to think that level 6 maths at primary is pointless

(85 Posts)
ReallyTired Thu 30-Jan-14 11:40:04

Having children pass a level 6 primary paper puts unrealistic pressure and expectations on secondary school children later on.

Our primary school headteacher is convinced that level 6 at keystage 2 is the equivalent of GCSE grade B. I believe that if a talented eleven year old with a level 6 in maths sat a GCSE higher level paper they would fail. Maybe a year 6 child with level 6 could pass foundation GCSE maths, but they have not covered the majority of the secondary school curriculum. I don't think that a primary level 6 is even the equivalent of a secondary level 6.

Many level 6 children have been moved down to the second set at ds's secondary because they have huge holes in their subject knowledge. I feel that primary school school should extend their gifted mathematicans sideways rather than pushing them through exams. (Ie. maths investigations, questions that require thought rather than mathematical knowledge ie. nrich.maths.org/frontpage) Improving mathematical thinking gives a good foundation for maths in later years.

Y6 Science all but disappeared between DD1&DD2 as it went from formal SAT to teacher assessment.

I'm not certain this is a bad thing. Ihave taken a lot of science exams in my time, right through to degree level and the SATs paper was the most confusing and unforgiving, pile of just learn the answer and don't worry it doesn't make sense crap I have ever come across.

WingsontheWind Sun 02-Feb-14 15:10:32

personally i would be happy with more geography or something instead but of course that doesnt count for sats

This is a very important point. How much history, geography, music and art etc is being squeezed out due to the demands of maths, literacy and PE? (Even science gets less if a look in now the science SATs have gone)

clockwatching77 Sun 02-Feb-14 15:03:30

Must read through this thread. Ds is in year 5 and currently 5c. So could be relevant.

mercibucket Sun 02-Feb-14 15:00:08

yes primary maths challenge was good too
personally i would be happy with more geography or something instead but of course that doesnt count for sats sad

ReallyTired Sat 01-Feb-14 23:31:40

"I put it down to being made to work sideways rather than in a linear fashion. I got bored. I knew the concepts so I dicked about."

Obviously sideways extention was not done properly. You should have been introduced to new topics that are not normally covered in school.

I think that many primary school teachers or indeed secondary school teachers lack the mathematical ablity/knowledge for interesting sideways extenion. There is a serious shortage of maths teachers with degree in Maths. Maths a huge and beautiful subject and there is plenty of potential for studying new topics.

The problem with acceleration is that they reach GCSE and A-level standard sooner. What do you do with the child who has completed a-level Maths and further maths at say 14 or even 16? They are too young to go to university properly and legally they have to study maths until 16 and ideally 18. It would be hard for someone to go to university at 18 to study maths if they have not touched maths for two years.

I worked as a mathematican for two years and none of the maths I encountered at work had I ever been taught. (I have a physics degree) Being a good mathematican is the ablity to think and look at the world in a different way. Its far more than just passing exams.

primary maths challenge is a good starting point for able mathematicians.

There is so much more to maths and becoming a mathematician than the narrow world that sats (and gcse) presents. As reallytired says, the way forward is sideways extension, enabling children to discover maths in a supported environment. Unfortunately, in primary where most teachers are not mathematic specialists they equate extension with acceleration.

Normalisavariantofcrazy Sat 01-Feb-14 22:18:26

I did extension papers in year 9 sats (year 6 didn't exist) and I all but failed my GCSE's

I put it down to being made to work sideways rather than in a linear fashion. I got bored. I knew the concepts so I dicked about.

I don't want that for my children and would hate for them to be held back to 'broaden their knowledge'

sittingbythepoolwithenzo Sat 01-Feb-14 22:07:18

Actually, thinking about my bright little nephew who's school didn't "do" level 6.

He left primary at a 5a. He was bored.

By end of year 7 he was a level 7 and was happy and confident.

mercibucket Sat 01-Feb-14 21:23:21

well my ds loves his l6 work. he was bored stiff all last year and still is in other classes as l6 in maths is all the school will agree to do

can you imagine the tedium of doing the same work again again again again again and again for overayear

poor ds sad

thank goodness for some new stuff to learn

sideways extension my arse. once they reach 5 a, job done

teacherwith2kids Sat 01-Feb-14 21:21:03

(As for subject knowledge, both DS and DD - who will take L6 this year and is likely to get it - studied algebra, trigonometry, areas of parts of circles etc in Y6, as well as having 'problem solving' fun maths sessions with a secondary teacher)

teacherwith2kids Sat 01-Feb-14 21:19:19

I don't care about L6 tests AS TESTS. I do care, deeply, that their existence has rapidly 'normalised' continuing to teach children who arrive in Y6 at L5 new stuff throughout the year. And has also, UIME, brought secondary school maths teachers into primary schools, initially to 'help to advise on L6', but discussions with colleagues from both primary and secondary suggest that another effect is for secondaries to realise the level of maths that is atually being taught in good primariesd and to adjust the 'starting point' in Year 7 accordingly.

DS was L6 at the end of Y6, is a high L7 / low L8 in year 8.

TinselTownley Sat 01-Feb-14 20:46:43

cuban, I totally agree.

Not just with Maths, either. My son achieved L6 in English in Year 6 with very little effort. His work was riddled with what I would call lazy mistakes and he was frustratingly complacent about making improvements.

Having moved to a really good, innovative Senior School, he is now being challenged to work harder, more accurately and to demonstrate a far more methodical way of working. He is still marked as a L6 but it is clear from reading his work that he has made considerable all round progress since SATS.

Whereas he primary taught to the test, his new school is equipping him for life - something that will remain pertinent to him long after GCSE.

