2023 SATs Success Stories From Primary Schools Across The UK

2023 has been widely called the first ‘normal’ year post-COVID — we know it’s been anything but!

In light of this, we wanted to dig into how this year’s SATs cohort might have continued to be affected by the pandemic, how their experience compares to previous years, and how schools helped their pupils achieve SATs success despite the disruption of the last few years.

As the UK’s largest provider of one to one maths tuition for primary schools, we work with thousands of schools in the lead up to SATs. We saw firsthand just how tough it was at times for Year 6 teachers, pupils and senior leaders in 2022/23.


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But — rather than listening to our own experience — if you’re anything like the teachers and school leaders we talk to every day, what you’re most interested in are the reflections of other schools like yours.

We’ve gathered together feedback and thoughts from the 1,000+ schools we’ve worked with — through surveys and in-depth phone calls and school visits — many of them probably not dissimilar to your own school. This article showcases the incredible dedication of teachers and senior leaders to supporting their Year 6 pupils in 2023, and the different ways these schools have managed to achieve SATs success in 2023.

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A safe space to make mistakes helps pupils grow in confidence

It is often the case that some pupils in the classroom don’t have the resilience or confidence to keep tackling a problem. They might be unable to answer these specific types of questions, resort to guessing what the answer could be, or give up easily when answers aren’t immediate.

The results of our SATs 2023 teacher survey showed it was clear many teachers felt the same way about how the pandemic had impacted their pupils’ confidence.

Additional tuition from Third Space Learning tutors gave pupils regular opportunities to talk through their maths in a low-stakes one to one environment, helping to develop pupils’ verbal fluency, reasoning and problem-solving skills, as well as their confidence.

Personalised support helps more pupils meet the expected standard

With the mammoth task of plugging gaps in pupils’ knowledge and rebuilding confidence after the pandemic, ensuring pupils met the expected standards in the 2023 SATs sometimes seemed impossible. 

We were absolutely blown away by the positive feedback from schools who’d used our SATs revision programme to help their target Year 6 pupils head into their exams feeling confident and prepared for the challenge.

Through initial and ongoing diagnostic assessments, the Third Space Learning SATs revision programme identifies each pupil’s individual gaps and ensures lessons provide support where each pupil needs it most to succeed in maths SATs. 

See also: How Hague Primary Took Pupils From Single-Digit Scores To Reaching Expected Standards In Their 2022 Maths SATs

On average, Third Space Learners achieved higher scores in their maths papers than the rest of their year group, and than the national average.

Whilst the SATs programme is effective in raising attainment, we know that it isn’t just about scores. Most importantly, pupils walk away having a greater understanding of maths concepts and are better prepared for the next stage of their maths journey.

Regular opportunities to practise helps pupils walk into the exam hall knowing what to expect

One of the biggest things both teachers and pupils were up against this year was time. With so much content to cover, not all pupils had enough opportunities to practise their skills and apply their knowledge to a range of contexts. Without this practice, pupils can feel stumped when they do face the maths papers and aren’t quite sure what’s expected of them.

We often hear from our schools how the additional one to one sessions give pupils that extra opportunity to consolidate their learning and apply their knowledge to SATs-style questions. With the help of their tutors, they can more confidently explore the different steps required to answer reasoning questions.

SATs style lesson slide
A SATs style question from a Third Space Learning online one-to-one SATs revision lesson

With the right support in place, more pupils can achieve Greater Depth than you might think

Clearly, all teachers would love for lots of their pupils to reach Greater Depth, but with such a challenging year for Year 6 pupils and their teachers, this often felt like an unachievable goal this year — especially as so many pupils were lacking the basic building blocks to access the KS2 curriculum.

We were absolutely delighted to hear that so many of our Third Space Learners were able to achieve Greater Depth in 2023, particularly as so many of these pupils were working at pre-Year 6 levels before they started the intervention. Of those teachers who completed our 2023 SATs survey, 81% reached the expected standard in their maths SATs – surpassing the national average of 73%. 

Effective whole class teaching resources are essential for SATs success

Not all pupils at our schools are signed up for the tuition, and we want as many pupils as possible to succeed. That’s why we create and share a huge selection of maths whole school resources — including a wide variety of SATs resources.

Fluent in Five, our year-long daily arithmetic scheme, has had a particularly positive impact on pupils’ SATs successes. Fluent in Five helps familiarise pupils with the kinds of questions they’ll face in the arithmetic paper, helps build pupils’ confidence in being able to apply mental maths strategies to questions and boosts number fluency in SATs.

Fluent in five quotes

A few of our favourite pupil success stories

We love hearing from our schools about the overall impact of the tuition, but it really warms our hearts when we hear about individual pupils who’ve managed to beat the odds to succeed this year.

Here are a few of our favourite stories:

After a few years without SATs, it’s great to see how many pupils have risen to the challenge and we’re so incredibly proud of all our Third Space Learners.

After reflecting on the previous SATs results week, it’s great to see the same kinds of positive comments that we received in previous years:

Aveley primary school review
castlechurch primary school review
delta crookesbroom case study
pangbourne primary case study

Third Space Learning’s impact on pupils across the country

One to one interventions, such as ours, can have a real, noticeable impact on both confidence and attainment. Reasons for this include:

  • Pupils verbalise their thought process by justifying answers with their tutor, which encourages them to engage with and understand concepts more deeply.
  • Each individual lesson is tailored to the pupils’ needs, allowing each pupil to learn at a pace that’s right for them.
  • Pupils are encouraged to engage with their tutors within a one to one environment which can take away the pressure associated with speaking up in class.
  • Pupils are able to build relationships with their tutors, which in turn has a positive impact on learning.

Each week, pupils draw, talk and type their way through their personalised lessons in our engaging interactive classroom, where their understanding is assessed. Tutors also help pupils explore the steps needed to answer different questions efficiently. 

What do pupils think?

Hear from students themselves how much they enjoy one to one tuition and how they’ve gained confidence in their maths and SATs ability over time. Here are a few of our favourite quotes from some of our Third Space pupils:

The importance of starting SATs prep early

Something that many teachers in our community agreed on in 2023 was the need to start thinking about SATs further in advance for the following academic year:

Further reading
Third Space Learning Upsell Section


Every week Third Space Learning’s specialist primary maths tutors support thousands of students across hundreds of schools with weekly online 1 to 1 maths lessons designed to plug gaps and boost progress.


Since 2013 these personalised one to one lessons have helped over 150,000 primary and secondary students become more confident, able mathematicians.


Learn how tutors encourage mathematical language or request a personalised quote for your school to speak to us about your school’s needs and how we can help.


FREE Year 6 Survival Pack

A selection of fun activities to use with your Year 6 class after SATs plus our most downloaded free SATs resources to support next year's cohort.

Includes KS2 maths games and investigations and our most popular resource, Fluent in Five!

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