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SATs Survival

The end of Year Two and Year Six can be a worrying time for any child. Not only might they have anxieties about moving to a new school or year group but they are also faced with a regime of testing that can apply undue pressure at a time when the children should be celebrating their achievements over the past school year.

There are a number of techniques that you can use to ensure that the SATs testing schedule passes with the minimum fuss without causing unnecessary stress and disruption to the school. You can take a number of steps to prepare the children for their SAT’s tests so that they are not facing something unknown but are looking forward to completing an activity that is a normal part of the school curriculum.

Class Preparation
It is important that the children are prepared adequately for the SAT’s test so that they are familiar with the style and structure of the test which can ease worries and concerns. In the weeks preceding the tests you will need to spend extra time getting the children to practise completing past SATs papers. Initially, this can take the form of displaying questions from previous years on the board which the class discuss together about how to tackle the questions. The children need to develop an understanding of the vocabulary and types of questions used in the Maths, English and Science tests. The children could also work with a partner to practise answering questions from a past paper before swapping their answers for another pair of children to mark and correct. Closer to the actual tests you need to make sure that the children get to experience completing a past paper under full test conditions so that they can get used to answering questions in the time limit and without any help and support. Allowing the children to work with past SAT’s tests will ensure that the class are fully prepared.

Curriculum Changes
You need to avoid spending the weeks before the SATs testing cramming the children with knowledge that might appear on the forthcoming tests. At the start of the school year, you need to identify opportunities during each term where you can revise and develop the children’s knowledge of particular aspects of the programmes of study. For example, if you are planning on teaching some of the suffixes covered in the English National curriculum for Year Six then you can also spend time getting the children to revise other suffixes that they have practised using in previous years. If you take time across the year by revising and developing knowledge and skills that the children might be tested on that this can avoid the rush and pressure trying to cram everything into a few weeks right before the tests start.

Testing Week
During the course of the SATs tests, you need to build in time to allow the children to concentrate on achieving their fullest potential whilst also providing them to opportunities to relax and ease the pressure. Take the children outside for extra PE lessons when a test has been completed so that they can run off some excess energy after being couped up in the classroom. You can also set the class some open ended investigations which they can try and complete during the week when not sitting a test. For example, you can challenge the children to produce some board games for children in a younger age group to use to help develop their spelling or number calculation skills. During the tests, you need to make sure that the class understand the importance of working hard to their fullest potential. Get the children to spend the full time working on their papers so that they have answered and checked each question fully. You should avoid allowing the children to read a book if they complete a test before the end of the alloted time. This will encourage the class to race through the test so that they can read their favourite books instead of spending time checking each question and correcting errors in any text.

Class Rewards
It is advisable to avoid offering the class any reward or treat for doing well in their SAT’s test. The children need to understand that they should work hard during the test to achieve their fullest potential and that the tests are a guide for the next teacher about their progress and attainment. Explain to the class that the results of the SAT’s tests will be used by their new school and year groups to determine how to develop their learning in future years. Spend time at the end of the week giving the whole class a reward such as a party or an afternoon of games to thank them for their hard work during the SAT’s test and celebrate a step closer to the end of the school year and the next stage in their life.

Parental Support
Parents should be made fully aware of the structure and organisation of the tests so that they can fully support their child to avoid placing undue pressure and increasing anxieties. At the start of the school year, you can invite the parents and guardians to a special meeting where they can view some of the past SAT’s papers and ask questions about how the tests will be structured and organised. You can get the parents and guardians to practise completing the spelling or mental arithmetic tests so that they can fully understand what their child will be facing later in the year. Warn the parents about offering rewards for doing well in the SAT’s tests but suggest they could use a whole family treat at the end of the testing period and before any results arrive to thank their child for working hard.

After SATs
The period following the SATs tests until the end of the school year can be a strange time in Year Two and Six. This period in the school year would be an excellent opportunity to allow the children to pursue special topics of their own choosing which will allow them to demonstrate their grasp and understanding of different skills and knowledge in all subject areas. You should also build time into the period after SATs to adequately prepare the children for their next stage in their school journey as they move onto a new school or year group.

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