Do children have to take SATs tests?

Why are SATs tests compulsory and is it possible to avoid them?

Essentially schools have to run the test which is what makes them compulsory. Schools are also under great pressure to ensure every child sits them as any zero returns count against their performance.

Are SATs compulsory even if your child finds the process stressful- is there a way to avoid sitting the tests?

Lots of children find the tests stressful although schools do go out of their way to lessen the stress where they can. There will inevitably be more work in the run in to the tests and children will be sitting these tests feeling they want to do as well as they can. There will be a degree of comparison between children which they also may not have been exposed to before. All of which of course adds to stress levels.

In our experience some parents are very sensitive about the stress levels their child is under and want to lessen this as much as possible, however we really don’t believe not sending children in on the day of the tests sends the right message (it’s really the only way of avoiding the tests). Where parents do take this course of action they create a whole new area of stress, either they ask their child to lie about being ill, or their child becomes concerned of going back to school having been the only one not to have been through it. It might appear that not turning up on the day is a solution but actually it creates a whole new set of problems.

We would also that showing children it is possible to just walk away from difficult moments in life sometimes adversely effects how they behave the next time they encounter something difficult or stressful.

The SATs tests don’t need to be hard or scary though if plenty of preparation is done for them. Visit our Preparation Guides and Books page to find the best available resources to help with this.

Why do we take the stance that children should take the SATs tests?

We believe the additional work and indeed pressure children face and the process of sitting a meaningful stress is useful in a developmental sense. It is useful also for children to realise where they sit in class compared to their peers. In many cases the process ignites some fire into children and they improve quite markedly and their desire to be successful at school increases.

We also have seen hundreds if not thousands of parents come through SATs having been worried about stress and workload and pressure. In the vast majority of cases this has involved children who are actually very bright but perhaps lack a little confidence and the process of going through with it has not only given them a great feeling of achievement but also shown to them that they can do well.

Finally of course SATs results are used by secondary schools to set children at their secondary school or contribute to the assessment for setting. For many children this will be a crucial juncture of their education. Children in higher sets will find themselves amongst other children who want to learn and want to do well and will generally speaking have more opportunities educationally than those whose SATs results indicate they are performing at a lower level. Often, setting in secondary schools is fluid but it is much better to start out in the higher sets than hope to work your way into them.

There will of course be some parents who are, for whatever reason, dead set against any form of testing or dead set against putting their child under any form of pressure. It is of course entirely their decision what they do and what process they go through, all we can do is offer our opinion.

Should you want to read more about SATs you can find the answers to other general SATs related questions below, or there are many more answered within the SATs forum.

If you have questions which we have not addressed in our forum pages, please feel free to submit them via the form provided below.

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