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What do you think of a parental boycott of KS2 Sats?
I approve of the Sats tests and would not boycott. 46%  46%  [ 6 ]
I disapprove of the Sats tests but would not boycott. 31%  31%  [ 4 ]
I disapprove of the Sats tests and would support a boycott. 23%  23%  [ 3 ]
Total votes : 13
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 8:50 am 
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It's very clear that SATS are not a great measure of a school. They limit the education of our children during their last year of primary school and importantly, deflect focus from the crucial secondary entry process at the end of year 5. (Why put the best teachers in Year 6?) The system is so counter productive and meaningless, that it needs to go, and go quickly.

I am a parent of Y5 and Y4 children and also work in a number of schools in Herts. The negative impact is not limited to our school, it is common to all of them.

Having seem little impact from union boycotts and little or no political will to address this issue, it seems it is time for parents to stop being part of this crazy system and act to bring it down as soon as possible.

The only practical way I can see to do this is to encourage our children to distort their results on the tests, so that the SATS process loses any credibility is might still have.

Not a great lesson in itself, but presented as part of a bigger picture, a very good learning exercise for these soon-to-be young adults.

Any thoughts on this? (PS I have intentionally duplicated this posting here, as I want to see if opinions in Herts differ from the general view.)


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 10:53 pm 
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I agree. The school did absolutely nothing to support families who wished to try for selective schools and then expected us to pull out all stops to get good SATS results. A waste of time and I told my daughter after she did the selective tests that she had done the most important ones and she could play every day and make the most of her last months of childhood. I let her off homework and any revision for SATS.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 10:51 am 
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Location: West Watford
Okay, apologies in advance for rant!

Year 6, SATs preparation and in many ways especially the intensive revision period, can and should be a fantastic learning experience for children.

• They need to be taught how to revise effectively in readiness for the public exams later and all the strategies that will help. And to relate this patch of their schooling to what they will need to do independently come ‘study leave’ at GCSE.
• They need to learn that on some levels revision will always be boring (and they have to get on with it – in Secondary school learning the vocabulary lists for a new language will never be entertaining but it will be essential) but there are many, many ways (mind mapping, role play, becoming the teacher, inventing fact learning aids as a few examples) to make it fun AND successful.
• They need to begin to think of ‘tests’ as ‘serious games’. Nobody dies if you don’t do as well as you had hoped (so don’t beat yourself up) but equally why not do the best you can? I tell them to think of it as the football match after all the Saturday morning skills practices.
• They need to have a thorough knowledge of their own attainment and to see it as in their own hands (alongside any help they need) to improve that. This is vital for children at all levels of attainment. So in practice tests children need to know their marks (not levels they are too broad), then for example a child achieving around 16 on each of the maths tests (likely to be a L3) can be aiming to get 4 more marks on the next practice and 4 more after that and so on. They will also of course be identifying the ‘bits’ they find hard and working on those.
• For higher attaining children it is REALLY important. L5 in maths for example is usually over 75/100. Much like an A at GCSE. But actually those children should be thinking in terms of A*. If you tell 11 year olds they’re L5 already of course they will feel complacent; tell them they’re getting 87/100 and they’ll feel pleased and have something to aim at. So the other day I said to a few children (individually, marks are private unless you choose to share) 97/100, absolutely brilliant, 3 marks to go!
• I know none of this really matters a damn at 11 but getting the habits embedded and seeing it as fun and possible, does. Because when they are trying to meet Cambridge entrance requirements of 90%+ in several modules aiming for absolutely the best you can do needs to be second nature.

I do, regrettably, agree that in a lot of schools year 6 can be dull but it shouldn’t and it needn’t be!


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 11:51 am 
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Joined: Fri Nov 17, 2006 8:54 pm
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Location: caversham
Quote:
Okay, apologies in advance for rant!


No need to apologise that summarises some points I have been trying to make to my DS1 in year 8. It will form the basis of a motivational discussion this weekend. :)

SATS, well before we chuck them out let's have an improved replacement. In the mean time they serve a purpose.

steve


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 2:00 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2008 1:13 pm
Posts: 38
Location: Watford
C. J. wrote:
Okay, apologies in advance for rant!

Year 6, SATs preparation and in many ways especially the intensive revision period, can and should be a fantastic learning experience for children.

• They need to be taught how to revise effectively in readiness for the public exams later and all the strategies that will help. And to relate this patch of their schooling to what they will need to do independently come ‘study leave’ at GCSE.
• They need to learn that on some levels revision will always be boring (and they have to get on with it – in Secondary school learning the vocabulary lists for a new language will never be entertaining but it will be essential) but there are many, many ways (mind mapping, role play, becoming the teacher, inventing fact learning aids as a few examples) to make it fun AND successful.
• They need to begin to think of ‘tests’ as ‘serious games’. Nobody dies if you don’t do as well as you had hoped (so don’t beat yourself up) but equally why not do the best you can? I tell them to think of it as the football match after all the Saturday morning skills practices.
• They need to have a thorough knowledge of their own attainment and to see it as in their own hands (alongside any help they need) to improve that. This is vital for children at all levels of attainment. So in practice tests children need to know their marks (not levels they are too broad), then for example a child achieving around 16 on each of the maths tests (likely to be a L3) can be aiming to get 4 more marks on the next practice and 4 more after that and so on. They will also of course be identifying the ‘bits’ they find hard and working on those.
• For higher attaining children it is REALLY important. L5 in maths for example is usually over 75/100. Much like an A at GCSE. But actually those children should be thinking in terms of A*. If you tell 11 year olds they’re L5 already of course they will feel complacent; tell them they’re getting 87/100 and they’ll feel pleased and have something to aim at. So the other day I said to a few children (individually, marks are private unless you choose to share) 97/100, absolutely brilliant, 3 marks to go!
• I know none of this really matters a damn at 11 but getting the habits embedded and seeing it as fun and possible, does. Because when they are trying to meet Cambridge entrance requirements of 90%+ in several modules aiming for absolutely the best you can do needs to be second nature.

