are able to use and apply the skills and knowledge they have learned. Schools often provide additional resources to support teachers during this time.

Some children benefit from the experience of preparing for and sitting SATs. Taking the tests makes them feel important and this can help them to become more mature and responsible. They feel proud of their achievements as they progress towards their target levels.

John Coe — Information Officer for the National Association for Primary Education

Of course we should. Scrap them now said the Heads, the teachers and their assistants, the governors and the parents when they gave evidence to parliament. Only the DCSF (now the DfE) clung stubbornly to the political view that SATs should remain.

Assessing children’s progress? No they don’t, not in any real sense. The tests are a snapshot of performance in a limited range of skills. Children’s learning is far more complex; teachers and parents are much better equipped to assess progress.

The tests are a snapshot of performance in a limited range of skills (John Coe)

Assessing the work of schools? No, the tests are largely a measure of the families served by the school and how well the children have been coached in exam techniques. Including a value added element has failed to improve matters. Schools in disadvantaged communities are still treated unfairly.

Assessing national standards? No, up to a third of the test papers are wrongly marked and so entirely wrong conclusions are too often drawn by government and the media based on the move of as little as one percentage point in the levels recorded nationally.

The SATs are not fit for the important purposes for which they were introduced. Even worse, they are damaging the quality of our children’s education. Scrap them now!

Reviews

  1. Yasmin
    on 22 March 2017

    injustice (noun) : SATs -READ-

    I have just completely finished working so hard you wont believe it (unless you have done the second round of Henrietta Barnett and done it well enough to be given a place), and I thought that I might just get a little bit of a break, but NO?! I have to do more TESTS! I know that my SATs are only in a few months time, and there is no stopping that, but, lets save our future 10 and 11 year olds from this year of stress, stress and more STRESS!!!!

    We should abolish SATs is that they are pointless. After you leave Year 6, you will never hear of them again (except for in something like this). This is because, even though you may have been told otherwise, SATs do not benefit you what-so-ever. If you get good results, your school will show them off to attract people to come to it. And, no, they don’t use it for (most) secondary schools, as even those schools who don’t have entrance exams do their own tests in the first term of Year 7. And it may have been okay to have an extra week of test with at least two per day(2016, 2015 and probably 2017) SATs, if it wasn’t for how harsh and stressful these tests are for everyone.

    We should abolish SATs because of the massive amount of curriculum time lost! 97% of teachers surveyed by National Union of Teachers believe that preparation for SATs has had a negative impact on children’s access to a broad and balanced curriculum. Also, most people don’t have time for after school clubs to cover these subjects, because they are so busy with their loads of SATs homework. At our school, since the Christmas holidays we have not been doing art, drama, DT or ICT just so we can fit it extra SATs boosters. Roughly a half of our class misses out on music for extra SATs boosters as well, not to mention the fact that about a third of our class have to be in the school building, sitting at their desks, ready to start yet another SAT booster at 08:25 in the morning when they are used to having to do this at 5 minutes to 9! Also, for the last couple of hours of the school day, every day, we only have SATs boosters! Is this fair on the pupils who don’t get to learn about what they actually want to learn about? Those who will be embarrassed in secondary if they don’t know how to debug a simple code, paint a portrait, or act something out without experiencing it themselves? 90% of children’s SATs results don’t reflect their true ability, so, frankly, SATs and SATs prep are just a waste of time!

    If I have not made myself clear enough, let me clarify GET RID OF SATS AND SAVE US!!!!!!!!!!

    If you actually read to the bottom then you are awesome (unless you want to keep SATs)

    Now be good little boys and girls and get rid of SATs, thanks.

  2. Liv ( yr 6 )
    on 14 March 2017

    Ban SATS !!

    I am currently practicing for SATS and I hate it !! They don’t help at all !! Ban sats ban sats. STOP SATS😡😡

    1out of 5
  3. James
    on 20 May 2016

    Sats should be banned

    Sats should be banned because they put KS1 and KS2 kids under pressure and get them worried

  4. noah atwood
    on 16 May 2016

    keep them

    because we had to do them so they should have to do them

    by wade roman atwood britt smith kane atwood zeus atwood noah atwood

  5. Roman Atwood
    on 16 May 2016

    keep them

    because people have done them in the past so why shouldn’t other people have to do them its not fair !!!!!!!

