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'Don't worry' plea over Suffolk SATs

PUBLISHED: 08:50 04 August 2010 | UPDATED: 09:48 16 September 2010

PARENTS in Suffolk are being told not to be concerned about poor SATs results among the county's 11-year-olds which show they are falling behind the national average.

PARENTS in Suffolk are being told not to be concerned about poor SATs results among the county's 11-year-olds which show they are falling behind the national average.

The figures for the 2010 Key Stage Two SATs show that in all four areas, Suffolk's pupils - and in particular its boys - are failing to meet the country's target of a level four pass.

In English, reading, writing and maths, pupils are failing to achieve the national average, with boys lagging behind the girls in all but maths.

But Graham White, of the Suffolk branch of the National Union of Teachers, says parents should pay little attention to the results as a measure of academic progress and achievement. The NUT has been vocal in its opposition to SATs exams for Year Six pupils and Mr White said the ongoing schools review programme had not helped the situation.

Mr White said: “I don't care about SATs results because I don't think they're a very good indicator. What I'm far more concerned about is overall education.

“I don't think we should be getting hung up on (SATs) results. GCSE, A Level and degree results are far more important. SATs are made up tests anyway - they are only supposed to be an indicator of progress

“There is far, far too much pressure being put on pupils. That's not to say we should not test them, but that testing should be more diagnostic.

“I also think that results are not helped by the fact that we had the situation with schools reorganisation review and the decision to boycott SATs results has had an impact. There is a huge question mark about how useful SATs are. We should be educating pupils, not preparing them for tests. Parents shouldn't worry about them because I don't think they are a meaningful measure - teacher assessments are a better measure.”

In English, just 76 per cent of pupils reached the target Key Stage Two level four standard, with 82 per cent of the county's girls and just 70 per cent of its boys coming up to scratch.

Maths results showed boys and girls delivering the same scores as 76 per cent reached the level four, an improvement on the previous year.

In writing, just 56 per cent of boys reached the level four target, while 75 per cent of girls reached the mark, against a national average of 71 per cent.

For reading, 77 per cent of boys and 85 per cent of girls the target pass while the national benchmark was 84 per cent.

Graham Newman, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for children, schools and young people's services, accepted that the figures were “not quite” in line with the nation as a whole.

He said: “(But) we have got quite a lot (more) of improvement in the two-tier system than we have in the three-tier system, which urges us to finish off the schools reorganisation.

“I can understand what teachers say (about disliking SATs). However, testing is one of the things we have to do in life and it brings with it a certain degree of distortion.”

Mr Newman said that as a reaction to poor SATs results in the past, a lot of resources had been put into raising the maths results, which had paid off with a noticeable improvement this year.

He added: “We had a three per cent improvement in maths in the county in the past year compared to a national average of one per cent - that's good progress for us.”

He said that after “turning the tide” with the maths results, it was time to focus on English and making sure the county was as good as anywhere else.


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