Results are in! See what teachers thought of SATs 2016 (Hint: It could be worse...)

By Sam Southwell 

SATs week is over, and while Year 6 pupils and their teachers breathe a big sigh of relief, we were gathering the results from our overnight research into how they matched schools' expectations, was the Maths paper a shock, and was there anything you felt you needed to be better prepared for.  

As you look forward to the rest of the summer, find out whether your responses match our data.

The minute the last exam finished, we sent an email out to teachers across the country to share their thoughts on the three Maths papers and we were overwhelmed with the amount feedback we received.

Surprisingly 50% of our schools suggested that the tests were in line with their expectations, with the remaining half fairly evenly split between thinking them harder or easier. The schools who felt that the tests were much harder than previous years, cited massive changes to curriculum, a heavy focus on Maths reasoning and an unfair style of questions throughout.


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Complete set of 2017 Maths SATs Practice Papers


Difficult and challenging questions 

Georgina Bacon from Hope Hamilton C of E Primary in Leicester said, “The children found the questions tricky and the paper was tough to complete in 40 minutes. Not many of my class finished the arithmetic paper”. With all the changes to curriculum and assessment this year, it is clear that schools and teachers approached this SATs period with trepidation. M. Austin from Castledyke Primary in North Lincs suggested, “Pupils found them quite tricky. I think they were aimed at higher ability children”. There has been a strong reaction on social media, with some taking to Twitter to share their thoughts on the level of difficulty in the Maths papers.

People are complaining about the reading SATS ,but not the mathematics paper 2 reasoning? It was really hard! @pixlclub #SATS

— Joanna Graceffa (@JoannaGraceffa_) May 11, 2016

While others have raised concerns that the reasoning paper was much more challenging than the sample paper.

@GuardianTeach @Annaisaac Paper 2 was ridiculous. Harder than the sample paper sent out by the government earlier this year. Very unfair :rage:

— Paul Gallagher (@PriMathsPaul) May 11, 2016

@PriMathsPaul it was ridiculously more difficult than the sample paper. I have faith that P3 will be nicer :grin: #Sats #Maths

— Shazzzy Shaz (@Shaz_Yu) May 11, 2016

New year, new SATs

With so much anticipation of the new curriculum during the lead up to SATs, it is no surprise that a number of schools automatically spotted the changes. Caroline Jobling from Featherstone Academy said the tests were “harder than previous years, but as expected from the samples”. This raises questions about whether schools have been given the chance to properly prepare. What do you think?

Wendy Liu a former assistant head, shared her experience, “I think overall the reasoning paper was fair but I did definitely notice a higher number of multi-step worded problems than in previous years. As expected, in the arithmetic paper there was also a strong focus on formal methods of calculation.”

Unfair wording and questioning

Regardless of whether teachers found the tests more difficult than previous years or not, one common theme remained throughout the feedback – a vast majority felt that the way the questions were worded were unfair. Eleanor from Brimsdown Primary said she “found the problem solving deceptively tricky”. S. Hashmi from Horniman Primary agreed by saying that “we were expecting them to be much harder, but there was a distinct change in the questioning that was not reflected in the sample papers”.

SATs Support for schools in Maths

Of course most of the teachers we’ve been talking to about SATs have already been using our one-to-one Maths tuition to help prepare their pupils and the evidence is that this has helped. Dan Yiend Assistant Head at Kingskerswell Primary School is typical of the kind of response we've had. “Third Space has been effective in plugging gaps in learning in the build up to SATs. Children who needed to catch up, received one-to-one tuition from a friendly and knowledgeable tutor and were guided through specific areas of Maths. I found the children were also more confident, as a result of tuition, and were more able to apply their skills in maths lessons.”

And the feedback from pupils backs this up.

Pupils' reactions

As far as we know the pupils we've been working with have been relatively sanguine about the tests. No tears reported so far. But that is what we'd hope for given we try to encourage a supportive atmosphere and a Growth Mindset approach. 

One pupil called their weekly one-to-one tuition session "The highlight of my Tuesday every week". Another called it "my favourite school session ever". This is 45 minutes of Maths they’re talking about!

But our favourite quote came from a pupil at Battle Primary, "I feel much more confident when I think of SATs because I used to be very worried but now I'm not. Third Space has helped me a lot in Maths and I am very happy because of that. :D"

Looking for support for SATs 2017?

While we will be working with 5,000 pupils to help them prepare for their National Assessments in May 2017, we are conscious that there are many pupils who will not be receiving the same level of weekly one-to-one Maths support. For these pupils and their teachers we've prepared a number of free resources such as our extremely popular Year 6 Maths Catch-up and Revision Guide. Take a look at all our free SATs Maths resources and let us know how you get on.  

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