Key stage 2 SATS results 2019: 65% achieve ‘expected standard’

Sixty-five per cent of pupils achieved the government’s “expected standard” in reading, writing and maths in this year’s key stage 2 SATs, up from 64 per cent last year, according to interim results published by the government.

The results show that the proportion of pupils reaching a scaled score of 100 or more rose in every discipline.

In reading, 73 per cent achieved the standard, down from 75 per cent last year, while 79 per cent met the standard in maths, up from 76 per cent.

In spelling, punctuation and grammar tests, 78 per cent of pupils met the expected standard, the same as in 2018, and the proportion meeting the standard in writing was 78 per cent, also unchanged from 2018.

However, officials warned, changes to assessment frameworks for writing two years ago mean that neither the overall results for reading, writing and maths, nor the results specifically for writing, are comparable to those from 2017 or before.

The government also published the marks pupils needed for the 2019 key stage 2 tests to achieve its “expected” scores. You can read about them here.

Nick Gibb, the schools minister, said the results “show the majority of pupils are leaving primary school ready to deal with the challenges of secondary school”.

“The pupils who performed well in these tests will have demonstrated sophisticated grammatical skills like using the subjunctive, the ability to divide fractions and mastery of complex spellings.

“We reformed these tests in 2016 to make sure they assessed schools’ performance in equipping pupils to understand the new, improved primary curriculum. These skills will give them the chance to make the most of their potential – this is at the heart of the reforms we’ve introduced across the education system since 2010.

“It’s testament to the hard work and dedication of teachers that we have seen results rising over time despite the bar of expectation having been raised.”

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  1. If Labour were in office today, Tories in opposition would be claiming one-third of junior school pupils were leaving school unable to read and write.
    That would be misleading, of course, because not being able to reach the standard does not mean a child is illiterate and innumerate.
    But that’s what Tory ministers claimed after Labour was in power. The UK Stats watchdog had to censure them. Let’s hope the current opposition doesn’t stoop to such dubious tactics.

  2. This ‘expected standard’ notion really is a very dodgy concept. On what basis can the DfE ‘expect’ how any individual child will perform on a test? The assumption must be that all children are equally able such that all of them can be expected to achieve the same level if only their schools are doing a proper job. So this year 35% must have ‘failed’. But as Janet Downs asks: what does this ‘failure’ look like? The truth is that the results of any test taken by a sufficiently large cohort always produces a ‘Bell Curve’ distribution, unless like Tony Blair’s ‘vocational equivalent’ GCSEs, they are so easy that everybody ‘passes’.

    The truth is that SATs are not designed for the benefit of children at all. They provide nothing of any use to their teachers, nor are they of any significance whatever to the child’s progression to secondary school, because all such schools well know that they are statistically meaningless nonsense. So why do we have them? The answer is simple. They drive the market in school choice to which the government is ideologically committed and they also inevitably ‘finger’ plenty of primary schools each year for forced Academisation, to which the government is also ideologically committed.

  3. Mark Watson

    I think I’m right in saying that SATs were introduced further to the Education Reform Act 1988.

    I agree that the only logical explanation behind SATs is that back in 1988 the Government thought “right, in 22 years time we’re going to introduce this thing called the academies programme and we’ll need something to back it up”. It’s obvious really.

    • Mark, I am guessing that your response here is sarcastic. It’s worth looking into the history as there has been an ongoing project to dismantle or ‘disrupt’ the state schools system that does indeed date back to the ’80s. I wrote an essay about the ‘marketisation’ of English schooling that you can read here:
      Thinking of SATs and primary teaching it is also interesting is to compare the English approach with primary teaching across the continent. Doing this helps us to see that what is put forward as common sense and best for pupils in this country is often regarded in a very different light elsewhere.

    • Mark, you are a bit naive. The Thatcher Govt was heavily influenced y McKinsey whose motto was was “if you cant measure it, it does t exist”. The aim of this was to monetise all aspects of companies …or governments…or ….successive governments have followed this pattern and it has resulted in highly monetized systems where professional values no longer have much value as they are not monetisable (I am a lawyer where this has happened). The study everyone needs to read is In this it found monetizing good and bad behaviour simply makes bad behaviour acceptable and undermines the moral and social reasons people behave well. So yes, SATS were part of a long thought out privatisation plan – in fact, speaking as a governor, the whole aim was to produce 20% who it was necessary to educate for the country to function and 80% drones

  4. Bidemi

    I feel that the teachers’ unions need to step up. For starters, the reason 35% of children are not meeting the standard required is because schools are NOT preparing children for SATs early enough. The run up to SATs exams is far too short and it put unnecessary pressure on children who are already behind (i.e. not doing extra work at home). How can you sleepwalk children through the primary education system then wake them up last minute for a parachute jump.
    Secondly, SATs don’t mean anything to children or parents. It’s only for the benefit of the school. When you don’t have a stake in something, you’re not obliged to invest your energy into it.

