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A Tried And Tested Lesson Structure For Year 6 SATs Revision

Here at Third Space Learning, we have an expert team of teachers and educationalists who take care of our ever-evolving and popular SATs revision programme.

In this blog, we share the best way we have found to structure any SATs revision lesson over many years of tests and improvements. By showing you the principles that underlie our online one-to-one SATs lessons, we hope you will be able to take these lessons straight from our classroom to yours.

What is the SATs revision programme?

Third Space Learning’s SATs revision programme is a dedicated one-to-one online intervention programme of SATs revision for Year 6 pupils from the start of the Spring Term in January until SATs week.

The programme consists of 25 distinct Learning Objectives focused very closely on those that are needed for SATs success.

Each of these is prioritised by their likely impact in SATs; a triangulation of how difficult each topic is, how many marks it is likely to be worth and how likely it is to appear in the exam. This has been identified by analysing past papers, QLA data and data from the tens of thousands of pupils who have been through our SATs programme already.

Third Space Learning Terminology

You may have noticed us talking about ‘Learning Objectives’ and ‘lessons’ interchangeably. We often use the word ‘Learning Objective’, as the word ‘lesson’ can imply that it fills the entire tuition session, which it may or may not in reality; pupils often cover multiple Learning Objectives in one session.

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Learn More About Our 1-to-1 SATs Programme

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How can our SATs lesson structure inspire yours?

When we develop our lessons, we know that every child being taught will be guided through the lesson by a skilled one-to-one tutor. However, the lesson structure and principles behind these lessons are equally applicable to a classroom setting. 

The advantage for pupils in a Third Space Learning lesson is that the lesson will be personalised directly to their needs following a pre-lesson diagnostic assessment. 

As class teachers and leaders, you will already have a good idea of the gaps across your class. When structuring your SATs lesson, we would also recommend considering the topics that are going to be most ‘rewarding’ for pupils actually sitting their SATs in May.

Read more: How To Create A Year 6 Maths Revision Programme So That All Your Pupils Achieve 100 In KS2 SATs

The structure for our SATs lessons is different from that of our standard KS2 lessons and follows a particular format for SATs success. This structure, alongside our diagnostic assessments, has been tried and tested to have the greatest impact on your target pupils’ SATs performance. Hopefully, this should offer some inspiration for reviewing and structuring your own effective SATs lessons!

Place value SATs revision lesson tutor notes
Behind the scenes on Third Space Learning’s ‘Reasoning with Place Value’ lesson!

Structure of the ideal SATs revision lesson

Each Third Space Learning SATs revision lesson follows the same structure, which has been deliberately developed through monitoring thousands of hours of online SATs lessons to see how pupils make the best and most effective progress. As you will see, right from the first lesson slide we are shining the spotlight on SATs questions and this laser focus on the SATs themselves drives the entire lesson.

Our advice is that in your own SATs revision lessons, you need to focus teaching time very directly on answering SATs questions as that’s what pupils will need to do in May. This is not the time to be going right back to basics.

As you will see, each of our SATs lessons are built around several SATs style questions. If additional conceptual knowledge is required to answer a SATs question our tutors have it at their fingertips to revise it on the spot. But the hook is always the SATs question.

With your own class when you are preparing your SATs revision lessons we recommend you have a ready supply of SATs style questions to use as examplars.

The following free resources and articles will come in helpful for this:

Read more: 20 Best Free SATs Revision Resources

1. Fluency starter

Tutors start with a SATs question designed to help them understand if the pupil has the prerequisite knowledge (therefore pre-assessing) for any given topic.

The range of questions is carefully and purposefully curated to help develop fluency, giving students problem-solving practice and exposure to questions similar to their SATs Year 6 arithmetic test.

Place value SATs revision lesson fluency slide

2. SATs-style questions

Once the tutor can gauge the pupil’s understanding of the topic, they move straight onto working through SATs reasoning questions together. These build confidence and familiarity with SATs reasoning questions and what they will need to look out for before answering.

We use a similar model to the ‘I do, We do, You do’ model that many pupils will already be familiar with, but in the context of the SATs programme, we refer to it as…

Place value SATs revision lesson SAT-style question slide

3. Support and concept scaffolding

If the pupil needs more support, their tutor will move to a support slide for that question, which carefully ‘unpacks’ the steps needed to find the right answer. This slide is taught interactively and focuses on understanding the concept, as well as which SATs strategies to use next time the pupil encounters a similar question.

