This year there has been a lot of talk, within the education sector, about SATs having changed for the wrong reasons and in the wrong way. This has been reflected in this year’s SATs results. The teachers’ unions have argued that there is a need to take the tests out of the hands of government ministers. But why is that?
What were the 2016 national SATs results?
This year’s results were announced on Tuesday, 5 June 2016 and they showed that nationally 53% of children had met the new expected standard in all three required subjects. The required subjects are reading, writing and maths. This doesn’t sound too bad, right? However, under last year’s system 80% of children met the required standard which at the time was level 4.
Looking at the result further we can see that, 66% of pupils met the standard in reading, 70% in maths, 72% in grammar, punctuation and spelling and 74% in the teacher-assessed writing. The last of which, teachers claim, has traditionally been the lowest result.
What’s the government’s view on these results?
The Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, has warned that these results cannot be compared to those of previous years. A view with which the unions agree. Russell Hobby of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) union went so far as to say that it would be “irresponsible to hold schools to account on the basis of this data” and that the results should not have been published.
Nicky Morgan said that the lower results are a “good start”. They should not be interpreted as a decline in performance by pupils, as this year’s tests were more demanding and were based on a new curriculum.
However, Mr. Hobby insisted that whilst the results are not “representative of the quality of education nor of the hard work, but the government has decided that nearly half of pupils have failed at the end of their primary education.”
He added that the floor standard of 65% is simply “untenable”. This figure is well above the average level of national performance. This would result in the majority of schools being labelled as failures.
Kevin Courtney, speaking for the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: “In reality the figures are anything but definitive”, adding that the process was “seriously mismanaged” and that the Government’s policies have “produced a system which damages, not supports, children’s learning.”
General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Dr Mary Bousted also said, “We are appalled by the shambles of the Key Stage 2 SATs results which just compounds the total chaos the government has made of this year’s SATs.”
What does this mean for SATs going forward?
The reliability of the tests has been questioned and the teachers’ union NASUWT. The union has again called for an open review of all of the planning and implementation issues surrounding this year’s tests. Including the delays, the change in guidance and the leaking of papers.
Schools and union leaders are now concerned about how these results might affect both primary and secondary schools in the coming years. High numbers of primary pupils may have to re-sit the tests once at secondary school. In addition, schools below the threshold may face possible intervention from either Ofsted or their regional schools commissioner if they are deemed as unsatisfactory or coasting. This may ultimately result in the schools being forced to join Multi Academy Trusts.