Sometimes it feels like years fly by in schools – often because we’re constantly looking ahead to the next marker. By June we’re already starting to think ahead to September, as soon as autumn comes around the Christmas performance looms, and lo-and-behold, soon enough it’s January and we’re thinking about SATS again. No wonder teachers age so quickly!
Half the trouble is that time does move so fast. January to May sounds like almost half a year, but then when you look at the school calendar you suddenly realise that there are barely 12 teaching weeks before the SATs tests begin, and it all seems a little more frantic. And as much as I’d like to say that we just ignore it all until the last minute, there is truth in the argument that children need practice of test questions to allow them to achieve their best in the real thing.
Teachers, too, need support in the run up to the tests to quickly identify where the gaps in learning are, and to fill them. That’s particularly relevant for pupils who might have gaps from much earlier in school that aren’t automatically covered in the standard Year 6 curriculum. Also, we often find that children seem to have secured some concepts, but then find it much harder to apply them to abstract questions or in contexts.
Booster sessions in my school help us to provide teachers with confidence about coverage, and children with confidence and experience about their own preparedness. We’ve also managed to keep it manageable by using the Achieve 100
and Achieve 100 Plus
resources from Rising Stars.
Booster groups run through the spring term for us, with a weekly English and Maths slot. Teachers identify aspects from the Achieve 100 guides which we know we need to address, and using a combination of the information in the revision guides, the online materials, and our own experience, each session is tailored towards securing one element of knowledge, whether that’s interpreting graphs, or identifying the subjunctive form.
The practice question books then also help us to set homework tasks which are closely linked to our work – or to revise content that we have already taught. The home-school link helps parents to see what is expected of children, and to see how they are progressing. For some of our higher-attaining children, I sometimes set a homework task from the Achieve 100
book – something which should be a revision to consolidate their existing knowledge – before tackling the more advanced content in our booster session. The Achieve 100
plus books then allow us to test out that new learning in a realistic context.
Finally, the books also allow children to identify their own strengths and needs. I am often amazed by the way in which the appearance of the books in January is both welcomed by excited children, and has a significant impact on their focus on learning. Sometimes the most lackadaisical of students can surprise you, by coming into school with a query about a page they’ve read at home, or asking for an additional challenge that week.
Preparation for SATs week needn’t consist of just repeatedly taking tests and hoping for a better score. We prefer to use test-style questions and good old-fashioned teaching to help improve our pupils’ preparedness for that week in May.
Then we can get on to thinking about the leavers performance!
Achieve is used in over 10,000 schools at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. Covering the content and written in the style of the new national tests, these books help schools meet the raised expectations of the new national curriculum.
To find out more about the bestselling Achieve range, click here.