FREE VIDEO: Download a free copy of this video by right-clicking here. Please share, like, tweet and, most importantly, show to your Year Sixes.
FREE LETTER: Download a free letter to use with your Year Sixes and their parents by right-clicking here. This is proving rather popular, so we hope it does its job.
FREE POSTER: Download a free poster by right-clicking here.
The following thoughts, resources and opinions aren't just the ramblings of a company calling for your custom. If you know anything about us, you'll know two things:
1) Everything we do comes from experience. This particular page comes from nine years teaching Upper KS2 - often Year 6.
2) Everything we do has the important ones - your students, your children - at its heart. Our designs, ideas, motivation are all child-centred. If a resource isn't going to hook them in or help learning to stick, we don't do it.
Yes, we're a bit quirky, but those two foundations of using experience and putting the kids central are what we're really about. Other resource companies may have SATs pages offering practice questions and past papers, but we think differently. This, then, is the sparky approach to SATs.*
Of course they are. As a way of finding out where students are at before they start a topic, what they've learned at the end of it, what's stuck and what's not, as well as giving students the chance to show what they can do, they're very efficient and extremely useful. That's why they're so popular all over the world. They work. Somewhat.
Of course they are. In an ideal world (this bit's important), they're useful to the current school and teacher (to show what progress has been made), they're useful to the parents (to show where their child is at), they're useful to the upcoming school (to show where the student is starting from) although, in our experience, most children would say they could happily do without them. That's life, kids.
Or have we lost it already? Year 6 is the pinnacle of primary school life. It's the year with the most privileges, the most opportunities and a final chance to shine on the small stage. A big pond awaits, but Year 6 allows students to develop into confident, prepared young people in an environment that knows them and has nurtured them to this point. Year 6 is the peak. A couple of hours tests on a day in May shouldn't be that peak. SATs, if they need to exist, should just be something that happens, no fuss, no pressure, no months of preparation. No biggie...
That's such an applicable cartoon. The pressure doesn't come from the Year 6 teacher. Most hate what they have to do each year. We've been there. We've sat through parents' evenings discussing level after level, rather than character after character. We've done past papers until we were blue in the face. We've even taught in schools where SATs weren't needed, but they just chose to do them as an assessment tool (same level of pressure as before!).
No, the pressure comes from above. From the link between SATs results and league tables. From the need to continuously demonstrate improvement, despite the varying characters in a cohort. And so, every May we see tweets and comments from parents whose children are bearing the brunt of the pressure, feeling like they're useless and, generally, not relishing being at the peak of their time at primary school.
We're not about molly-coddling our students. But, we are about showing them that we all have different skills and they may not shine at knowing where a preposition sits in a sentence or how to draw a pie chart, but they sure-as-anything shine at being creative, staying positive despite what life throws at them or caring for others. As we read recently, it's all very well encouraging rigour in the classroom, but what about rigour of character? Can we not encourage that?
Here, then, is the alternative... Why not revise for SATs in such a way that students don't even realise they're revising? Why not invent an evil organisation intent on writing maths questions to catch your children out? Second thoughts, don't bother inventing it, we've done it for you already - you just need to use it in your lessons. What about a grammar-loving organisation keeping our cities safe from literacy crimes? Surely that's a much better way to approach SPAG tests than constant past papers? Parents, would you like a blog post that you can share with your child to show them what most teachers think about SATs? (you're probably not going to get it in your half-termly newsletter, even though we're all thinking it!) Help yourself:
The SATs Pack (see above) is a special pack we've put together for schools who want to prepare for SATs a little creatively.
The Everything Pack contains everything downloadable that we produce, at a hefty discount. Character-valuing, test-life-rebalancing. Very popular with schools that have a similar ethos to us.
Sparky's Alternative SATs:
The M Files and The League of Literacy are the two "fake organisation" resources mentioned above. These have proved especially popular with Year 6 teachers searching for alternative ways to prepare for SATs. Both resources also feature in the Everything Pack.
Sparky VIP Cards - a way of rewarding who your students are, not just what they do. Some schools might like to use these specifically prior to SATs - as a way of saying, "you've done the work, but what level you get doesn't define you. We appreciate you for these other reasons..." This would be send home a powerful message if you could reward your students before their SATs... Just an idea:
Mathematips Cards - SATs revision of key words, definitions and helpful maths tips with a visual twist.
The Way of the Revision Ninja - how to learn by stealth! Revision tips with a difference.
If you haven't listened to the late Peter Benson on The Lost Art of Nurturing Sparks, it's a must.
And for post SATs, here are some post SATs maths activities (via game shows!)
Here's our Message To All Year Sixes
When your SATs are happening, we'll make sure we post four days worth of perspective and encouragement on our 365 Things To Make You Go "Hmmm..." page.
Parents - you'll probably appreciate what this gentleman has to say: The Lost Art of Nurturing Sparks.
Kids - if in doubt, remember you can always click your fingers and call for the SATs waiter!