As a parent, it can be difficult to understand which exams and school events are important to your child's future, and which aren't.
Some exam results define your child's ability and are used to decide which class they should enter the following year, whilst others are designed so that the school and the teachers to get a better idea of what level their pupils are at. We take a look at optional SATs exams, explaining what they are, who takes them and why they are used.
Optional SATs For Key Stage 2
SATs exams aren't just for kids in Years 2 and 6, in fact, it is possible that your child might sit SATs exams every year throughout the KS2 curriculum. At the end of Year 3, Year 4 and Year 5 the pupil's progress will be examined with SATs papers in Maths and English (reading and writing).
All schools are obliged by Ofsted to show how their pupils are progressing at the end of each school year, and so one of the best ways to do this is through optional SATs papers. Previously, many schools used the QCA papers. However, in 2014 the national curriculum changed, followed by new SATs tests in 2016 which meant that the QCA exams became out of date.
With this being the case, optional SATs papers might be taken at the end of Year 3, Year 4 and Year 5 . However, the results are used to help the teachers understand how their pupils are progressing. By contrast, in Year 2 and Year 6 the exams are not optional and the results are used to determine the level of teaching that is appropriate for each individual child.
Optional SATs are used to track the progression year on year, as well as helping teachers with setting appropriate targets for the following year. The optional SATs papers also help teachers to identify pupils who have not progressed as expected, offering extra support and teaching to bring them up to speed.
The optional SATs are not the only way that the teachers and the school assess the children in Years 3, 4 and 5. They are used in addition to teacher assessments, class observation and classwork to give an overall view of how the pupils have progressed. Some schools may not use the SATs tests for Years 3 - 5, deciding instead to use the new primary grading system or designing their own test based on the SATs rubric for that year.
Another benefit of Year 5 optional SATs is that pupils become familiar with these tests, gaining plenty of experience of taking SATs exams ahead of the important non-optional tests at the end of Year 6. Children get used to working under exam conditions, and children who struggle with exam technique during the Year 5 optional SATs can be given extra help and coaching ahead of the Year 6 SATs papers.
Year 5 Optional SATs: How To Prepare
Parents and pupils are not expected to prepare or revise for the Year 5 optional SATs.
Pupils will be tested in maths and English, and the teacher will have covered all that they need to know during the school year. The best way to support your child through all of their SATs papers, optional and non-optional, is to encourage and help them with their homework and reading, as well as regularly practicing their times-tables.
Should you wish to do some extra preparation, there are SATs papers available to practice with. You can download free past papers in both maths and English from the internet, which may be useful in understanding what is being tested and which areas your child needs extra support with when doing their homework and reading.
The results of the optional SATs tests are not usually made available to the parents, as they are used internally to help with teacher assessment.
The tests are marked according to the new primary school grading system, and although they are typically marked in-house, some schools have them graded by an external marker. At the end of Year 3, 4 and 5 parents receive feedback based on a combination of the teacher's assessment of the individual pupil as well as their SATs results.
If there is a big discrepancy between the teacher assessment and the SATs test results, then the school will usually give the parents the results of the teacher assessment rather than the SATs exam. This would be in cases where the teacher has understood that the child has not performed as expected under exam conditions, which some children find stressful and/or distracting.
Depending on the school, parents may be able to request the results of their child's optional SATs papers.
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