Creating Year 6 SATs revision plans, making sure every gap you can possibly fill in your class is filled, and coping with the everyday demands of a primary school classroom… when it comes to teaching Year 6, nobody needs reminding that this is a particularly important and taxing year.
It goes without saying that teachers and school leaders are doing all they can to effectively (and supportively!) prepare their Year 6 pupils for their KS2 Assessments in May.
However, the question still remains for many teachers as to when to start preparations, what kind of preparation is best, and what that looks like at different points of the school year.
With everything else going on in this busy year, it is however important to remember that just because SATs are on the horizon, it should not mean a year full of SATs practice papers is on the agenda.
We understand that helping pupils reach their expected goals in the SATs is very important, but as teachers we should also try to remember that we are working to ensure that every member of our class is in the best possible position to move on to secondary school come the end of primary school, and a good Year 6 SATs revision plan can help with this.
It can be difficult to know when to begin SATs preparation, but we are going to use the data we have gathered from teaching some 650,000 lessons to KS2 pupils to tell you what we have discovered over the years.
Year 6 SATs Revision Plans – When Should SATs Preparation Start?
Across the country the spring term may be when SATs preparations really begin to ramp up, but when we surveyed hundreds of teachers who had used our 1-to-1 intervention programme immediately after the 2018 SATs, ‘starting earlier’ was the thing that most of them said they would do differently for the coming year.
What do you think you might do differently in your SATs preparation next year?
The responses we got when we asked teachers this question were varied, but it soon became clear that the vast majority of the answers fell into one of four categories when teachers considered what they would do for their next Year 6 SATs revision plan.
Most teachers said that they wish that they had started their SATs preparation earlier in the year.
Some things teachers said they wish they had done differently included:
“Start a little earlier in the year”
“Use earlier boosters”
“Start in Year 5”
“Start arithmetic in Year 4”
“Start prep in summer term for Year 5”
“Cram more in somehow. Start booster work to secure arithmetic in Year 5”
“Begin practice questions and daily fluency sooner”
“Continue to push arithmetic hard (particularly further down the school), give pupils experience of more challenging problems”
Aidan Severs, A.K.A @Thatboycanteach is also of the opinion that SATs preparation should begin earlier in the year, so take a look at his piece on why your KS2 Maths SATs interventions should not start in Year 6.
Other said that they wished they used streaming at the beginning of the year.
Quotes from the survey include:
“I would stream from September”
“I’d stream groups from the start of the year and spend longer at the start of the year going over curriculum gaps from KS2”
Teaching mixed ability groups, particularly in maths can be difficult (especially in the run up to SATs.) That is why you need to make sure you use the right maths activities with mixed ability groupings to help every member of the class prepare for their upcoming tests, and subsequent move to secondary school in the best way possible.
Using practice SATs questions to familiarise their class with what was coming up was also a popular comment.
Some teacher also said that they would do the following differently in the run up to this years SATs:
“Implement more SATs style questions into lessons exploring a range of strategies”
“More work on resilience to take on the more challenging reasoning questions”
“More arithmetic practice earlier in the year”
Bringing problem solving and reasoning into the classroom earlier in the year would have helped some teachers too.
Highlights from the survey included:
“I would start reasoning work earlier in the year”
“I’d like to do more problem solving in the Autumn term”
With problem solving in maths playing such an important role, not only during the SATs period but also throughout the transition into Year 7 and beyond, it is key that pupils get to grips with problem solving techniques before Year 6. It is one of the three aims of the 2014 national curriculum, and its applicability to real life maths is unrivalled.
Hundreds Of Teachers May Have Responded To The Survey, But There Was One Clear Conclusion
From all of the answers we got in our post 2018 SATs survey, the uniting theme that emerged was that almost all teachers wished that they had started their SATs preparation earlier.
Whether it be simple steps such as “Making reasoning and problem solving lessons incorporate even more elements that pupils must use and then apply”, or something longer term like including “more work on resilience to take on the more challenging reasoning questions”, a lot of teachers said that they wanted to start preparing earlier in the year one way or another.
That does however lead to one tricky question…
How Early Is Too Early To Prepare For SATs?
The survey showed us a range of responses, with some teachers saying they wished they had begun SATs preparation earlier in Year 6. However, many other stating that when given the chance again, this year they would work to address basic maths skills, particularly arithmetic, in Year 5 or even earlier.
This is something that we a firm believers of here at Third Space Learning, and that is why our 1-to-1 maths tuition has been designed to help not only prepare pupils for SATs, but also to build solid foundations and prepare pupils for the rigours of Year 7 and beyond.
What About When Pupils Reach Year 6 And Still Need Additional Help?
Even with an effective and well thought out approach to maths teaching and intervention in Years 3-5, the reality is that some Year 6 pupils will still benefit from additional intervention early in Year 6 and all will benefit from specific SATs preparation, especially those pupils at risk of not making expected progress.
So, does that mean diving straight into SATs-specific preparations and talking to Year 6 pupils about their impending exams right from the start of the autumn term?
According to educational mental health expert Rachel Welch, the answer is no.
Rachel advises teachers not to talk about SATs until ‘well into the Spring Term’ to avoid having a negative impact on pupil wellbeing, a topic which is thoroughly covered in our Guide to Pupil Wellbeing During SATs.
SATs preparation should be all about offering pupils the right support at the right time.
It’s about utilising the time each term provides effectively and providing pupils with the opportunity to plug gaps, grasp key concepts and address misconceptions early on to ensure that, by the time the spring term rolls around, pupils are ready to begin consolidation, revision and practice SATs-style questions.
