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SATs myths: Explained

May 07, 2019

It’s that time of year again – SATs season! We know that this can be a stressful time for both children and parents, so we’re here to put your minds at ease by putting a few SATs myths to bed.

SATs exams


Myth 1
: You can opt out of the SATs

Currently, the Year 2 and Year 6 SATs are compulsory for children in England; parents cannot request that their child is withdrawn from the SATs. However, a school can apply to have children exempted in cases where they feel that the child does not have the skills to access the test. This is fairly rare, but examples include children who have recently arrived from another country and do not have the English levels to understand the tests, or who are working well below the average level due to an SEND.

Myth 2: If my child doesn’t get the required levels in the SATs, they won’t get a place in their preferred secondary school.

Your child’s Year 6 SATs results should play no part in school admission. Children will have their secondary school place confirmed well before the SATs results come out (secondary school places are normally confirmed around 1st March) , so it would be impossible for any school to make a judgement on whether or not to offer a child a place based on their SATs score. In the case that you have appealed your secondary school place and are still waiting to hear the result in June, you still don’t need to worry. State secondary schools are obliged to follow their admissions criteria, which are all publicly available on the government website here.

The only state schools that are allowed to use academic testing to select students are grammar schools, which will ask students to sit a separate entrance exam.

Myth 3: If my child doesn’t do their best in the SATs, they will be put straight into a low set at secondary school.

The Year 6 SATs are used to measure the performance of your child’s primary school, so secondary schools are not obliged to use your child’s results in any way. Some secondary schools may use the SATs scores as an indication of who may need extra support, so that they can kick this off as soon as a child begins Year 7. However, other schools may re-test all their Year 7s as soon as they start – and some may not put children into sets of any kind! This is totally up to the individual school, and the best way to find out about setting at your child’s secondary school is to contact them directly.

Myth 4: Once the SATs are over, the kids don’t do any more real work.

Residential trips, art projects, and outdoor learning; lots of these types of activity happen after the Year 6 SATs exams in May. The transition to secondary school is the biggest and most disruptive transition that most children will have faced in their lives, so is it any wonder that primary schools may jump feet first into activities that build confidence and independence in your child? Your primary school can’t re-create the larger environment or new people that Year 7s will be getting to grips with but they can get the kids working together in different ways, thinking laterally and getting out of their comfort zones in order to equip them with the skills they will need to be successful in their new school.

Find out everything you need to know about the SATs, including what is covered in the papers and how they are marked.

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