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Take me back to Year 6 SATS stress please, Year 7 is much harder!

(I'm not in any way making light of the stresses these SATS do cause our children, their parents and - don't forget - their teachers. This is just my lighthearted look at how things are for us. Keep strong; like most things we worry about, this too will pass.)


We're in the final term of Year 7. The year of blazers and ties. Of getting to school on time or facing a detention. Of packed lunches that are not nutritionally controlled, but include Greggs sausage rolls on a Tuesday (I'm just jealous I admit). Of meeting new friends and therefore us not knowing the parents, making sleepovers risky in my opinion but how can I say no? Of being around Scary Older Kids - and the influences they may have on our little cherubs. Of being unable to go into school to explain away misdemeanours or misunderstandings with the teachers or the office. Of looking every day on the school app on my phone, waiting to see if he's earned some achievement points in a lesson or perhaps a detention he'll try to sneak past me! 

My On This Day Facebook reminder came up with a photo of a lovely letter from the Year 6 team urging our children to have fun before the SATS (two weeks earlier last year) and not to worry as they were proud of all of them anyway. (This wasn't the copy and pasted version, rather their own). I shared and tagged three of my friends whose kids are about to take their SATS soon. I then commented "This will all pale into insignificance once you have Year 7 to deal with." 

It's true, for me at least. Last year, his teacher knew him. Knew his foibles, what he was like in all lessons - even if a child hasn't had a teacher before, most primary teachers will know kids from another class previously. There was also probably just one of them, rather than the 12 that my son has now. This year, they are only just getting to know him, to realise when he's trying to be funny but comes across as a bit rude, to know all his family history, his relationships with his peers, if he works better independently, how he copes working in a group. Last year, he only had tests in English and Maths to concern with - now he has six times that many! And he's been told he'll be choosing his GCSE options next year! What? These are the exams that will really shape his life. If he continues his hatred of modern foreign languages (MFL or MFHell he calls it) (and doubly hurtful for me as I teach languages at primary!), will he regret that when he starts to apply for jobs later in life? If he doesn't choose music (because he's dropped all of his guitar and drums playing), will he regret that he didn't study for something he enjoys that isn't totally academic? The pressure being applied on him from now is quite something. He has high targets for his GCSEs (yes they can "predict" them now, using these infamous SATS scores!) and has to prove in every lesson with a report card that he's putting enough effort in. Already. In Year 7! 


So yes, I'd rather go back to the stresses of last year SATS preparation - the "how quickly can I get through these practice homework papers" times, the arguments about looking at anything together at home that he's finding tough at school, reassuring him that he won't be letting the teachers down if he doesn't achieve Greater Depth (that one got me totally as I'd expected him to worry about passing!), the change in attitude and behaviour noted beforehand at school and at home that we couldn't quite put our fingers on - like when he was tiny and was so grumpy and unsettled JUST before a tooth would appear; caught us out every time. Let me go back, with my rose tinted glasses and the benefit of hindsight I carry around with me! Take me back to when I knew that those bloody results only stood to ensure the teachers were teaching what they were supposed to, and that the secondary schools retest as soon as they go up, but didn't really believe it. They did you know. Granted, they did use those SATS results in the mix to get his predicted GCSE grades, but they also used all the results from his tests they've done each term in Year 7. They're not worth the stress they cause. Year 6 was a dream compared to how we're coping in Year 7!

(I'm sure some parents of older kids will be reading this, shaking their heads, thinking "Wait til he gets to Year 9, then they'll know what stress really is". Yes I know it's coming.)

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