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Headteachers express concern over Sats amid claims a paper left pupils ‘in tears’

Parents and teachers have complained about a year 6 reading exam, which they say damaged students’ mental health






















A headteachers’ union has expressed concern over this week’s Sats exams for 10- and 11-year-olds amid claims that an English paper left some pupils “in tears” and damaged their “mental health and wellbeing”.

Hundreds of parents and teachers have complained online about Wednesday’s year 6 reading exam, with one saying on Mumsnet that her daughter had found the paper “awful”.


The National Association of Head Teachers, which represents heads at the majority of primary schools, said it plans to raise the issue with the exams team at schools regulator Ofqual.


Sarah Hannafin, the union’s head of policy, said: “We are very concerned about reports from our members about the Sats reading paper.

“Members have told us that the choice of texts was not accessible for the wide range of experiences and backgrounds children have and the difficulty was beyond previous tests, leaving children upset, and with even staff struggling to understand the questions.

“We will definitely raise these concerns with the Standards and Testing Agency and also the Ofqual National Assessments team.”

Sats are used to measure children’s English and maths skills in year 2 and year 6, and consist of six 45-minute papers.

The Department for Education (DfE) website says Sats are meant to “measure school performance and to make sure individual pupils have the support that they need as they move into secondary school”.


Kerry Forrester, a head teacher at a Cheshire primary school, has written to her local MP expressing concern about the “negative impact” of the exams on the “mental health and wellbeing” of her pupils.

In a letter she shared on Twitter, Forrester said this year has seen “the most negative impact on our children that we have ever experienced”.


“Tears flowed from our most capable readers and stress levels rose among all others,” she said, adding that “this was the most challenging reading test I have seen in my 29 years as a teacher”.

Jayne Robinson, 39, who works as a nurse, said many of her daughter’s friends were unable to finish the exam, even though her Stoke-on-Trent school had been helping pupils prepare since Christmas.

“These exams have been much harder than the practice papers my daughter has sat,” she told the PA news agency.

“My daughter had a lot of Sats practice but she said some of her friends couldn’t finish the paper as it was too long. One of her friends made up answers at the end just to finish the paper.”

The DfE said: “Key stage 2 assessments play a vital role in understanding pupils’ progress and identifying those who may have fallen behind, so they can be provided with extra support if needed.

“Our test development process is extremely rigorous and includes reviews by a large number of education and inclusion experts and professionals including teachers, and we trial tests with hundreds of pupils over several years to ensure that all tests are appropriate.

“It’s important that schools encourage pupils to do their best but preparing for these exams should not be at the expense of their wellbeing.”


Task 1:    Write the definition of the word 'accessible 

Task 2: Find examples of the following: 

  1. 3 Adjectives 

  2. 3 Sophisticated Words 

  3. 2 uses of high punctuation 

  1. 2 Verbs 

  1. Pronouns

Task 3: Check the meaning of the following sophisticated vocabulary and find 2 synonyms (similar word meanings) to match each word.  This really helps you develop your vocabulary!















NOTE: You can either complete the tasks on a word document and send to your tutor, or complete the tasks in your purple book and hand in to your tutor to mark. 



1. appropriate

2. rigorous

3. Concerned

4. Expressing

SYNONYMS   (words with similar meaning)





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