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Year 2 SATs: what my heart and head are telling me…

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My tiny little bundle of joy is now a hulking great 6 year old (nearly 7) and is about to take his first government organised tests, known as SATs.
My heart says he is too little to be judged, labelled, become a statistic.
My head tells me that this could help him by allowing the teachers to identify gaps in his learning that need to be covered to help him to progress through junior school and beyond.

I admit that I am hardly reassured by the government’s stance on education. Putting more pressure on our overworked teachers to get results which are harder to achieve. Last year’s fiasco with the spelling SAT did little to improve my opinion of these tests, which may even be scrapped in the near future.
Of course, Matthew has already been assessed at the end of Year R, Anya has ongoing tracking through preschool and even Zach had a developmental questionnaire to check his progress at 12 months. So really, my heart is talking nonsense. Our kids are judged immediately after birth, we are always comparing them to others. The difference is that this time is seems official.
With my exam invigilator head on (read my advice to my kids!), I think kids need to grow in confidence with exams rather than scared. We didn’t have SATs when I was a child (my little sister did). Are the children I see not working in exams just fed up of the constant testing? Has it lost its value in their eyes?
But with my mum head on, I’m more concerned with whether my children have friends, if they are happy, polite human beings. Their scores in these tests won’t mean a lot to me but I can see their usefulness in showing areas that need to be targeted to encourage later achievement. I also take into consideration that children develop at different rates: Matthew wouldn’t even hold a pencil when he began school whereas Anya who starts in Septemebr does beautiful drawings and can write her name (and more!)
The school don’t make a big deal of the SATs and many children don’t realised they are being tested. The SATS in Key Stage 1 are marked within the school and are combined with teacher assessments in other subjects to give an overall snapshot of progress and attainment, giving a baseline for their continuing educational journey so in that sense they are a valuable tool.
I will be encouraging Matthew to try hard on any ‘quizzes’ he has coming up over the next month and will praise him whatever the results. But his achievements will never be as important to me as his happiness.

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47 comments

  1. Completely agree – happiness is so much more important than academic achievements at such a young age. I understand why the progress of children needs monitoring but I’m not sure that exams at this age are really necessary. I’m sure I didn’t have SATs until I was in my final year of primary, and then they were really not a big deal. I thin we should let kids be kids a little longer personally 🙂 #coolmumclub

  2. Oh my goodness that does sound SO young I didn’t even realise they did this at this age….I totally understand your emotional struggle on this….thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub lovely xoxo

  3. I wish they didn’t do official testing so young – I’m sure the teachers can make accurate assessments that would be enough for this age group. My brother did so badly in his yr2 SATs that he got a U (ungradeable), and yet by the time he took his yr 6 sats, he was above average. Children develop at different rates. My brother could have been written off, academically at age 7, and yet it just took him a bit longer to catch up with the rest of the class and eventually surpassed them. It just adds unnecesary pressure to kids (in my opinion) #sharingthebloglove

  4. I really struggle with the idea of SATS too, my eldest made himself sick with worry over them and yet got level 6’s across the board. I think there is so much pressure on children, and on schools too, and I feel sad that children are being made to sit exams at such a young age.

  5. Definitely agree. There is so much pressure on exams, when really they are just for statistics. I worry how I will cope with this when the time comes and my little ones have to go through exam stress.

  6. I feel so sorry for our kids these days – they are tested right up to the max. I feel even sorrier for my son who has started secondary – he’s going to be one of the kids where one big final exam will contribute to 100% of his GCSE result – no coursework! What if he has a really crappy day? There is too much pressure on kids these days I think. I’m just glad for your son the school isn’t making a big deal about the SATs and some kids don’t even know they are people tested. Surely that’s a good thing…

  7. I thought they had scrapped the Year 2 SATs now……..I certainly won’t worry about ours if they haven’t as the school don’t make a big deal of them. I think testing is good, gets them ready for the big wide world out there, after all, we are tested in one form or another throughout life

  8. In my opinion the whole system is flawed! I am a teacher but no longer in the U.K. I have written about this in detail but it goes against everything I believe in. Children are being judged and labelled at too early an age.

  9. Wow I didn’t realise the start as young as that! I don’t think it necessary to have exams that young. Their learning levels should be monitored throughout the year from their work not an exam. I remember slightly cheating in my year 6 SATS and didn’t really care about GCSE’s – whereas now there seems to be so much pressure to do well.

