The following is an excerpt of an article by Michael Rowe. This features in our fourth print issue, available NOW.

Find out how to get your own copy of the issue here.

A key pillar of our education system, both in this country and across the world, is examinations. They are used as a measure of success, progress and knowledge. I must say at the outset, I do not think this is how it should be. Whilst some flourish in an exam setting, many others would do much better in a workshop or sports field, but the fact remains that for most careers good results are essential.

The SATS exams, which are taken by year 6 pupils nearing the end of their primary education, are in my opinion vital in the UK system. There are many benefits to giving children the skills and experience to do well in exams and I will expand on these throughout.

As with many things in life, practice tends to lead to a better final outcome. SATS are most children’s first real experience of taking formal, written exams and they help to both prepare them for secondary school, where this will be a more frequent experience, and for the compulsory GCSEs.

I do not think that it’s ‘ruining’ a child’s education experience to test them. Rather, it is preparing them for success later; teaching them to manage revision and giving them that wonderful feeling to build-up to when they are finished!

Whilst education must be enjoyable at times, it is also necessary for there to be occasions of hard and perhaps less exciting work which, in the long run most will consider very worthwhile. Therefore, a shift in mindset is required so that exams are not treated as a chore but rather as a stage in the learning and development process. This means both teachers and parents doing their part to encourage the benefits of hard work. After all, this will advantage both the individual and the country as it is sure to lead to higher qualification levels.

Frequently, SATS are criticised for causing stress for children which negatively impacts on their wellbeing. I view the situation rather differently.

Pressure in life is a certainty. It can come from family, social media, work – the list can continue. Children should be taught how to thrive on pressure rather than trying to unnaturally supress it. Not dealing with the pressure will mean that, a few years down the line when they must tackle exams, these children will suddenly face greater difficulties than those who took SATS as they have no experience dealing with this. Therefore, they are at a disadvantage.


Read the rest of this article in the print issue, information on which can be found HERE.