Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/555/6585
Year 9 SATs abolished: Now get rid of the rest!
I did my SATs last year. It's definitely true that SATs put more pressure on kids that are going to have pressure in the years to come with their GCSEs.
Niall Haley, Walthamstow
The school I was at claimed they were good preparation for GCSEs. But they weren't. They just seemed to be the government's way of testing the school rather than the school's way of testing the pupils. So instead of being pupils working towards our own goals we became numbers for the school. There's a lot more pressure for those doing the SATs than there is for the actual GCSE pupils.
You only do the SATs in English, maths and science. You do three in English - reading, writing and Shakespeare, two papers for science and three papers for maths - mental maths, calculator and non-calculator. All the other subjects that you don't take a SATs exam for, become secondary then. Languages become almost forgotten. Art, geography and history all fade into the background. The timetable was really weighted towards the SATS subjects. We had four each of English, maths and science classes a week and one of most other subjects and two PE lessons.
Some of the teachers even said that the PE classes were there to take the stress away. They said that PE could be an escape from stress - they totally acknowledged how stressful a year it was for us.
Some teachers were really stressed out by the pressure of the SATs and that had an effect on our lessons. Amongst the pupils there wasn't too much stress up to when the exams started. But then one of my close friends went into a breakdown and had to miss a few exams due to stress. The stress was just way too much. You become a candidate number.
Then you face two years of exams for the GCSEs. I missed my mocks but others got stressed out by the mocks before they even sat the exams proper.
At my school SATs don't even affect what level you take your GCSE subjects in. That's based on your class assessments. There's often no correlation between the SATs levels and the assessment levels. It wasn't a wasted year but the exams were a waste of time. But it was clearly about the government assessing the school.
I've taken all the SATs - at seven and eleven too. The ones at eleven are done in exam conditions which I think is putting unnecessary stress on eleven year olds. Why should they have to sit in exam conditions?
It's definitely a good thing that the government has made the year 3 and year 9 SATs non-compulsory. It's going to reduce stress from exams for young people.
In The Socialist 5 November 2008:
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Marxist analysis: history
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