Helping your Year 6 children with their SATS

What are Year 6 SATs?

SATs or Standard Assessment Tests are tests that your child will take in the first half of the summer term. They are more formal than the tests your child took in Year 2 and are from 20 to 60 minutes long.

SATs evaluate your child's progress and help measure the school’s performance.

The results may be passed on to your child’s secondary school for when they start there in September. You will also be given the results, usually towards the end of the Summer term.

How do they work? 

Your child’s performance is compared with the standard expected from an average child of the same age. Your child will get a score of between 80 and 120. 100 is the expected standard. Your child cannot fail and will not have to retake them if they get a low score.

Secondary schools may then carry out their own tests early in the first term of Year 7 and they may or may not use the SATs results in addition to these results to assess your child and which sets they should be in.

How can you help your child prepare for Year 6 SATs?

Your child will be tested in English, maths and sometimes science. Your child’s school will normally start helping the Year 6 pupils with their SATs in January, but every school has a different approach. Some will start earlier and put a lot of focus on SATs, other schools will take a much more relaxed approach.

SATs are a significant milestone in your child’s education and understandably, you probably want to help them prepare. So, here are 5 easy things you can do, to help:

  1. Talk to your child’s teacher. If you don’t know what is involved in SATs or aren’t sure how your child is doing, talk to their teacher.

    Their teacher can explain what your child will need to know and what work they are doing in school to help your child prepare. They can also tell you if there are areas where your child needs a little extra help.

    If you’re thinking of preparing a revision timetable, your child’s teacher may also help by suggesting how long and how often you ought to set aside for revision and what sort of work you should do.

  2. Talk to your child. Some children will worry about SATs more than others. But make sure you talk to your child about how they’re feeling on a fairly regular basis. If you’ve spoken to their teacher, you should be able to explain anything about the process that your child doesn’t understand, and you should reassure them. Ask your child if there are any areas that they are concerned about. 

  3. Don’t worry. If you worry, your child will worry. It’s really important not to make your child feel under pressure. And don’t worry when you get the results either. SATs are just a snapshot of how your child is doing and if they haven’t done as well as you wanted, it doesn’t mean they haven’t got lots of potential and can’t improve.

  4. Focus on the skills (not the test) and make it fun. There might be a temptation to rush out and buy SATs revision books, but this is not necessarily the best approach. Your child’s school will probably work on some test papers and making your child do so again at home is not much fun for your child or for you. It can also add to the pressure and be quite dull. Nobody learns well when they’re stressed or bored.

    Instead, it is much better to focus on the actual skills they need rather than the tests themselves. You can do this by:

    ·         Encouraging them to read and write. Ask about what they have read? Ask them to explain the plot and describe the characters. Ask them why they thought the characters behaved as they did and how the author achieved different things in the book, for example how they made it exciting.

    ·         Practise maths throughout the day.  We’ve written about this before. We all use maths all the time. Encourage your child to work out the change you should receive when you’re shopping. Ask them to divide things and weigh or measure things. In fact, ask them to help you with the many simple calculations you probably do in your head every day. This not only helps develop their maths skills, but it boosts their confidence and makes them feel valued too. And remember, they can’t use calculators during the tests.

    ·         Use visual aids to take a multi-sensory approach to their learning. This could be something as simple as colourful posters of their times tables.

    ·         Enrol them with MagiKats. Our English, maths and reasoning tuition is hands on and practical. We don’t just ask them to work through test papers – we make it interactive and fun! Done in a workshop style, it doesn’t feel like hard work to the children, but it does help them develop all the necessary skills – and a few more!

    We have a thorough understanding of what your child needs to know and do for their Year 6 SATs, and this includes making sure they are fluent in maths and English and can show reasoning and critical analysis. These are concepts which aren’t always easy for parents to explain and teach at home but are an important part of the tests.

    We also tailor the tuition to suit your child, so that if they struggle with one particular aspect, we can focus on that. And your child will be supported by our mentors, who will teach, encourage and reward them – all of which takes the pressure of you!

  5. Reward and relax! Don’t forget to reward your child for the work they do preparing for their SATs! Build in time off or fun days out or perhaps keep a chart of how well they’re doing. Seeing their progress will help build your child’s confidence.

Are SATs really that important?

Yes, and no, for a number of reasons:

  • Year 6 SATs are really the first formal test your child will do. They are the very starting point of preparing for the more regular testing that will happen at secondary school. They also help build your child’s confidence when it comes to tests, and they help your child to start to develop an ability to work well in a test environment.

  • The results will show any area where your child has not met the expected standard which gives you the chance to give them any additional help they might need before they start or while they’re at secondary school. But no child will ‘fail’ SATs.

  • Starting secondary school is daunting but if your child knows they’ve done well in their SATs, it can be a real confidence boost – as well as giving them a sense of pride about what they’ve achieved.

  • They often help your child’s secondary school decide which sets your child should be in, but equally there is always time to catch-up during Years 7 and 8.

  • There is always the chance to improve. Some children just don’t perform well in tests. Others are maybe not quite where they need to be, due to illness, or simply because they are a little less academic than ‘average’. If you have a child for whom the idea of SATs is scary, then you can reassure them that life goes on!

Whatever you do, don’t ignore SATs or leave revision to the last minute because that won’t help your child. The sooner you start gently preparing your child, the easier SATs will be for them. And if you have any questions about Year 6 SATs, why not contact your local MagiKats centre and ask them how they can help.