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How To Create A Year 6 Maths Revision Programme So That All Your Pupils Achieve 100 in KS2 SATs

Year 6 maths revision for KS2 SATs starts in earnest at different points for different schools. As SLT, Maths Lead or a Year 6 teacher, at a certain point in Year 6 you need to move from teaching the Key Stage 2 curriculum to your KS2 Maths revision programme.

To put it bluntly, SATs revision has to start somewhere and we all want it to be as painless as possible, especially this year with teachers facing so many additional and unexpected challenges.

This blog contains all the key information you need to make sure your own KS2 Maths revision programme is as effective and focused as possible – as well as being grounded in good Maths revision practice and your own knowledge of your pupils.

PLEASE NOTE: As a result of school closures during the coronavirus lockdown English primary school pupils did not take their 2020 SATs tests. SATs 2021 have also been cancelled. SATs 2022 will be going ahead as usual.

Each spring, we teach booster maths lessons to up to 8,000 Year 6 pupils across the UK as part of our Year 6 SATs revision programme. To ensure that these primary schools – and their pupils – get the best possible experience, we regularly review and revise our SATs revision programme based on up-to-date data . This blog contains all our findings, and everything you need to know to create your school’s own effective, evidence-based SATs revision programme.

With SATs 2020 and 2021 having been cancelled, the SATs 2022 revision programme uses data from 2016-2019.

Data from 60,000 pupils and 4 years of SATs papers

As well as being knee deep in data from your current Year 6 you’ve also now got the data from four previous Year 6 performances in SATs. So you’ll have an idea of what’s worked in the past for your Year 6 maths revision, or what hasn’t. And what you might want to do differently when preparing your KS2 revision in Maths for SATs 2022.

But what if, instead of looking at 30 or 60 pupils every year, you had data from over 60,000 pupils to review and analyse when setting your KS2 Maths revision programme?

With over 60,000 pupils now having completed our KS2 SATs Interventions, that’s the lucky position we’re in.

That’s over 810,000 one to one Maths lessons that have been taught, recorded and analysed in order to better inform how we structure our KS2 Maths revisions lessons for 2022.

What’s even more exciting is that we’ve been able to combine this data with our analysis of the 12 new government national tests since 2016, the content domains, and difficulty level.

Question analysis from previous SATs papers

Step-by-step to a KS2 Maths revision programme that achieves 100 in SATs

We have looked at the most popular topics for examiners, how difficult children find each topic, as well as those topics they are likely to make the most useful progress in, during the course of their Year 6 Maths revision for KS2 SATs.

We’ve then layered on top of this input from our primary Maths experts on the truly key components of a really successful Maths revision programme (spaced retrieval, interleaved practice plenty of question practice, development of stamina and confidence etc).

So, to help you when you’re planning your own KS2 Maths SATs revision, here’s what we’ve learnt, what we know you should be revising with your pupils, and how we’ve incorporated this into our KS2 SATs revision programme.

Of course, you can find out what our SATs revision programme looks like directly; just book a demo here, and we can show you the lessons for real!

Last year we offered schools a choice from 28 SATs revision lessons covering topics from Fractions of Shapes, Quantities and Amounts to Calculating Areas to prepare their students for SATs 2019.

Altogether these lessons covered 91% of all questions that came up in the SATs. This was pretty pleasing, but we felt we could do better.

Analysing the KS2 SATs data

Reviewing the maths curriculum content domains and topics across questions from 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019

Remember, our goal in this analysis is to make sure that the SATs lessons that our specialist 1-to-1 Maths tutors teach are as closely matched to what Year 6 pupils will need to know and demonstrate knowledge of in the 2022 SATs. But for schools that use our interventions only for Year 6 maths revision, at best we will have 29 lessons with each pupil who starts with us in Autumn. Some pupils start even later, in January. With these pupils we have approximately 15 lessons to make the dramatic impact schools expect from us (an average of double expected progress over 14 weeks).

So we need to make sure these lessons are as targeted and effective as possible.

Our first stage in preparing for SATs was to review all of the KS2 Maths national curriculum content domains and concept areas across a range of metrics such as:

The year group content that questions tested pupils on
Which topics featured most often in the SATs
Which areas had the highest number of marks attributed to them
Questions pupils found difficult, or were more likely to get wrong (taken from our QLA analysis in 2016, 2017 and 2018)

KS2 SATs Questions By Year Group

The first thing you should know is that no SATs question since 2016 has tested Year 1 or Year 2 content

And while the majority of questions were on Year 6 content, in 2019 around half the marks went on Year 3, 4, 5 content – a trend continuing from the 2018 SATs.

ks2 sats questions per year group 2016 to 2019
An analysis of the percentages of questions in SATs papers from years 3-6, taken from the past 4 SATs papers

Another important takeaway is that there was an almost even percentage of topics from Year 4 as Year 5 in the 2019 SATs – a great indicator that it’s always worth revising as broad a range of topics as possible!

