SATs Madness/Sadness

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Looking at twitter today and seeing the SATs madness in full effect. Threads of links to activities all for prepping the kids for those tests in the middle of May. Panic strikes, they are happening. They are not going to be cancelled. AAAAAAARRRRRGGGHHH!!!

Why do we do this to children?

Tweets about piles of SATs papers being sent home for children to practice, links to the best revision books, booster classes in full effect in some cases two or three a week.

What is wrong with us?

After the last two years we know that kids may not be where we would want them to be, yet we seem happy to define ourselves against a set of tests. This year is an opportunity for honesty. Just keep teaching using the tests as a measure of where the children are. A litmus test on the impact of the pandemic in our schools. We will all be at different points. That’s OK.

Except that’s not what is happening. For a range of reasons, the pressure is building,

Systemic fear, Ofsted are on the way, internal MAT pressures, Local Authority pressures, our own pride. For a host of reasons, we are all about to jump through the SATS burning hoops. We are a profession driven by accountability and we’re willing to sacrifice the truth for a better test score.

Will the stuff stick? Probably not.

Will it over-inflate where our pupils are at and what they can do? Probably yes.

Will it help us get it right for the children next year and the year after? Definitely not.

Will it create even more distrust in SATs from secondary colleagues? Completely.

I’m not anti- doing the SATs. For the first time I felt they may actually give us something useful, a measure of impact of the last two years. They won’t show us that though. In our panic we’ve decided to throw the baby out with the bathwater and stepped back onto the accountability treadmill.

Just don’t tell me you’re doing it for the children, because the last thing they need is practice SATs and booster classes. What they need is teaching, lots of teaching that doesn’t stop in May.

If we learnt one thing last year when there was no SATs, its that children were more ready for secondary and that pupils didn’t drop off after the arbitrary line.

Prep them a little around how the tests work. Then let what will be, be. Ultimately for the children an honest set of results will be more helpful to them.

SATs are the most important they’ve ever been this year for the children but not in the way we imagine.

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