On Monday, May 8th I went into school early morning to observe the KS 2 reading SAT. I was greeted with such a warm family scene in the hall, where Year 6 were healthily breakfasting sat in small groups, served by members of staff. The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly, with the children talking freely among themselves. On the menu was toast with various spreads, including Mrs Sheerin’s home made raspberry jam. There were dried and fresh fruits with fruit juices to drink. Ms Brown then told the children there would be time to stretch their legs in the playground, and then back up to the classroom for some ‘Top Tips’ before the start of the test. This to, ‘get our minds concentrating’. Ms Brown and the children then calmly revisited suggestions, strategies for tackling different kinds of questions, how to approach the paper as a whole, noting how many marks an answer would be awarded as a guide to how much detail was required etc. Here was time then for the children to ask questions and make any observations they had. Ms Brown then summarised by reminding the children to persevere, to be relaxed and do their best. ‘I want you to just do your best’.
When we reached the hall, again the atmosphere was calm because every aspect of the children’s needs, and the organisation of the space, equipment needed, seating arrangements for both staff and the children had been planned for. The children were seated around the hall in groups, with a member of staff seated on each table. Mrs Sheerin told the children to make themselves comfortable and each child received a chocolate bar for extra energy! The children were told that they could ask a member of staff to read aloud their answer. Mrs Sheerin said, ‘You can then think, does it make sense, does it answer the question?’ The front page of the answer booklet was then filled in and the children began to work immediately. They had 40 minutes to complete the paper which comprised three texts, two fiction, one non. There was absolute silence in the room. I found it interesting to observe the staff behaviour because for most of the time they were notrequired to be interacting with the children, but, everyone of them for the whole time was focussed on the children on their table. No words were obviously being spoken, but, staff were demonstrating to the children in their care, their absolute commitment to them and the task in hand, willing them to do their best, and letting them know that they were alongside. I thought that must have been both comforting and encouraging for the children. All the children worked up to the last minute, with seven of them having been awarded 15 minutes of extra time.
Children and staff can all feel proud of their hard work and effort in preparation for the tests, and for their positive attitudes and conduct throughout them. I came away feeling a very proud governor.
On Friday, May 12th, I went into Year 2 to observe the arithmetic test paper for this age group. This was the first paper, the second one being a maths problem paper, where the children could be helped by staff reading the questions where necessary. Not the case with this paper as it was all sums. The children were not allowed to use the equipment that they would normally have access to, and timing for the test, though not rigid, was set at 20minutes. If it was considered helpful, the children could have a break at some stage.
When Ms Presley announced the maths test to the children, there was an immediate, excited response in the room, and whispers of ‘YES!’
As with KS2, Ms Presley prepared the children by rehearsing how they worked on maths in class. ‘What do you think you might use your ruler for?’ The children responded by saying, ‘drawing number lines, bar models’. She then went through each kind of sum, asking the children what they might want to use to help them- jottings e.g. ‘What could we use for multiplication?’
The children were spread out across 5 tables. The papers were given out, and, with Ms Presley and Mrs Hague, they worked their way through the practice questions with big smiles on their faces. Again, as for KS2 , Ms Presley and Mrs Hague encouraged the children throughout by their physical presence around the room, letting the children know that they were there to support them in whatever way they were allowed. Again, a very calm, peaceful atmosphere in the room throughout to enable the children to do their best. The sums ranged in difficulty, and were presented in a variety of forms e.g. 20+_=70, - -12=36, 80 dividedby 10=. As the children finished they were encouraged to check their answers. Ms Presley pointed out to me that there was a 3 times question, whereas the curriculum required the children to know just their 2,5, and 10 timestables, and an answer that went over a 100, which was also beyond the curriculum requirements. But, the children seemed to cope with both of these with no problem using the skills they’ve been taught.
It was noticeable how well the children persevered, especially those who took a little longer to complete the paper. And, it was also heart-warming to see how quietly respectful the other children got on with their reading while some of their classmates were finishing off. Ms Presley praised all the children for their hard work and positive attitude. When she asked them what the thought of it, there were unanimous responses of ‘good’.
Again, well done to staff and children for their hard work and can do attitude!
Jenny Horton, governor.