Sidcot Junior School is a SATs Free Zone

Sidcot’s Junior School students do not sit SATs. 

As an independent school, we’ve taken a strong stance on this topic and for a good reason. Only recently, a survey of primary school teachers suggested that SATs exams do not benefit children’s learning and could actually be bad for their overall wellbeing. This negative impact goes against everything we believe in when looking to help our Junior School students develop into well-balanced children who are prepared for life.

Why Our Pupils Don’t Sit SATs Tests

At Sidcot Junior School, we’ve long held the view that putting children through the stress of SATs exams is not an effective way of helping them grow and learn as people. In some cases, SATs tests have resulted in unnecessary stress for children and even nightmares, resulting in them needing additional support to cope with the pressure. Teachers themselves are now expressing concerns about the welfare of our young children in relation to SATs tests.

This is why we approach education rather differently, using the Sidcot Learning Wheel. We want to create well-rounded students who are prepared for life, not just exams. What matters at Sidcot is living life to the full, being curious, and making a difference

We assess our students differently

SATs exams were created to evaluate a child’s educational progress. The problem is that SATs data can be extremely unreliable. We know as adults that it is not always possible to perform to our optimum on demand, and it’s the same for children too. In the classroom, there may be a child who is excelling, but on the day of the SATs test they don’t perform as well as they could. It’s unfair to mark them at a lower level when they have shown consistently throughout the year to be doing well. 

That is why we assess pupil progress differently. Of course we want to ensure they are making good progress, but we do this over a much longer period of time and in a more natural setting. We will monitor and test them for certain skills throughout the year rather than all in one day. This means children are not judged on just one exam. We know the children and their academic abilities. If they have one off-day, it won't affect them long term.


The Benefits Of Not Doing SATs

By not doing SATs, Sidcot students benefit from extra time. This means they have a broader education enjoying things like Forest School, weekly swimming sessions, and music and singing lessons. They can take their education at their own pace, developing a love of learning and having the freedom to build on their own interests. SATs tests are focussed on core subjects of literacy and maths. Whilst these subjects are important and advantageous in many ways, developing them needn’t be to the detriment of enjoying and excelling at other subjects too. Not doing SATs tests means children do not have the pressure or worry of passing a standardised test and can therefore flourish as individuals.

Another important benefit to being a SATs-free zone is that we are not forced to complete our teaching of the curriculum to the exam schedule. Children learn at different paces; some may have gained a full grasp of all topics by May, others may require a bit more time. By assessing our children across the whole year, we don’t miss out on those extra Spring/Summer months and aren’t forced to move our children on to the next area of learning before they have gained a full grasp of the one before, throughout the year. By ensuring a SATs-free zone, we are allowing our Junior School-aged children to cement a full foundation of their learning before moving up to secondary school.
Melissa Brown
Assistant Head Academic

Our approach to education gives children the lessons they need to develop enquiring minds and become independent and resourceful learners. To see our school day up close and discover how we encourage children to live adventurously, please visit us or get in touch with any questions. We’d love to tell you more.