Scrap the SATs?

Scrap the SATs? This is a really hot topic, which has generated lots of discussion! On Saturday at the NUT conference held in Cardiff, delegates chanted “Scrap the SATS.” Some delegates felt that the chanting episode was setting a poor example for children. Do you think this was the best approach from delegates to get their message across? And what do you think about the SATs?

Teachers at the NUT conference also voted unanimously to boycott tests for seven and 11 year olds. We’re keen to hear your thoughts whether you’re a teacher, member of support staff, governor or parent/carer.

Post your views on our blog…

38 thoughts on “Scrap the SATs?

  1. I have reciently painfully watch a class of special needs children weep their way through the “sats” these children are well below average in theor learning ablility, aged 14 years with the average reading age of 7 years, the reason why? IF WE DO NOT TAKE PART WE DO NOT GET GRANTS ETC ASSOSIATED WITH TAKING PART AND THEY STOP ASKING US! i am apauled there as to be a way of monitoring these tests so tht less not more pressure is put on those who fall under the umbrella of LDD.

  2. I feel the behaviour of the delegate will be sending a wrong signal to the children.

    I am will be happy if the SAT remains but it should be made optional for children.

    SAT analysis has helped in determining some weakness in the system and it has help policy makers to plan better. I feel that teacher’s individual test will not show the true standard of our children in comparison to their colleagues in other school.
    Ibikunle Farajimakin

  3. As a teacher, I am expected to set a good example to all my pupils in all aspects of life, including upholding the rule of law. Whether or not I agree with the SATs, I can not condone any action which breaks the law. What message would boycotting these tests, and as a consequence, be in violation of the law, be sending to the youth of today. There are alternative ways of putting pressure on the Government, seek and ye shall find!

  4. I’m with you on this one. The SATs have become the tail that wags the dog and our kids (my kid this year) are being taught to the test because otherwise the powers that be within OFSTED drag schools over the coals. I even set up a poll of our own on the local community website that we have for the Stanwix community in Carlisle. if you want to add your vote for or against

  5. Yes, get rid of SATS! I was educated in China and none of Chinese children have to do SATS (or similar exams) when they are in primary school. SATS is not suitable for primary students at all.

  6. No I don’t think SAT’s should be scrapped.
    We already have very high incidences of children still leaving school being unable to read and write well. This is the best way of establishing what their current level of attainment is before they make two major changes i.e. move to junior school, and then secondary school.
    If we did not have SATs then there would still need to be some form of measure if any real progress is to be maintained. Or perhaps people now think it is acceptable to leave formal education and still be unable to communicate properly.

  7. The SAT’s aren’t the problem it’s everything else that is! I am a teacher in an independent primary school. We test the children every year. It is a good way of making sure that the children are progressing as we would expect and they get used to idea of tests. We still teach every other subject, which is also tested at the end of the year, and certainly don’t teach to the tests.

    The main problem in state schools are league tables. Every year you are expected to do better than the previous year. How is this possible when you have a new set of children each year. As any teacher would say there are some year groups that are brighter than others. What is important is that the same children make progress. The other problem is that the marking at 7 is different from the marking at 11 therefore a child getting a level 3 at 7 can be a level 2a or 3c in year 3 which is very confusing to parents.

    So don’t scrap the SAT’s but maybe look more into how and why they are used and stop teaching to the test and have no more league tables.

  8. Yes, the SATs should be scrapped – my daughter is about to take them, and though she is certainly bound to do well (and does not mind taking them), I personally think they are an awful way to select and grade children.

    The sooner they end the better.

  9. In our school we were told that the kids would not be aware they were being tested, however that did not stop my 6 year old daughter (Aug Born, so younger than the rest) have the worst eczema flare up in years. PE stopped in the school after Xmas and didn’t restart until SAT’s ended…….There must be a better way to test teacher without testing very young children.

  10. In our school we were told that the kids would not be aware they were being tested, however that did not stop my 6 year old daughter (Aug Born, so younger than the rest) have the worst eczema flare up in years. PE stopped in the school after Xmas and didn’t restart until SAT’s ended…….There must be a better way to test teacher without testing very young children.

  11. Having taught Y6 for many years, with a stint of teaching maths at KS3/4, I realise that there needs to be some sort of assessment at the end of Primary School, particularly in English and Maths (am not sure about the purpose of the science – it is the only time in their lives that children are tested on four years knowledge), but it is the League Tables, not the SATs themselves, that skew the whole thing – scrap them, I say and go back to a choice in the English writing. With no pressure to prove children had reached the targets, the results would become a true reflection of children’s ability and teachers would not feel obliged to teach to the test, but to provide a much more rounded education – ironically I have a feeling that standards would actually rise if league tables were scrapped and the SATs revised! Having said that, I would be very happy to see SATs,in their current form, go – I was teaching Y6 at the 1st SATs and am teaching Y6 currently – it would make it nice and neat if these were to be the last ones!
    Y6 teacher
    PS I am ‘appalled’ at some of the spelling in this blog!