KS2 SATs Questions By Content Domains

We then broke the questions down by concepts and content domains. This showed us which content domains that turned up most often across the past four years, and which turned up the least.

ks2 sats 2020 questions by domain percentage
The most and least common maths content domains in the KS2 SATs 2016-2019, expressed as percentages

This analysis shows that across all four years of SATs papers, ‘Four Operations’ questions came up most often, whilst ‘Position and ‘Direction’ questions turned up the least. This is a good start, but there are also other measures of question importance we have to take into account.

KS2 SATs Questions By Difficulty According To National QLA

Our next step was to divide each domain into more specific topics (shown below) to work out how many marks they were worth.

We then combined this data with the national QLA (only available for 2016 and 2017 at time of writing), to gauge the likelihood of pupils to get a question on each topic correct. This gave us this chart of how many points each of our lessons are worth, and which cover topics that pupils particularly struggle with (higher difficulty numbers mean harder questions).

Topics most covered in 2016/2017 SATs, complete with difficulty rating based on % of correct answers
Concepts most covered in 2016/2017 KS2 SATs, complete with difficulty rating based on % of correct answers from National QLA

KS2 SATS Questions By Marks Per Content Domain

ks2 sats 2020 question marks by content domain
Total marks for questions across the different content domains, from the past 4 SATs papers

Then we looked how many marks were attributed to each content domain, as shown in the bar graph above. Unsurprisingly these broadly follow the same trend as the percentages of questions per content domain – four operations questions were worth the most marks, and position and direction questions the least.

So we now had a clearer idea of which content domains were most fully tested each year i.e. most likely to come up, and how many marks they were worth.

KS2 Maths Revision: Key Content Domains

Using these, we were finally able to work out which domains were ‘most important’ to teach for KS2 Maths SATs revision, starting from January…

ks2 sats 2020 question marks by content domain
The raw mark totals for each content domain per year, and their total across all 4 years

To summarise, ‘Four Operations’ (aka Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division) content seems to be most important to revise, having had both the highest percentage of questions asked and the most marks allocated across all four years. ‘Fractions, decimals and percentages’, ‘Measurement’ and ‘Number & place value’ are all also relatively important.

By contrast, ‘Position and Direction’ appears least important, having the least marks allocated to it and the lowest frequency of appearance.

Top lessons to teach for KS2 Maths SATs revision

As part of our KS2 SATs intervention programme, we are providing schools with a weekly programme of lessons that lasts 15 weeks for Year 6 (if joined at the start of the programme)  and then rolls over to plug any gaps in Year 5 for the summer term. For us, this little and often approach of weekly 1-to-1 tuition taught by a Maths specialist is the magic number for impact and attainment.

As such, we’re looking at the top 15 lessons to teach within the SATs booster phase of the programme. Obviously, if you start earlier (or later) than January, or teach revision lessons more frequently, you’ll need to adapt the following accordingly.

All previous learning being equal here is the order in which we recommend you teach your KS2 Maths SATs revision lessons but clearly you’ll need to adapt for your own pupils:

TSL SATs 2020 Lesson Sequence

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This sequence takes into account both the most logical order in which to teach these topics, and the order that is likely to net your pupils the most marks. That is, the earlier lessons focus on topics that are needed for the later lessons, and which have turned up most frequently/been worth the most marks across the four years of SATs papers.

For us, over the 15 weeks we have with pupils, this means we would start with ‘Addition and subtraction’ and end with ‘Negative numbers and co-ordinates in all four quadrants’.

N.B. This sequence may be subject to minor changes as we continue to analyse both the past papers and pupil performance/feedback.

BUT, as we all know this is only an incomplete picture.

It doesn’t take into account the key factor for any really successful Maths revision programme – the pupil. More specifically, what does the pupil know now and what do they need to know next?

So, here’s where the real magic happens.

Next Level Analysis: Diagnosing the Needs of Target Year 6 Pupils For SATS

Regular pre and post teach diagnostic tests to assess pupil needs

On the whole, when you’re preparing a class of 30 for their Key Stage 2 SATs, we recommend following a similar programme to our lessons above. However, there will always be pupils who need more personalised support to achieve 100.

Naturally, you’ll already know which of your target pupils are below the expected standard (or just below the standard). So it’s a case of providing them with intensive, ideally 1-to-1, intervention mapped to their individual needs, to ensure success in KS2 SATs.

In our experience, to do this well is exceedingly difficult, even for the most experienced Year 6 teacher and Maths Lead. Put simply, there just isn’t enough time in the school day.

So our goal is to free up your own teachers to teach the whole class while we work with the ones who need individual support.

We now even offer all schools who sign up to our 1-to-1 interventions access to our maths hub of SATS revision lessons, SATs practice papers, SATs videos breaking down every question into modelled answers, not to mention additional fluency, reasoning and problem solving resources. It’s all part of our drive to make your intervention budget (whether that’s part of your general budget, part of your Pupil Premium funding, or even from elsewhere) go further.

