If your child is in year 6, you may be aware that this summer term they will be taking their End of Key Stage Tests and Assessments (often referred to as SAT’s). These are compulsory national tests which reflect the National Curriculum for English and Maths. From the summer of 2016, the tests became more rigorous and the government introduced a new marking and grading scheme. Our teacher, Ms Latham, is here to help de-mystify SATs.
As a parent, it’s often difficult to keep abreast of the multitude of changes in education. Here at EdPlace we want to support you in your crucial role as a parent. Below we have summarised the key changes to the key stage 2 tests as well as suggesting simple ways that you can help and support your child.
English Reading; this paper lasts 1 hour. It will include three different texts which will increase in demand throughout the booklet. It will be testing children’s ability to;
- Understand the text
- Work out the meaning of words from the context
- Explain and discuss their understanding of what they have read, drawing inferences and justifying these with evidence
- Predict what might happen from details stated and implied
- Retrieve information from non-fiction
- Summarise main ideas, identifying key details and using quotations for illustration
- Evaluate how authors use language, including figurative language, considering the impact on the reader
- Make comparisons within and across texts.
English grammar, punctuation and spelling Paper 1: questions; this paper lasts 45 minutes and carries 50 marks. It will be split into three sections; grammar 36-50%, punctuation 14-29% and vocabulary 4-10%.
Questions will be either ‘selected response’ requiring pupils to pick the correct answer or ‘constructed response’ where pupils will write their own answers or explain, correct, complete, write or re-write within a specified format.
English grammar, punctuation and spelling Paper 2: spelling; this paper lasts approximately 15 minutes and carries 20 marks. Pupils will be given 20 words aurally to spell, usually, each one is linked to a different spelling rule. Some may be taken from the year 5 and 6-word list published by the government.
Mathematics Paper 1: arithmetic; this paper lasts 30 minutes and carries 36% of the overall mark. It tests pupil’s ability at mental arithmetic. Questions span a range of mathematical operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, percentages, fractions and decimals.
Mathematics Paper 2: reasoning; this is the first of two reasoning papers, the paper lasts 40 minutes and carries 32% of the overall mark. Mathematical problems are presented in a wide range of formats requiring pupils to demonstrate mathematical fluency, problem solving and reasoning.
Mathematics Paper 3: reasoning; this is the second of two reasoning papers and again lasts 40 minutes and carries 32% of the marks.
Questions on both reasoning papers will be either ‘selected response’ requiring pupils to pick the correct answer or ‘constructed response’ where pupils will construct their own answers perhaps by completing a chart or table, drawing a shape, giving an answer to a calculation or communicate their response to evaluating a statement or problem.
All of the above papers are timetabled so that every child in the country will sit the same paper at the same time. This year the tests are timetabled for the week commencing the 8th May. Tests will then be sealed and sent off by the school to be marked and moderated externally.
Pupils are assessed on their writing, but this is marked within the school. Some schools are chosen to be externally moderated, which means an external expert will come into the school and check that the marking meets national standards.
Through the year pupils must submit six pieces of individual writing spanning a range of different genre’s, such as a letter, a diary entry, a report, a narrative piece, a book review, and a description.
As with all the assessments, expectations are now higher for writing and pupils are expected to show a range of skills within their writing such as;
- create atmosphere, and integrate dialogue to convey character and advance the action
- select vocabulary and grammatical structures that reflect the level of formality required
- use a range of cohesive devices, including adverbials, within and across sentences and paragraphs
- use passive and modal verbs mostly appropriately
- use a wide range of clause structures, sometimes varying their position within the sentence
- use adverbs, preposition phrases and expanded noun phrases effectively to add detail, qualification and precision
- use inverted commas, commas for clarity, and punctuation for parenthesis mostly correctly, and make some correct use of semi-colons, dashes, colons and hyphens
- spell most words correctly
- maintain legibility, fluency and speed in handwriting through choosing whether or not to join specific letters.
Not all pupils will take a science exam. The government now selects a representative sample of schools and pupils and will administer the science test only to them. This academic year 2016-17 there will be no science sampling at all.
National Curriculum levels have now been scrapped and replaced with a system of scaled scores. As a parent you will be given your child’s raw score (how many marks they achieved in the test) and their scaled score (whether they have achieved the expected national standard). Children will also be categorised as NS (not meeting expected standard) or AS (expected standard achieved).
Scaled scores range from 80 (lowest) to 120 (highest) with 100 being expected standard. This year the government is expecting 65% of pupils to reach expected standard. If a pupil does not score enough marks in the test, they will not receive a scaled score.
Writing which is assessed internally by the teachers within the school will not be given a scaled score. Instead pupils will be assessed to be either ‘working towards the expected standard’, ‘working at the expected standard’ or ‘working at greater depth’.
How can you support?
By Key Stage 2, there is no disguising the fact that your child is about to sit a series of tests. Most schools take these tests very seriously as they are used as an indication as to how well the school is doing both locally and nationally. Your child may find that much of the teaching in year six is channeled towards English and maths and they may also be given a series of practice papers to sit in order to prepare them for the experience.
Often the teaching takes on a new pace in year six and you may find that your child comes on in leaps and bounds. They may also show signs of fatigue or tiredness as the focus becomes more intense.
As a parent, you want to support your child, but it’s also important not to push them too hard, you don’t want them to become anxious or overwhelmed with worry, after all, these are only primary school tests. It may be wise to speak to your child’s teacher and ask them to pinpoint the key areas of weakness for your child, rather than you taking on the whole range of subjects and areas yourself. Perhaps target necessary areas for support such as mental arithmetic or spellings and break these down into short fun activities;
- Play mental maths games on the way to school or in the car. Just a regular 5 minutes a day of times table practice for example, can make a huge difference.
- Play family games like scrabble, times tables snap, monopoly or boggle to encourage their maths, spelling or reasoning skills.
- Continue to listen to your child read aloud, even in year six! One fun way is to choose a novel together (linked to a school topic?) that could be a challenge for them alone and take it in turns to read a page or a chapter each. Stop to explain new vocabulary or meaning as you are reading.
- Encourage your child to write a blog about days out they have had or things they are interested in such as weekly match reports on their football team. Most importantly show them how to proofread and edit what they have written.
- Download practise papers if they want more practise,, but don’t force it. The chances are your child will already be doing these at school.
- Make sure you keep a routine, especially ensuring your child gets a healthy balanced diet and enough sleep (9-12 hours a night for 10 and 11-year-olds).
- Allow your child to continue to participate in a range of activities that they enjoy, at this age, it’s important to keep perspective.
- Talk to your child about their day, was there anything they struggled with that you could go through with them, such as fractions or time?
- Utilise worksheets on our website; edplace.com. We have a large range of fun worksheets, all linked to the national curriculum. We also have simple assessment tools and revision planners to support you, should you wish to specifically target any key areas.
Whatever happens, stay positive and don’t give up. You have plenty of time before GCSEs. Try to celebrate each achievement (however small) as a step forward in the right direction.
Also, remember that SATs are often seen as preparation for secondary school, but once they are over, year 6 children tend to then spend much more time enjoying a less rigorously academic timetable. As a parent, this may be the wisest time to keep up the practice utilising worksheets such as those on EdPlace.
There are four months between SATs and secondary school, this is often seen as the time that children take a dip in their progress. If you want to give your child the best head start to secondary education, perhaps draw up a loose timetable of activities to keep them educationally challenged over this period.