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SATs: making the most of the home advantage

30 November 2023

SATs: making the most of the home advantage

In this blog post, we delve into the connection between passionate football fans and effective parental engagement. We’ll uncover how schools can leverage a ‘home advantage’ and outline what parents need to support their children.

While the pandemic brought untold disruption to schools, it also provided researchers with a unique opportunity to study the sporting phenomenon of the ‘home advantage’. This is the idea that teams win more often in their home stadium because they have the support of their cheering fans. For much of 2020, football matches were played without spectators and studies noted a decrease in points collected in home games without fans present, demonstrating the power of home support.


In education, supportive parents and carers can be just as impactful as football fans. In fact, effective parental engagement can lead to learning gains of four months in one year, according to an EEF toolkit. Encouragement at home is particularly vital in KS2 as children strive to reach their expected SATs outcomes. Unlocking this ‘home advantage’ can be challenging, though, so how can schools best engage parents and carers?


1. Inform and educate parents

Primary education has changed a lot in the last 20 years. Some parents may have forgotten methods they were taught at school, be unfamiliar with current KS2 topics or get lost in educational jargon. Parents educated overseas may have different expectations for your school and may have trouble navigating administrative systems. When parents feel unsure or undermined, it can quickly, and needlessly, become a barrier to building up a ‘home advantage’.


In all these situations, clear communication is key. Workshops and coffee mornings are a great way to engage parents and share information about the school’s expectations, including around the SATs. They also allow you to explain what the school is doing to prepare children and to share educational resources for parents to use.


2. Give parents the tools to help

Sometimes, parents want to support their children, but they don’t know how. Providing them with high-quality resources will give them the confidence to help their child at home. That extra support is enough to bring out the full force of the ‘home advantage’.


Many schools send home the Schofield & Sims SATs Revision Guides with children to help them with their revision. The clear explanations familiarise parents with each topic and provide the correct approaches and methods. As these books are curriculum-aligned, teachers can be confident that their pupils are learning the right thing. At only £4.00 per book when bought as a class set or £6 individually, these guides can be a cost-effective way to stimulate learning at home.


3. Reinforce the value of school

Attendance will already be a priority for many schools. Absences have grown since the pandemic, which recast school attendance as optional rather than compulsory for some families. Health and financial pressures are also taking their toll. While parents often feel they are supporting their child by allowing them to stay home, these are situations where the ‘home advantage’ is being misdirected.


Rebuilding a culture of in-school learning takes time. Many schools are finding that persistently absent families do not respond to fines or warnings of lost learning. Instead, both parents and children need to be supported while they rediscover the value of school. Some schools have had success with providing positive targeted support for children who are struggling with attendance. Effective strategies rebuild both parents’ and children’s confidence that school is a valuable place to be, bringing the ‘home advantage’ back into play.


4. Relate learning to home life

There are countless opportunities for parents to use everyday activities to reinforce what their child learns at school. For example, cooking is a great way to practise maths around weight, unit conversion and ratios. If parents are encouraged to support their child through activities they are already familiar with, they are more likely to show enthusiasm for the subject.


To make sure that parental teaching is supporting classroom work, try sharing prompts with parents in newsletters. Alternatively, create resources on effective questioning that can be shared alongside updates on what is being taught each term.


5. Help parents spot signs of anxiety

Pupil wellbeing is a focus for many schools this year. Assessment anxiety can have a negative effect on some pupils’ mental health. It is important that both parents and teachers understand how to reduce pressure on children so that they can approach the SATs without feeling overwhelmed.


Children should be taught positive coping skills on how to communicate and manage their feelings. They should know that they have a safe space to talk about their concerns, either at home or at school. Parents should be informed about resources, such as, that can help them support their child. They should speak to their GP if they are concerned about their child. It is vital that parents and teachers work together to keep children’s worries to a minimum during exam periods.


There are many simple steps schools can take to improve their relationships with parents and carers. Building a community where parents feel equipped to support their child can massively improve pupil outcomes. Start strategizing to boost your ‘home advantage’ now! 

Tags: SATs
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