Keep Calm & SATs On!

By Sam Southwell 

So, it’s upon us. Testing season. And with it, the inevitable stress and anxiety on pupils, parents, teachers and headteachers. Nearly two-thirds of education staff believe pressure on teachers and schools to succeed is one of the main causes of pupil stress. Chances are, SATs have been a widely discussed topic in your school over the past few months by teachers and pupils alike, especially with the introduction of the new curriculum and scoring. It is no surprise that there is a high level of uncertainty surrounding the upcoming tests. Anxiousness, concern and distress are just a few of the emotions that are being felt by many, especially our pupils who are sitting their KS2 SATs.

As teaching professionals, it is our job to prepare pupils for all aspects of SATs. There are currently many wonderful, revision resources available for SATs pupils that cover key topics to ensure that they confidently understand concepts. However, there is much less conversation taking place on the wellbeing of pupils and teachers during this stressful time. It is crucial that children find joy in learning and educators continue to love teaching, while possessing a zest for education. By keeping anxiety levels down as much as possible, pupils and teachers are able to flourish. At Third Space Learning, we are primary Maths specialists who understand the stress of SATs, so during this busy week we thought it would be helpful to share our experiences with you in the hope that your week runs just a little bit smoother!

Third Space Learning suggests...

Catherine Tighe and Sophie Waterman-Smith, both former Maths teachers and current Third Space Academic Managers, focus on tips you can pass onto your pupils.

Catherine suggests pupils “read the question at least twice and underline key parts so they don’t get confused during the calculation process”. While Sophie stresses the importance of “ensuring your pupils are organised and feel well prepared by writing out a revision timetable out for themselves including time for relaxing as well. This makes it easier for them to manage their time and to not stress about all the revision!”

You can also try practising relaxation techniques with your pupils including mindfulness strategies, calming breathing and stress-busting visualisations. This way, your pupils can apply the techniques before or during tests when they are feeling overwhelmed.

What about you?

But how can you and the rest of your staff stay calm during SATs? It is important to remember that regardless of your pupils’ results, you know them best. You work hard every day to make sure your pupils receive a great lesson every day, are prepared for their upcoming years and possess a genuine desire to see them succeed. Remember- cutting back on perfectionism won't limit your capacity to be consistently outstanding. In fact, it's a prerequisite.

Maybe the most important insight of all comes Sam Bennett, part of the Teacher Experience Team at Third Space who says “Eat breakfast and get some sleep!”

Life after SATs

SATs do not have to be a dreaded time of year, but can be a great opportunity to highlight the success and achievements that your pupils have made over the last year. As primary education professionals, it is our job to celebrate every victory made by your pupils. Regardless of SATs results, it is important to remember the growth of each individual child and that you have played a large role in that success.

From the entire team at Third Space Learning, we wish you the best of luck for SATs! Send us an email to share your thoughts on the new changes to SATs and the feedback from your pupils.

For more information and useful links, check out:

  1. Secret Teacher: SATs Stresss is Crushing Children's Love of Learning
  2. Brain Science: the Answer to Helping Primary Pupils Cope with Exam Stress
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