The kids are back in school after what was (hopefully) a lovely Easter break in some pretty decent sunshine. Now attention turns to the national reading and numeracy tests which are due to start in a week or so. You don’t read quite as much about the Welsh tests as you do about the SATs that take place in England around the same time. SATs have been hugely controversial and I have read some very powerful articles written by parents who claim that their children are ‘wilting’ under the pressure. However, there have been calls by parents for the Welsh tests to be scrapped as well, especially for younger children.
As a parent you have several options. Here are 5 of them!
5 things parents can do about national reading and numeracy tests
- Do nothing whatsoever. You have the option of doing nothing. For some parents this means taking their children out of school on the day of the test and refusing to participate. This may work for younger children. It’s harder for older children because they will be very aware of what is going on and may want to talk to you about it. You can hardly refuse to do so!
- The minimalist approach. You make sure that your child is in school on the day that the tests take place. You want them to be fed and rested, you will have tackled any anxieties that they have. This may mean playing down the importance of the tests if they have been hyped up by their peers, or even the school. You leave all academic matters to the teachers.
- Get active in the process. Some parents take on a more ‘active’ role. You can access huge quantities of resources on the web to help your child prepare for the tests. In the weeks leading up to the tests you can work through a few past papers with them so that they get used to the style of the questions. They will probably be doing some past test papers in school as well.
- The ‘I’m all over this’ approach. This approach is best adopted a few months prior to the tests. You can track down resources to help with national reading and numeracy tests and work through them with your child. BBC Bitesize is an old favourite as is Sum Dog. You can use SATs papers (which are the English version of the test) to get some more test practice.
- Get someone else to do it. Finally, there is the ‘full on’ approach where you effectively coach your child in test technique, spend hours poring over test questions and hundreds of pounds on private tutors!
Pick what works best for your child
So, what is the best approach? There isn’t one. You have to pick what works best for your child. The approach for a child in Year 2 may be entirely different to a child in Year 6. By the age of 11 years, a child is capable of understanding what the test results will be used for – especially as they make the transition to high school. For anxious children you may need to play them down. For children who can’t be bothered you may want to stir things up a bit!
As things stand, a child’s academic attainment is mainly recorded via tests and exams. Learning how to play the game is an important skill. The age at which children should learn that skill is open to debate.