Tuesday 3rd May 2016
Dear Parents and Carers of Year 2 Pupils
I wanted to get in touch to update you on some key national issues affecting primary education right now. Keeping track of the daily developments of education nationally is challenging for those of us who work in schools so I appreciate fully that it can be overwhelming for parents and carers to keep up to date with the current circumstances.
KS1 Standard Assessment Tests (SATs) in Year 2
Our pupils in Year 2 will complete the KS1 test papers during the month of May along with other Year 2 children nationally. I want to reassure you that we are not putting the children under unnecessary pressure to perform for these tests. You may have seen in the news over the last week that there is growing dissatisfaction with the tests and they are considered by some to be an unsuitable form of assessment for children of 6 and 7 years old. Children in our school have been gently introduced to the question format and style over the course of the year and therefore the experience should not be a shock or trigger anxiety. They will find the approach to testing ‘normal’ and teachers and support staff will encourage children to do the best they can as the children would expect in day to day learning.
The KS1 assessment tests are marked by teachers and the scores are used to support Teacher Assessments, which are reported to the DfE. Teachers will not rely solely on the test outcomes but will draw on a wide range of evidence and examples of pupils’ work to make a fair judgement of whether they are working toward, working at or working at greater depth within age related expectations.
Age Related Expectations
We will be reporting to parents and carers the outcomes of children at the end of the year to inform you of how your child has performed relative to the new national age related expectations. It has been widely reported in the media about the increased demand in these expectations. The criteria for working as a ‘typical’ or ‘above typical’ year 2 child are now more challenging than in previous years so it is expected that across the country some children will be in a situation where they may be classified in the stage below where we would have previously expected. We are working to ensure that information shared with you concerning end of year outcomes is as open and clear as possible to help you make sense of this change to the system. We certainly will be continuing to focus on celebrating the individual achievements of children as it is frustrating that they especially have to potentially be subjected to these changes, some of which have only been clarified in recent weeks by the DfE.
Adapting to change
As a school we firmly embrace the opportunity to support children to succeed and strive for higher standards. We are however concerned about the rate of change to primary education imposed by the DfE and their lack of support to ensure that children are not unfairly impacted by the changes. As children have demonstrated readiness we have encouraged them to strive for the greater challenges of the new curriculum and all children have shown some superb progress over the year so far.
The reality is that there will be more change and disruption to schools assessment in the coming years and the priorities of successive governments will continue to flex and reform. Our children however get one chance to have an educational experience which will support them to become confident and sustainable learners who are curious and motivated. I am confident the school is delivering this type of education to our children despite the changes and I know that this is supporting their best possible outcomes at this stage.
School KS1 Data
Both the DfE and Ofsted will have difficulty making use of our outcome data in the next academic year as the outcomes will not relate sufficiently to historical data nor indeed will it provide a reliable way of comparing us against other schools nationally. Our focus therefore is to ensure the data we use to track each child demonstrates that they have been challenged to make the best possible progress in the last year as possible. We will continue to have this ambition for all children and use the evidence of this to support our view that the teaching, learning and progress of children in the school is very strong.
Supporting your child
Thank you for your understanding and support as we continue to adapt our routines to ensure we meet children’s needs as well as our statutory duties. The opportunity for children to have a chance to be assessed in a more formal way is not a negative experience if handled in the correct way. The tests certainly provide useful information about their current capability, which in turn supports our teachers to continue delivering relevant and effective learning experiences. The best way for you to support your child through the testing period is simply to ensure you do what you normally would – ensure they are eating a balanced diet, provide them with lots of water and most importantly encourage them to sleep! If you do have any concerns about your child’s wellbeing please share these with their class teacher in the first instance.
If you have any questions regarding the national assessments at KS1 or any comments you wish to share please feel free to get in touch.
Mr Kristian Hewitt
Unfortunately not the ones with chocolate chips.
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