Children, Family, Self-care

Year 6 Horrors: 4 SATS

I’ve decided to document large boy’s journey through his year 6 experiences with a series of posts sharing a tongue in cheek assessment of what it’s like having a 10 or 11 year old child.


Hmm maybe not so much tongue in cheek on this on. Not to mention it would probably have been a more popular post if I’d shared it a couple of week ago. However, I wouldn’t have been able to write about it then, never having observed my own child experience the end of the process.

So here goes.

The preparation

School hosted a meeting about SATs in January. No wait, that wasn’t the start. The children started doing practice papers in September.

Large boy is perhaps in the minority as he doesn’t mind tests. In the first series of practices, he scored 90% on average. He did more before Christmas and his marks improved slightly.

The teachers held a meeting for all parents, at 3.30pm of course. So we didn’t attend, of course, having jobs and all, you know? They followed that with a 10 minute appointment, I went in 45 minutes late and was out 5 minutes later. They had almost nothing to say about where he could improve.

More practice papers and he’s scored full marks here and there, almost always over 95%.

We’ve hardly talked about the tests at home. While my description above might sound like we were irritated about the lack of contact and information, that’s true. But maybe it also reflects the level of disdain and the relaxed attitude our school takes. Not all the children are as capable as large boy. But the teachers haven’t put pressure on any of them.

The big week arrives

We finally arrived at SATs week. All the tests were in the mornings, sometimes two papers, sometimes one. Literacy at the start of the week and then maths. Each day year 6 were welcomed 15 minutes early to enjoy a bacon buttie and some games before the seriousness of tests. The first three days were a breeze for large boy.

I read a lot (well, mostly avoided it, but read some) of comments about the reading paper on Tuesday. Apparently, lots of children were really upset by it. All I can say is that none of large boy’s classmates felt that way, both the capable ones and those who find literacy a struggle. Our school seems to have done a wonderful job keeping the children protected from the worry and pressure. It would appear that the parents have followed their lead too.

Friday was the maths reasoning paper and a whole other kettle of fish. First thing in the morning, he revealed that his tummy was sore. He had half a slice of toast and a few sips of coffee from breakfast. Then he went to school early for his bacon sarnie. I dropped small boy off and went to meet a friend for coffee.

At 9am, just as I walked towards the coffee shop, my phone rang, ominously showing that school was calling. Yep, his teacher rang to let me know he’d had one bite of his snack and been sick. Great. But instead of asking me to fetch him, she explained that large boy had two options: sit the test anyway or wait until Monday, but spend the weekend in isolation. That would mean no phone, no gaming online, and no rugby awards ceremony, no contact at all with any year 6 children from any school. Not surprisingly, his teacher said he’d prefer to do the test anyway, she was really phoning to ask if that was OK with me. I explained that it was fine with us for him to miss it, he knew we weren’t bothered about his scores. Her response was “oh but he cares, a lot!”

So he did his final SATs paper in a room on his own, with a bucket and the option to pause if he needed to. As soon as he finished, I brought him home (with his leavers hoodie, of course). He spent 2 days in bed, moaning and groaning and barely eating. By Monday, he was still only nibbling.

The aftermath

So it’s all over, just waiting to see what the results look like.

Oh and apparently we’re dreadful parents. Everyone else’s parents got them presents or rewards. A laptop, a dinner out, bowling, new computer games, and, horror of horrors, Prime. On the Sunday, I capitulated and we found some Prime (which, by the way, is absolutely foul).

After all that, he’s experienced a huge come-down anticlimax. He’d heard tell of year 6 treats after SATs; extra breaktime, no real work, chilled out teachers, being treated more like grown ups, a real reward after the months of focus. Instead, they’re working hard on a final literacy piece to share with their secondary school. He says that he’s spent 7 years of school leading up to last week and, well, it’s over and now what? He’s feeling very disappointed and a bit lots, just meh. So, we’ll be making a fuss of him for a while for sure.

Pre-teen parent’s prayer

Grant me the calm to treat SATS according to their importance, the strength of character ignore the hype, and the wisdom to help my child not to panic. 

Your advice?

Please, share your advice on guiding a pre-teen through their SATS.