    Labour and the Tories have failed the children in the state education system!

    • Ursula

      But SATs do mean something, to us and the system , they are unfair and inaccurate but are looked at by the secondary schools as they are given predicted targets based on SATs results . Therefore secondary schools are expected to get each child to reach or achieve these targets, it doesn’t matter if 90% overachieve these predictions and 10% fail to reach the targets, the school has failed in achieving predicted grades for their students .
      It is a farce, my daughter left primary with level 4 in all subjects predicted to get 6 in all subjects , my daughter was keen to try for level 7 in some subjects, no extra help was offered because she was on target to get 6s yet I know she could get 7s with just a few extra classes . In contrast her friend from another local school was given grades of predicted 8 but was never achieving that grade in secondary school and was offered and given after school plus weekend classes. Turns out teachers in her school gave individual help to students in their SATs , in other words cheated so that the school would score high in value added scores (improvement from ks1 to ks2 .
      No such help was given to kids in my daughter’s school . So unless they are abolished or supervised by outside staff, things will remain the same

      • You are right to mention the role of SATs is driving Progress 8 targets for secondary schools, another piece of statistical nonsense that is threatening secondary schools and which drives the ‘attainment gap fallacy’. See

        Progress 8 was supposed to be a fair measure of secondary school ‘effectiveness’. New research confirms that it is seriously biased against schools with more disadvantaged pupils. It is vital to expose this injustice because scoring ‘well below average’ on Progress 8 triggers consequences such as an early Ofsted, forced academisation or transfer to a more ruthless MAT. Poor Progress 8 scores can also lead to families avoiding schools they assume to be of poor quality.

        The Progress 8 methodology has also been used by the Sutton Trust and the Social Mobility Foundation as the basis of flawed but persistent claims of a north/south ‘Attainment Gap’ allegedly caused by the failings of northern schools. I wrote about this extensively throughout 2018. Cognitive ability (CATs) data show that the Sutton Trust and Justine Greening got social mobility all wrong. The north/south attainment gap disappears when cognitive ability differences are taken into account. Failure to do this is resulting in the impoverishment of the curriculum of primary schools and invalid judgements of secondaries. The victims are children of all abilities that are denied the rich, developmental, inspirational state schooling that should be a human right, all sacrificed on the altar of free market ideology.

  5. Allan

    “The pupils who performed well in these tests will have demonstrated sophisticated grammatical skills like using the subjunctive, the ability to divide fractions and mastery of complex spellings.”
    Well, that’s okay then – as long as they’re able to do more of the above rather than have time to be children and develop a love of learning that caters to THEIR needs and development towards being a decent human being….

  6. Tracey McNeil

    When do schools have to give the childs results? Is there a specific timeframe?My childrens school are not giving out individual results until the 19th!

    • My advice is ‘chill’. Why would you want to know your child’s SATs results? They are not a qualification and will make no difference to the way your child is taught in secondary school or anywhere else because secondary teachers ignore them because they are statistical rubbish and your primary school will have passed on all the important information that the secondary school will need.

  7. Sue ex teacher of an academy

    I’m not going to make a political response but a personal one. I gave up on the education system last December as a very unhappy and disgruntled teacher of over 28 years. I now work as a one-to-one tutor for those students that have been ‘forgorren’ or ‘swept under the carpet’. I have now found passion again in the work I do, I don’t mind finding things of interest to teach my students on a Sunday evening, I laugh with my students, I listen to my students and they are now my most important ‘target’ that I can ever reach. I have turned my back on any kind of ‘table’ that defines my students. They are all unique individuals and I refuse to make them into little ‘political robots’. Let’s not use SATS to define our future generation. Let’s celebrate what they offer us as unique individual human beings living in the real world right now!

  8. Nate Harper

    How ridiculous! I have one child who got the ‘expected’ standard whilst her sister fell 5 points short of it on the maths test. The 5 points lower child excels at maths but went to pieces and panicked in her SATS! Her telling me that she could hardly see the paper and her heart was racing made me want to break something on her behalf. Why are we subjecting 10 and 11 year old kids to this. Neither of our children know their results – they went and will go to secondary school ready to try their best as always. And as for the parents I have seen ‘bragging’ about their child’s scores on Facebook – you are part of the problem. Back off at let these kids find their strengths and weaknesses. If anyone is reading this worrying about their kids SATS scores not being ‘expected’ I promise you they will be a distant memory at secondary school where they will find their strengths and flourish.