Year 6 teachers, you've got this! Your 5-step game plan for SATs Week 2017

By That Boy Can Teach 

How to survive KS2 SATs Week 2017: What every Year 6 teacher & Year 6 pupil needs to maintain wellbeing and focus during the important Key Stage 2 National Assessment period. Good luck!

So, the time has come. SATs week 2017 is upon us. On Monday morning, after months (hopefully years) of preparation, the nation's Year 6 children will sit down to the first of 2017's Key Stage 2 National Assessments. 

Year 6 teachers across the land will be pacing halls and classrooms, catching glimpses of questions and hoping beyond hope that the primary school children in their classes will do their very best.

And I assume you're probably one of those teachers, or a supportive Head or SLT member.

You'll be feeling a heady mix of excitement and nervousness while anticipating the children’s chance to show off all they've learned. You might also be wondering what on earth the test-writers have come up with this time. 

Some of you will have a ‘we've done all we can’ attitude and will just be looking forward to it all being over, others might be wishing for just a little more time. Regardless, it can be an emotional time, however pragmatic and philosophical you are.

So what can you do to ensure that SATs week runs as smoothly as possible for the children and yourself. What can you do to make it the best possible experience for all involved? Here are 5 ways to get the most out of 2017 KS2 Maths SATs:

Know the detail of the what, when, where

All staff involved need to know the ins and outs of the week, what test is happening when and where. However you organise, make sure to provide ongoing training to ensure staff are confident with what they have to do.

Make sure the children have a clear understanding of the week's timetable too – giving them a copy will reduce anxiety about when things will happen. Having staff and pupils on the same page inevitably means less stress. In short: be organised!

Balanced workload – for children & teachers

Don't do too much last-minute revision, or at least nothing highly-pressured; an afternoon of anything too heavy could knock confidence.

At the same time (though for some this is unthinkable anyway!) resist the urge to have too much down time - the children will benefit from structured activities that allow them to maintain a testing mindset. This will reduce anxiety each time there's another test.

Overall, the aim is to keep things calm and low-key for the children and yourself.  

Treat yourself, don’t test yourself

I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post how Year 6 teachers should plan exciting and fulfilling pre- and post-SATs weekends to distract from thinking about tests.

Plan a big outing; a night away, a day spent holed away with books, a film marathon – whatever it is that you love doing. Spend time with people who won’t allow you to dwell on the tests. You’ve also got the imminent half term holiday to plan for, too!

Bear in mind that, since the children will be spending time doing tests, there will be far less marking and preparation during the week. This should free up some extra time for you to just be you.

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Be KS2 SATs-smart

Particularly where maths is concerned. You’ll probably already want to spend the afternoon before each test on revision (remember, low stakes, low stress) but after Wednesday morning’s reasoning paper 2 you’ll have a good idea of what might come up on Thursday’s paper 3.

There are usually glaring omissions that can then be recapped during the Wednesday afternoon, ready for Thursday. So keep an eye on Twitter on Wednesday lunchtime, Year 6 teachers will likely be discussing a list of Maths topics that might be on Reasoning Paper 3.

Spread positivity, from SLT to primary pupils

I’ve touched on this before in a previous SATs blog post (I’m happy to be a stuck record!). The atmosphere in your school needs to be ‘you can do this’ – all staff members should be on board with creating a confident, happy, and determined environment.

This can’t be done by just telling the children to be those things; it must be something which is ‘caught not taught’. Remind yourself and staff just how hard everyone worked all year and how the tests reflect on their whole time in primary school, not just the year.

Even if you’re quaking inside, it’s your role to protect children from the pressure – so you’ll have to act up to that. It is unfair if children have the stress passed on to them and it will be detrimental to their results.

Final word for 2017 KS2 National Assessment

In some ways SATs week is the moment of greatest relief – the collective headlong flight towards it is finally over.

Along with the support of school leaders, it is the Year 6 teacher’s role to switch their attention from the planning, teaching, and assessing cycles to solely ensuring that the week runs as smoothly as possible for the primary children in their care. A Year 6 teacher’s wellbeing will be largely dervied from how well they achieve this, although support from others is crucial too.

Finally, from myself and all at Third Space Learning, we hope your KS2 SATs week for 2017 is a calm, successful and filled with optimism and that your children are happy, confident, and motivated to do their best without feeling the pressure to perform.

Good luck –  have a good one!

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