The first time is in Key Stage 1, when they will have tests in Year 2
, at the end of infants (aged 7). They are tested in maths and English (reading and spelling, punctuation and grammar). Teachers generally try to keep the testing procedure informal – the papers are not strictly timed, and are usually taken in a normal classroom situation to keep the pressure off children. On 14 September 2017 it was confirmed that the KS1 SATs will be made non-statutory (so schools will be able to choose whether to adminster them or not) from 2023
. Until then children will continue to be assessed in May during Year 2.
In Years 3, 4 and 5 some schools test end-of-year progress by using tests known as optional SATs. The results won't be nationally recorded, but optional SATs help teachers assess children's progress and are used to help children get used to working in exam conditions.
The next time your child will take SATs will be in Key Stage 2 in Year 6
, aged 11. More formal than Key Stage 1, these written tests (in English, maths and sometimes science) are 45 minutes long and can be quite daunting for this age group. The papers are sent away for marking and the results are known before children leave primary school in July.
What are SATs for?
According to the experts, SATs aren’t about passing or failing, but are used to reflect the level your child is working to. So SATs should never be seen as a one-off period in the school calendar but as a part of the overall teaching your child receives.
Whether SATs are the best method for assessing learning and teaching has been in question for some time, but for the moment the tests remain. So it’s just a matter of supporting your child through what can be a stressful time.
How parents can help with KS1 SATs and KS2 SATs
The key to making SATs less stressful for your child is not to panic yourself, says deputy headteacher at Uphall Primary School, Redbridge, Sherlyn Ramsay. "This will put your child under enormous stress and this makes it very difficult for a child to learn."
"Children are well prepared for SATs throughout their school life, as teachers regularly carry out this type of assessment," says Sherlyn, "but you can support your child by regularly supporting them with their homework."
"There are also a lot of commercially published and very useful practice materials available and a number of very good websites to support learning in general – but remember to give them extra work to do in moderation."
Use our handy SATs action plan
and revision guide
to support your child through their preparation.
The format of SATs and the mark scheme changed in 2016 but the new-style papers are now available to download for free:
Avoid putting pressure on your child, though, and offer plenty of rewards for all their hard work.