The Key Stage 1 SATs exams have long been a crucial benchmark for school.
However, from 2024 the SATs will be optional.
In this blog we look at some of the reasons behind this shift and what it means for schools.
Changes to KS1 SATs exams
The educational world in England recently witnessed a significant transformation—the decision to make KS1 SATs exams no longer compulsory. This shift has raised eyebrows and ignited discussions across the country. Let's unravel the key aspects of these changes:
No Longer Compulsory
Individual schools now have the choice to decide if they wish to administer the KS1 SATs exams. The SATs will still be authored, published and printed, but there is now a choice. It is worth pointing out, that the decision rests with individual school and not parents. However, this could open up schools to challenge from parents if there are inconsistent decisions between neighbouring schools.
The reason for this, is to reduce the pressure on young learners and promote a more holistic approach to primary education, however the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) are still recommending that all schools across England continue to administer the tests and therefore is there likely to be any change?
Shifting Focus on Teaching and Learning
Amidst these changes, it is important to think about why we administer any kind of test - statutory or not. It should always be about teaching and learning, rather than fixating solely on exam preparation and this comes from engaging and effective learning environments.
Balanced Curriculum: A balanced curriculum that nurtures creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills will allow students to apply their knowledge in various ways, including unfamiliar situations.
Active Learning: Promote active learning methods, such as hands-on projects, group activities, and interactive discussions, to foster deeper understanding. Creativity can be fostered through active learning and when we think about Higher Order Thinking Skills, it sits right at the top of the pyramid!
Individualised Learning: Tailor instruction to meet individual student needs and learning styles, allowing each child to progress at their pace. Not every pupil will pass the SATs, but we should still have high expectations for all learners and scaffold and support them to realise their potential.
Considering Alternative Assessments to KS1 SATs
Of course, whatever you decide as a school to do with KS1 SATs, it needs to be remembered that they are just one exam. Children (like adults) can have bad days. The result of any one, individual exam should not be taken as evidence of achievement.
Ongoing, formative assessment will continue to provide teachers with real-time insight into student learning, adapting approaches and scaffolding supports as required. Opportunities for students to showcase their learning in unfamiliar and different contexts, will give them the opportunity to apply their knowledge, particularly in real-life contexts. And, it cannot be stressed enough the importance of teacher observations as an authentic way to gauge student progress.
Therefore, if your school does decide not to administer KS1 SATs this year, think about the body of alternative assessments you have available and take the holistic approach, thinking about the child as a whole and their individual development across the academic year.
Ensuring Collaboration with Parents
Whatever, your school decides to do effective communication with parents is essential.
Keep them informed about the changes and the teaching strategies and assessments that you have in your school. Encourage them to participate in their child's education and to engage in discussions about their progress.
The Future of KS1 SATs
In conclusion, the changes to KS1 SATs exams in 2024 signify a shift towards a more balanced and holistic approach to primary education. As teachers, it's vital to embrace these changes and adapt our methods to nurture well-rounded, resilient, and creative learners.
By focusing on teaching and learning, exploring alternative assessments, fostering essential skills, and collaborating with parents, we can provide our Year 2 students with the best preparation for both their academic and personal journeys, wither than involves a KS1 SAT or not.
Get in touch if you'd like to speak to us about how Sumdog's low-stakes formative tests can support your pupils in their learning journeys.