So this is the third and probably final blogpost about our decision to boycott SATs this year. I write it on the eve of the results coming out for our son’s school and it feels a little odd thinking that those results will mean nothing to us at all. So what has been the impact of making this decision?
So far, so good. The week of the boycott went smoothly as I described at the time – he stayed off school in the mornings and went in for the afternoons where he took part in normal topic work, PE, Art and life was pretty much business as usual. His teacher and peers were inclusive and supportive of him – he was fully welcomed back and took part in all the activities the other children did – the ice cream treat on Friday was carefully presented to the children as being a reward for all their hard work over the year and not for SATs. That was very reassuring to him.
It was hugely disappointing that as soon as his classmates had put down their test pens, the school announced they would be moving his beloved Year 6 teacher to work in Year 5, where presumably she could start prepping them for their SATs year. The Year 6 children were gutted to lose her. She was ‘allowed’ to see them some afternoons to prep the play and take them on their trips, but Maths and English curriculum time in the mornings was now all about having their eye on the next set of results. Had I had any doubts about whether I’d been right or not to take mine out of SATs, this sealed it for me. Year 6 were dispensable once their test results were in the bag. It was a small comfort that they couldn’t claim at least one child’s results. Petty, I know…
So onto secondary school. We had a transition evening for new parents last week and I explained to the head of year and his new form teacher that we had removed him from SATs. I asked them what difference it would make. The answer was none. The only subject that sets in Yr 7 is Maths and they start off teaching for the first half term in mixed ability groups and then set after an internal assessment. He’ll be assessed, like all the others, in line with what he can do there. One teacher from the school shrugged and said “we don’t trust the SATs results anyway – we just do our own assessments.”
So that’s it. No drama, no fuss, no consequences. And thanks to making that decision, no stupid data flight paths either.
UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 2018
So the information I was given at transition evening turned out to be slightly different in reality. The Maths tests came at the end of the first week, setting at the end of the third. He’s in top set so it clearly made no difference not having SATs results. Just testament to the fact that he had a really good Maths teacher in Yr 6.