Testing, testing, testing – when SATS become too much

My daughter has had an increasing number of days out of  school recently.  The reasons vary from not understanding lessons to physically struggling with outdoor games to becoming overloaded due to the challenges brought on by her aspergers.  However with a lot of coaxing and encouragement we have managed to get her into school until last week when the school decided to impose a week of mock SATS (a form of testing) for the year 6’s.  This has been the last straw for my daughter.  Unable to cope with the ridiculous testing regime her confidence and self esteem have plummeted to new lows and she now refuses to go into school at all. 

At all stages we have kept in touch with the school  telling them what was happening with our daughter and hoping for some understanding and help in return.  However, it has become quite clear that compassion is in short supply.  You see this morning I received a phone call from the class teacher who bluntly told me that because my daughter had reached a certain number of absences, this was now a matter for welfare. 

Some compassion eh?  I was seething inside yet I calmly told him that this was not a welfare matter and  neither were my daughter’s absences a result of poor parenting.  This was, I said, a matter that related to my daughter’s special educational needs.  I reminded them that the school had a duty of care towards my daughter and that they needed to make adaptations to include my daughter.  I added that it was quite clear to me and  my husband that the school were not doing enough to understand her asperger syndrome and to support her.

I then went on to ask whether my daughter could be withdrawn from these tests and whether a teaching assistant could come to our house and talk to my daughter and reassure her what will happen when she returns to class.  You see it’s no good me promising my daughter something that her school cannot or refuse to deliver.  If my daughter returns to school only to face constant testing again then her resistance to school is only going to deepen with the likelihood that she could drop out of school altogether.  There is also the chance she may develop more serious mental health problems.  I don’t want this.

The school need to help me to restore my daughter’s trust in school and to provide a link from home to school.  Hopefully by talking with someone she is familiar with from school, my daughter will  find the confidence to go back.  I cannot do all of this on my own.   I need the school on my side, not against me and certainly not blaming me for my daughter’s anxiety.  It is only by working together that we can help my daughter. 


I must have had an impact because they have now agreed to stop testing my daughter and to send in a teaching assistant to help her back to school.  We shall see if it works.  In the meantime I’m filling in a request for a statutory assessment.

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16 thoughts on “Testing, testing, testing – when SATS become too much

  1. Well done for being a great advocate for your daughter and not being intimidated by the school. My son (12) has also been school refusing and his school have allowed him to choose his lessons for a while as they counsel him and get him to move towards full days again. Very stressful time!

    • Thanks Tania. That’s a good idea to let your son choose his own lessons. I was hoping my daughter’s school would do the same but they are so inflexible. Yes it is very stressful and tiring time. Deb x

  2. I found you via Twitter and wanted to thank you so much for posting about this. My son is almost 16, myself and my family knew that there was something “not right” from birth but it took several years to get anybody to listen to me hard enough to get the much-desired referral for his diagnosis. In the meantime I was accused of neglect and of making excuses for poor parenting (with the fact that I had severe PND going completely ignored in spite of its blinding obviousness) and steps were taken to try and remove him from my care. Fortunately I won my battle in court, and steps were put in place to ensure that he recieved access to all possible services. I also recieved help getting him into the local SN school when it became apparent that he would never be able to cope with mainstream education.

    Unfortunately I have epilepsy (which I didn’t know about when he was born) and am also on the spectrum and my health deteriorated to a degree where I had to make the painful decision of having him fostered. I see him regularly though, and he is positively flourishing – so I know I made the right decision for both of us.

    I’m looking forward to reading more about you and your daughter, and you are welcome to stop by my blog any time. In the meantime, keep fighting the good fight!

    • Hello Gemma and thankyou for sharing your story. I’m sorry to hear you have had such a hard time but glad to read that things are now better and your son is now flourishing. I have popped over to your blog already; I really enjoyed the way you write and look forward to reading more. Deb

  3. Testing really upsets my son too. You are completely correct- if she doesn’t trust them, she won’t go back. This sounds so similar to the downward spiral we took this fall. I would get my son to go back and then the school would do something else. Is it really that hard to communicate to the parent what is going to be happening at the school when the child comes back? then we as the parent can say either how to modify or in this case say no way to mock testing. They are so obsessed with testing. Drives me crazy.
    we gave up & are doing online school now.

    • Yes the testing regime drives me crazy too. Neither can I undertand why schools find it so hard to communicate with parents. So important when you have special needs kids. Good luck with the online schooling. Deb

  4. We managed to find a great school for our son who really go the extra mile to assist in his needs and getting support. Unfortunately it is all down to location, funding and the teachers commitment of what parents expect. I do hope things improve. I really do feel for you all. It isn’t fair for the child/ children. They need all the help they can to get on in this this world later in Iife.
    Much love.

    • Thanks Julie. Glad to hear you got a good school for your son. You’re right; its so down to location and funding and unfortunately for us we live in an area with poor provision. Deb

  5. WTG. We as parents have to advocate for our children, because sometimes no one else will. We too let our son stay home from school if we have concern about his impending behaviour. Why send him if we know the school is going to call anyway.

    • Absolutely we have to do so much to help our children manage their lives. I don’t think many people realise how much we do. Deb

  6. i agree with u my son has learning disability autism and epilepsy and he found primary school very hard i had to go into the school show them the type of work i was doing with son with the help of a support worker i ask them to change the school and homework they was giving to him now he is in new school it caters for his needs his new school is highshore special needs secondary school he get alot of help and support there

  7. Oh gawd, I feel for you. I really do. This sucks on so many levels with the school. We reached a point a few weeks ago where I pulled Alex from school since it was just too much.


    • Thanks Lizbeth. I don’t think many teachers realise how overwhelming school can be for autistic children, particularly when they mask it like my daughter.

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