Family & Education

I felt sorry for children about tough Sats paper, says head

The English reading paper in this year's test for year-6 has provoked an outcry


English word written in colorful stickers pinned on cork board. Learning languages concept

A Jewish primary headteacher said she felt “sorry” for the pupils who sat the SATs paper in English that provoked a national outcry.

According to Schools Week, Schools minister Nick Gibb has promised to look at complaints from teachers that the reading test for year-6 pupils was far too demanding.

Hannah Martin, head of Etz Chaim in Mill Hill said, it was “very rare to look over a test paper and think ‘this is too difficult’. Last week though, was the first time in two decades of primary teaching that I have ever had to re-read the questions and ask a colleague if I had missed something obvious that meant the paper seemed much harder than it should be.

“I felt sorry for the year-6 pupils sat in front of me who were trying to answer the English reading SATs paper that has caused such a stir these last few days.”

The tests, she added, “have been a divisive topic for a while and the education world is split on what the best approach to assessing a child’s ability is. Personally, I am a firm believer that every child should be provided with the opportunity and support to push themselves to achieve their full potential, whether that is academically or creatively and at whatever level that may be.”

“As primary school teachers, it is our job to shape how children learn; work with them to help them find their strengths; guide them in the early stages of their development, equip them with knowledge and enthuse them with a passion for learning.”

When the paper is published this week, she said, “Some will be outraged at how hard they think it is. Others will no doubt wonder what all the fuss is about and criticise the teachers for not having properly prepared their pupils.”

Claire Silver, head of Akiva in Finchley, said that “some of the more able pupils struggled to finish the reading test as it was particularly challenging this year. This year we felt that all the SATs papers lacked the more easily accessible questions that are typically found at the start of the paper.”

Juliette Lipshaw, head of Sinai in Kingsbury, said this year’s papers were “indeed challenging” and praised her year-6 cohort who “have set a real example to the whole school by conducting themselves with maturity, focus and a determination to try their very best.”

Steve Langford, head of King David Birmingham, said, “We didn’t have the tears we heard about from other schools and we don’t over-analyse the results of the paper because it’s not healthy for the children.

“It’s important to give children the skills to face hard challenges and approach them with confidence.”

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