KS2 SATs Results 2016 are in… What next?

By Sophie Bessemer 

So, you've now looked at the Key Stage 2 SATs results. Cue, cheers and celebrations all round? Perhaps, but then again…

Nobody said it would be easy, but did it have to be quite so difficult? And we’re not just talking about the tests themselves. The entire ‘journey’ to 2016 National Assessments seems to have been weighed down by controversy, changing guidance, leaked test papers and a nagging sense of unpredictability about the whole business. Here's our assessment of the situation, how to explain it to parents and pupils and some advice and guidance to help you sail through your 2017 SATS.

Free Year 6 Maths Revision Guide

17 teacher-tested techniques to help your pupils ace their 2017 Maths SATS


Here are the key Year 6 SATS national figures

To remind you, in case you need, it, these are the headline statistics:

  • 53 per cent of pupils met the expected standard in reading, writing and maths

  • 66 per cent of pupils achieved the expected standard in reading

  • 74 per cent of pupils achieved the expected standard in writing, which is teacher assessed

  • 70 per cent of pupils achieved the expected standard in mathematics

  • 72 per cent of pupils achieved the expected standard in spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPAG)

Comparisons to 2015 don’t help

We’ve heard it from Nicky Morgan herself "They simply cannot be compared directly," she said. This year's tests were "based on a new, more rigorous national curriculum, based on the best evidence from across the world."

But it is difficult not to, isn’t it? The expected standard last year of Level 4, was achieved by 80 per cent of pupils in all of reading, writing and mathematics. The Government said when it introduced the tougher tests that the expected standard would be equivalent to a Level 4b but many Heads thought they were closer to a 5.

The result is that we now have 47% of pupils and their parents being told that they have not achieved the expected standard in all subjects. And some inconclusive evidence so far on how many schools will actually reach the 65% reading, writing and maths attainment floor standard.

But really, the SATs results are just a measure for pupils. Not until September, when progress figures are added, will we really know what this means for each school’s own performance and their Ofsted future.

So what next? Your 5-point post-SATs plan

Whatever your results are, many of you will be wondering, what to do now? What do we tell parents, what, if anything, to do differently? So we asked several SLT members in schools across the country and here’s the advice and reflections they gave:

1. These results are unlikely to tell you much you didn’t know before about the pupils – your own internal assessment is likely to be as rigorous and, in many cases, more detailed and specific. (Think about how many topic areas were not included in the Maths papers.)

2. This is just a snapshot of a pupil – it doesn’t tell us what the skills are that they have, and it covers a curriculum they have only been taught for two years.

3. While applauding success in these results, without the progress measures, they don’t actually tell you much about the child’s teaching and learning experience at school.

4. Teachers will have worked their socks off for their Year 6 pupils throughout the year; poor results can be the outcome of many different inputs. The answer is not to start teaching to the test or pointing the finger at individual teachers.

5. Current Year 6 pupils are just about to embark on an exciting, but for some, daunting, new stage of their life. Now is the time to celebrate their successes from primary and give them confidence in their ability to grow as they transition to secondary school. Specific guidance as to areas they need to work on is helpful, unmediated negative test results are not.

Specific Maths recommendations

  • Include the Teacher Assessment and progress results, together with test scores in all parent reports

  • Ensure all pupils and parents understand what their own specific next steps are, and provide bespoke gap analysis, especially for those who haven’t met the expected standard

  • In due course, review the content of each paper and consider whether there are any changes in preparation or interventions you could make that might help for next year. For example, anecdotally, the arithmetic paper seemed to be particularly challenging, however one school, whose pupils ‘smashed it’, attributed this in part to daily focus on boosting memorisation of techniques which improved speed and accuracy.

Tips for 2017 KS2 SATs preparation and revision programmes

There are some key elements that any good revision programme should include. As we work with 5,000 Year 6 pupils every week to plug gaps and help support them up to their own KS2 SATs in 2017, this is the approach we'll be following. I hope it comes in useful when considering your own pupil preparation:

  • Interleaved practice - ie returning to concepts at regular intervals not doing it all at once

  • Questions that encourage self-explanation to show pupils’ understanding

  • Distributed practice - ie not just cramming all the revision work into the last few weeks before the tests

  • Plenty of practice on test questions
  • Plugging learning gaps as required 

  • Differentiated activities so each pupil can progress

  • Problem solving strategies

  • Arithmetic practice in line with the new curriculum

  • Positive feedback to help support a pupil’s growth mindset

To find out more about how to support your Year 6 in Maths, read What you can learn from preparing 10,000 Year 6 pupils to revise for KS2 SATs.

Final thoughts

When you look back on the SATs, review the impact of your approach to teaching and intervention, celebrate successes with pupils or start to plan for next year, perhaps the most important thing to do is to recognise and applaud all the hard work that has been put in across the school by staff and pupils.

It has been a challenging year; more has been expected than in previous years. Standards have been raised and everyone in education has had to adapt to a changing landscape. We know just how much everyone in the schools we work with have supported pupils and made sure they had been given the opportunities and guidance to achieve as much as possible.

Some of these schools have been in touch to share their successes and thoughts on the results and we’d love to know how you’re feeling. Just email hello@thirdspacelearning.com.

We hope that you’ve been able to look through to the positive from these results and that they matched your own expectations. And for those who are finding optimism difficult we’ll leave you with final thoughts from a TES article from Brian Walton (@oldprimaryhead1), Headteacher of Brookside Academy.  

“I just feel that when it comes to using test results to measure success – when we place so much importance on them – we lose sight of the child in an attempt to create a big picture.”

Further reading

Year 6 Catch Up and Revision Guide - free to download

Third Space Learning's one-to-one Maths programmes start at the beginning of each term. Find out more

Schools Week, Key stage 2 SATs results: Nearly half of pupils fail to achieve expected standard in 'tougher' tests

TES, 'So much rides on Sats that the real purpose of education is lost as we are seduced by statistical positioning' 

BBC News, Morgan warns Sats results not comparable to previous years

TES, 'The Sats results show that either we were all complaining unnecessarily or we’ve somehow found a way to cheat the system'

Schools Week, Key stage 2 SATs results: What does this mean for floor standards and year 7 resits?

TES, Sats results 2016: just 53 per cent of pupils reach expected standard in all three subjects at key stage 2

Schools Week, How useful are the KS2 maths SATs test results?

TES, Teachers react with shock and anger to Sats reading test results

Why I've Stayed in Teaching, SATs Results - My Experience and an Optimistic Response

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