I do, regrettably, agree that in a lot of schools year 6 can be dull but it shouldn’t and it needn’t be!


I so agree 100% with you.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 9:56 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 26, 2009 7:30 am
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It has been interesting to see the variety of responses to this topic. I was surprised to see the amount of support for SATs. There clearly is a need to reassure parents that someone is monitoring schools, and SATs to a degree, have put pressure on schools to work towards some standards. So in one sense SATs work and have been successful. I know that I still look towards league tables as some sort of guide to the quality of a school.

Unfortunately, SATs only give part of the picture. As long as a school is achieving ballpark SATs, there is no pressure to improve. If they are lucky enough to have a good intake and are supported by a significant number of children being tutored for secondary entry tests in year 5, then a complacent approach is sufficient. In contrast, other schools that offer truly excellent leadership, teaching and value add, but have to deal with a more challenging intake, don't score well in SATs. (Challenges such as high percentage of free school meals and children with English as a second language.)

Education both suffers and benefits from performance targets in the same way that the health service does. I know that my local GP stopped making appointments more than 24 hours ahead in order to meet government targets to reduce appointment waiting times. Government happy... GP happy... patients very unhappy. This practice was brought to the attention of a surprised Tony Blair on live national television. It has since been changed and we can now book days in advance. Common sense finally prevails.

I feel that this is the stage we are at with SATs. There is a need for monitoring schools, but we also need to join up some thinking and provide a truly enriching education for these children in their final year at primary school. Hopefully, common sense approach will address some of the following:

- Year 5 is the key year for secondary entry preparation. Because SATs measures the school's performance during year 6, the best teachers and the majority of boosting efforts go into year 6. It would make sense to join up the SATs type tests with secondary entry tests, so the focus of the school's teaching benefitted the children rather than the school.

- Year 6 is one long slog of revision, with teachers trying to fit in other curriculum areas to try to break up the tedium. In almost all primary schools, the year 6 curriculum is not delivered completely. With all the SATs revision, there simply is not enough time.

- In talking with heads and year 6 teachers that I work with, the universal view is that SATs negatively impact the education of children at their schools. Now, before you say "of course they would, no one likes to be measured, here's my observation. Those teachers that are truly outstanding, who work very hard, have a good personal relationship with every child, who would score top marks in any type of evaluation are more vocal in their condemnation of the SATs process.

- I feel some sympathy for comments such as, "A good school can provide a rounded education and minimise the impact of SATs". However, there is very real pressure on Heads from County level to improve SATs, even if everyone knows this is to the detriment of good learning. It would take a very brave head to focus on education and not push relentlessly to get those extra one or two level 5s.

- Apart from league tables, who actually uses SATs results? Most children going into secondary schools are thoroughly tested to allow them to be streamed correctly. SATs might be part of the evaluation process, but any Year 7 teacher that relies solely on them clearly is short changing their children. (I don't believe any do!) If league tables are scrapped, then where does this leave SATs?

I've been wondering if we need to take a Bank of England approach to education and try to remove it from the political agenda. I am sure as much time has been devoted to "how can we extricate ourselves from SATs without making it look like a failure" as to "what system of monitoring can we evolve which promotes excellent teaching, excellent school leadership and provides parents with confidence and the ability to make informed choices".

Overall, I would have to come down on the side of damning SATs. But, I am more than happy to declare it an outstanding New Labour success, if it allows us to move on to the next evolution of the system. What do you think Ed?


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 11:14 am 
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There are SO many errors in your post weatherit I don't know where to start!

Year 6 need not be a 'year of revision', and it isn't in many schools I know.

Most schools DO put good teachers in Year 5 (and Year 4 and ...) they are not stupid.

A school is judged on 'value-added' - if it has a good intake then more is expected. Level 3 in KS1 is expected to get level 5.

It really is not helpful to duplicate posts . :D


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 6:04 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:27 am
Posts: 2086
Location: Barnet, Herts
Contains Nuts,
I agree with you we had absolutely no support for selective school entry - everything was "The SATs".
However I saw no reason to stop my DS doing them - by that stage he had already been accepted for independent school, only 3 in his year ( very middle class C/E primary in Barnet ) had got selective places.
I thought it would be a morale boost - and sure enough he got 3 level 5's.
After the SATs his class spent the remaining time in Y6 bored out of their brains apart from a week's residential trip to Cornwall.
I wouldn't boycott them but question their relevance for some children.


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