Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Are you stressed about SATs?

SATs, SATs, everyone's talking about SATs this week.  Are they easy or are they too hard?  Why should kids do them?  How stressed everyone is.

Just a spot of revision...

Now, I consider myself a bit of a veteran in this area.  My third child is this week going through the sheer joy that is Year 6 SATs week.  And that's all it is.  Just one week. A week of tests.  After which?  Everything goes back to normal.  Like it never happened.

And we all wonder what the fuss was about in the first place.

But this week everyone is stressed apparently.

(Why on earth are the kids stressed?  Who is stressing them out?  Hmm?)

I have to say, that I am yet to see the stress that others seem to.  I have told my son to do his best, and that if his older siblings can manage it then he will be fine too.  The word stress has not entered my vocabulary, or his, once.

Is he stressed?  No.  At the moment he is upstairs playing Minecraft on his XBox.

He told me yesterday that one teacher said that it would be a good idea to practice every spelling he knows in preparation for today's test.  I have told him that this is both impossible and unnecessary.  

(I tend to think that if he doesn't know it now then he hasn't been taught it and so the test results will be an accurate reflection on his school, which is kind of the point of the SATs isn't it?)

The same teacher has also given the children all a sheet of relaxation techniques - don't even get me started on this...

Has he done some revision?  Yes, a little bit over Easter, along with doing normal kid stuff, and probably playing too much XBox.  We haven't pushed it.

I can see why as a first time parent experiencing SATs, you might be anxious for your child.  Believe me, I have been there, with a child desperate to do his best and me willing him on from the sidelines for the better part of a term in preparation for them.  And the outcome?  The results were withheld while the school's testing area was investigated for not being satisfactory.  The results finally came in the second term of Year 7, by which time he was more than half way through his first year of high school, and the SATs had long since been forgotten.

They meant nothing to anyone.  An anticlimax to say the least.

I'm not for one minute saying that if you are a parent going through this for the first time, that you should simply chill the f*ck out (although maybe I am, I'm not really sure until I get to the end of writing this). I just think that it's a bad idea to place so much emphasis on one week of tests.

I can't see a reason why anyone would need to.

Which is why in this family we're carrying on as normal this week.  The boy will take his tests.  We'll ask him how he got on, tell him "well done" and move on.  I have to confess that until I caught a sniff of this in the media, I had almost forgotten that this was the week.  (You could say that it's because he's my third child but I prefer to think we've got this whole SATs thing under control, ha!)

We won't even mention the word stress.

And the results.  Will.  Not.  Define.  Him.

So yes, I do think we all need to start worrying less about testing in schools.  And what if we were to stop referring to them as stressful?  Maybe the kids wouldn't worry so much.  

Just a thought.


  1. You talk so much sense! I'll admit, my middle one was stressed last year. I don't know why - it didn't come from home - but he was fine after the first day. We didn't do any revision because they're just to test the school, aren't they? The school offered breakfast, but he wouldn't take it as he just wanted a normal week. It'll be our third time next year and we'll just get on with it. We certainly won't worry about or talk about stress!

    1. Ahh, thank you (you know I'm not normally known for my sensibility...). My son was apprehensive yesterday, but felt better after he'd done the test. I'm absolutely convinced that handing out leaflets about relaxation techniques wasn't something our school used to do but it appears that this year everyone has gone a bit bonkers! I prefer the way that high school manage their tests when they put students into subject sets - you almost wouldn't know they had measured the kids at all. Much better.

  2. Philippa we never stressed over SAT's, my hub is a counsellor in a children's hospital and he says too much pressure is being put on kids. Our boy is doing GCSE's and he's revising but we don't push him.

    1. Yes, we've got GCSEs starting here for one or two subjects and haven't been worrying too much (they are practical subjects so can't be revised all that much). I still wonder where the pressure comes from for all the Y6 kids - the results in no way define the kids at all, just the school.

  3. I completely agree! I think we spoke about this on Twitter the other day but it does make you question where the stress comes from? My eldest two sailed through theirs with zero stress and I'm sure my youngest two will too. Well said!

    1. Yes,we did :) So glad I'm not the only one that feels this way!

  4. You're right if people stopped calling them stressful they wouldn't be! I think some people are making such a fuss.
    My eldest did the SATS a couple of years ago and she's a worrier but the SATS week didn't stress her out at all. She just got in with them and there was no stress.

    1. Yes, that's how my lot have handled them too. It's bonkers this year - son had breathing technique lesson today which was completely unnecessary!

  5. I know this is shutting the door after the pony bolted so to speak but, in my experience you want a genuine result for your child. That means not doing loads of revision or extra tutoring but carrying on as normal.
    Why? Number 1: when your child moves to the next key stage, their in class support is dictated by SATS results. I'm my case Maths was a problem for ds2. They nearly never entered him. They gave him the chance and he got L4 by some fluke and 1 mark. Fantastic for his self esteem. Fantastic for the school but when extra help was dished out at secondary he missed out because he was technically L4... By 1 mark. He really needed that extra support.
    Reason 2: SATS are also about assessing schools why should you do the work the school should be doing?
    Reason 3: by virtue of the fact that SATS assess schools, they therefore assess teachers. If the teacher can't get the kids through without piling on stress and without parents getting extra tuition and having a revision regime for young kids there's a problem that needs sorting out isn't there?
    Reason 4: grades are awarded based on distribution curves. If everyone does really well the pass mark rises so the majority get the median mark. It's a comparison of your child against everyone else. Everyone cannot get a L6. That's goes for GCSE and A level too!


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