”Pupils in Year Two should not be spending their holidays revising for key stage one assessments.DfE Spokesperson
Educational experts are warning against schools holding half-term revision classes over the upcoming school break.
The caution comes after numerous primary schools in London and Birmingham revealed they would be running classes throughout the half-term holiday to help pupils as young as six prepare for their Sats standardised tests.
The revision classes, also known as ‘booster sessions’ were robustly condemned by the Department for Education (DfE) and major teaching unions, with one union leader describing them as “an extraordinarily bad idea”.
“Pupils in Year Two should not be spending their holidays revising for key stage one assessments,” a DfE spokesperson said.
“They are only used so we can understand how primary schools help pupils to progress. They have no bearing on individual pupils other than showing where they may benefit from additional help.
“We trust teachers to administer and prepare for these tests in an appropriate way and this does not include encouraging revision during holidays.”
Several schools in the UK are holding revision classes throughout the half-term with the aim of ensuring Year Two pupils are better prepared for their Sats.
The classes are voluntary and will run each day of the week from 9am to 3pm, offering support and tuition on Maths, literacy and grammar. One primary school in Birmingham is offering parents free childcare for the half-term break, combining Maths and English revision classes in the mornings with more conventional holiday activities like sports coaching and cooking lessons in the afternoons.
Another primary school in London has held hour-long workshops for pupils in Year Two to discuss how they could best support their child in preparation for Sats. Parents were told the school would provide morning and afternoon sessions for invited pupils on school days, as well as ‘Easter School’ over the Easter holidays.
The Department for Education is advising schools against these revision sessions, claiming they put unnecessary pressure on pupils and deprive them of a much-needed break.
Chris Keates, acting general secretary of the NASUWT teachers’ union, said: “Children should have the opportunity to spend their free time playing with their friends and spending time with their families, not stuck in pointless Sats drilling sessions that, in any event, are very unlikely to have any positive lasting impact on their educational progress and achievement.”
The DfE has previously said that Key Stage One Sats will cease to be compulsory from 2023, a move supported by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), which represents many primary school leaders.
The tests, taken when most children will be seven years old, are intended to help teachers assess pupils’ progress. They include two tests in each of maths and reading, lasting from 20 to 50 minutes, and a test of spelling, punctuation and grammar. The tests are marked internally.
James Bowen, director of policy at the NAHT, said: “The very fact that some schools feel compelled to run key stage one revision classes over the holidays shows exactly why Sats at the end of Year Two need to be scrapped altogether.
“A high stakes assessment halfway through a child’s time in primary school is an unnecessary distraction and actually gets in the way of learning rather than supporting it.”
Meanwhile, Mary Bousted, joint secretary of the National Education Union, added: “As long as a future of a school depends on its Sats scores, the pressure of accountability will often be transferred onto the pupils.”