Thanks to Michael Tidd for this article.
Well, that’s that all over with for another year! After all the hard work – of both teachers and students – over the past months and years, the SATs finally came and went. So what did we make of them? It certainly could have been worse!
Those of us who suffered through the traumas of the Reading test of 2016 were prepared for the worst on Monday, and in most cases were pleasantly surprised. That’s not to say that it was easy, but it did at least feel fair. In 2016 even the first text seemed designed to cause nightmares for us all, and the first few questions didn’t help. For 2017 we were treated to a tolerable, if not gripping, text about a cat in a tree and some multiple choice questions to ease us in.
My one complaint? Dropping a bit of Spanish into a reading test seems a little unfair. If you speak Spanish fluently or not at all, then maybe it’s not so bad, but how many Year 6 children up and down the country spent valuable seconds trying to translate the Spanish based on their rudimentary Key Stage 2 knowledge?
On Tuesday morning I was praying to the spelling gods for kind words. And then they gave us ‘coarse’. But first, the grammar to get through. For the second day in a row I found myself using the word “fair”. I tend not to look too closely at what children are writing during tests, because it only upsets me, but with the grammar test, the first answer I doubted when looking over somebody’s shoulder turned out to be correct: I’d not read the question properly!
The grammar test is almost universally unpopular, but given the expectations of the curriculum, this test didn’t seem too unreasonable. Certainly my class weren’t too troubled by it. Mind you, that’s not always a good sign!
By day 3, I was beginning to get suspicious. Okay, the first two sets of test weren’t a walk in the park, but they were… well, reasonable. Would the maths test throw things off track?
One advantage of the – still quite new – arithmetic test is that we all know what we’re getting with it. There were few surprises, although the re-appearance of the word “of” in percentage questions wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Overall, some challenge for the most able, but also a fair spread of content that the majority could have a go at. Maybe it would be the reasoning tests that would catch us out: a quirky Venn diagram, or perhaps a bizarre reflection question!
Wednesday’s reasoning offered few shocks. Again, some nice meaty puzzles to get our teeth into – for those of us who enjoy a mathematical challenge – but also some opportunities for the ‘expected standard’ children to show their skill. It was the final paper that pulled out the tricky stuff: the sort of question that makes those less keen on maths grimace, while those of us who love a problem smile at the clever construction of the questions. And, of course, plenty of opportunities for Chen and friends to get out and about. Were all the leaflets and balloons for some sort of election-related affair?
Yes, there were some hard questions towards the end, but overall, I think it’s fair to say that the STA seem to have done better this year than last all round. And perhaps most importantly, at least the work on Roman numerals wasn’t completely wasted this year!
Michael Tidd, Deputy Head Teacher