The results of this year’s SATs have just been announced, with 65% of year 6 pupils achieving the government’s "expected standard” - an increase of one per cent compared to last year. According to schools minister Nick Gibb, this year’s SATs results "show the majority of pupils are leaving primary school ready to deal with the challenges of secondary school.”
Do independent schools have SATs?
SATs are compulsory for state funded schools, and all pupils must currently sit them at the end of Key Stage 1 (year 2) and Key Stage 2 (year 6). Independent schools can choose whether to take part in them though, and the number of independent schools administering SATs has dropped in recent years.
In 2018, just 253 out of around 1400 eligible independent schools took part in the SATs. This number has decreased yearly since 2015, when 268 independent schools took part.
The SATs have long been a controversial topic, with many parents feeling the tests put undue pressure on children. The purpose of the SATs is to hold schools accountable; results are usually published on national league tables - but of course it is hard to prevent this pressure to perform being transferred to the children sitting the actual tests.
The majority of independent prep schools have opted out of SATs, and this trend looks set to continue. This doesn’t mean children are not taught to a high standard though, or that the teaching in independent schools is not measured.
Many independent prep schools will set their own end of year tests, and many children will sit an entrance exam of some description (often Common Entrance) for entry to an independent senior school.
As well as not being obliged to administer SATs, independent schools also do not have to follow the National Curriculum. This means they are free to set their own curriculum and their own tests. The majority will follow a similar overall trajectory to state schools, teaching age appropriate maths, English etc -but they are not bound by the need to take a national standardised test at the end of year 6.