If your child is in year 2, you may be aware that in May they’ll be taking their End of Key Stage Tests and Assessments (often referred to as SAT’s). These are compulsory national tests which reflect the National Curriculum for English and Maths. Our teacher, Ms Latham helps parents de-mystify SATs.

In Key Stage 1 (unlike Key Stage 2), there are no set dates for these tests and they are marked internally. This enables each school to select the best day and time to suit their pupils. Many schools try to keep these assessments as low key as possible as they don’t want to worry their pupils at such a young age. From the summer of 2016, the tests became more rigorous and the government introduced a new marking and grading scheme.

As a parent, it’s often difficult to keep abreast of the multitude of changes in education. Here at EdPlace we want to support you in your crucial role as a parent. Below we have summarised the key changes to the key stage 1 tests as well as suggesting simple ways that you can help and support your child.

Reading

English Reading – Paper 1; this is a combined booklet, integrating the text and the answer booklet. There will be a selection of 2-3 different texts (fiction, poetry and/or non-fiction) totaling 400-700 words. The paper will take approximately 30 minutes although it is not strictly timed and it accounts for half of the reading marks.

English Reading – Paper 2; this paper has a reading booklet with a separate answer booklet. It is meant to be slightly harder than the first paper and contains marginally longer texts totaling 800-1100 words. Again it takes approximately 30 minutes and accounts for half of the reading marks.

Both reading papers will be testing children’s ability to;

  • Draw on knowledge of vocabulary to understand texts.
  • Identify and explain key aspects of fiction and non-fiction texts, such as characters, events, titles and information.
  • Identify and explain the sequence of events in texts.
  • Make inferences from the text.
  • Predict what might happen on the basis of what has been read so far.

The questions will be a selection of different types ranging from multiple choice, matching, labeling, ranking/ordering, find and copy, short-answer and open-ended or explanation.

Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling

Further to the accidental leak of the KS1 spelling paper in 2016, the necessity for schools to administer the SPAG test in key stage 1 was removed. This remains the case in 2017, so schools are currently free to choose whether to administer this test to their pupils or not. 

Spelling – Paper 1; this paper lasts approximately 15 minutes and carries half of the marks. Pupils will be given 20 words within 20 contextualised sentences, usually each one is linked to a different spelling rule. Some may be taken from the year 1 and 2-word list published by the government.

Grammar, punctuation and vocabulary – Paper 2; this paper also carries half of the marks and has two sections which last approximately 10 minutes each, with a break in between. The paper will be split into three sections; grammar 25-38%, punctuation 13-25% and vocabulary 3-8%.

Questions will be either ‘selected response’ (65-85%) requiring pupils to pick the correct answer or ‘constructed response’ (15-35%) where pupils will write their own answers or explain, correct, complete, write or re-write within a specified format.

Mathematics

Mathematics Paper 1: arithmetic; this paper lasts approximately 20 minutes and carries 42% of the overall mark. It tests pupil’s ability at mental arithmetic. Questions are only ‘constructed response’ and will be presented as basic calculations for pupils to answer. They span a range of mathematical operations such as place value, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and fractions.

Mathematics Paper 2: reasoning; this paper lasts approximately 35 minutes and carries 58% of the overall mark. There will be six aural questions at the start (one practice) followed by written problems presented in a range of formats requiring pupils to demonstrate mathematical fluency, problem-solving and reasoning.

Questions will be either ‘selected response’ requiring pupils to pick the correct answer or ‘constructed response’ where pupils will construct their own answers perhaps by completing a chart or table, drawing a shape, giving an answer to a calculation or communicate their response to evaluating a statement or problem. Pupils will not be allowed to use a calculator or support materials such as number lines or number squares.

Writing

Pupils are assessed on their writing, and this too is internally marked. Some schools are chosen to be externally moderated, which means an external expert will come into the school and check that the marking meets national standards.

Through the year pupils must submit six pieces of individual writing spanning a range of different genre’s, such as a letter, a diary entry, a report, a narrative piece, a book review, and a description.

