Review Of Maths SATs 2024: Results Of Our Teacher Survey! What Do You Think?

Just like that, SATs are done and dusted for another year. Soon the SATs results 2024 will be released but, for now, we’re bringing you our latest annual SATs review.

Every year, we ask thousands of teachers to share their views on the current SATs papers and their pupils’ preparation. To ensure we get a true picture of the 2024 maths SATs, we’ve also kept a close eye on social media and spoken to many of the 736 schools signed up for our online one-to-one tutoring programmes.

A huge thank you to the hundreds of teachers who answered our maths SATs 2024 survey and shared their thoughts on social media. For those who didn’t get a chance to let us know what you thought of #SATs2024 you can share your thoughts @thirdspacetweet

Please note, this blog looks at the difficulty of the papers but it does not go into question-level detail. After the 24th May, we’ll return to bring you a full SATs breakdown and analysis.

Interested in how the maths SATs 2024 teacher survey compares with previous years?

Which 2024 KS2 SATs papers did we ask teachers about in our survey?

  • Arithmetic Paper 1: 15th May 2024
  • Reasoning Paper 2: 15th May 2024
  • Reasoning Paper 3: 16th May 2024

How was the SATs 2024 experience?

Unlike 2023, the 2024 Year 6 cohort didn’t have strikes or coronations to contend with. However, they did miss out on their Year 2 SATs and basic maths foundations thanks to the pandemic. But did this make a difference? Let’s find out! 

First things first, how was the overall SATs 2024 experience? Our survey showed respondents felt this year’s experience was harder than 2023. Given the difficulty of the 2023 reading paper, making the 2024 papers even more difficult was not easy! 

While experiences differ from cohort to cohort, it seems the maths papers, particularly Reasoning Paper 1, are accountable for this difficult experience. Do you agree?

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Overall SATs papers comparison 2023 v. 2024: unbelievably, SATs were tougher than last year

A huge 79% of respondents were SATs veterans this year and had previously supported Year 6 pupils through SATs. Of those, 51% noted the overall experience was harder than last year and 72% thought the maths papers were more difficult.

Maths SATs 2024 papers: harder than previous years?

Let’s take a closer look at the maths papers. 68% thought the maths papers were tricky this year. In fact, 61% thought they were more difficult than anticipated.

Interestingly, this rises to 67% for teachers who have previously supported Year 6 pupils through SATs, and drops to just 43% for first-timers.

This shows how much the difficulty of this year’s SATs caught out those who have taught SATs before compared to previous experiences.

SATs 2024 quote comparing to 2023 Children had to unpick the wording on the Reasoning 1 Paper

While many found the Arithmetic paper as they would expect, 75% thought Reasoning Paper 1 was difficult or very difficult.

SATS 2024 quote compared to 2023 - arithmetic was on par but reasoning was more difficult.
SATs 2024 quote - children found it difficult to complete the test in the restricted time frame

Teachers who had benefited from additional intervention for their target Year 6 pupils – specifically online one-to-one maths tutoring from Third Space Learning – found the papers to be easier on the whole.

Selected Year 6 pupils at these schools received weekly one-to-one revision support focusing on SATs-style questions and strategies.

In fact, 73% of the total respondents reporting the papers were easy had Third Space Learning tutoring in place this year.

And of course, alongside the maths SATs 2024 papers returned the age-old question: will Chen make an appearance this year?

Chen appearing in maths SATs 2024
Chen SATS 2024

Are SATs a fair reflection of pupil potential?

The jury is still out on whether the raw score needed to reach the expected standard will increase, decrease or stay the same as the required 56 out of 110 in 2023.

While this is always hard to predict, 36% think the raw score will decrease. Many feel this is due to the difficult nature of the wording on the first Reasoning paper.  

Despite pupils struggling with the first Reasoning paper, 25% of respondents think the raw score will increase after it was lowered in 2023. 39% believe it will either stay the same or, understandably, just aren’t sure. 

