Are Parents The Problem With Stressful SATs?
So this past week has seen our eldest, H, undertake his Key Stage 1 SATs exams and as there’s always been a lot of conversation around the necessity of such tests for the 6-7 year old age range, whether in the school playground or on social media. I’m asking is it the parents (and possibly the schools) that are to blame for causing such a noise around these and in such, the ones causing children to become upset and stressed?
National curriculum assessments or SATs are they are commonly referred to, have been around for some time now, in fact I remember having to take some sort of similar test when I was in school many moons ago however commonly over the more recent years, more and more parents (and schools in some cases) have voiced their concern about making children sit such exams. The main concern is that such tests are used primarily to judge the teacher rather than the child. SATs are used to judge what stage a child is working at in English, Mathematics and Science and are used alongside a teachers own judgement.
I’m a believer that whilst I think a teacher is more than capable of providing an assessment based on the learning undertaken during the academic year, after all, they see our children more than we do in the working week, I do think that SATs (or some sort of formal assessment) helps to drive better teaching / standardisation of expected levels and inform better teaching plans moving into Key stage 2.
Yes, I do think its not great to place your (and my) 6-7 year olds under any unnecessary stress in order to ensure teachers can, in effect, justify their teaching skills however for me it is more about how us as parents as well as the child’s school (teachers) present this to the children.
I believe the main cause of any such stresses, pressure, tension (call it what you want) experienced by children undertaking SATs are caused by us as parents. I’m not saying I am the perfect parent by any means, however both Mrs F and I have chosen not to ever discuss the prospect of SATs with H during the course of the academic year. Giving such tests any airtime is giving rise to the importance of it. Yes, we attended workshops our school put on for parents, yes we ensured H regularly completed his homework, read with him, understood where he was struggling and tried to help overcome such struggles, but never NEVER discussed it in relation to SATs.
We knew that May was when they were due to be taken, and of course we wanted to understand when they were / had being undertaken so would ask questions in such a way to not cause any suspicious, basically the same questions we ask everyday about his school day.
This week H came home and told us he had been doing some “Year 3 work” this week and that the school had said it might be a little tough, it might also be easy but it just means that they can use it to understand how to help them learn easier when they move up to the next stage of school. Immediately Mrs F and I knew he was referring to SATs, the important thing was though, H didn’t.
What a fantastic way of dressing such tests up, H didn’t have a clue he was undertaking these so called “Stressful” and “Unnecessary” exams, in fact he was proud he had been doing year 3 work. Asking him how he found it (of course we still wanted to know) he said, some was easy and some was tough, but wasn’t in tears, wasn’t in a mild panic, nothing.
Now, yes, its just one child, and yes, for full disclosure, H is the more laid back type but he’s pretty good at reading, pretty good at figuring things out, for example when Mrs F and I try and speak in code, but I like to think that both ourselves and the school have worked in tandem to ensure he didn’t feel such pressures.
Now when one of these two aren’t working together, maybe, just maybe thats when it doesn’t work so well… I’ve heard stories of schools announcing when SATs weeks are being completed, alerting both parents and children alike, I’ve heard parents retelling stories of discussion they have had with their children about such exams and “Just do your best” or “How not to worry”… to me thats like when someone tells you not to look and the first thing you do is look! Of course they are going to worry!
So whilst we have got through SATs week unscathed, I’m thankful to his fantastic school for the part they have played in not alerting H to them, I’m also thankful that whilst Mrs F and I don’t give ourselves as parents an easy ride majority of times and frequently question our parenting decisions, this one, I think has been a good one.
Of course, whatever the result, the important thing is we continue to support both H and his teachers in ensuring whatever ‘level’ he is operating at, he continues to get the best support he can to succeed in life, whether academically, physically or emotionally.
What are your thoughts on SATs, do you agree or disagree with them and with my opinion? I’d love to know (keeping the emotion out of any response of course).
Until next time