Love from Smell xxx

13 thoughts on “Year 6 Horrors: 4 SATS”

  1. Large boy was very brave. Interesting that he’s very keen to do well but internalised it, and your perception was that the school was very relaxed about it all. It was MANY years ago but when we did the 11 Plus, the school didn’t talk about it so the mocks were a complete surprise. I was very determined to pass but remember a lot of sleepless nights crying and praying! Thanks for linking

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I spent many years being a Year 6 teacher and it was always an anti-climax after they were over. It was such a stressful time as a teacher (especially if you worked in an academy like I did where the managers/leaders/heads — not the teachers — got a financial bonus for every child that reached a certain level). They piled on the pressure but not because they cared about the children. I made the experience the best I could and we always tried to make sure the children didn’t catch the stress from it all or just spend the year teaching to the test. I made every effort to provide a balance and something fun yet valuable for them. It’s a huge milestone so it’s nice to just celebrate it (scores aside, etc) and it seems that Large Boy is lucky to have you to navigate this all (I hope he feels better soon)! It’s an odd time educationally for sure, haha!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing your candid and humorous account of your child’s Year 6 SAT experience. It’s refreshing to read about your relaxed attitude and the positive approach your child’s school took in managing the tests. It sounds like they did a commendable job of keeping the children protected from unnecessary worry and pressure, which is truly valuable during this time.

    As for your child feeling a bit disappointed and let down after the SATs, it’s understandable. The build-up and anticipation often lead to expectations of special treats or rewards. It’s great that you’re planning to make a fuss of him to help alleviate his feelings of anticlimax. Celebrate his hard work and resilience throughout the process, focusing on his personal growth and accomplishments rather than solely on the test scores.

    In terms of guiding a pre-teen through the SATs, here are a few suggestions:

    Maintain a balanced perspective: Emphasize the importance of doing their best while reminding them that SATs are just one part of their academic journey. Encourage them to approach the tests with a calm and confident mindset.
    Provide support: Offer a supportive and understanding environment at home. Be available to answer any questions or concerns your child may have and provide reassurance when needed.
    Promote self-care: Encourage your child to get enough rest, eat nutritious meals, and engage in activities they enjoy outside of studying. Taking breaks and having fun can help reduce stress and maintain a healthy mindset.
    Manage expectations: Help your child understand that test scores do not define their worth or future success. Encourage them to focus on personal growth, learning, and the skills they have developed throughout the year.
    Celebrate milestones: Regardless of the SATs outcomes, acknowledge and celebrate the completion of this important milestone. Plan enjoyable activities or rewards that align with their interests to mark the end of the exams and the start of a new chapter.

    Remember, every child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Trust your instincts as a parent and adapt your approach to suit your child’s individual needs and personality. Good luck to your child with their results, and I hope they continue to thrive in their academic journey!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. If I understand correctly, these SATS are standardized test that are used more to evaluate schools and teachers, but don’t really have any bearing on the child’s academic future. Is that right? We have something similar here in Ontario and the teachers and kids hate them. They do them in Grade 3, 6, and there are math and literacy assessments in high school. The only one that really matters for the kids is the high school literacy test because you have to pass it to graduate.

    The problem with these kinds of tests is the teachers and schools teach to the tests instead of teaching other things that could be more valuable. I do believe there should be some kind of assessment but I’m not sure what the answer is. Even with standardized testing, universities see huge disparities between high schools in terms of academic preparedness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes that’s exactly what they’re about. The tests are not meaningful to any individual child. However, they do reflect on the school so of course, the temptation is to pile on the workload and pressure because good results make the school and teacher look good. But that’s so detrimental to the children.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. SATs are standardised attainment tests that children sit age 6/7 and 10/11. They’re theoretically intended to ensure schools don’t let children fall behind. If a child is a high achiever in the first, then they shouldn’t be struggling in the second and if they are the implication is that the school has failed. Not fair on kids, or teachers.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It really isn’t. I thought it was like what we have here for children who are transitioning from primary school to secondary school. They write an exam called Secondary Entrance Assessment or SEA. But I believe there is something similar for standard 3s to test where they are at. All of it is quite stressful.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. So sorry to hear your son wasn’t well for the final paper. Poor thing having to sit in a room by himself for it. My daughter was over the moon to have finished them by Friday, not because the exams were over, but because we said we’d take her to Ikea on Saturday (we were going anyway!!!). She’d do anything for a plate of meatballs!

    Liked by 1 person

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