  12. Scrapping SATs does not put an end to testing and assessing, it merely takes out the stressful element for children having to take tests of such magnitude at such a young age. In Wales we scrapped them years ago. This has not made the teachers job any easier as the need for constant and consistent assessment is still there. The children are aware that they now have to deliver the goods everyday of the year and not just in one week in may. Ending SATs in their current form is a good idea but this will not detract from the government and everyone else still seeking to label children as 3, 4 or 5 by the age 11. The process in year 6 has changed from teaching to the SATs, but we are still trying to teach to a certain standard – because the government is so obsessed with numbers and tables.

  13. I always thought that SATs were as inevitable as they were pointless; the Government wated a measure by which to label schools and the SATs were just one way of doing it.

    The problem was that they were always going to be summative and not formative, so they could never do anything to improve the education of the child.The year 7 progress results were never included in the final figures (and now scrapped!), nor was value-added.

    Now the shool leaving age is being raised, we can introduce individual tracking with resit years for any who don’t make the grade.

  14. SATS pales into insignificance when compared to the insidious divisory 11+ exam that our children have to take at 10 years old. The majority of the population of out schools in the tested areas e.g. Kent, are condemned as failures even before the onset of puberty. Here in Kent we divide children by gender, religious, (and consequently race) and an ability (coached v uncoached) to pass an IQ exam at the age of 11. (Not to mention the exclusion of physically less able pupils). These practices in schools have long since been outlawed everywhere – even in private clubs – How can this relic of yesteryear to cobble modern society?

  15. It’s the pressure from the government to hit THEIR targets that is the problem and the league tables being used as a stick to beat some of the BEST schools with the hardest working teachers and greatest problems. I left Year 2 teaching as I found teaching to the test so boring (I am certain the children also do). Am now in Reception class and am again feeling the pressure, this time from the LEA to ensure all children gain 6 or more profile points in each subject. If we were all left to get on and teach then standards might improve and we would keep more teachers within the profession.

  16. I teach at an independant school and feel that the children are already being put under enough stress to pass the entrance examinations.The amount of time wasted revising for Sats is ridiculous. I agree that children should be assessed but this should be done within the school and examinations should be set by the Heads of Departments.SCRAP THE SATS AND LET THE TEACHERS GET ON WITH SERIOUS AND RELEVANT TEACHING!

  17. There’s an old saying – “You don’t fatten a pig by weighing it”. Testing only brings about gains in learning if it is used to INFORM future teaching. It is the high-stakes nature of the SATs that makes them inappropriate. League tables put heads under pressure. In turn, they put pressure on teachers to teach to the test. In Wales, ‘cluster moderation’ enables teachers in nearby schools to ensure they are in agreement on assigning levels to children in Y6, based on their work over the whole year. Their judgement can be trusted as there are NO LEAGUE TABLES here. I was at the NUT Conference, and did not take part in the staged’ chanting. However I feel sympathy for teachers in England. Good luck with the boycott! (It’s not illegal)

  18. As teachers, we are professionals and should act as such regardless of our opinions. We would rightly object if parents turned up at our schools acting in a similar manner!
    As other people have said, it is not the SATs that are the problem. Children have always been tested in some format, although when I went to school, the only formal exams I had were my ‘O’ levels. However, I can see the need to have some consistent form of testing, since school based testing will never be consistent between different schools.
    It is the fact that SATs are used to give a skewed picture of how a school is performing. Y6 children are being put under unncecessary pressure to provide the school with a good result. Consequently the SATs are less about what the pupil can achieve and more about the school’s image. For some children to achieve a level 3 will be exceptional, whilst others will find level 5 easy. Teachers working in schools in inner-city areas may be extremely successful in getting large numbers of pupils to achieve Level 3, especially if coping with increasing numbers of EAL pupils. Affluent areas will have schools with large numbers of pupils who easily achieve level 4, and this is considered the norm! Which teachers are working harder, which is the more successful school? SATs do not show this, and it is the league tables that should be scrapped not the testing!

  19. They should never have been introduced, with schools teaching to the test and pretending that they do not to ensure that they are not vilified by Local authority jobsworths that have no vision is it any wonder we are in the mess we are. Kids don’t need tests of this type to measure what they know they need to develop a love of learning that is sustained throughout life.

