Are Year 2 SATs Compulsory?

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Year 2 SATs can be a stressful and surprising concept for many parents. The idea of your child being tested so early in their educational journey can be interesting for some, who want to know where their child is at in their education journey and how they are doing. However, others may feel that their child should just be allowed to learn at this stage, and that testing is unnecessary. Therefore, many parents wonder if every child has to take year 2 SATs, and whether you can opt out for your child.

Year 2 SATs are no longer compulsory in schools as of September 2023. They have been replaced by a different assessment called the reception baseline assessment. However, some schools are still choosing to perform Year 2 SATs tests with their pupils. If a school chooses to take Year 2 SATs then the tests will be required for all pupils, and parents cannot choose to have their child exempted from the tests. The only exception to this would be students with higher level SEND, or other reasons why they may be unable to access the terms.

In this article I will explain the rules around year 2 SATs, and what choices you can make around them as a parent. While this should have given you a short answer to your questions, please read on to see full details about Year 2 SATs.

Do all schools do Year 2 SATs?

As of September 2023, Year 2 SATs are no longer a compulsory part of the KS1 curriculum. They have been replaced by a requirement for reception baseline assessments (RBA) for all students.

This is a new and more informal test, and more information about it can be found here, on the government website.

The government has made this choice in response to parent concerns about Year 2 SATs creating unnecessary stress around results at such an early stage in education.

However, this is not the case in many schools, where SATs are a very low-key part of a normal lesson, which many students do not even realise is a test.

Therefore, it is certainly not compulsory that students take Year 2 SATs. However, many schools are still choosing to use the Year 2 SATs to get further information about their students’ progress. Therefore, while they are not statutory requirements, at some school’s pupils will still have to take Year 2 SATs.

If you are concerned about Year 2 SATs for your child, consider asking their class teacher or speaking with teachers about it on open days before choosing a school.

Not all schools will now do them, but those who are still choosing to do so will likely be able to explain their personal choice and understand any of your concerns about the process.

Do all students have to do Year 2 SATs?

Some students can be exempt from Year 2 SATs. This is only in cases where schools do not feel that the child has the skills to access the tests.

Some reasons that a child may be exempted include students who have recently arrived to the UK from another country, and therefore do not have the level of English required to understand and access the tests.

Furthermore, those who are working far below the national average level due to SEND may be exempted, although not all SEND students will be exempt.

In order for this to happen, the school has to apply to have children exempted from the tests. Therefore, exemption must be done by the school, and cannot come from parents.

Children cannot be exempted for any reason from the new RBA, as they are designed to be more accessible to all pupils.

This also means that parents cannot choose to have their child not take Year 2 SATs. Even if parents do not want their children to take them (for many different reasons), ultimately it is up to the school to decide.

How many schools do Year 2 SATs?

Unfortunately, as the change to RBA has only occurred recently, it is very difficult to say how many schools across the country will continue to do SATs.

This change is a massive shake-up to the system which schools have been using for many years, so it may take a while for each to find what works best for their pupils.

If you are concerned by the change and want to know what will be happening for your child’s KS1 assessment, whether it be by RBA or also with Year 2 SATs, the best thing you can do is speak to your child’s teacher or head-teacher.

They will be able to explain the change and how they are reacting to it, as well as what you and your child can expect from each form of assessment.

What do Year 2 SATs include?

Year 2 SATs are taken in May and include tests in reading and maths. The test usually takes the form of a “test paper” but at this stage usually appears to children more like a worksheet.

Year 2 SATs are often taken within class time and have no strict time-limit. Many children do not even realise they are being tested, because the test is very relaxed and like their normal learning experience.

Some schools also choose to administer tests in science, writing, speaking, and listening. However, these are known as teacher assessments as they are not official parts of the SATs assessment nationally.

They do help inform the school’s understanding of your child, however, and can be useful to know their wider knowledge of the curriculum as a basis for later study.

If you are interested to know what Year 2 SATs can be used for within school and how they can help you understand your child better, please visit this Think Student article.

Do all schools sit the same Year 2 SATs paper?

SATs are a standardised national assessment, which means that all children sitting reading and mathematics SATs in Year 2 will sit the same paper.

These papers are distributed across the country similarly to GCSEs and A-Levels and have standard mark schemes for teachers to follow. However, the process of marking Year 2 SATs is slightly different to other exams.

These papers are marked by your child’s teacher, rather than by an external examiner. However, due to the standardised mark schemes each school and teacher should give fair and standardised marks.

Furthermore, science, writing, listening, and speaking SATs are not standardised across the country, meaning each school, if they choose to assess these, may assess them slightly differently.

However, they will mark the whole class equally and this should still give you and the school a good idea of what level your child is working at.

The UK Government has a great resource leaflet for parents about SATs, which can be found here, from their website. Furthermore, you can also read this Think Student guide for parents.

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