Thursday, 23 September 2010

To Sats or not to Sats?

“Stress Activating Time Snatchers, or Sensible Academic Tests of Success?”

At the Year 6 ‘Meet the teacher’ meeting on Tuesday, parents wanted to know if the school is to proceed with preparing the pupils for Sats next May. On the same day, an interesting article appeared in EducationGuardian about a new report from the Wellcome Trust which canvassed the opinions of children – here’s the link:

Well, the ‘jury is out’ at Hollymount.  Despite the NAHT and NUT boycott of Sats earlier this year, the senior leadership team (in consultation with the Chair of Governors) took the view that two weeks before the event was too late in the day to propose a change of plan at our school - where parents and pupils were expecting – and prepared for – Sats to take place.

This year, the discussion within the school will take place earlier – with the teaching and leadership team, with Governors, with the secondary schools we feed to  – and with parents and pupils.  So I am hoping that parents will respond to this blog with their views.

As the quote at the top suggests, the debate ranges across the spectrum, with these two views at either end. There is no doubt that it essential to have a benchmark to use as a measure of progress, and to compare children during the transition process between Key Stages, so the question is, what’s the most effective way of doing this?

We are continually assessing children’s attainment and tracking their progress in school against national curriculum levels. So a means of keeping a tally on consistent standards is important - the drive to standardise assessment has meant an overall rise in learning, with schools recognising that it’s our job to turn out literate and numerate children.   

So, we do we rely on our own teacher assessment and tracking across the key stage and into Year 6 and have confidence in this as a measure, or continue with the tests which, after all, are a snapshot of performance on a given day?  Some would argue that being tested is a reality of life, others that it brings unnecessary stress to pupils.

What do you think?

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