Place value SATs revision lesson 'Let's go through this together' slide

4. Independent practice and consolidation

If the pupil has needed support on a particular concept, we give them another opportunity to consolidate that learning by testing out the strategies on a similar but different SATs reasoning question. This helps the pupil with knowledge transfer, secures their understanding and builds confidence. It also gives the tutor an opportunity to accurately assess their progress on any given concept.

Place value SATs revision lesson 'Try another one' slide

It is worth noting here that there are three sets of SATs-style questions within each lesson, so the above steps are repeated to properly embed each concept.

For example, in the ‘Reasoning with Place Value’, there will be six SATs questions; two focusing on one idea, two on another idea, and two on another idea. These will all be concepts within place value that the pupils are tested on during SATs.

So, in each lesson, there are three worked examples (one in each set). We unpack three questions out of the total six questions in each Learning Objective. The final question in each set is to ‘check for understanding’ to see if the pupil can answer a similar question using the strategies learnt.

In total, throughout our 25 SATs lessons, we have 75 (25 x 3) fully worked example SATs questions available to tutors!

“The SATs Revision programme has been fantastic for our Year 6 pupils. The fact that the questions that come up are really similar to the ones that crop up in SATs papers has worked well for us.” – Nicola Glover, Headteacher, Castlechurch Primary School


Principles underlying our SATs lessons

When you are looking to create or adapt your own SATs lessons, it is worth keeping these same principles in mind to make the most of revision time.

1. Securing core KS2 content

Each week, lessons begin with every pupil recapping core KS2 content with their own specialist tutor, who ensures the pupil understands the underlying concept at hand.

Although the initial diagnostic assessment (and subsequent Post-Session Questions) should highlight any gaps and inform the pupil’s personalised revision plan, their one-to-one tutor is also there to work through any uncertainty with them.

Read more: The Structure of a Third Space Learning KS2 Lesson

2. Familiarity with SATs-style questions

In January, most schools move from teaching new content to revising and applying the knowledge to SATs-style questions, plus completing practice papers. Once pupils are secure with a concept, it is important to make sure they are familiar with the kinds of questions they will face, and what time limits they will be under.

3. Building confidence

Despite the programme being closely related to marks, topic frequency and difficulty, and improving overall attainment, it also carries the more intangible mission of boosting confidence, both in preparing for SATS and maths more generally.

What really makes a difference with SATS revision is building confidence around questions, strategies, and the mechanics of sitting the test itself. Pupils are equipped to deal with the realities of SATs, rather than potentially fearing a higher-stakes environment.

By discussing which methods help with which problems, pupils also progressively build greater independence and metacognition.

4. Targeted SATs support

With school closures widening the attainment gap over the last couple of years, there is likely to be a backlog of core content, and pupils who might be struggling with particular areas of the curriculum.

The structure of our SATs lessons provides additional support to these target Year 6 pupils through practising SATs questions during personalised revision time.

Every dedicated tutor is there to hone each individual pupil’s unique skills and solidify the strategies they need to succeed in SATs, which hopefully makes ‘catching up’ feel less daunting to teachers and pupils alike.

“Third Space Learning’s personalised interventions supported children in developing their skills and confidence in maths, particularly in the build up to SATs.” – James Norman, Headteacher, Whipton Barton Junior School


Equipping pupils for SATs success

Our one-to-one SATS revision lessons have been carefully crafted to be as useful as possible to those accessing them. The brilliant Academic Team at Third Space Learning is constantly updating, reviewing and improving our various intervention programmes and collecting feedback from tutors and pupils.

We hope our SATs lesson structure inspires your own classroom revision lessons, maths booster groups and resource planning!

Read more: 6 Free SATs Papers to Get Year 6 Ready for KS2 SATs

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 125,000 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.

Personalised maths support delivered by each child’s own dedicated primary school maths tutor.

Lucy Inskip
Lucy Inskip
Third Space Learning
Content Team
Lucy edits most of the content you see on the website, and with any time left over, she writes articles showing how Third Space Learning can help you and your pupils in school.
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Learn More About Our 1-to-1 SATs Programme

Learn More About Our 1-to-1 SATs Programme

Discover how our online maths tuition can supercharge SATs results in your school.

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Learn More About Our 1-to-1 SATs Programme

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FREE Place Value Pack of Lessons, Worksheets, Questions and Answers

New for 2022, we're giving away all our KS1 and KS2 place value lessons slides and worksheets (with teaching notes included). 



All resources from Year 1 to Year 6 follow a master approach to mathematics teaching, similar to schemes such as White Rose Maths and Mathematics Mistery.

Download free