Testing times – are Sats too much for young children?

An exam hall.

Dylan experienced the dreaded Sats last week. He loves school and throws himself into each new topic with great enthusiasm. His English is excellent and his maths isn’t bad, so we weren’t worried about how he would do. Academically, at least.

There was something noticeably different about him though. Without warning, he seemed bothered. He was quite emotional about things and less tolerant as a result. It takes a lot for him to lose his cool, but there were a couple of occasions in which he got very angry with things that wouldn’t normally upset him.

Then came the biggest surprise. He didn’t want to go to school. We had suspected Sats of being the culprits and this confirmed it. He was scared of getting bad grades.

This can only have been from reading between the lines. His school seems to handle the tests very well and does its best to shield children from pressure. Similarly, we didn’t make a big deal out of it at home.

Somehow, the Sats had got into his head. Our usually rational little lad was suddenly like I was in my old job.

I wasn’t surprised, therefore, to read that more primary school children are suffering from stress as a result of them.

My understanding is that Sats are more about measuring schools than children. This, of course, isn’t helpful to those who are most affected. It filters down to the teachers and pupils. This creates a huge amount of stress when, arguably, it is too early for this level of assessment.

I’m all for regular, informal tests to see how kids are doing, but can’t help but feel that Sats put an unnecessary amount of pressure on young children. Particularly in key stage one.

It’s harder for six and seven year olds to rationalise stress, so it seems counter productive to put them through it.

Dylan was visibly exhausted by the end of the week. He felt that he had done well in his tests, but they clearly took their toll on him. He’s only getting back to his usual self now.

The thing that is concerning me most at the moment is that last week’s tests were for his strongest subject. I dread to think how he’s going to react when it comes to maths.

It’s good to know that Sats for key stage one could be scrapped but I feel that a lot of damage has already been done.

What do you think? How did Sats affect your kids?


  1. Katie

    We had a lot of trouble with Oliver leading up to last weeks sats. He was easily upset and easy angered by the smallest thing. He has his days but the last week or so was really hard for all the family to see Oliver go through. He does well at school and after he had sat them he said they were easy, but he without a doubt felt the pressure. As much as the teachers didn’t push it. We as parents also assured him that even if he got every question wrong all that mattered was he tried his best. None of this stopped Oliver being hard on himself. I’m not looking forward to the next lot either. I don’t think at this age it’s necessary and hope that they remove them once again.

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