Do Secondary Schools Use Year 6 SATs Results?

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Many of us have sat exams. Whether in secondary school, university, graduate school, and even primary school; chances are students have come across something resembling an exam! Now, you may certainly find exams annoying and boring, or even nerve-wracking and pointless – however, they certainly have their uses! A-Levels are used to apply for universities, university finals can determine potential degrees and careers, and GCSE grades are used for both jobs and Sixth forms and colleges. Following this trend, do secondary schools use Year 6 SATs results?

To put it briefly, secondary schools will absolutely use SATs results in some sort of way. In the majority of cases, SATs results are used as early as Year 7 in order to generate target GCSE grades for each student. SATs results can also impact the groups students are put in at the beginning of the year (later they’re generally determined from in-school exams). Overall, SATs are used as a general measure of students’ capabilities in exam conditions up to this point.

While this may have helped you gain a brief understanding of whether or not secondary schools use SATs, it will be helpful to continue reading in order to gain a more nuanced understanding of the topic.

What are Year 6 SATs?

Standardised Assessment Tests (also known as SATs) are national assessments for pupils in England that cover maths and English. SATs are administered by primary schools and are exams designed to track students’ progress in their earlier years on a national, centralised level.

KS1 SATs are sat in Year 2; as of September 2023, they are no longer compulsory for schools to administer. They are optional, and schools can decide for themselves if they want to continue with the tests or not.

If you would like to read more about the change in the national curriculum with KS1 SATs, check out the statement from the UK Government discussing their plans here!

KS1 SATs and KS2 SATs both test the same things, just at different levels: the pupils’ grasp on English and maths at this stage. KS2 SATs are also longer on average. Another difference is that Year 2 SATs are marked by teachers within the school whereas Year 6 SATs are sent away to be marked externally.

What do Year 6 SATs involve?

KS2 SATs are compulsory nationally (except for those with extenuating circumstances like learning disabilities). They are sat in May and students are given an academic year to start preparing in earnest for their exams.

Scores are given on a scale from 80 to 120, and a score of more than 100 means that the student is meeting the governmental standard (this equates to different marks for each paper though). Parents generally won’t get the KS1 results unless they ask the school specifically for them, but all children and parents receive the KS2 results in the July of the same year they sat the exam in. You can learn more about SATs score in this Think Student article.

If you would like to continue reading about what SATs are exactly, it might be helpful to check out this article from Think Student on them here for more information on the topic!

Do secondary schools use Year 6 SATs results?

In short, yes – schools use Year 6 SATs results! However, the extent is not as far as you may think, surprisingly enough. As students, you might’ve heard teachers mention target GCSE grades and how they’re affected by your SATs results.

Yes, your target grades are determined by the data from your SATs. However, SATs only really reflect a pupil’s ability in English and maths. Schools therefore will measure a student’s ability in other subjects with progress tests of their own, such as in subjects like Chemistry or Music.

Sometimes, both SATs results and in-school exams are used to determine a more holistic predicted grade. This just means taking a look at you as a student across time and your progress to better understand your capabilities. After all, some schools might’ve had a very relaxed approach to SATs!

Are SATs results that important to secondary schools?

It is important to remember that students may not necessarily achieve the grades they were predicted for. Parents, don’t be disappointed if you were expecting a higher predicted grade as it is just that: a prediction!

SATs results can also be used to determine which group a student is put in. Later in the year, this is typically done with baseline tests and other exams; some schools may decide to not use SATs results at all when it comes to first determining groups, but it really does depend on the individual school!

Overall, SATs are only really used by secondary schools as a tool to predict expected GCSE grades, but those predictions are replaced in day-to-day life by progress tests within school. They’re only really used as a very broad expectation of a potential grade you could achieve in GCSEs, but they’re not really used elsewhere.

How important are Year 6 SATs?

SATs are considered pretty important as they’re the first proper exam students might have. This is like the first taste of the academic world! In comparison to other life-changing exams like GCSEs, SATs are quite unremarkable in comparison though!

SATs results are mainly important as they show how well the average child is doing in the UK school system. An average is worked out, and depending on the change from previous years, it helps the government work out how much funding should be allocated to the education system!

It’s also important on a personal level. Exams help track pupils’ progress under pressuring conditions, and the accumulation of progress is shown in the SATs. SATs can give students a rough measure of where they’re at academically in English and maths.

Think Student has a dedicated article addressing how important Year 6 SATs are. You can check it out here.

Are there downsides to Year 6 SATs?

SATs do, of course, have their limitations. For starters, there really aren’t a huge number of uses for them – not like GCSEs or A-Levels, at any rate at least! Additionally, they cannot test a wide range of ability, as the subjects covered are limited to really only English grammar, reading and maths.

Any predictions based on SATs therefore rely on some extrapolation to figure out things like target grades and groups; this can, of course, lead to some significant inaccuracy in gauging students’ abilities. It’s a very general assessment of a student’s capabilities.

Additionally, there has been some criticism that SATs are really only used to compare schools than actually help students. There have also been arguments that this much stress for children can lead to anxiety attacks and an increase in related behaviour due to the nature of the tests.

To read more about the importance of SATs, check out this article from BBC News to read about whether they really matter and other related topics.

When are SATs?

Both KS1 and KS2 SATs are sat in May – students in both cohorts have an academic year to start preparing in earnest! However, there are some key differences between the two sets of SATs.

As KS1 SATs are not compulsory, their date in May is not set either. Schools, from September 2023,  have complete license over administrating the KS1 SATs, so the date in May will vary school to school. You can read more about when Year 2 SATs are in this Think Student article.

However, KS2 SATs have set dates in each year; they are nationwide tests so are required to start at the same time for everyone to make it fair. Tests typically span over a week, sometimes four days.

Unlike Year 2 SATs, Year 6 SATs will be marked externally; Year 2 SATs are marked internally by teachers who teach the classes. This is why results may come out faster for Year 2 SATs, but it really isn’t set.

SATs are taken in English reading, Maths, and GaPs (also known as Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling). Additionally, teachers carry out their own assessments within the classroom of the students’ Writing and Science abilities which must be submitted as data.

If you would like to read more, check out this helpful guide detailing on when exactly Year 6 SATs are by Think Student!

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