This year brings a significant change. Key Stage 1 SATs in England have undergone a notable transformation for the 2024 academic year, as they are no longer mandatory.  However, despite this change, numerous schools have decided to continue with them.

What to expect now that KS1 SATs are optional

The decision to administer the tests now lies entirely with individual schools and/or trusts. Head Teachers, within our Trust have decided to continue to use the SATs as one tool among many to assess pupil progress, while others might opt for alternative methods.

We have the freedom to choose when to administer the tests within a designated timeframe. This will allow us to integrate testing seamlessly into the school year.

The core purpose remains the same. SATs enable us to gauge a child’s progress at the end of Year 2. However, the emphasis is shifting towards supporting teachers’ ongoing assessments and providing valuable data to inform future learning. The Key Stage 1 SATs cover English and maths and help teachers check and confirm what children have learnt in Y1 and Y2. If you’re worried about your child sitting formal examinations, please don’t be – your child’s progress is continually assessed throughout the year (that’s how teachers plan lessons and activities) and the Year 2 tests are simply another form of assessment.

Y2 English SATs explained

The KS1 SATs reading objective is to read accurately.

Once they’ve learnt to read children need to start reading to learn. By reading different kinds of texts they’ll come into contact with new words, new kinds of sentence construction and new ideas. To read they’ll be using a number of techniques they’ve been taught in Reception and KS1, including:

Blending sounds in wordsChildren learn the correspondence between each letter, or group of letters (grapheme), and the sound (phoneme) it/they make, and use this knowledge, by blending sounds, to read words.
Breaking words into syllablesWhen looking at longer words, children learn to read each syllable separately before combining them to read the word. Clapping the syllables in words can help children to identify them.
Reading common high frequency words without sounding outCommon words or high frequency words are the words that children encounter most often in their reading (for example, ‘the’, ‘because’, ‘about’). They can’t always be ‘sounded out’ and are usually learnt by rote.
Reading unfamiliar wordsEven confident readers (and adults!) need to read words they don’t know, so encourage your child to sound them out and work out their meaning (or ask for an explanation). To become independent readers children need to tackle new vocabulary with confidence.

The KS1 SATs reading comprehension objective is to demonstrate a clear understanding of the text.

Once they’ve mastered phonics children can sound out, blend and read even complicated words with ease – but do they understand what they’ve read? To check their reading comprehension your child’s teacher will expect your child to:

Notice when their reading does not make sense and self-correctFor example, ‘He was not very happy though he did not show it’ might mistakenly be read as ‘He was not very happy through he did not show it’ but a child who can self-correct would notice their mistake because ‘through’ would not make sense in the context.
Respond to and ask questions about the textBedtime stories come into their own here! Reading to your child, even after they’ve learnt to read themselves, offers a great opportunity to discuss their favourite words and phrases and enjoy the effects the text creates together.
Understand what characters might be like and predict what they might do next, basing their ideas on what they’ve readWhen inferring children learn to ‘read between the lines’ and gain meaning from what the author is implying, rather than from actual statements. (There’s a great example of this in The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson – when the Gruffalo’s child says “I’m not scared!”, is that what she really means? What do her words tell us about her character? Ask your child what they think!)
Give a personal response to the text, discussing their understanding and commenting on how the text makes them think or feelThis aspect of reading is what actually makes us become life-long readers and lovers of books. Encourage you child to talk about their reading (remembering it is ok not to like a book!). Begin simply, with open-ended questions (Which character did you most relate to? How did the poem make you feel? What did you find out? Did the story end the way you expected it to?), encourage your child to refer back to the text to explain their thinking and remember that often there is no right or wrong response.

The KS1 SATs writing composition objective is to write for different audiences and purposes.

As children’s reading improves, so does their writing – what they read helps them increase their vocabulary and grammatical knowledge, but also to understand how different texts are structured. To help them write confidently in KS1, children are taught to:

Plan their ideas before writingMind maps are effective ways for children to plan their writing. These prompts help children to include all their ideas and to structure their thoughts before writing.
Make simple additions and revisions to improve their writingThis is a skill that young children often find quite hard. To help your child try encouraging them to use a coloured pencil to underline any areas where their writing might be improved (for example swapping a word for a more interesting one, adding time connectives like ‘then’ or ‘after’ to improve the flow of their sentences or noticing where a noun phrase could be extended, transforming ‘the dog’ into ‘the small, spotty dog’).
Proofread their writing to check it makes sense and to check for errors in spelling, grammar and punctuationUsing the same strategy as above, encourage your child to ‘correct’ their own writing using a coloured pencil.

