Children, Learning

Year 2 SATs

Small boy, mainly obliviously, is doing his year 2 SATs at the moment.

I’m rather sad for him. Not because of the testing, not because he doesn’t enjoy them. But because he’s only “mainly oblivious”.

When large boy did his, we didn’t even have any idea. School made so little fuss about it that the parents didn’t know what week they were and the kids were entirely in the dark about the purpose of these “special challenges”. Large boy was even a bit cross when they stopped, he’d quite liked working in small groups and presumably getting little treats.

None of that for small boy. For a couple of reasons I think.

Partly because he has an older brother who is aware (jealous) of the year 6 SATs and who knows that year 2 do them too. Large boy is being rather unhelpful and failing to maintain the illusion that there’s nothing going on. When I tried to subtly ask small boy if they’d done any different sort of work in booklets, large boy piped up “oh is small boy doing his SATs?!” Gee kid thanks!

The other part is that school has been less fuss-free. I’m sure it’s really down to COVID and the consequences for this year’s 6-7 year olds. They missed a lot of the basics and groundwork in reception and year 1, so school have been doing extra maths to catch them up. Small boy notoriously doesn’t like maths. He can do it, he just doesn’t like it and sometimes doesn’t believe he can. This is fine, but extra maths has made the last few weeks running up to SATs less than fun for him.

I’m not sure I really agree with the strategy anyway. It’s like employing a tutor to get you through an exam, but then the reward is a harder next class and you’ll still need the tutor because you didn’t get there by yourself. The end isn’t the end, it’s just the next step.

So by investing and pushing the year 2 children now, the school might build up their overall average SATs scores. But then they’ve got to maintain those children for the next four years so that they’re still attaining at the same level in year 6. Wouldn’t it be more real, more honest, to let the year 2s do as well as they can with the “normal” amount of preparation? Then by year 6, the impact of COVID should have worn off and they’ll be flying in comparison with now. Pushing them risks hiding the impact of COVID on their learning, masking however much they’re behind, and thus denying them the opportunity to have long term investment in overcoming their challenges. If they come out of the SATs with the same average scores as the last time a year 2 cohort did them (coincidentally large boy’s year group), does that tempt the conclusion that all is well and they can carry on as usual?

I’m sure the teachers on the ground know that’s not true – they must, since they’re fighting it with extra maths lessons. I wonder where the pressure on them is coming from to get results as close to normal as possible? The school, the local authority, higher up?

I know there’s a lot of discussion about all the other positive attributes that children have and which aren’t tested for. I totally get it, but testing for one thing doesn’t deny the existence of another. Measuring one competency doesn’t mean that there aren’t other abilities. We just shouldn’t be putting all this importance on those tests. They’re a measure, nothing else. Their purpose isn’t to label any individual child as a success or failure, they’re there to provide comparison between each year group’s averages over the space of four years. Is the overall class excelling or struggling in the same or different areas, compared to before? Has the school or local authority supported them as they needed?

Any which way, we’ve made as little fuss as possible. Small boy doesn’t seem very bothered about the whole thing. And, while he’s a bright button, we aren’t going to be comparing whatever marks he gets with large boy’s. They’re very different children who approach school very differently and small boy is one of the youngest in his class, while large boy is one of the oldest. Any temptation to look at numbers and say anything is completely pointless. For those reasons and because their school experience has been very different.

So long as small boy tries hard and it doesn’t upset him, I’m happy. I’d rather he got lower marks without tears than higher ones but stressed out.

Did you notice how I’m not opposed to tests in principle? Well, that’s only so long as the individual children aren’t being judged in the case of the little ones. But also at year 6, getting used to exams an assessments is not bad thing. At secondary school, they’ll have exams every year (or at least I did), then GCSEs and A levels and degrees or whatever. I still have to do certifications every year for work, it’s part of life. And hey, when I was 11y5months I was at grammar school sitting exams in big hall in silence. When he’s 11y5months large boy will do his SATs. What’s the difference? Scope, difficulty, fuss. I took year 7 exams in every subject, I think maybe 12 is my best guess, they were probably tricky and no one made a big deal of it.

I’m a firm believer that our children reflect our attitudes. If I make a big song and dance about something, be it getting shoes on or being late for something, they notice and join in. If I remain calm and unruffled, from taking tests to losing my gran, they take their cues from me too. If I tell them that lockdown is a disaster and will ruin their lives, they’ll believe me. If I tell them we have tough times ahead but we can get through it, they’ll believe me. I’m naturally positive, it can’t be helped, so I almost always demonstrate determination and confidence about the big things (while the little ones leave me shouting about lights left on and forgotten homework).

Who knows if I’m doing it right. Only time will tell.

Disclaimer: I am fully aware that I am the product of my family, my circumstances, my education and my social circles. If you disagree with my ramblings, please do tell me. I don’t mind being set right or having my eyes opened to a different perspective. I’m know I’m only telling our story and there are many different experiences out there. Please share yours and teach me another point of view, but politely yeah?

Love from Smell xxx

9 thoughts on “Year 2 SATs”

  1. I definitely relate to your parenting style. Our kids definitely mirror our behaviour. I see more and more now that my girls are older. So many of their expressions and mannerisms are me! It’s kind of scary. I think that’s why racism and extremism are so hard to eradicate. Many people have this drilled into their heads from a young age.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I know nothing about how schools and testing works nowadays. I only remember doing SATs as a young teen. Although, maybe if they had done more testing when I was younger they may have noticed I was dyslexic.

    I’m impressed with your attitude and insight into showing by example about what things to make a fuss about or not, because that’s how some children end up harming themselves because of the pressure to do well in tests becomes too much for them

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You make a great point about kids finding the next year harder because of all the support they’ve had this year.

    This is especially true after the Year 6 SATs, and high schools often waste a lot of time trying to figure out Year 7 kids’ ‘true’ abilities.

    I certainly feel that at 7 years old, there are so many more valuable things that the time spent preparing for SATs could be used for.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great blog. I don’t currently have any of mine doing SATs but I do work in my children’s school so am aware how it impacts different children in different ways. One of mine is year 5 and so they have done practise SATs. He seemed to have loved them and his scores have pushed him to have a sudden passion for study, which I did not see coming at all!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think we do things the same way, and N certainly treated the SATs the same way. Y2 he just thought it was all ok, and ended up surprising the teacher with his results. This time, he’s just taken them as they come. They have been doing SATs papers as assessments through Y5 and 6, so he knows what scores he should be getting. We’ll see. But I agree that exams aren’t a bad thing.

    We didn’t have formal exams at secondary, just end of module assessments and tests. My first exam was music grade 3 age 10, (excluding ballet exams I’d been doing since age 5), and sit down exams at age 12 for music theory. I think I’ve been lucky having a non anxious child, but I’ve been very clear that really it’s the school being assessed, and that it’s just another way for the teachers to work out what support and learning the children need to progress. Seems to work for us, and the school (although they have done a lot of work prepping in school), have treated them as in school work. Their homework has just continued as it’s been themed since y 3, so all consistent, with no extra revision like some schools do.

    Liked by 1 person

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