SATs results: helping your child cope

Happy mum and son hugging
Your child’s SATs can cause a rollercoaster of emotions, culminating in the nerve-wracking results day. Here the experts reveal how to keep SATs scores in perspective and offer your child the support they need – whatever the outcome.
After all the hard work your child put into their SATs revision and the nail-biting wait for the results, the day they finally arrive can often be an anti-climax. And if your child doesn’t get the scores they’d hoped for, there can be disappointment and even tears, too. "It's natural for young people in this situation to feel on edge and unhappy, so it’s important that parents talk with their children about their feelings," says Lucy Edington from Family Lives. So what can you do to support your child at this turbulent time? 

Keep SATs in perspective

If your child is unhappy with their SATs results, try to help them to avoid seeing it as a failure. "Make sure your child knows there is no such thing as a pass or fail at seven or 11 years old," says Sherlyn Ramsay, headteacher at Uphall Primary School. "This is just all part of their learning experience."

Like most examinations, all the SATs learning of a particular subject culminates in one day of tests, so they don’t allow for a child who’s nervous, unwell, or struggles to perform on the day. Help your child to recognise that they have still achieved a great deal simply by working towards their tests.

Most importantly, remind your child that SATs results don’t reflect their overall capabilities. "SATS only focus on three subjects when they actually learn another nine," adds Sherlyn. 

You could also explain more about how SATs results are actually used to help your child keep the experience in perspective.

Focus on the positives

Every adult knows that you can often learn a lot through making mistakes. So it’s important to help your child understand that it’s normal, useful, and healthy. After all, a child who always gets full marks is most likely finding the work too easy and may be bored at school. 

As Barry Teare, author of Parents' and Carers' Guide: For Able and Talented Children says, "Failure is not to be avoided at all costs. Too much can be destructive, but a complete absence is unhelpful and unhealthy."

Five tips for a happier SATs outcome

Want more ideas for reducing stress and enhancing happiness on results day? Try these tactics:

  1. Try not to build up the results too much. It can add to your child’s anxieties and make them feel they have 'failed' if they don't get the results they wanted. 
  2. Don't compare your child's results with other children's. It can knock their confidence and serves no real purpose.
  3. No matter what the results, give your child a nice treat to reward their hard work. It might motivate them for future examinations!
  4. Be positive yourself. If your child doesn’t do as well as hoped, it’s not the end of the world. It's far more important that they’re happy and stay positive about learning.
  5. Learn from the experience. Is there something different you could do in terms of your child’s revision and learning next time? SATs won't be the only tests in your child’s school career (far from it!), so think of them as a practice run for future exams.