    Having just watched the aptly named Mr Balls on the telly announcing that satisfactory is no longer good enough only furthers my belief that the current government haven’t got a clue. It also shows that the afforementioned Mr Balls is living up to his surname by showing us that his own command of English is somewhat lacking. If all schools are outstanding we will need a new word for outstanding! The definition of satisfactory is surely just that – what a plonker.
    Signed an Ex – Labour party member (and school teacher).

  20. With the introduction of APP, marking of any child – whether Year 2 or Year 6 – should be the same and evidence of the children’s work throughout the year would confirm the teacher’s assessment. Tests can be very useful as a dianostic tool but I believe that these days, teachers should be allowed, as professionals to make assessments of the children’s progress and move them on without restricting the curriculum by teaching to SATs tests.

  21. Simon

    I am a year 3 teacher and believe that SATS have a place within the system. However the over use and emphasis on SATS is not conducive to an inclusive effective form ensuring every child matters. Yes it’s effective when looking at formative assessment but how many hour of teaching are taken away due to SATs, especially in Key Stage 1. How many children are able to complete a SAT and still maintain any confidence and Self-esteem. How many children benefit from taking SATs. SATs should be optional and preferably only gor pupils who will benefit and gain from the process. Children of lower ability should be tested but a test differentiated for their needs compared to their being levelled alongside far more able peers.

    I will not be boycotting the SAT’s as i believe all teachers must set an example and follow the scheme of assessment the Gov’t sees fit. However I do not agree with the current system and if at some point in the future the Gov’t hasn’t made changes I would be more open to protesting against the current system

  22. I feel that although the SATs aren’t the best form of assessment for all children they do highlight areas to work on as a teacher. A concern is that if they were to go, what would be the replacement? I have spoken to people that are pilotting the new SATs assessments and it doesn’t seem any better than what we already have!

    I agree with many other people’s comments that it is the league tables that Government concern themselves with. We should find out what New Zealand do as I’ve been told in the past that they have a education system.

    I will not boycott yr2 SATs (anyway I have already started them!)

  23. SATS serve a very useful purpose in providing a standardized level for children to aim at, particularly in English and Maths. They also help to show schools how they are a performing vis-a-vis other schools on a similar level of intake.

    I have found most KS2 children are not stressed by SATs, in fact they give them a target to aim for and provide a focus for their learning. The people who DO get stressed are the teachers and heads, who worry about the league tables each year. The NUT should be far more concerned with class sizes, (48 in one year 3 class locally!) and the growing practice of having classroom assistants teaching classes.

  24. Assessing children is a good idea BUT it’s how they are assessed which is the big question. I don’t have a problem with SAT’s tests in general BUT what I and many others find frustrating is the way in which the test results can be incorrectly analysed and reported.

    I don’t have time to go over every little detail, however, here’s a few examples.

    Due to the way in which a certain percentage of the class is expected to reach a certain level by a certain age schools are indirectly encouraged to do “strange things” in order to make their percentages look good. For example, I worked at a school where a group of 6 children were regularly taken out of the class by a T.A for “booster” lessons. These were the children who had been categorised as being just below a certain threshold but with extra help could possibly step up to the next level (to make the stats look good!)This used to infuriate me because in my humble opinion it was the 6 children at the very bottom of the class who should have received this extra help (beacuse they needed it more NOT because it would make the stats look good!!)

    Secondly,I know a teacher who teaches at a school in a very deprived area. Her school also accepts pupils who have previously been excluded and/or expelled from other schools. Many of the children in her Year 6 class will be tested with SATs papers well beyond their capability. This is not only demoralising for the children but also for the teacher. The tests should be designed to measure progress not pure achievement, and more allowance should be made for these schools who agree to take on very challenging children.

  25. PS. I forgot to say…….
    Chanting and boycotting the tests will achieve little. It’s a real shame that some teachers have resorted to this method of getting their message across.

  26. Easy to say…hard to do. Unless you have a nationalized curriculum and some way to control grade inflation, it’s going to be very hard to get rid of the SATs.

  27. There is nothing wrong with SATs, what is wrong is what the results are used for.
    We need the bench mark for standards and without a pressure children will underachive.
    Parents like SATs because they give an objective assesment of pupils learning.We need to insist though that they are not objective assesment of standards of teaching.

  28. SATs should be banned altogether. I am a secondary English teacher where SATs should not be taking place this year only my school is going ahead with them anyway. Who is expected to mark them? We are, on top of everything else (this is after marking mock SATs earlier in the year for a ‘pretend’ SATs test in the Summer.) The tests are ridiculously complex, do not progress uniformly from KS 1 to 2 to 3 and do not give a clear indication as to what level any pupil is at. These tests destroy the love of learning and set pupils up to fail.

