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SATs Papers (sometimes known as SATs tests) are compulsory national tests that primary school pupils are required to take at the ages of 6-7 (KS1 SATs papers) and 10-11 (KS2 SATs papers). Secondary school pupils take KS3 SATs papers when they are aged between 13 and 14 (Year 9).

Both KS1 (Key Stage 1) and KS3 (Key Stage 3) SATs papers are no longer formally examined but are instead internal teaching assessments. At we have every past QCA SATs paper, optional SATs paper, Mental Maths SATs test and even their respective SATs paper level thresholds (also known as grade boundaries).

    SATs papers are compulsory national tests for primary school pupils. Children in England are required to take Standard Assessment Tests (SATs) at the age of 11 (school year 6). The first SATs paper was introduced in 1991 for Key Stage 1 (more commonly known as the simplified "KS1"). Within four years of their introduction, the then Conservative government introduced Key Stage 2 SATs papers (KS2 SATs papers) and then in 1998 the Labour government introduced the first (KS3 SATs paper.

    One could assume the continual expansion of SATs papers implies that they were highly successful in what they set out to achieve. However, it's fair to say that not only have SATs papers themselves changed a great deal since 1991 but so too has their purpose.

    children taking a sats paper

    SATs papers themselves have broadly remained the same, with English and Maths in KS1 SATs papers and KS2 SATs papers plus Science in KS3 SATs papers. It is within these broad areas however that the changes have been made.

    For instance in KS2 SATs papers, were you to have sat your Maths SATs paper in 2001 and been entered into a level 6 test, you could have potentially sat six individual SATs papers. This is in contrast with 2009 where you would have only sat four individual SATs tests (level 6 SATs papers were no longer available).

    Further to this, in 2004 it was decided that KS1 SATs papers were no longer going to be formal SATs tests but were instead to be 'teacher assessments'. These could be based largely on past SATs papers but this change was suggested to have been a result of parent's feelings. Parents were not comfortable with their young children sitting formal SATs papers.

    Likewise, in 2009 it was decided that KS2 Science SATs papers were no longer going to be externally examined and would instead also become teacher assessments. In 2010 this was expanded to include the KS2 English Writing SATs paper. These changes all occurred within a reasonably small amount of time and together with KS3 SATs papers being completely removed from the National assessment tests in 2009 demonstrates just how much SATs have changed!

    KS2 SATs papers introduced the capability for the government to compare the relative performances of pupils, schools and LEAs over time. However, the significant changes to their structure does suggest that these comparisons could be quite questionable.

    The primary purpose of SATs papers was to create a standardised, consistent assessment for all pupils regardless of who their teacher was and indeed where their school was. However, it's arguable that their primary purpose has seemed to develop into feeding a school league table system, adding stress to pupils and unnecessary pressure onto teachers, detracting from their primary purpose in the classroom to teach!

    From the pupil's perspective, the key purpose behind KS2 SATs papers is to allow them to demonstrate what they have learnt and retained during their education in Years 3-6. The tests, whether via teacher assessment or formal SATs paper, help their teacher learn more about their strengths and weaknesses and precisely what they understand about their Maths, English and Science subjects.

    A child cannot "fail" a SATs paper. There is no "pass mark", it's simply trying to measure how much each child has learned throughout Key Stage 2.

    Since 2005, KS1 SATs papers have instead been teacher assessments. There are no formal external examinations. Pupils are tested in English and Maths.

    With the advent of the new curriculum in 2014, the 2014-2015 academic year was the final year of the "old-style" KS2 SATs and a "new-style" format was announced for the 2015-2016 academic year.

    The 2016 KS2 English SATs papers are made up of a reading comprehension SATs paper (known simply as an English Reading SATs paper), a Spelling, Punctuation & Grammar SATs paper (SPaG SATs paper) and a teacher's assessment in writing. Lord Bew's 2011 review of KS2 SATs papers resulted in 2012's SATs candidates no longer being given externally examined writing tests. For the 2016 KS2 SATs Papers, it has been decided that the KS2 SPaG paper will be significantly more challenging.

    The 2016 KS2 Maths SATs Papers are made up of three formal written papers: Paper 1 (Arithmetic), Paper 2 (Reasoning) and Paper 3 (Reasoning). Calculators are not allowed for any of the tests and all are to be externally marked. Calculator papers were last used in 2013 and KS2 Science SATs papers are no longer externally examined, instead they too are internaly moderated teacher assessments.

    For 2016, there will no longer be any optional level 6 KS2 SATs tests. Instead, these questions will be incorporated into the standard KS2 SATs Papers and accounted for in the marking as being above the expected standard. In previous years, in both English and Maths, headteachers could choose to administer Level 6 versions of these tests. These tests expanded on the content of the level 3-5 tests by including higher level questions that require children to think for themselves and bring aspects of English or Mathematics together. Taking a Level 6 Maths SATs paper as an example, children that took a level 6 test would have needed to be very secure in their knowledge of level 5. They should have been able to work independently, to apply their knowledge within unfamiliar and challenging problems, whilst thinking analytically and communicating their ideas effectively. They would have needed to be able to identify mathematics to be used where the signposting of mathematical concepts is less obvious and/or what was being asked was less familiar.

    To put it bluntly, an 11 year old pupil that developed to a level 6 Maths standard could have been very, very proud of themselves! However, it's all academic now because Level 6 KS2 SATs no longer exist!

    In the new curriculum and for the 2016 KS2 SATs tests, children's marks will be presented as a mark referenced against 100. It is anticipated that the score of 100 will represent the expected standard that children should reach. Those scoring significantly over 100 will have been deemed to exceed the expected standard whilst those scoring significantly below will have not reached the expected standard. Quite why this has been changed is a mystery as the previous system was deemed useful and mature. Its caused a great deal of confusion and concern among teachers, especially since there's been no official announcement about where the boundaries will be.

    The new curriculum and 2016 equivalent of levels:

    Mark Description
    << 100 Below Expected Standard
    ~ 100 At Expected Standard
    >> 100 Above Expected Standard

    Under the old curriculum, children's marks were translated into "levels". These levels helpfully described the expectations of a child and whether they were meeting them, exceeding them or indeed whether they needed a little extra support.

    The expectations for a child's SATs performance according to their age are shown in the table below. For instance, an 11 year old child is expected to achieve level 4 by the end of year 6. A child achieving level 5 is working at a high level, and only one percent achieve level 6.

    Year 2 Year 6 Year 8
    Level 8 Exceptional
    Level 7 Beyond Expectations
    Level 6 Exceptional At Expected Level
    Level 5 Beyond Expectations
    Level 4 Exceptional At Expected Level Below Expectations
    Level 3 Beyond Expectations Below Expectations
    Level 2 At Expected Level
    Level 1 Below Expectations

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