Changes to KS1 SATs in 2017: what parents need to know

KS1 SATs in 2017
New-style KS1 SATs were introduced in 2016 for all Year 2 children in England. Here's what parents need to know about the English and maths assessments in 2017 and beyond.

In the summer term 2016, children at the end of Key Stage 1 were the first to sit new SATs papers. That means that if your child is in Year 2 this year, they will be among the first year-groups of pupils to take the new-style test. SATs have been overhauled in both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 to reflect the changes to the national curriculum, which was introduced from September 2014.

At the end of Year 2, children take SATs in:

  • Reading
  • English grammar, punctuation and spelling
  • Maths

Key Stage 1 reading

The new reading test for Year 2 pupils is made up of two separate papers:

  • Paper 1 consists of a selection of texts totalling 400 to 700 words, with questions interspersed
  • Paper 2 comprises a reading booklet of a selection of passages totalling 800 to 1100 words. Children will write their answers in a separate booklet

Each paper is worth 50 per cent of the marks, and should take around 30 minutes, but children are not be strictly timed, as the tests are not intended to assess children’s ability to work at speed. The texts in the reading papers cover a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, and get progressively more difficult towards the end of the test. Teachers have the option to stop the test at any point that they feel is appropriate for a particular child.

There are a variety of question types:

  • Multiple choice
  • Ranking/ordering, e.g. ‘Number the events below to show in which order they happened in the story’
  • Matching, e.g. ‘Match the character to the job that they do in the story’
  • Labelling, e.g. ‘Label the text to show the title’
  • Find and copy, e.g. ‘Find and copy one word that shows what the weather was like in the story’
  • Short answer, e.g. ‘What does the bear eat?’
  • Open-ended answer, e.g. ‘Why did Lucy write the letter to her grandmother? Give two reasons’

Key stage 1 grammar, spelling and punctuation

Children taking Key Stage 1 SATs sit two separate papers in grammar, spelling and punctuation:

  • Paper 1: a 20-word spelling test taking approximately 15 minutes and worth 20 marks.
  • Paper 2: a grammar, punctuation and vocabulary test, in two sections of around 10 minutes each (with a break between, if necessary), worth 20 marks. This will involve a mixture of selecting the right answers e.g. through multiple choice, and writing short answers.

In May 2016, following the KS1 SATs spelling paper accidentally being made available on the Department for Education website before the test, Schools Minister Nick Gibb removed the requirement on schools to administer the Key Stage 1 grammar, punctuation and spelling test for 2016.

In 2017 the KS1 SPAG test remains optional, so schools can choose whether to adminster it to their pupils.

Key Stage 1 maths

The new Key Stage 1 maths test is made up of two papers:

  • Paper 1: arithmetic, worth 25 marks and taking around 15 minutes.
  • Paper 2: mathematical fluency, problem-solving and reasoning, worth 35 marks and taking 35 minutes, with a break if necessary. There are a variety of question types: multiple choice, matching, true/false, constrained (e.g. completing a chart or table; drawing a shape) and less constrained (e.g. where children have to show or explain their method).

Children are not allowed to use any tools such as calculators or number lines.

When will the KS1 SATs take place?

The new-style KS1 SATs are due to be administered in May 2017. Unlike KS2 SATs, KS1 SATs don't have to be administered according to a nationally-set timetable in a specific week. Schools are free to manage the timetable and will aim to administer the tests in the classroom in a low-stress, low-key way; some children won't even be aware they've taken them!

How will the tests be marked?

Although the tests are set externally, they are marked by teachers within the school.

Instead of the old national curriculum levels, children are given a scaled score. Their raw score – the actual number of marks they get – is translated into a scaled score, where a score of 100 means the child is working at the expected standard. A score below 100 indicates that the child needs more support, whereas a score of above 100 suggests the child is working at a higher level than expected for their age. The maximum score possible is 115, and the minimum is 85.

Teacher assessments are also used to build up a picture of your child’s learning and achievements. In addition, your child will receive an overall result saying whether they have achieved the required standard in the tests (your child's actual results won't be communicated to you unless you ask for them). 

Other subjects

Other national curriculum subjects, including English writing, speaking and listening, science and computing, will be assessed by your child's teacher based on their work throughout the year.

Are there any practice papers for 2016 SATs?

The official 2016 KS1 SATs papers are available for free download from TheSchoolRun: 

You can also look through free past papers from previous years – although the format and content of the new SATs is different, they will still help to familiarise your child with exam procedure.

TheSchoolRun has commissioned five complete KS1 SATs practice papers for maths and five for English. Available exclusively to subscribers, they are written in the style of the new-curriculum papers and feature similar question types.



What about the future?

A new government consultation on SATs in KS1 was announced by Nicky Morgan when she was Education Secretary, so it is likely that the way Y2 SATs are administered and marked will be reviewed in the future.

Currently, the tests are marked by teachers and the results are collated by local authorities, but the consultation will consider gathering results at a national level, which could include external marking and the publication of league tables. No date has yet been announced for the consultation or its report.