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Key Stage 3 SATs scrapped - what does it mean?

Boy looking confused doing homework
News of the end of Statutory Assessment Tests (SATs) at Key Stage 3 heralds the start of a new era for 14 year olds, but what will it look like?

For some, the scrapping of Key Stage 3 SATs is a cause for jubilation. The reforms have been met with support from the Anti-SATs Alliance, a coalition of educators and parents, who say teachers will at last be able to "get on with some real teaching".

Many parents and schoolchildren across the country are also pleased with the changes. "Not a moment too soon," says mum, Teresa Grey, from Sidcup. "Constant fear of failure has marred both my children’s experience of school. They both excel at things which aren’t covered by SATs."
But what will the fallout from doing away with these tests be?

Life without SATs

Key Stage 3 SATs will be replaced by improved classroom assessment by teachers and frequent reporting to parents in years 7, 8, and 9. There will be also be a stronger focus on one-to-one tuition and catch up support for children in the first years of secondary school.
Previously, Key Stage 3 results were sometimes used as an indication of a schools performance. So instead The Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF) will introduce a new School Report Card to provide stronger accountability to parents and local communities. The Card will include more information than is currently provided to parents about a school’s performance and achievements.
"We believe this new system, specifically designed for parents, will help schools show more clearly how they are helping their pupils to make excellent progress or to overcome the challenges of deprivation," says schools minister, Jim Knight.

Picking the right school

The School Report Card is based on a model from the United States, where it has received mixed reviews. The system will be subject to consultation, but may include Key Stage 2 test results, GCSE results, information on a school’s success in helping pupils with poor attainment or from deprived backgrounds, and indicators such as levels of pupil absence.
Parents should still use their instincts when choosing a school, too. "Always dig further and look beyond the stats and numbers when looking for a school that best suits you and your child's needs," says bestselling author and expert in the field of mind, brain, and education, Bernadette Tynan. "Putting children and their happiness and success first is the way to go."

Supporting your child

SATs or no SATs, in every Key Stage of your children's school experience, the most important thing you can do as a parent is to support their learning. Whether it’s helping them with their homework or simply spending some time reading with them. Encourage them to feel positive about their abilities and to enjoy study, so they can build a picture of themselves as successful learners.
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