  6. kieran
    on 16 May 2016

    no

    they help children

    5out of 5
  7. bob marley
    on 16 May 2016

    SATs shouldnt be scrapped

    because we had to do them so why shouldnt other people not do them if we did and either way their just tests and help us get through high school :)

  8. lime
    on 16 May 2016

    screw SATS!

    i think sats should be banned because their only use is to determine which set you are in

  9. Alisha
    on 13 May 2016

    Sats should be banned

    It is just stressful for children

    5out of 5
  10. asiya
    on 7 March 2014

    no

    no because they are educational for childern

  11. raj
    on 25 February 2014

    unhapy girl

    Despite the fact that sats are easy, they are total time wasters. STOP THE SATS!!!!!!!!!!!

    5out of 5
  12. Mia ( year 6 )
    on 10 May 2013

    no SATs ? ( please read )

    General

    Don’t just say scrap SATs straight away ! Our school is doing SATs in 2 days I’m not bothered at the moment because I’m doing ok . ( trying not to boast ! :-o ) SATs can be fun I know it sounds stupid but its true ! Here are the 2 points of view you could choose : ( clearly you have already made up your mind ! )

    * Against

    SATs are awful they distract children from the real point of life, friendships ! Its not good for kids who get very frightened of tests. It lowers self-esteems of children who decide they have ‘failed’ . Anyway the year 5 SATs are the ones that count .The only people it benefits are the school and all the teachers ! Most importantly it puts ridiculous pressure on people !

    For

    SATs aren’t actually that bad, they decide in some schools for a bit of time what levels and groups you get into .Therefore they are needed .SATs can be helpful because you can learn your strengths and weaknesses, then work on them .

    Things you should to know

    To get a level 4 you need to get over 20 out of 100 marks .

    To get a level 5 you need to get over 77 out of 100 marks .

    Most schools base things on the year 5 SATs .

    After the SATs most schools celebrate by chilling out .

    Some schools will do a science test to see if you can still do well on that test too .

    All things in the classroom will be covered so you can’t cheat on the day .

    Sleep matters ! 10-11 year olds should get 9-11 hours sleep .

    Revision matters ! lots of revision isn’t good but a bit is great .

    thank you for reading and good luck ! :-)

  13. harrison
    on 26 April 2013

    no

    sats should be banned

  14. nelly123
    on 24 April 2013

    Stupid SATs!

    I think SATs are too much pressure on the children. It is unreasonable and un-needed. They have worries going to secondary school- that’s enough. SCRAP SATs. STOP PRESSURE!

  15. Christina
    on 8 June 2011

    stupid or super sats

    sats should be scrapped coz it so much stress though its not dat bad

    it alright

  16. Pelly
    on 6 June 2011

    sats

    yes sats is a piece of waste ugggh

    1out of 5
  17. ellie year 6
    on 5 May 2011

    yes

    i think they need to go , i have got sats next week but my teacher is so AMAZING i probably dont feel as much stress as most people . Sats alone are stress by themselves and most kids have been prcticing since september , just because they want the school to do well . All the time we have had off , i have gone down hill and i have got like 3 days to get it back to level 5 and i dont like maths at all , my teacher just tells me to try my best , everyone dose so well . its so so stressful .

    4out of 5
  18. Ella - year 6 student
    on 17 January 2011

    yes

    yes sats should be scrapped because obviously children such as ourselves are already up to standards with assment and do not need to take this horrible pressuring test at the end of the year

  19. Anne Johnson
    on 6 April 2010

    Should SATs be scrapped?

    We presently do not have any other system of assessing what our children can do other than the SAT system.

    The SAT system has been very useful in giving an unbiased assessment of what children can do because the children’s work is marked independently.

    These days Teacher Assessments cannot be trusted as most of them are biased and only reflect the Teacher’s pre-concieved ideas about children. If a child has made improvements to their learning, teachers are often unwilling to accept this in their assessments.

    Moreover, schools make a lot of money by placing children on the Special Needs register. They are often unwilling to recognise any improvements made by such children so they can keep the money coming in.

    PLEASE DO NOT SCRAP THE SATS! SCHOOLS AND TEACHERS NEED TO BE KEPT ON THEIR TOES!

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