But, will this be a true reflection of potential? 

As ever, many teachers feel that the time restrictions don’t allow slower pupils to truly demonstrate their mathematical potential. Some stated that pupils who usually fly through the papers struggled to finish within the allocated time while many became upset.

SATs 2024 quote - need to change how pupils are assessed in KS2
SATs quote 2024 - children reduced to tears during SATs

Additionally, a large number of school staff feel the Reasoning papers were not an accurate reflection of mathematical ability. Although the maths required was deemed fairly straightforward, the level of comprehension needed to decode and understand the questions was unfair to EAL pupils. 

SATs quote 2024 - maths test was unfair on EAL pupils

Good old average Arithmetic

A continuing trend from 2022 and 2023 found that the majority of respondents, 66%, thought the Arithmetic paper was average and a fair assessment of KS2 knowledge, while 13% found it more difficult than expected. 17% found the paper easy or very easy. 

The general consensus is that the Arithmetic paper follows the same format year after year and questions do not deviate too much. Many felt this year’s paper was on par with pre-pandemic KS2 arithmetic assessments.  

Although some felt the beginning of the arithmetic gave some tricky questions, included larger numbers and noticed the absence of easier mark questions.   

Respondents using Third Space Learning’s Fluent in Five arithmetic resource were confident that all of the Arithmetic paper questions were covered within their daily Fluent in Five practice.

Teachers using Fluent in Five to prepare pupils for SATs 2024 and every year

Tricks, tears and ‘meltdowns’: Reasoning 1 was seen as wordy and unfair 

Move over 2023 Reading paper, there’s a new contender for the hardest paper in memory.

Quote SATs 2024 - test was unfair even on greater depth children

It only takes a few minutes on Edutwitter to see how many teachers felt the first 2024 Reasoning paper was extremely challenging for pupils.

SATs Reasoning Paper 1 was far too wordy

The results of our teacher survey are no different. Not wanting to buck the trend of 2022 and 2023, teachers reported finding Reasoning 1 more difficult than the Arithmetic paper, with a staggering 75% of teachers feeling that Reasoning 1 was difficult or very difficult. This is in comparison to 59% of teachers saying the same thing last about 2023’s first Reasoning paper.

Many shared the opinion that the questions were extremely wordy with many trickier questions specifically at the beginning and in the middle of the paper.

Many felt the reasoning paper was a second reading paper

EAL pupils in particular struggled with this paper due to the amount of time they had to spend deciphering what was being asked of them before they could attempt to answer.

SATs reasoning questions were too tricky for EAL pupils

Teachers also commented on the length of the paper and the number of questions, and how this impacted pupils’ ability to complete the paper to the best of their ability

SATs 2024 reasoning paper was longer than previous years with lots of domains

It’s clear that the difficulty of the paper had a big impact on pupils. We’ve heard countless stories of pupils in tears, and one school even had to stop the paper because ‘one child was having a complete meltdown’.

It’s not just teachers and pupils who felt the impact, it was parents too. Many of our survey respondents also have children in Year 6, and many of those children came home feeling very deflated about the first Reasoning Paper and incredibly anxious about what was to come.

All in all, the vast majority of teachers felt the first Reasoning paper was unnecessarily tricky, not a fair reflection of pupils’ learning, and caused a lot of upset and anxiety among pupils.

Reasoning 2 was easier on the whole

29% of teachers felt the second Reasoning paper was difficult or very difficult, compared to 75% of teachers for the first Reasoning paper.

After a very tricky Wednesday, this was a big relief for pupils, teachers and parents alike.

Teachers felt pupils were well prepared for SATs

While the buck may stop with Year 6 teachers, it takes a whole school to prepare pupils for their KS2 assessments. Well done to every member of staff who have helped get your Year 6 cohort to where they are today.  

Overall, our survey suggests that teachers felt their pupils were well prepared for the 2024 SATs papers with many of them turning to Third Space Learning’s Fluent in Five to develop arithmetic skills.