Diagnosis of individual maths gaps for KS2 SATs

No doubt you will have your own methods of diagnosing pupils specific gaps (and we have over 50 diagnostic assessments in our Maths Hub to help you do this for all ages), but this is how we do it.

  1. Before a pupil’s first lesson, they each sit a short online test on to assess their understanding of 7 of the key content domains. The test looks at both a pupil’s ability to do the procedure, and ability to problem solve and apply their knowledge.
  2. From this, we get an idea of that pupils’ areas of strength/weakness based on their independent answers to particular concepts in that topic.
  3. Then, at the end of every lesson, a pupil is tested on content they’ve just worked through with their tutor, and on content from the next most relevant lesson. This tells us if that’s where they should go next, or if they should in fact head to a new lesson.
  4. Finally, at the end of the programme, we do one final quiz to ascertain progress made during their 14 weeks. On average pupils make double expected progress during our SATs revision programme. In fact, in a trial using Rising Stars Puma standardised tests, our pupils made 28 weeks progress in 14 weeks.

Note: Pre and post quizzes are designed to be quick and fun – low stakes with quick feedback. They shouldn’t take up too much pupil or teacher time.

How To Create Your Own SATs Revision Lessons For KS2 Maths – 5 Step Structure

As far as possible, within each Maths revision lesson, we try to follow the calculation policy for each school so that we’re giving pupils lessons in a way that’s familiar to them.

Much of what we’re trying to do in our SATs revision programme is to unlock previous knowledge and understanding that a pupil already has and tie it together with the additional concepts the pupil needs to know.

Essentially we follow a mastery approach, always aiming to develop fluency, problem solving and reasoning and at each stage.

In every lesson pupils are also encouraged to tackle deeper reasoning questions to build their verbal fluency and ability to justify answers. These questions are integrated throughout to help students get to grips with more complex question styles in a more graduated manner. Tutors support them to notice patterns, make connections and generalise as these are the skills that correlate to higher attainment.

Here’s the step-by-step template we believe to be the most effective structure and flow for these KS2 Maths revision lessons, starting with a warm up. This structure will be updated in the future (following lots of analysis of lesson performance, pupil feedback etc.) so watch this space!

Step 1: Arithmetic Warm Up

These arithmetic practice questions are similar to those found in the Arithmetic paper, and covers a variety of operations to aid fluency and recall. We also encourage pupils through interleaved practice to switch between operations.

TSL arithmetic warm up slide
Warm up slide for KS2 SATs lessons

Step 2: Revision slides

Next come the revision slides that review the concept but with scaffolding to support the pupil and build confidence. The tutor at this point is asking questions of the pupil to help them make connections and to explore the concepts raised.

TSl sats revision slide
A revision slide taken from a 1-to-1 session on our SATs Booster Intervention Programme

Step 3: SATs practice questions

Once pupils are comfortable with a concept they move on to apply their learning to SATs style practice questions.

Tutor and pupil work through about 3 SATs reasoning questions per lesson – application questions that have been carefully created following the model from national and standardised SATs papers

tsl sats question slide
A SATs practice question designed to be used in a 1-to-1 session on our SATs Booster Intervention Programme

Metacognition is key to a pupil’s accelerated progress so we provide tips for pupils to help them decide on a strategy for answering each question.

tsl sats tip box
Mastery focused reasoning tips provided in for pupils on our SATs Booster Revision Programme

Tutors also extend pupils understanding by asking some open ended questions such as:

  1. What do you know?
  2. What do you notice?
  3. How can you show your working out?
  4. How can you extend this question?

Step 4: Extension questions

Once a pupil has completed the main section of the lesson, they are given additional extension questions to encourage them to work at Greater Depth.

These are low threshold high ceiling questions (usually given as word problems) in which tutors are trained to support the child to have fun exploring the concept further, and enjoy the challenge.

tsl sats extension slide

Step 5: Support slides to plug gaps

A series of support slides taken from a 1-to-1 session on our SATs Booster Intervention Programme
A series of support slides taken from a 1-to-1 session on our SATs Booster Intervention Programme

Finally there are a range of support slides that a tutor can use to plug any gaps as they arise in a lesson, all of which are precursor steps to the questions being asked.

We’re very excited about our KS2 Maths SATs revision lessons and hope this has given you some ideas to take back to your own school about how to set up your own revision.

Do you have pupils who need extra support in maths?
Every week Third Space Learning’s maths specialist tutors support thousands of pupils across hundreds of schools with weekly online 1-to-1 lessons and maths interventions designed to plug gaps and boost progress.

Since 2013 we’ve helped over 90,000 primary and secondary school pupils become more confident, able mathematicians. Learn more or request a personalised quote for your school to speak to us about your school’s needs and how we can help.

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David Leighton
David Leighton
Third Space Learning
Content Team
A former secondary teacher, David writes blog posts and Maths resources as part of the content team.
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Discover how our 1-to-1 maths tuition can supercharge SATs results in your school.

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Learn More About Our 1-to-1 Interventions

Downloadable resource

Discover how our 1-to-1 maths tuition can supercharge SATs results in your school.

Find Out More!