We asked Claire Bagnall, our educational advisor to share her thoughts on SATs. Take a moment to read her valuable insights as she shares her tips as an educator and a parent; how you can best support your child with SATs.
SATs are an assessment that is made of your child’s ability in the core curriculum subjects at the end of Key Stages 1 and 2. Children in Year 6 take the KS2 SATs in May and the results obtained can be used in a number of ways, including measuring a child’s progress from their starting points, making judgments about a school and by secondary schools to gain an overview of a child’s level in a particular subject. Of course, no one test can fully reflect a child’s range of skills, and factors on the day such as anxiety can cause them to under-perform. Secondary schools understand this, and quickly make their own assessments so that they can ensure the child is in a class which is appropriate for their ability. However, there are some simple things as parents and carers that we can do to improve the likelihood that our child’s result will be the most accurate reflection of their full potential that it can be: one that is truly representative of all the hard work they have put in throughout their time in primary school.
Firstly, don’t wait until your child is in Year 6 to start identifying any gaps in their learning. The Bear Can Read offers both SATs maths prep boxes and English prep boxes for children in Years 4, 5 and 6. Each box arrives with all the materials you need for a very useful sense check of your child’s learning in each key year and in the core subjects. They are also the perfect way of supporting your child’s practice at home. The handy progress charts enable you to celebrate your child’s achievements as you go whilst reminding you of what still needs more practice. The workbooks are purposefully presented in exam-style so, by the time of the real SATs, your child will be very used to the styles of question and layout they are likely to be presented with on the day.
Another means of supporting your child is by tackling any anxiety. As a result of the way the brain is configured, anxious thoughts and the impact of these on the body do tend to make it much harder to fully engage what is often known as the ‘thinking brain’; the part that is needed to perform well on a test. Therefore, doing all that you can to ease a child’s anxieties about their forthcoming SATs will help them to focus fully on the task in hand and perform at their best. One of the easiest ways of doing this is simply to offer them practice, as outlined above, so that going into the test, they feel confident of their own knowledge and ability, and are less likely to be thrown by tasks they feel unable to complete. Another strategy is to talk to them about what it will be like (sitting at a table on their own, possibly in the hall, done in silence etc), so that they know what to expect on the day.
Closer to the time, practice tests and past papers can be helpful. After your child has attempted the paper, use the marking scheme to find out which areas your child performed less well on. Then revisit workbooks to provide your child with extra practice focused on this area.
Finally, if your child has additional needs, talk to the school about whether there are any adjustments that could be made (such as providing a scribe, undertaking the test in a small ‘comfort group’, rest breaks etc) to ensure that your child is given the best chance possible of showing their capabilities. Your child’s school will be able to advise what adjustments will be appropriate and allowable based on your child’s particular needs.
Order a SATs preparation box for children in Year 4, Year 5 or Year 6 here.