  10. My husband was on BBC Radio Wales yesterday talking about this and I couldn’t agree more. I hate that kids this young are being tested. I think it’s just a way of measuring the schools performance, to make sure they’re hitting target and nothing to do with the kids. They’re too young. Thanks for linking up to #ThatFridayLinky

  11. I really struggle with the amount that children are tested these days. My year was the first to go through ‘trial’ SATS in Year 6, and I’m shocked at how they’ve been brought in throughout the school years ever since. It’s not a testing system that benefits the children, simply a way for the government to score and rank schools. I think the teachers are more than capable of assessing progress, and just like you, I’m far more concerned that my children grow up happy and kind human beings. Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  12. I am completely with you – I am much more concerned about their emotional well being, and whether they have friends! Of course these tests have their place (sometimes!), but I just wish they weren’t tested so often xx

  13. Spot on!! Happy kids is what matters the most. Plus I feel exams really do not reflect academic ability. Someone might be able to cram well but haven’t paid attention the whole rest of term, but have good short term memory so ace the exam – talking of myself here! My long term memory is shocking now so although I got all A* – ask me a question now and I wouldn’t be able to tell you the answer. I think it should be marked on how well they have done throughout the whole term

  14. Nige

    These tests are totally out of control putting pressure on everybody and it’s really not necessary great post Thanks for linking to the #THAT FRIDAY LINKY come back next week please

  15. I like your stance. It’s not necessary to put pressure on kids with ranking in standardized testing at such a young age. it’s more like practice on test-taking…and frankly, there are tricks to taking those tests that he will learn much later in the future. #globalblogging

  16. I totally agree with every word you’ve said! I don’t understand why they put so much pressure on young children to do well in these exams. Why not just let them enjoy being kids? Let them play, grow and learn at their own pace? I wanted to give Oscar a home education, and to be honest I wish I had now as I can’t ever see this exam situation ever getting any better 🙁

    Louise x

    #SundayBest

  17. Just thinking about these makes my blood run a little cold. I hate the pressure on the little ones and the fact that these tests take away class and teacher time from really interesting topics or learning important life skills. I put a lot of pressure on myself at school to be perfect and it took a toll on my mental health as a teen. My attitude as a parent is to emphasise the importance of listening to the teacher, trying your best, embracing opportunities to learn new skills and being a good friend. I’m not so fussed on test / exam results. #SharingTheBlogLove

  18. I think they are ridiculous. My nephew is currently doing the year 6 ones and ive never seen a ten year old so stressed and upset all the time. no bloody wonder kids hate school these days!
    Thanks for linking to #ablogginggoodtime and don’t forget to join us this Thurs.

  19. I think these tests are more about the teachers and the schools than they are about the individual pupil. It’s just a government way to put a measurement in. But it massively affects the children and it’s not right. It’s 100% about their happiness, that is all any parent can hope for when they send their little one to school. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  20. Totally agree with your last point, their results are not as important as their happiness. I had SATs when I was in high school and all I remember is being completely stressed out about it and when I got my results, which were above average, I still didn’t feel like I was good enough. I don’t know if it’s the system or all of the pressure but I don’t think it’s the right way to test someone’s progress or intelligence. Thanks for sharing with #StayClassyMama!

  21. I’ve yet to go through it with both my girls but know how nervous children get with tests. Perhaps if they are constantly tested they wont be so worried when it comes to the most important ones. #ThatFridayLinky

  22. I hear lots of people not being too happy with SATS – I can see both sides as you can but ultimately at that age, it does seem a bit mad! I think friends and happiness is so much more important! Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst

  23. I think it can be really hard. Mine didn’t do SATS as they weren’t un the same sort of format as any of his other learning and the school thought it would just stress him out not understanding why (he’s on the autistic spectrum). It’s a shame as we think he could do most things on the test. Thanks for your thoughts #bestandworst

  24. I don’t think the outcome of such tests at such a young age is all that important but I think it could be treated as good practice for the future. I think you’re on the right track by not putting too much preassure on your child though. Stress isn’t helpful. #SundayBest

  25. Far too young in my opinion. Why can’t kids just be kids? We had SATs at around 10 I think, to see how we would fair at secondary school. It was soon enough then and I think it’s soon enough now. #bestandworst

  26. I can see both the pro’s and con’s here. Both my sons 6 & 7 have had to do this. I do personally feel though, that it is a little too young. I would prefer to see them climbing trees, learning empathy and social skills. #globalblogging

  27. I understand…my son has autism & will be going into pre-k next year. HE will be tested as well! While I understand that they are trying to measure progress I don’t get how they can give him the same test as a “typical” 5 year old…what scares me even more is that the teachers are rewarded/paid (whatever) by how their students do on these tests, so how can I expect his instructor to focus on his goals when she is going to be teaching for the test?
    It’s a hot mess!!!
    #globalblogging

  28. I’ve read a lot about SATS and exams and I have to say it does concern me the amount of pressure our young children are put under. I do appreciate the need for exams to a certain degree but worry about the pressure that often is felt. Great post. Thanks for sharing with #GlobalBlogging

  29. Pingback: Global Blogging #26 - One Messy Mama

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