As with all the assessments, expectations are now higher for writing and pupils are expected to show a range of skills within their writing such as;

  • Demarcating most sentences with capital letters and full stops and with some use of question marks and exclamation marks
  • Using sentences with different forms in their writing (statements, questions, exclamations and commands)
  • Using some expanded noun phrases to describe and specify
  • Using present and past tense mostly correctly and consistently
  • Using co-ordination (or / and / but) and some subordination (when / if / that / because)
  • Spelling most high frequency and common exception words correctly
  • Adding suffixes to spell some words correctly e.g. –ment, –ness, –ful, –less, –ly
  • Using the diagonal and horizontal strokes needed to join letters in some of their writing
  • Writing capital letters and digits of the correct size, orientation and relationship to one another and to lower case letters
  • Using spacing between words that reflects the size of the letters.

Science

Pupils are assessed by their teachers for KS1 science. The results are not used for formal accountability and the framework contains one standard: ‘working at the expected standard’.

A pupil who has completed the programme of study will be simply judged as either ‘working at the expected standard’ or ‘has not met the expected standard’.

Grading

National Curriculum levels have now been scrapped and replaced with a system of scaled scores and teacher assessments. In Key Stage 1, teacher’s make their assessments using three key judgments. This means that your child’s ability in each subject will be judged as either;

  • Working towards the expected standard
  • Working at the expected standard
  • Working at greater depth within the expected standard

As a parent, you may also be given your child’s raw score (how many marks they achieved in the test) and their scaled score (whether they have achieved the expected national standard). Children will also be categorised as NS (not meeting expected standard) or AS (expected standard achieved).

Scaled scores range from 80 (lowest) to 120 (highest) with 100 being expected standard. If a pupil does not score enough marks in the test, they will not receive a scaled score.

How can you support?

In Key Stage 1 schools will often try to diminish the pressure of assessments in order to minimise any worries or fears that the children may have. Often children are not told that they will be sitting a test, it may be presented to them in the most simple of terms. Good teachers will often give children practice papers to familiarise them with the format, but may not explain the significance of the papers so as not to unnecessarily cause upset or worry.

As a parent, you want to support your child, but it’s also important not to push them too hard. You don’t want them to become anxious or overwhelmed with worry, after all, these are only primary school tests. It may be wise to speak to your child’s teacher and ask them to pinpoint the key areas of weakness for your child, rather than you taking on the whole range of subjects and areas yourself. Perhaps target necessary areas for support such as mental arithmetic or spellings and break these down into short fun activities;

  • Play mental maths games on the way to school or in the car. Just a regular 5 minutes a day of times table practice or pairs to ten or twenty for example, can make a huge difference.
  • Play family games like junior scrabble, times tables snap, hangman or top trumps to encourage their maths, spelling or reasoning skills.
  • Visit your local library regularly, encourage your child to explore different types of books, perhaps find a recipe book or a gardening book that suggests fun activities you could share.
  • Continue to listen to your child read aloud. One fun way is to choose a book together (linked to a school topic?) that could be a challenge for them alone and take it in turns to read a page or a chapter each. Stop to explain new vocabulary or meaning as you are reading and ask them questions about the story, how does the main character feel? Why did they do that? What might happen next?
  • Encourage your child to write a diary about days out they have had, perhaps start a holiday scrapbook and collect tickets, postcards and leaflets as well as encouraging your child to write some sentences themselves. Show them how to proofread and edit what they have written.
  • Utilise practise papers if they want more practise. The chances are your child will already be doing these at school.
  • Make sure you keep a routine, especially ensuring your child gets a healthy balanced diet and enough sleep (10-12 hours a night for 6 and 7-year-olds).
  • Allow your child to continue to participate in a range of activities that they enjoy, at this age, it’s important to keep perspective.
  • Talk to your child about their day, was there anything they struggled with that you could go through with them, such as time or division?
  • Utilise worksheets on our website; edplace.com. We have a large range of fun worksheets, all linked to the national curriculum.

Whatever happens, stay positive and don’t give up. Try to celebrate each achievement (however small) as a step forward in the right direction. If your child is keen to learn more, keep up the practice utilising our online tutorial  worksheets.