It’s not just politicians who are under pressure this month.. A new survey reveals that school children all over England are experiencing stress levels that make some ill with fear in the build up to the next round of Key Stage Two SATs tests, scheduled to take place in primary schools all over the country from today.
The survey was commissioned by BrightMinds a leading specialist retailer of educational toys, games and revision material polled over seven hundred parents from its database. It revealed that a massive 44% felt that their children were ‘worried’ about the forthcoming tests. 41% said their children were concerned with 15% apparently so anxious they were experiencing sleepless nights. 11% of children were actually making themselves ill with fear.
Despite this figure, worry does appear to have a motivational effect on children in terms of preparation for the tests. 32% of parents said they felt their children were well prepared going into the examination room with 26% describing their children as ‘confident’. 24% went so far as to say their children were ‘competitive’.
The specific issues volunteered by parents that worried their children about the SATs were fear of failure, and letting their teachers down. Children’s lack of knowledge about how to sit tests was also highlighted as an issue with many parents saying that their children were worried they might not be able to complete the papers within the time allocated.
Children were also fearful that they would forget everything they had learned due to nerves and the pressure of being put under exam-style conditions. The competitive nature of some of their peers also contributed to their fears.
When parents were asked how they could inspire confidence in their children in anticipation of the tests, the overwhelming response was ‘practise, practise, practise’. The parents polled are closely involved with grooming their children in anticipation of the SATs, helping them out of school hours with practise papers and revision. Other parents are recruiting tutors to help. One parent commented ‘the benefit of a tutor was ensuring that her child was actually being given the time and opportunity to understand what she was being taught.’
Despite obvious concerns about the impact of the SATs on their children, 57% of those parents polled voted in favour of SATs testing. 44% voted against.
One parent commented that the timing ‘of the SATs is a major issue and asked: ‘Should they consider moving the date so it’s not after the week with a bank holiday Monday, usually a polling day on the Thursday and schools (understandably) having a teacher day on the Friday? It should be the last-but-one week before the Easter holidays, to enable proper learning to take place in the whole of the Summer term to prepare adequately for transition to secondary school.’
Another parent commented that SATs have turned the summer term, historically a time of winding down, into an ordeal. She said: ‘Bring back the excitement of summer term rather than making our kids worry about exams’.
Alison Quill, BrightMinds founder and former teacher, also commented: ‘Personally I’m with the majority and think SATs are a good thing so long as the preparation for them truly engages the children so they can reap the long term benefits.
I don’t agree with the hot-housing which surrounds level 6 SATs. Confidence is the key to inspiring children to want to learn. Bright children who are entered for level 6 and don’t achieve it are set up for failure before they’ve even reached secondary school.’
The survey was commission by www.brightminds.co.uk