Fluent in Five helping pupils prepare for SATs 2024

73% of respondents managed to cover the entire curriculum with 23% leaving just a few topics uncovered and 4% not having time to cover many topics.

The majority of respondents used White Rose Maths to work their way through the maths curriculum this year with others using NCETM. 

A large proportion of schools used our Third Space Learning resources along with our annually updated SATs priority topic list

Each year, our team of academic experts analyse the maths SATs papers to create a list of the top 20 maths topics to prioritise for maths SATs revision.

Third Space Learning's SATs analysis helped prepare pupils for the 2024 maths SATs
Third Space Learning resources helped teachers cover the curriculum ahead of SATs 2024

As well as asking how prepared pupils felt, we asked teachers which topics their Year 6 pupils struggled with most. For the second year in a row, the winner was Fractions, Decimals and Percentages, followed by Properties of Shape. However, beating Ratio and Proportion to the third spot this year was Algebra.  

It’s clear to see that no matter the topic teachers thought their pupils struggled with most was due to a lack of fundamental maths knowledge. It would seem that missing out on learning basic maths during the pandemic has caused some large learning gaps for this Year 6 cohort.

The impact of the pandemic lives on

In recent years, no SATs-related discussion or review was complete without considering the impact of the pandemic. Now, 4 years on from the first wave of school closures, it’s clear that impact is still present.

This year’s Year 6 cohort missed out on sitting their Year 2 SATs, and while 57% of teachers agreed that this did not impact their KS2 SATs experience, a few teachers commented on how this meant this cohort didn’t have any exam practice.

SATs 2024 quote - effect of missing out on sitting the Year 2 SATs due to the pandemic

Others highlighted that the use of teacher assessments in this cohort’s Year 2 SATs might mean their KS2 SATs data comes across more poorly:

There were many gaps in knowledge for the 2024 Year 6 cohort due to missing out on basic maths due to the pandemic

When thinking more generally about the impact the pandemic has had on this year’s SATs cohort, the vast majority of teachers are still seeing the effects, although more teachers selected ‘some negative impact’ than ‘significant negative’ impact. 

Just under 9% of respondents feel they have not seen any impact of the pandemic on this year’s Year 6s.

The responses to this year’s survey show the impact of the pandemic is clearly seen across pupils’ academic performance, as well as their behaviour and mindset.

Impact of the pandemic on this year's Year 6 cohort

When it comes to their academic performance, teachers are continuing to see specific gaps in learning across lower KS2, but are also seeing a more general lack of basic number understanding and number fluency.

SATs 2024 survey quote - effects of the pandemic

Given that this cohort has missed out on so many essential foundational skills, some teachers felt the impact of the pandemic on this year’s Year 6s was worse than in previous years:

SATs 2024 survey quote - missing mathematical foundations to build reasoning
SATs 2024 survey quote - missing personal development due to the pandemic

Thinking about their behaviour and mindset, we’re clearly not out of the woods there either.

Pandemic has affected children's social development
lasting impact of the pandemic on this year's SATs cohort

One thing is for sure, the pandemic may well be 4 years ago, but the impacts live on, and not just because of school closures but for many other reasons, as pointed out by this headteacher:

IMPACT OF THE PANDEMIC ON SATS 2024

Prioritising pupil and staff well-being

For many, there seems to be some irony in the 2024 SATs taking place during Mental Health Awareness Week. While schools should have been able to promote positive mental health and add some extra mindfulness activities into the school week, pupils were put through an unrelenting Reasoning paper 1.

In a bid to add some fun, ease anxiety and create a sense of community during SATs week, schools across the country continued the lovely tradition of SATs breakfast. 

Tucking into a nutritious and filling breakfast prepared by teachers and surrounded by friends sets Year 6 pupils up before the big exams. 

Looking after pupil well-being

Many schools shared the mindful activities put on for Year 6 pupils after each exam and their day of fun planned for Friday.