The KS1 SATs grammar objective is to use punctuation, verb tenses and coordinated phrases correctly. 

Children will be given a separate test in spelling, punctuation and grammar.

By the end of KS1 children will be looking at the key features of different types of sentences and are expected to write accurately and correctly. Your child’s teacher will be looking for:

Correct use of punctuation, including full stops, capital letters, exclamation marks, question marks, commas for lists and apostrophes for the contracted forms of words 
The use of expanded noun phrases to describe and specifyAn expanded noun phrase adds detail in a way that means a phrase behaves like a noun. This can sometimes be just a few adjectives (‘the big yellow bird’), but usually we would use it to refer to a phrase which expands the noun with a more interesting phrase (for example, ‘the big yellow bird which my daughter saw this morning’).
The use of coordinated words or phrases, linked by conjunctions (also known as connectives)
An understanding of the present and the past tense (and the fact that they need to be used consistently) and the continuous form of verbs in the present and past tense to mark actions in progress (I am eating / I was eating)Verb tenses tell us when an action took place(in the past, the present or the future).

The KS1 SATs spelling objective is for basic spelling to be accurate.

By Y2 most children will be used to learning spellings, preparing for small spelling tests and trying out the Look, Cover, Write and Check method. When assessing their work, the teacher will be looking for:

  • Phonetically plausible attempts to spell unfamiliar words – in other words, by hearing the sounds in words and knowing the letters that represents them, most children will try to spell a word.
  • Spelling common high frequency words correctly. Sometimes known as ‘tricky words’, high frequency word spellings need to be learnt by heart.
  • Correct spelling of words with contracted forms (I’m for I am; mustn’t for must not, etc) and suffixes (play becomes playing, for example).
  • The ability to distinguish between homophones, words which sound the same but are spelled differently (one / won; two / too / to, for example).

The KS1 SATs handwriting objective is legible writing.

Although neatness is important in handwriting, remember that being legible is the key focus and over time children will develop their own handwriting style.

By the end of Y2 children will be forming lower case letters correctly, using some of the diagonal and horizontal strokes needed to join letters, writing capital letters of the correct size and relationship to lower case letters and spacing their words correctly.

Y2 Maths SATs explained

Children take two separate KS1 maths SATs: arithmetic and reasoning.


The arithmetic paper consists of 25 questions and takes about 20 minutes, although it isn’t strictly timed. This paper will test your child on their knowledge of the four operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. The questions are all in number sentences, with no word problems, such as:

15 + 9 = ______

7 + _____ = 12

2 x 5 = _____

36 – 20 = _____

35 / 7 = _____

48 + 23 = _____

1/4 of 20 = _____

The reasoning paper includes about 30 questions and takes about 35 minutes. It starts with five mental maths questions, read aloud by the teacher. The paper will test your child on their ability to apply their maths skills to various problems and puzzles. They will be tested on all four operations, fractions, measurement, geometry and statistics. 

Here are some of the most important objectives that your child needs to cover in preparation for SATs and given explanations and examples to make things clearer.

Number and place value

Counting in steps of 2, 3, 5 and 10This forms the basis for learning times tables. Your child will need to start from 0 and count up in twos (2, 4, 6, 8 etc) then do the same for threes, fives and tens.
Recognising the place value of each digit in a two-digit numberYour child needs to know that the number 35 is made up of 30 and 5. Making up numbers with arrow cards can be helpful with making this point clear.
Putting the numbers 0 to 100 in the correct order, and using the < and > symbols.They need to use the above knowledge to work out how to order numbers. They need to pick the biggest number out of two different numbers. They also need to be able to use < and > symbols so they can present two numbers and show which is biggest, e.g. 45 > 23.
Reading and writing numbers to at least 100 in numerals and words. Your child will need to hear a two-digit number and be able to write it in numerals and words, e.g. 79 and seventy-nine.