The focus for pupils should be firmly on improving their maths skills and abilities and not the word “SAT’s”. That is why here at Third Space Learning we take a multi-step approach to the SATs preparation we provide.
**How you can help your pupils prepare for the SATs by using Third Space Learning**
We know that the run up to SATs can be a daunting time for teachers and pupils alike. That is why we have used all of our experience to put together the SATs preparation plan discussed in this blog. You can use the theory behind the plan in your school, or, if you would like to bring our 1-to-1 tuition into your school, you can join the hundreds of other primary schools benefiting from the help our KS2 maths tutors provide.
Book your no commitment 10 minute demo to discover the impact our 1-to-1 interventions can have for your pupils – it’s never been easier or more affordable. Call us on 0203 771 0095 or contact us here to learn more about how we can help turbocharge maths in your school!
The TSL Three-Phase Approach To SATs Preparation – Foundation, Consolidation & Transition
Having effectively prepared over 44,000 pupils for SATs through weekly online 1-to-1 maths lessons, we’ve learnt a thing or two about what works when it comes to SATs preparations throughout the year.
This is the approach that has worked for us on our online tutoring platform, but you can easily adapt it and use the three stages in your school to help ensure that SATs preparation goes to plan.
We believe the most effective way to approach SATs preparation and revision is to ensure you have a clear focus for your pupils at each particular point in the term.
So, to help you do the same in your school, we’ve broken down how we do it:
In our KS2 SATs Intervention Programme, we take a structured three-phase approach to provide the ideal combination of support throughout the year for your target pupils.
Schools can sign their pupils up at any point throughout the year, but the type and focus of support our tutors offer, as well as the lesson content, will differ depending on the time of year…
Let’s take a closer look at how it works
Autumn Term – Year 6
Key Focus: Plugging gaps and addressing misconceptions to build solid foundations
All too often, pupils start Year 6 with outstanding gaps from Year 3-5. However, it can be difficult in a class of 30 to revisit this content without slowing down the rest of the class.
Rather than waiting until January and rushing to revisit content from lower down the school and revise for SATs, schools who sign up during the Autumn Term use the weekly 1-to-1 lessons to give their target pupils to plug gaps in a 1-to-1 environment early on, leaving them with a solid foundation of knowledge to build upon the following term.
How Third Space Learning Tutors Support Year 6 With Maths In The Autumn Term
This is the period of time when tutors or the sessions administrator, depending on which type of programme has been chosen, select which gaps need to be filled amongst pupils. Some may need help with fractions, other with problem solving questions, but the Autumn Term provides a fantastic chance to help pupils really grasp the concept at hand before moving onto the next.
Spring Term – Year 6
Key Focus: Revising key concepts, applying knowledge to SATs-style questions and refining problem solving skills.
In January, the lessons used in our KS2 SATs Intervention programme switch from our standard curriculum to our dedicated SATs lessons.
Pupils then work with their tutor each week to quickly recap knowledge of core topics before applying it to SATs-style questions. Tutors talk pupils through a range of methods to approach problems, showing them how to break them down into manageable steps.
How Third Space Learning Tutors support Year 6 with Maths in the Spring Term
Pupils undertake an initial assessment in January before our intelligent online platform identifies their individual key focus areas and suggests relevant lessons. These are based on expert analysis of past SATs papers to identify the topics worth the greatest proportion of marks. You’re then free to pick lessons from that list, ensuring the most valuable lessons are easily prioritised.
Summer Term – Year 5
Key Focus: Plugging outstanding Year 3-5 gaps in your Year 5 pupils, to ensure a smooth transition to Year 6.
It’s no surprise – given how important early intervention is when it comes to SATs preparation – that we don’t stop there.
After SATs week, many schools switch their focus to their Year 5 pupils, ensuring they make the most of their last term before their SATs year and are prepared for the transition to Year 6.
This means that, by the time they reach Year 6, pupils have already plugged outstanding KS2 gaps and are ready to hit the ground running. They’re ready and able to explain their reasoning, justify their answers and meet each new challenge with enthusiasm.
Summer Term – Year 6
Phase: Consolidation (Confidence building and last minute revision)
Key Focus: Plugging any gaps that are left amongst pupils before the SATs, and building confidence before exams
There may only be three weeks or so between the beginning of the summer term and the SATs, but this is the time when any last minute gap plugging can occur, and a firm focus can be placed upon building confidence for the tests.
By this point of the school year, pupils should be comfortable with most topics that are likely to come up in the SATs papers, and this gives you the chance to help your class understand that whilst SATs might seem like the most important thing in the world right now, there is a life beyond May and maths will play a big part in it.
How Third Space Learning Tutors Support Pupils With Maths In The Summer Term
Whilst we do vary our approach in the summer term dependent on the Year group, one thing is always at the forefront of our mind and that is helping pupils to build confidence in their maths ability.
Regardless of whether a pupil in the summer term is looking ahead to make the transition into Year 6 or about to take part in their SATs, if they have confidence in their maths ability they will be more accomplished mathematicians in the long-term, which is what primary school maths is all about!
How Our Three-Phase Approach Can Help Your Pupils To Achieve In SATs And Beyond
With SATs always in the back of the mind for most primary school teachers and the need to start preparations earlier in the year becoming apparent from our survey, it can be difficult to know when to start working towards the SATs.
However, with our specially designed three-phase approach for SATs, it doesn’t matter what stage you are at in your school; we can help. From the early interventions and gap plugging of the Autumn term sessions, to the revising of key concepts in the Spring term and the transition period of the Summer term, our tutors are trained to help your pupils get the most from maths.
Our three-phase approach to SATs has worked for hundreds of schools, all across the UK, and now is a fantastic time to join us on this years journey.