Primary teachers need to learn SATs are essential for secondary education

Primary teachers need to learn SATs are essential for secondary education

Primary schools up and down the country would have received this year’s SATs results yesterday and spent all day digesting the figures to see where they stand.

And with predictable great timing, a survey of primary school teachers was published yesterday morning just as headteachers were crunching the headline figures.

Low and behold, 97% of those that responded to the National Education Union-run survey said SATs should be abolished.

As a former secondary school teacher I can tell you this would set education back by years.

SATs tests are a crucial way of ensuring that basic skills are being assessed before children move to secondary school.

In the first secondary school I taught we had to set tests year 7 to find out about the pupils. We knew virtually nothing about them. We needed to put them in sets and understand their literacy and numeracy levels. It was like having a SATs test.

But once children are in the secondary system it is very difficult to work on basic literacy and numeracy skills. Without these basic abilities all subject areas become inaccessible.

Without reasonable levels of literacy it is almost impossible for students to progress well in English, history, geography, religious studies and biology – poor literacy affects all areas of study.

And without a good level of numeracy maths, physics, chemistry, IT design and technology become a minefield for the poor child.

Secondary school is like a shuttle service – children go from subject to subject throughout the day and intervention at this stage of their education is very difficult.

If you want to intervene on literacy or numeracy a child often needs to be withdrawn and this will affect their progress in this area.

Intervention, therefore, must take place in the primary school where there are less curriculum demands and the children are not also dealing with the difficulties puberty presents. When children become teenagers they can easily feel a failure and be more sensitive about being supported in the classroom.

Working towards taking SATs at Year 6 means those children that are struggling in basic numeracy and literacy can be more easily identified and helped. Those basic skills need to be in place before they start secondary school.

Losing these tests would also destroy accountability (I am sure some in the primary sector would be very happy to have no accountability).

SATs tests ensure that primary schools are made to face up to what they have been doing for six years. Schools are aware that if children are not reaching certain standards they will face questions. Take this away and no questions can be asked.

My message to primary school teachers is to look at the bigger picture and how children can best be prepared for the demands secondary schools present.