Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

The Sheer Horror of Sats

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

The Sheer Horror of Sats

Article excerpt

When it comes to raw, parental anxiety, there's not much to compare with the formal grading of your child's academic attainment.

Of course, we all know that everyone has different talents, and that lifelong contentment isn't necessarily contingent on 10 A* GCSEs, but still: there's something about the prospect of externally-marked test results that causes a knot in the stomach. Many of us fear - however irrationally - that a set of "bad" results will pin labels on our children that they will spend the next few decades trying to shake off. (Of course, this fear often resolves into equally irrational wild elation and daydreams of world-beating careers when children do well.)

And so we turn, rather inevitably, to Year 6 Sats. Each September on Mumsnet, we see a hum of disbelieving conversation as it starts to sink in that much of the final year at primary school is overshadowed by tests that squat, toadlike, at the beginning of the summer term.

As the academic year passes, the threads about pupil stress and the loss of curriculum breadth in favour of preparing for exam season proliferate.

"It's madness; they've gone on and on at them about it for months," says one user whose child is suffering from migraines. "My daughter thinks they will impact on her going to her already-allocated secondary school."

"My niece has been in tears all weekend," writes another.

Other children manage to keep their cool (on the purely anecdotal evidence of Mumsnet conversations, girls seem to feel the pressure more than boys) - though this can create its very own set of problems. …

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