Changes to KS2 SATs in 2021: what parents need to know

KS2 SATs in 2021
If your child is in Y6 in 2021, read on for the most up-to-date SATs information for parents.
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Covid-19 and KS2 SATs in 2021

As school life continues to be disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Department for Education has announced changes to KS2 SATS, taken at the end of Year 6, in 2021.

On 6 January 2021 it was confirmed that KS2 SATs will not take place in 2021.

Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of State for Education, said that the government recognised the primary tests “will be an additional burden on schools and it’s important we are very much focused on welcoming children back to the classroom at the earliest opportunity”.

To reflect the disruption to children's learning, primary school performance data will not be published in 2021.

If you're interested in how KS2 SATs work in a normal year, the information below will explain everything you need to know.

KS2 SATs in Year 6

In the summer term of 2016, children in Year 2 and Year 6 were the first to take the new SATs papers. The new-style SATs for English and maths reflect the new national curriculum, and are more rigorous than previous years' tests. There is also a completely new SATs marking scheme and grading system which has replaced national curriculum levels.

At the end of Year 6, children usually sit tests in:
  • Reading
  • Maths
  • Grammar, punctuation and spelling (GPS)
These tests are both set and marked externally, and the results are used to measure the school’s performance (for example, through reporting to Ofsted and published league tables). Your child’s marks will be used in conjunction with teacher assessment to give a broader picture of their attainment.

Key Stage 2 Reading

The reading test is a single paper with questions based on three passages of text. Your child will have one hour, including reading time, to complete the test.

There will be a selection of question types, including:
 
  • Ranking/ordering, e.g. ‘Number the events below to show the order in which they happen in the story’
  • Labelling, e.g. ‘Label the text to show the title of the story’
  • Find and copy, e.g. ‘Find and copy one word that suggests what the weather is like in the story’
  • Short constructed response, e.g. ‘What does the bear eat?’
  • Open-ended response, e.g. ‘Look at the sentence that begins Once upon a time. How does the writer increase the tension throughout this paragraph? Explain fully, referring to the text in your answer.’
In 2018 the Department for Education announced that the reading content of the KS2 SATs would be more closely linked to the curriculum in future to ensure children are drawing on their knowledge when answering reading comprehension questions.

Key Stage 2 grammar, punctuation and spelling test

Usually, the GPS test consists of two parts: a grammar and punctuation paper requiring short answers, lasting 45 minutes, and an aural spelling test of 20 words, lasting around 15 minutes.

However, in 2021, pupils will not take the GPS test.

Ordinarily, the GPS test includes two sub-types of questions:
 
  • Selected response, e.g. ‘Identify the adjectives in the sentence below’
  • Constructed response, e.g. ‘Correct/complete/rewrite the sentence below,’ or, ‘The sentence below has an apostrophe missing. Explain why it needs an apostrophe.’

Key Stage 2 maths

Children sit three papers in maths:
 
  • Paper 1: arithmetic, 30 minutes
  • Papers 2 and 3: reasoning, 40 minutes per paper
Paper 1 will consist of fixed response questions, where children have to give the correct answer to calculations, including long multiplication and division. Papers 2 and 3 will involve a number of question types, including:
 
  • Multiple choice
  • True or false
  • Constrained questions, e.g. giving the answer to a calculation, drawing a shape or completing a table or chart
  • Less constrained questions, where children will have to explain their approach for solving a problem

Key Stage 2 science

In 2021, no Year 6 children will take science SATs, and teacher assessment in science will not be formally recorded.

Normally, in selected years, a number of schools (approximately 1900) are required to take part in science sampling, a test administered to a selected sample of children thought to be representative of the population as a whole.

For those who are selected, there are three papers:
 
  • Biology: 25 minutes, 22 marks
  • Chemistry: 25 minutes, 22 marks
  • Physics: 25 minutes, 22 marks
Each paper takes a maximum of 25 minutes to complete.

It sounds very intimidating, but these are ‘questions in a physics/chemistry/biology context’, for example:

Biology: ‘Describe the differences in the life cycle of an amphibian and a mammal’

Chemistry: ‘Group a list of materials according to whether they are solid, liquid or gas’

Physics: ‘Predict whether two magnets will attract or repel each other, based on where the poles are facing’

When will KS2 SATs take place in 2021?

The Year 6 KS2 SATs were set to be administered in the week commencing 10 May 2021.

However, this year, the KS2 SATs will not take place.

Usually, the SATs timetable runs as follows:

Monday 
English GPS Paper 1: questions
English grammar, punctuation and spelling Paper 2: spelling

Tuesday 
English reading

Wednesday 
Mathematics Paper 1: arithmetic
Mathematics Paper 2: reasoning

Thursday 
Mathematics Paper 3: reasoning

How will Key Stage 2 SATs be marked?

The previous national curriculum levels have been scrapped, and instead children are given scaled scores (read our parents' guide to primary school grading and SATs codes for more details).

You will be given your child’s scaled score and whether they have reached the expected standard set by the Department for Education (‘NS’ means that the expected standard was not achieved and ‘AS’ means the expected standard was achieved)

The range of scaled scores available for each KS2 test is:
 
  • 80 (the lowest scaled score that can be awarded)
  • 120 (the highest scaled score)
The expected standard for each test is a scaled score of 100 or more. If a child is awarded a scaled score of 99 or less they won't have achieved the expected standard in the test.

The Department for Education expects at least 65 per cent of children to reach the expected standard (the figure was initially 85 per cent but has been revised).

Are there any practice papers for the new curriculum KS2 SATs?

Yes, the 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 KS2 SATs papers are now available and can be downloaded for free from TheSchoolRun:
 You can also access our current free Year 6 SATs papers here; these relate to the old SATs, so the content and format of the new papers will be different, but they are still useful to help your child familiarise themselves with exam technique.

TheSchoolRun has also commissioned five complete KS2 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.