***ACTION*** If you want to see what the Year 6 SAT test involves take an example test!
***ACTION*** If you are concerned about your child taking the SAT tests please speak to your school about your concerns. We’ve created some sample letters for you to use… Letter to Headteacher about Year 6 SATs. If your child is in the middle schools system here’s an alternative Letter to Middle School Headteacher about SATs. We’ve also got a Letter for School Governors too – governors hold a lot of power in a school so it’s worthwhile letting them know how you feel too.
***ACTION*** If your child is suffering from anxiety or physical illness as a result of the tests then there is clear guidance from the STA that your child should not be made to take the test – please read this research for more information.
***ACTION*** Contact your LEA and let them know how you feel – can they tell you any good reasons for the SAT tests?! We’ve written an Letter for your LEA for you to use! If you are in a MIDDLE SCHOOL system then there’s an alternative for you to use – Letter for Middle School LEA.
***ACTION*** Contact your MP and let them know your concerns – here is a Letter for your MP about SATs you can use to tell your MP how your feel. If your child is in the middle school system here is an alternative Letter to your MP (Middle School) .
***ACTION*** If none of the above helps you to feel confident that your child should be taking the tests then there is the option to boycott the tests. Some parents have done this in the past by keeping their child off school during the week of the tests, of course there is the risk that you will suffer an unauthorised absence as a result but SATs are NOT compulsory.
The Year 6 SATs are NOT LINKED TO YOUR CHILD’S GCSE results, but, worryingly across the country some children believe that the tests are going to affect their futures.
The reason children feel this way is because, in many schools, for months before the tests, the curriculum is narrowed at the entire focus of school becomes about passing these tests at the end of Year 6. Primary school should reflect a board curriculum and allow children to develop a love of learning – sadly this is not happening in many schools in England because of the SAT tests. We hear stories of children missing science, PE, Art and Music for months in advance of the tests and schools on ‘curriculum lock down’ in order to focus solely on test preparation.
Schools over prepare children in this way not because the tests are important for the child’s future, but because the school will be measured and judged according to the test results. In some case your child’s class teacher may have his / her performance related pay linked to the results your child gets in the tests! This HIGH STAKES system leads to unfairness, over preparation, excessive homework and a massive amount of pressure on our young children.
Children sit exams for a week in May – these are full-on, hour long exams and there is no excuse for no attendance! We hear tales of children who have been vomiting being made to take the tests with sick buckets by their desks and children who are seriously ill being asked to take the tests from home! Not taking the test means that the school receives a zero mark – that would really mess up the results and sadly data has become more important than child well being. This is a disgraceful situation for our education system to find itself in.
Children who take the tests either PASS or FAIL. Children who fail start secondary school being told they are not good enough – as if changing school and approaching adolescence isn’t hard enough! It’s also bad news if your over prepared, homework club attendee, extra tutored child passes with flying colours though – because these over inflated results will be fed into a data system used by secondary schools to predict GCSE results and give targets to every child… not just in maths and English but in ALL GCSE subjects! Your child gets a great mark in their English SAT after months of doing nothing but prepare for the English SAT and suddenly they are expected to ace their GCSE Science exams in Year 11 too! And guess what? It gets worse! Secondary schools are measured by how well your child meets these target grades – so if that data is flawed they face the next 5 years being told they are failing to meet their expected target grade! No wonder there’s a mental health crisis!
Confused?! We’ve been obsessing about SATs for the past 3 years and have only just worked this out ourselves! The system is deeply flawed. There are ALTERNATIVES to this way of measuring schools which do not so directly affect the well being of our children… alternatives where children can still love to learn and enjoy a creative curriculum not marred by high stakes tests. New Zealand just scrapped SATs altogether – there is a better way!!
We’ve are waiting for the profession to act in unity with parents to stop this system and offer something new. In the meantime we completely understand that parents feel there is no alternative but to take matters into their own hands and act for what is right for their child to protect them from the madness of SAT testing.
It’s hard for parents to know what to do for the best. Parents are very respectful of teachers and headteachers and trust them with the well-being of their children. However, parents are also aware that the teaching profession is speaking out against SATs and being ignored.
- This Question Time clip shows the strength of public opinion against the high stakes testing and the frustration felt by the profession.
- This article shows that MPs are aware of the link between SATs and mental health.
- This report shows the severe impact high pressured testing can have on young children.
Everyone knows about the problem but no-one is taking action! Many parents now feel they can not stand by and watch this happen any longer… they want to take action to effect change.
Parents DO have a power to act against the tests. Research by Reclaiming Schools points out that “Heads are clearly expected to work in cooperation with parents and teachers.” and that “there is nothing in law to force a parent to submit their child to these tests”. This advice is reiterated in an answer to a parliamentary question regarding withdrawing from SATs within which Anne Milton MP states that ‘Children attending school are not legally required to sit the national key stage tests’.
So… if you want to use your parent power to stand up for your child, you can… do what you think is right for your child, and all children, in a broken system.