Knowing addition and subtraction facts to 20.Addition facts to 20 are all the pairs of numbers that make 20, e.g. 1 + 19, 2 + 18, 3 + 17 etc. Your child also needs to know the corresponding subtraction facts, e.g. 20 – 13 = 7 and 20 – 7 = 13. They need to know these backwards in their sleep!
Adding and subtracting one- and two-digit numbers.Children need to know how to solve the following types of number sentences: 34 + 5 = _____, 29 + 20 = _____, 56 – 4 = _____, 6 + 3 + 7 + _______. Your child can work these out in any way they like, for example with number lines or pictures. Their teacher may use arrow cards and deines to help with this.
Learning the 2, 5 and 10 times tables, plus division facts.It is essential that your child knows these times tables by the end of Year 2. They also need to know the division facts for these times tables, for example if 4 x 5 = 20, then 20 / 4 = 5 and 20 / 5 + 4.
Identifying odd and even numbers.Children need to learn that even numbers can be put into several pairs with no ‘odd one out.’ Alternatively they may be told that even numbers can be split into two equal groups. They need to learn that even numbers end in 2, 4, 6, 8 or 0, and odd numbers end in 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9.
Writing number sentences using the x, / and = symbols.Your child may be shown an array, where 20 beads have been laid out in five rows of four. They may be asked to write this as a multiplication number sentence, e.g. 5 x 4 = 20 or 4 x 5 = 20. If they are asked to turn this into a division number sentence, they will need to write 20 / 4 = 5 or 20 / 5 = 4. 


Finding 1/3, 1/4, 2/4 and 3/4 of a shape or quantity.Children will already have learnt to find 1/2 and 1/4 of different shapes or quantities in Year 1. For example, they may have been shown 10 sweets and asked to find half. In Year 2 they move onto slightly more difficult fractions. They may be shown a picture of a pizza already cut into four equal pieces and be asked to colour 2/4 or 3/4. They may also work on finding 1/3 of a quantity; for example, they might be given 12 sweets and asked to share them into three equal groups by counting them out one by one.
Writing simple fractions.Children need to have the ability to express their fractions, for example by writing 1/2 of 6 is 3.
Understanding simple equivalence.Children need to be able to see that 1/2 is the same as 2/4 by looking at a diagram of a shape that has been shaded.


Using appropriate units to measure length, weight and capacity.Children need to be able to use centimetres and metres to measure the length or height of certain objects. They need to use grams and kilograms to measure the weight of objects. They need to use millilitres and litres to measure temperature. They also need to use degrees centigrade to measure temperature. Teachers will give them a variety of practical activities to help make these concepts clear.
Calculating with money.Children will need to know the symbols for pounds and pence (£ and p). They need to be able to combine amounts to make a particular value (how many 20ps make 60p?). They will also need to find different combinations of coins that make one amount, e.g. how many different ways can you make 50p? They need to add and subtract amounts of money, including working out how much change to give.
Telling the time to five minutes, including quarter to and quarter past.Children will have learnt to tell the time to half an hour in Year 1. They now need to understand quarter to and quarter past and be able to say how many minutes past or to the hour it is, to the nearest five minutes. They need to know there are 60 minutes in an hour. They will also need to compare different lengths of time, e.g. knowing that 40 minutes is longer than half an hour.


Identifying and describing the properties of 2D shapes.Children need to be able to name a circle, triangle, square, pentagon, hexagon and octagon by counting the sides. They need to be able to draw a vertical line down the centre of a shape to say if it is symmetrical.
Identifying and describing the properties of 3D shapes.Children need to look at various 3D shapes (sphere, cube, cuboid, triangular prism, cone, square-based pyramid) and count the number of edges, faces and vertices each one has.
Understanding that a quarter turn is a right angle. Being able to turn an object a quarter, half or three-quarter turn in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction. Children will be asked to make turns themselves to make these concepts clear. They may be asked to turn a toy to show these turns. 


Interpreting and constructing simple pictograms, tally charts, block diagrams and simple tables.Children will be asked to gather data, usually in a tally chart or table, then present this data as a pictogram or block chart. At this stage, teachers usually give children a frame to help them present their data.
Answering questions about the data presented.Children will be asked questions about their data, for example if they have a bar chart showing the favourite colours of the children in their class, they may be asked which is the most popular colour, which is the least popular, how many more children prefer purple to red, and how many children were asked altogether.
Translate »