You Can’t Always Get What You Want

A few years ago I was engaged to tutor a Year 6 girl who was desperate to get a Level 5 in her SATs, because she really wanted to be in the top stream when she started secondary school.

Her school had said she was very behind where she should be for her age, and when I assessed her in the first session I put her at about a 2A.

Katie*  wanted a Level 5 so badly that she said she was prepared to work hard and do as much work in her own time as she could fit in. I told her I would help her improve as much as possible, but gently explained that to get from a 2A to a 5 in 2½ terms was really unrealistic.

Each week I worked with her on things that she had found difficult in school, and each week I gave her homework to practise what we had worked on. Sometimes when I leave homework for children they don’t do it. That’s OK – I know they have homework from school and that has to take priority. But Katie did her school homework AND the homework I gave her, and quite often found extra work for herself.

She worked hard for the whole year. The week of the SATs arrived. She was as prepared as I could get her in the time we’d had and we just had to wait for the results and see.

After the SATs, Katie didn’t stop working hard – she carried on with tutoring and with homework. The results of the SATs arrived: Katie had achieved a 4A.

From a 2A to a 4A in 2½ terms is a great achievement, but it wasn’t the 5 she had set her heart on. You can’t always get what you want. But sometimes, if you work hard enough, you can. Katie started secondary school in September and guess what? She got into the top set.

* not her real name

To book a private maths or English tutor in north Birmingham (Great Barr, Hamstead, Kingstanding, Pheasey, Streetly, Sutton), contact me via my website.

A letter to Michael Gove

Jordan has really posted this letter to Michael Gove and is eagerly awaiting a reply. In the meantime he’d love you to leave a comment below and tell him whether you agree with his views.

Dear Mr Gove

I am writing to tell you that I think SATs should be banned in this country. I have several reasons to support my view.

Firstly I believe the SATs put undue pressure on young children, often resulting in them performing poorly.

Secondly, we don’t learn anything new in Year 6 because of all the practice tests we do. If we didn’t do so many practise tests, we could learn interesting things like how cars are built and why your funny bone tingles when you hit it.

I believe if we got our tests back to see what we got wrong, that could be useful because then we could ask our tutors to work on those questions. However, we do not get them back which is not very helpful.

In my opinion, the only good thing about SATs is that our teachers give us a drink and a biscuit before we do them.

Please could you take into consideration what I have written, and abolish them?

Yours sincerely,