There’s a lot of change going on in the education world, particularly with regards to testing. I thought I’d share what I know for the parents and students out there.
I should clarify that this tends to be true of state-funded schools but private and academy ones are more varied in their approach.
Key Stage 2 (Primary School):
Firstly, the kids have usually finished Key Stage 1/Infant’s school/Year 2 (all the same thing) by taking SAT tests. SATs tests (generally, not just KS1) show how the school and teachers are performing, but they also give us an idea of the ability level each child has in the core subjects (English, Maths and- later on- Science). This then gives the school the opportunity to predict a level to work towards for the next stage.
The KS2 SATs are taken at the end of Primary school (Year 6) and are causing more and more controversy. This year had the highest percentage of parents remove their children from the tests and the increasing number of academy schools (who don’t have to do the tests, but many do) mean that the stressful tests are called into question. So they may be abolished, in local schools if not nationally.
As a parent, you have the right to remove your child from anything you think is harmful. Certainly, there seems to be more pressure on children these days with increasing numbers of mental health issues, but I don’t believe education is the cause, rather it exasperates already anxious children.
The thing is that until they change the secondary school testing, then Year 6 SATs serve to give them targets for secondary school. More importantly, get them used to sitting tests so it’s not a total shock when they get to the next level.
Secondary School/Key Stages 3 & 4:
Testing happens often in secondary school. They usually do small tests at the end of each topic or term. There are levelled assessments to compare current ability levels with those predicted for them. Then there are end-of-year tests: These are big things in education news at the moment and are already the focus for our schools locally.
There is talk of re-introducing the KS3 SATs at the end of Year 9. In truth, some schools have never stopped using them, but many take the time to start GCSE work instead.
There are two approaches to this: Either the children are asked to choose their options at the end of year 8 and get 3 years to study GCSE, or they do the options at the end of year 9 (as before) but do more GCSE-style work in that year. I think the latter is the better option purely because the year 8 options mean asking 12 and 13-year-olds to pick their career path and some of them simply aren’t ready then.
So if you’re looking at secondary schools, ask how they currently test, when they choose their options and if the school has plans to change these things in the near future.
Key Stage 4 (GCSEs) are relatively unchanged in the testing but remember we’re still in the process (they began 2 years ago) of changing to the new 9-1 grading system instead of A*-G. If you would like to familiarize yourself with it, my explanation can be found here.
I think that’s all for now, so I’ll let you go before I start again! 😉