What are Year 2 SATs Used For?

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Throughout a student’s academic journey, there are many hurdles and worries that all students are familiar with: chiefly, exams. This concern is not unwarranted, since exams are a constant in the academic world from GCSEs, to university exams, and even simple pop quizzes. One of these sets of exams is often administered in an early, formative year of education: Year 2 SATs. That’s right, we’re moving past the big, nerve-wracking exams and taking a look at one that might’ve been forgotten by us all. Without further ado, what are those Year 2 SATs and what are they used for?

Year 2 SATs are Standardised Assessment Tests administered nationwide in the UK in primary schools. Unlike Year 6 (KS2) SATs, Year 2 SATs are no longer statutory; this is a decision that can be found here on the UK government website. Therefore, the uses for Year 2 SATs may vary school to school since there is no mandatory or required national standard for usage. However, they are used to evaluate how well children are learning and retaining the information taught in KS1 before they progress to KS2.

While this may have given you a brief overview on Year 2 SATs and their use, the situation is more nuanced as it is up to individual schools to decide what to use Year 2 SATs for. It therefore might be more helpful to continue reading to understand it more fully.

Why do students do Year 2 SATs?

Of course, students do Year 2 SATs as their school decides to administer them. In terms of their usage, however, it’s more up to the schools themselves.

Some schools choose to publish their results, whereas other schools use them to evaluate their pupils against how well they’ve retained information from KS1 moving forwards into KS2. In some cases, schools might present it as part of their Ofsted progress report. However, for KS1 this isn’t required, as KS1 SATs are optional.

This applies more to Year 6 SATs, but results can be used to compare schools and work out a national average. This national average can be used to see how the average pupil is doing at school and whether education should be more prioritised in the UK. More about this can be found in this article from the BBC.

To read more about SATs and their purpose, check out this article from Third Space Learning.

Overall, while they are primarily used to measure educational progress for KS1 students, KS1 SATs aren’t used for more important things like secondary school administration and other milestones. Rather, Year 2 SATs are more of a way for schools to track their students’ progress.

If you would like to read more about Standardised Assessment Tests in general, check out this helpful article from Think Student by clicking here.

Are Year 2 SATs compulsory?

According to the 2017 consultation on primary assessment, the UK Government announced in July 2022 that KS1 Standardised Assessment Tests were no longer statutory. It took effect in September 2023. More information can be found on the UK Government website by clicking here.

What does this mean, then? Well, the following types of assessments were no longer compulsory for schools to administer:

  • Teacher assessment judgements, in English reading, writing, mathematics and science
  • Tests in English reading and mathematics
  • Pre-key stage standards or engagement models being used where necessary

Rather, this now falls on the school to decide whether or not students should sit these exams. It’s important to distinguish this, as parents have no say whether their child sits SATs in Year 2 unless they choose a different school.

According to the UK government, it is no longer compulsory for schools to report back findings even if they do choose to administer these tests. We can therefore assume safely that the usage of results is more administrative and private rather than a public measure.

These optional exams will still have the same specification, and the UK government will continue to supply material to support learning for schools still preparing for these exams. This means schools will continue to have full access to past papers necessary to supplement learning.

Unlike the SATs, the phonics screening test will continue to be statutory, with local authorities monitoring this particular assessment. On the other hand, they have no legal obligation to monitor the SATs.

More information and details can be found here on the UK government website.

How are Year 2 SATs different to Year 6 SATs?

The key difference separating the two types of SATs is that Year 6 SATs are compulsory by law, whereas Year 2 SATs are optional for schools to undertake. Already, we can see that more importance is therefore placed on Year 6 SATs.

Another crucial difference is data usage; Year 6 SATs results are published publicly, whereas Year 2 SATs aren’t required to be. More information on this can be found in this article from Think Student on results publication for SATs, by clicking here.

The third, and perhaps most important difference between the two exams is that Year 6 results are sent to secondary schools. This is in order to gauge the ability of students before they transfer to the next key stage. Fundamentally, Year 6 SATs are a more crucial milestone than Year 2 SATs.

However, the two SATs are similar as they both are a measure of academic progress. Exams are used to gauge a student’s ability to recall information taught to them under conditions full of pressure, as well as content retention. Exams can also show teachers who struggles more with exams.

The SATs are also similar as the same things are tested. This includes English writing, English reading, Spelling Grammar and Punctuation, Maths Arithmetic, and lastly, Maths Reasoning. Additionally, in Year 6, teachers will also judge a student’s scientific ability, though this is through classroom judgement rather than an exam.

Both Year 2 and Year 6 SATs are also taken at very similar times. Initially, KS1 SATs were taken on a set week in May (same as Year 6 SATs).  However, the only difference is that Year 2 SATs don’t have a set date anymore, as schools are given the flexibility of choosing when in May they should administer the tests.

Both sets of students, however, will receive a year to prepare in earnest for the exams, so don’t worry!

What do SATs test for?

Standardised Assessment Tests are a set of exams used to track children’s progress during their earlier parts of education; two sets of SATs, one for Year 2 and the other for Year 6. Children are tested on their mathematic ability (arithmetic and reasoning) as well as their writing ability (reading, grammar, punctuation and spelling).

Below you can find a list showing the exams for KS1 SATs, as well as the approximate times of completion:

  • English reading: 30 minute test, 40 minute test
  • Arithmetic (maths): 20 minute test
  • Reasoning (maths) test: 35 minute test
  • (optional) Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling tests: 35 minutes, two tests

Year 6 SATs will have the same exams, just tailored to different times as they are at a higher difficulty.

When are Year 2 SATs?

Key Stage 1 SATs aren’t compulsory, therefore they will not have a set date. However, KS1 SATs have always been done in May. Schools that choose to administer these tests will also continue to do them in May. You can read more about when Year 2 SATs are in this Think Student article.

Pupils in Year 2 will always have a chance at a school year to prepare in earnest for SATs.

However, unlike Year 2 SATs, Year 6 SATs have a set week each year that each student nationwide does them in. A complete set of dates and more information can be found here in a helpful guide by Think Student.

In 2024, Year 6 SATs week will commence on Monday 13th May 2024, concluding on Thursday 16th May 2024. Each exam is strictly timed and students will be in exam conditions when completing the exams. Papers are all marked externally (which means the teachers from that particular school will not mark the exams coming out of that school).

KS1 SATs, however, are held in informal exam conditions, and the exams are marked internally (marked by teachers within the school, or the children’s teacher). Schools are offered the flexibility to decide when to hold the SATs, but they are held in the classroom and are in May.

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