SATs – Just Calm Down!

Should we scrap the SATs?

Lots of people think the SATs should go.

Parents want to boycott them and some Heads and teachers have called them ‘inhumane‘ – both are reckless and ridiculous.

Look up ‘inhumane‘ and really consider what this word means. Boycotting won’t help a school in the slightest and puts more pressure on teachers.

The hysteria and negativity whipped up around SATs has been insane and they have been demonised to a frightening level – little wonder that children get nervous about them. I’m not defending SATs in a high-stakes accountability culture – not in the slightest because when the only thing that matters is ‘data’ then they are worthless and damaging.

I taught Year 6 for 15 years and what the SATs looked like and ‘felt’ like depended on where I taught. One school was definitely in the “SATs are all that matter” category and coaching started as early as September ready for the following May – crazy.

But then I’ve taught in schools that have taken a level-headed approach and didn’t put any emphasis on the SATs. We still prepared but did this through ‘normal’ lessons with barely a mention of the word SATs.

SATs don’t have to be this awful event. When you get a Head who actually believes in a broad and balanced curriculum (and not just as window-dressing for the website) then SATs are a tiny part of Year 6 that don’t grow horns and spit venom.

There are loads of ways to creatively prepare children for SATs and believe it or not it’s called ‘teaching’ – not cramming, coaching or revising.

The real problem aren’t the SATs but the way in which they are used and abused. Children hear they are a waste of time and they hear all the negative comments associated with mental health and wellbeing etc but this certianly isn’t the case everywhere.

The single-minded righteous fury of the anti-SATs brigade has created such disdain they have actually made matters worse for children. SATs don’t have to be demonised – children and politics do not mix. Children are more nervous because of all the noise – without the fuss they’d just sit them as they would any other test.

The best schools don’t ask unwell children to come into school in SATs week. The best schools don’t focus entirely on SATs and make Y6 a year of anxiety. The best schools carry on teaching and make sure the curriculum is broad and balanced with plenty of fun – you can still do the SATs and still let children be children.

SATs are a dark spider if you let them dominate the curriculum but who in the right mind would do that?

As for homework in the weekend before SATs then you won’t get any better than this:

Then there is this message from a school to their children:


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