Fun post-SATs activities for Year 6 pupils

Despite schools doing all they can to look after pupil and staff well-being in the run-up to SATs, some have faced a rocky road. 

While many schools faced visits from invigilators to ensure they were carrying out SATs correctly, a number of schools turned to X (formerly Twitter) to share that they had received the call from Ofsted during SATs week. Both make an already stressful week harder for staff and pupils alike.  

Overall, it seems schools are working harder than ever to improve the well-being surrounding SATs. In our survey, schools shared their well-being initiatives from reducing homework to plenty of outdoor learning to positive mindset workshops.

Non-conventional SATs 2024 prep - outdoor maths learning

Tutoring has helped close gaps and build confidence, especially when it’s one-to-one

65% of respondents had some kind of tutoring in place for their pupils and on the whole, teachers felt this had a positive impact on their pupils

Most of these schools used their own school staff to deliver small group tutoring.

Schools providing one-to-one tutoring reported a bigger impact on their pupils than those opting for small group tutoring.

27% of survey respondents had used Third Space Learning’s online one-to-one maths tutoring this year, with 97% saying it is effective in preparing their Year 6 pupils for their SATs.

Benefit of using Third Space Learning's one to one tutoring

‘Improved confidence and engagement’,  ‘Plugged gaps in learning’ and ‘Stronger problem solving and reasoning skills’ came out top when it came to understanding the impact Third Space Learning tutoring had on their current Year 6 cohort.

SATs 2024 survey - support of Third Space Learning tutoring in SATs

Many teachers also commented on the fact that Third Space Learning tutoring meant they could use their time more efficiently; while their Third Space Learners were in their sessions, they (and their TAs) were able to focus on other groups of children.

According to our survey, teachers who had used Third Space Learning tutoring:

  • Found the 2024 maths SATs papers easier than those who hadn’t, including the first Reasoning paper
  • Thought their pupils were more prepared for the maths SATs 2024 papers
  • Felt more confident that the maths SATs 2024 papers will provide a fair understanding of their pupils’ understanding of maths
  • Were more likely to cover all of the curriculum content

Practice, practice, practice: what were the top resources?

In addition to turning to tutoring, teachers made use of a range of resources to help best prepare their pupils for maths SATs 2024.

Over 81% of respondents reported using the free downloadable resources from the Third Space Maths Hub in the lead up to SATs. A huge 99% of these people found our resources helpful in preparing their pupils. 

Unsurprisingly, the most helpful resources were Fluent in Five, Rapid Reasoning, SATs worked examples and our collection of past SATs practice papers.

Fluent in Five prepared children for 2024 maths SATs
Worked examples useful in preparing for SATs 2024

If you haven’t yet, head over to the Third Space Maths Hub and create a free account to access hundreds of free maths resources. 

Would you do things differently next year?

SATs may have only just finished for another year, but our respondents have offered helpful insights to help teachers get ahead for next year. While this is likely the last thing you want to do right now, why not bookmark these ideas to come back to at a later date? 

It’s evident that there’s no one singular approach to preparing individual pupils for SATs, but here are some respondent’s suggestions for 2025: 

If you’re looking to start maths interventions early to address learning gaps and build confidence through personalised one-to-one lessons, check out Third Space Learning’s range of intervention programmes.  

Let’s hear it for you wonderful teachers and pupils

As ever, we are so grateful to all the teachers and school staff who took the time to complete our annual SATs survey. 

We can’t mention every response, but we can celebrate you all. 

It’s been a pleasure to be part of your SATs 2024 journey. Whether you’ve read our blogs, used our free maths resources or your pupils have benefited from our online one-to-one maths tutoring, we hope you’ve felt supported.  

Good luck to the 10,733 Year 6 pupils we’ve worked with this year and we’re looking forward to meeting the next cohort of pupils. 

Remember to download your free Year 6 Survival Pack for plenty of fun maths investigations and games to see you through the rest of the year and give you a head start next year with our sought-after Fluent in Five. 

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Learn about the SATs revision programme 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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