If I say Year 6 – you’d say…. ?
Around this time of year…most school staff would say SATS (or it would at least be in the top 5 answers if we were playing Family Fortunes!!)
So yes, in a few weeks time thousands of children across the country will be sat in silence taking their SATS, other tests or exams and teachers everywhere will be nervous and suffering from I-didn’t-sleep-well-itis.
This is not going to be a comment on what I think of SATS or testing children. There is no need for that.
What is clear is that in the next 3 weeks there is no chance of the system changing, so it is inevitable. These tests will happen. Teachers will be feeling sick as the results of these tests can become part of their performance appraisal… And Heads and other SLT teachers know these results can become part of their (schools) performance appraisal…
I had some time with a boy in year 6 recently. Yes he was pensive, more thoughtful and reserved than the weeks before Easter… And yes SATS is certainly one of the things in his mind. However, it was not the only thing.
- SATS are scary – because they make everyone get stressed – teachers mostly (some parents included).
- They are important.
- Even when adults say that we don’t need to get worried, I can tell that they are, ‘cos they just are different -stressed.
- Other children might distract me…and I don’t know if my teacher can keep them quiet.
- In our practice tests I couldn’t answer some of the questions because my teacher didn’t have any rulers/ protractors….I hope she will have found some by then.
- SATS are straight forward.
- If I get things wrong then I don’t get marks.
- If I get things right, and do right spellings I will get good marks.
- If I can finish then I stand a better chance of getting good marks.
- I want to do well… For my Dad.
- I want to do well….because I know I can.
His teachers (and I imagine they might be being echoed by staff and parents up and down the country) have been talking about trips and outdoor activities and all sorts of ‘fun’ things they have planned for the children to do in the days and weeks after SATS are over. Rewards. Celebrations. FUN. For this young man, THIS is the real source of his worry at the moment.
How so – shouldn’t he just be excited and grateful for all the nice things being planned for him?
- It is the knowing that a time of unpredictability is coming up….
- The boundaries and clarity about what happens when, that currently help him feel safe, are going to change…
- Lots of spontaneous and off-timetable things taking him by surprise…
- And knowing that other children in his class REALLY struggle with change, means he will be in a room with more unpredictable behaviours…
- Then there are the particular outdoor ed. challenges he is already tackling – battling with his fear over and over in his mind.
- That is fear he is trying hard to keep to himself…
- Can’t let other people know the things the teachers keep talking about as fun are actually more scary to him than the SATS…
I think he has a great perspective on the SATS – maybe that is easier to do when you have already clocked up a significant ACE score, and survived years of trauma nightmare. Maybe you can keep things a bit more in perspective when you have faced terror more times than you can count – with or without a ruler…and survived…and healed enough to realise what is important in life. And in all honestly, he has moved a long way into his land of healing.
There will be others out there trying to deal with the tests, their own and everybody else’s stress of SATS, on top of everything else they have going on just trying to survive…
Despite what we adults might assume / project.. it might be that the SATS / exams aren’t the only thing on the minds of children at the moment.