SATS Papers – Help for teachers

This is a brief guide detailing the top tips we have gathered from our teaching community. In the run up to the exams we hope some teachers will find some of these tips useful, or they will be food for thought at least:

Tips to help children with KS2 SATS revision – English tests

The run in to the exam is an important time and the most successful teachers will have a schedule planned out to cover topic revision properly.  In addition our teacher panel highlighted the following points which we felt might be useful for other teachers.

1/ Focus on reading – pair with parents – communicate with parents:

  • A point made frequently was that from January onwards, or earlier there needs to be a renewed focus on reading.
  • Various teachers in our panel suggested writing out to parents to give them the extra impetus to ensure reading is happening – at least half an hour a day seemed to be the consensus.
  • Naturally some families read already very diligently, others not at all but the key effect was in the middle ground where it was felt that extra communication helped several families renew their focus on reading at this important time.

2/ Personalise vocabulary development:

  • Vocabulary is very important and a good suggestion was to do what teachers believe works in their classroom situation but also ask children overtly through communication with their parents to use personal word lists.
  • In outline the process works as follows. Teachers ask children to use personal words lists when they read and to identify between 10 and twenty new words each week, writing down the meaning in a sentence of their own making.
  • Some teachers suggested they have brought this into the classroom by asking each child to bring in their top unknown word each week and then running a little blind test….. take in words from those pupils who want to put one forwards (not all children will) … run a blind test to see how well known the word is in the classroom (put the following in a sentence of your own making) then if they are comfortable with it, ask the child who put the word forward to explain to the class what the word means. Discuss each word; add words to a new word poster.
  • By finding a mechanic for personalising vocabulary, recognising that what one child knows another child won’t , and then bringing those words to life in class pupils are reported to make very good progress.
  • If vocabulary is focussed on overtly as early as possible then more progress can be made. Some teachers report that they run a vocabulary focus session through KS2, not just towards the end.

3/ Practise skimming and scanning techniques:

  • Some children naturally work through comprehension tests quickly and those who read more fluently tend to be able to scan passages looking for relevant information.
  • The first point which comes through is that early in KS2 it is useful to have a particular focus on reading speed and any number of techniques such as paired reading can be used to develop this.
  • The more reading speed is improved the better children will do in comprehension tests. Equally it’s important that children feel free to scan and dip in and out of the text to retrieve answers or to seek information.
  • Devising activities to encourage children to do this helps….. as an example we were given the following….. give children a text and a list of factual questions (e.g. on what date was so and so born? Or, which town did so and so work in?) and ask them to dive in and out of the text to retrieve the answers.  Clearly children do need to read the full text but in this exercise it helps to just dive in and out as that ‘seek and retrieve’ exercise will improve their skills.

4/ Ensure children know that reading comprehension tests are not a memory test:

  • It may sound obvious but several teachers in our panel said that emphasising the point that children can revisit the text whenever they need to was important because some had not quite fully grasped that it was not a memory test.
  • Equally it was felt to be important to emphasise the need to revisit the text properly when asked to copy down the exact words used in a given situation (sometimes children just vaguely write down what they remember from the first reading).

5/ SPAG test – little and often:

  • Many schools already use the little and often approach for spelling rather than just running one weekly spelling test.
  • For instance a typical approach might be to run a weekly test on a fresh but then also later in the week do another test focussing on twenty of the most difficult words from previous tests.  Ask children to individually go away and learn the ones they got wrong (some will, some won’t but those who do will improve- so it’s worth doing).
  • For the grammar and punctuation elements many schools have highlighted that having a little and often approach works best….. Revise a technique daily; then ask five questions, that sort of thing.

Tips to help children with KS2 SATS revision – Maths tests

The advice coming back from our teacher panel has been remarkably consistent and could be summed up as ‘have a consistent focus on the basics and exercise their maths skills daily’.

We wanted to highlight the following specifics:

1/ Retain a weekly focus on Mental Maths (if not more frequently):

  • There’s no need to get overly fixated on the syllabus here, any rapid mental maths work will work well.  Use a mix of easier and more difficult questions.

2/ Times tables (keep the focus going into year six):

  • Teachers identified that it was the connections between 6,7,8,9 which most frequently cause problems and some suggested that an analysis of the questions might show this to be true.
  • They suggested using a calculation grid and both multiplication and division with the most questions revolving around 6, 7, 8 and 9 inter-relationships.
  • They also suggested using calculations with numbers missing                   e.g. 7x ?= 42 .
  • To help link times tables work with other questions children might find and to ensure they are learning them properly they suggested also basing fractions work around the more difficult times tables calculations.
  • Finally it has been suggested that where a child makes mistakes with maths problems related to times tables that this should never be seen as a ‘mistake’, it always indicates a times tables weakness which could be drawn out and focussed on.

3/ Little and often revision:

  • Teachers suggested that little and often was what worked for them.
  • Covering the syllabus again one topic at a time with a short series of questions for children to work through to demonstrate they have understood the item.
  • Some teachers said they didn’t do this in class but did send children home with a summary of the topic and ten questions so they could revise at home (some teachers may have reservations over this but our view is that homework of this nature can be useful even if not all families engage with it).

Overall tip – Ensure the middle performers in the class get enough focus

  • The point was made that the 100 hurdle rate is difficult to achieve but that experience so far suggests that several middle rank performers can get up to that level if there is enough focus on them and if, of course, they want to put the work in.  Some teachers expressed some surprise at the level of performance gain that could be delivered from the middle performers in the class.
  • Of course each school will be different and pretty much all schools struggle to strike a balance of where to focus their time in very mixed ability classes, but some schools have obviously had some success by giving a little more time to the middle sections of the performance scale.

Free SATS Papers for teachers

We have a full set of free SATS papers which teachers can use, including marking guides and technical information.

You can download these from the pages below:

KS1 Year Two SATS Papers

KS2 Year Six SATS Papers

Also, below you’ll find old Level 6 papers which are useful for high performers.

Level Six SATS Papers

Plus, optional SATS papers by year group can be found below:

Optional SATS Papers – Year Three Maths

Optional SATS Papers – Year Three English

Optional SATS Papers – Year Four Maths

Optional SATS Papers – Year Four English

Optional SATS Papers – Year Five Maths

Optional SATS Papers – Year Five English