  29. Early years practioner

    How can SATS be scrapted without any new standard of measure in place? Some children at year 6 can’t read fluently, spell or problem solve simple equations. Most of the comments are for children who are already below their expected learning and thinking levels for some special needs or the other. Inclusion indeed is when we think broadly about all children’s individual needs. How about the majority of children who are confident and ready for SATS?

  30. Yes the SATS should be scrapped. Teachers are teaching to tests rather than teaching the child. High and low ability children are neglected whilst the middle group who need to improve to pass the SAT’s get months of practice papers to teach the children how to take the test. Creativity in the curriculum has been crushed due to the SATS. Schools are assessed on how many children can get through the test not on how they manage to move every child forward to reach their individual potential. What happened to teachers professional judgment? Surely Level trialling across schools is an effective way to assess children’s work. Please allow children to become our priority and not league table positions. Children will be able to learn more if lessons become interesting. Going over and over past test papers is dull and children are turning off.

  31. I’m confused. All the talk at school has been that APP is ‘replacing’ SATs and that they will stop in the next year or so. So then why the big fuss about stopping SATs if they are already on the way out, or are they not? Could some one plese enlighten me?

    After my first year in year 6, my view is that, whilst assessment is clearly useful, by teaching to SATs (which ineveitably happens) then we are teaching children a v narrow and pointed currriculum – ‘jumping through hoops’ as many at work have said. I think that it is high time they went and that teachers were handed back the professional trust to assess children. At the end of the day, SATs have just turned into a stick to beat us with by parents, management, county advisors, ofsted etc

  32. i think it could be done in a more civilised way because yes its not setting a good example to the kids. but they should be scrapped.

  33. I am firmly committed to the need to make both schools and teachers more accountable, however SATs as they stand are not the way to do this.

    As a secondary teacher the data they provide is not accurate enough for target setting and we supplement this data with our own internal testing. Having seen the pressure my wife was under as a Year 6 teacher I am surprised it has taken this long for the unions to act.

    There are better, less stressful, more accurate and exam free ways of assessing students attainment. Teacher assessment coupled with external moderation of pupils work is one possibility. Furthermore not limitimg this purely to Year 6, would provide a more accurate gage of both student ability and of an institutions performance. This will make a school accountable and reduce the pressure on Year 6 students and teachers.

    Publishing league tables may again serve little practical purpose other than giving newspapers something to write about once a year.

    I am sick of seeing students arrive at secondary school demotivated and cynical as a direct result of the SATs tests with little or no eduactional benefit.

  34. Most of you are missing the point. It is boycotting the Assessing Pupil Progress materials that teachers should be talking about. Removing the SATs will mean that teachers have to do even more detailed asessments, even more regulaly. There will also be more pressure on children since there will be set level tests which pushy adults (parents or school staff)will want to accelerate children through to make sure they are better than their peers! P Lewin Primary Teacher Y5/6 10 years experience

  35. I have been teaching SAT/ACT test skills for 5 years for a TRIO program in FLA. Most lessons that I've perused are the techniques of "playing the game"; mostly for efficiency, tricks, getting by, getting over, and not necessarily the development of Intel Quotient. For me, SAT testing is still an old antiquated elitist booster that puts certain social educational stations above the rest; an original intent that’s now gotten lost in the moves of academic tap dancing; like aristocratic dog and pony shows designed to put the “educated” in their homogenous place much like the concepts of magnet, college prep, gifted and advance vs. chapter and vocational schools. The test is like that of the Ivy League school entrance: don't ask you can't afford it; don't try for 2400, you can't achieve it—given ones academic lineage. What has failed to be measured, in this academic regard, is spiritual quotient that “God is no respecter of person.” Meaning the genius cannot be sifted out by “standard” testing, but by the heart of the individual who dreams to be what he or she is destined, or hopes, to be that accelerates their desire to know more; hence expanding their knowledge needs. The SAT test unfortunately set standards that pressures young adults not to look for their God given gift(s) beyond an aptitude rubric, but puts their sense of worth at the mercy of a “national score.” This is like average size women groping after size 2 models–achievable but challenging. As an educator, I would rather see a P.A.T. (Passion Aptitude Test) or a H.A.T. (Humanities Aptitude test) than anything else. There the script would truly flip for these testing superintendents where they’d have to measure individuals and not standards.

    Noble Lee Lester, Sr.

  36. I'm not sure I would like you teaching my kids. I send mine to school to learn to read and write and hopefully have some fun and not pick up too many bad manners/habits.

    Your spiritual objectives seem a lttile unsettling and leads me to think its a good job govenments externally monitor schools to ensure the basics get done- hence SATS.

    SATs need not be stressful. A couple of informal mocks followed by a shortish formal exam at the end of the year. Get over yourselves.

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