ReallyTired Sat 01-Feb-14 20:34:48

"ReallyTired that is still a sweeping generalisation. There are genuinely very able children out there who do deserve that L6 - and who deserve to be moved on properly when they reach secondary. I do suspect it's a smaller number than those who are currently getting L6 though."

I am not saying that the children who sit the level 6 paper in year 6 aren't able and don't deserve recongition. However the curriculum and style of testing is very different in secondary to primary. I expect that many children with good secondary school level 6s would fail the keystage 2 primary school level 6 test and vice a versa. Level 6 in primary is more of a test of intelligence than mathematical knowledge.

Prehaps primary schools get more able children to sit the 4 to 6 tier of keystage 3 SATs papers, especially as the Gove wants to bring back keystage 3 SATs.

Maybe the two tests are an equivalent standard, but they test very different things. Its like comparing grade 6 violin with grade 6 flute.

CubanoHabana Sat 01-Feb-14 20:18:19

Secondary maths teacher here -

GCSE target grades are assigned based on KS2 SATS results, the government expect the student to make 3 levels of progress from KS2 by the time they finish their GCSEs.

This means if a student gets a level 3 in SATS (or teacher assessment at end of year 6) they should get a D at GCSE, a level 4 would be a C and level 5 can be differentiated - 5c/b is a B, 5b/a is an A, 5a / 6 is an A*.

Obviously, this is ridiculous for many students, my SEN class mostly came in with levels 2 / 3s (a lot of whom when given a baseline did not have those levels - possibly because of primaries 'teaching to the test' or impossible government targets placed on them), it will be lucky if even 2 of them will get a D at GCSE.

Likewise, some students change dramatically in the years they are at secondary and learning slows / increases dependant on what else is occurring in their lives, so to base their targets on primary levels is just insane...

With regards to level 6 at primary, I personally find that the majority of students that come to me with a level 6 SATS do not equate to it and instead have a mid / high level 5...

AChickenCalledKorma Sat 01-Feb-14 19:37:14

Frankly, the level 6 test was the only thing that kept DD1 sane during year 6. She was bored rigid of the maths curriculum and could do the level 5 papers in her sleep. Her father is an extremely gifted mathematician (note, not her mother!) and she has inherited his feel for it.

Her primary school created a level 6 group to cover the extra curriculum but they were not placed under any particular pressure to do anything other than "have a go".

Her first year 7 report agreed that she is a level 6B, so I don't think there is any evidence to suggest that she was pushed too far too soon.

pointythings Sat 01-Feb-14 19:22:51

ReallyTired that is still a sweeping generalisation. There are genuinely very able children out there who do deserve that L6 - and who deserve to be moved on properly when they reach secondary. I do suspect it's a smaller number than those who are currently getting L6 though.

In my DD1's case the evidence shows that her L6 was the real deal. In my DD2's case I suspect she won't pass the L6 and that is as it should be as she is a high L5 and no more - but the booster lessons are teaching her confidence and a love of maths so are still doing her a lot of good. She sees the L6 test as a challenge and fun.

I do sincerely hope her teachers' pay doesn't depend on her getting L6 though, that would be insane.

FriendlyLadybird Sat 01-Feb-14 18:43:36

Not even bothering with stealth boast - my six-year-old got the dragon question right straightaway. But she's probably at level 0.5 in maths and just too young to overthink things. All tests are bunkum really, but I suppose that we must attempt to fatten those little piggies somehow.

ReallyTired Sat 01-Feb-14 18:31:16

My children's primary is inadequate and prehaps that is why children have been pushed to oblivion to level 6 and may have gaps in their level 5 knowledge.

I feel it would be more accurate to give the children who pass level 6 a level 5 with distinction rather than pretending its the same as a secondary school level 6. (The level 6 paper could be similar to a step paper that used to exist for A-level)

Even if a child who has achieved level 6 is extremely able, they don't have level 6 maths knowledge. A child who has achieved level 5 in keystage 2 Sats doesn't have keystage 3 level 5 Sats level. Prehaps its an indication of how ridiculous it is to compare secondary school levels to primary school levels.

KingscoteStaff Sat 01-Feb-14 18:23:30

We have the same problem as Batman.

Half my class got Level 3 at Year 2. This counts as 3B (even if they just scraped a 3...)

So, for them (and my teaching),
5B = Satisfactory progress
5A = Good Progress
6C = Outstanding progress

We are an outstanding school. My (performance related pay) target is that 60% of my children make outstanding progress.

My only option is to prepare and enter them for the Level 6 paper.

Sorry, secondary Maths teachers....

BatmanLovesRobins Sat 01-Feb-14 17:20:35

We get in trouble if we don't enter our more the children who attained L3 at KS1 for Level 6 SATs. The data doesn't show enough progress to maintain Outstanding status, and we get red flagged for Ofsted.

That said, our children really seem to enjoy the booster group - they go up to the local secondary school, along with other cluster primaries, and get to know each other and the school.

BalloonSlayer Sat 01-Feb-14 17:19:33

A Level 6 at the end of year 9 means with normal progress a DC would get a B at GCSE at the end of Year 11. If they took a GCSE the day after getting their Level 6 they would in all likelihood get a D.

A Level 7 at the end of year 9 means a predicted GCSE of A . . . if they took the GCSE at the same time as getting the level 7 they'd probably get a C.

Level 8 at end of year 9 - A* at GCSE in Yr 11, B in a GCSE taken in Yr 9.

Someone has got their wires crossed.

cardibach Sat 01-Feb-14 17:12:50

Your Head is confused. A pupil who got level 6 at the end of KS3 would be expected to get at least a B at GCSE. The levels aren't equivalent. As others have said, a level 8 us roughly equivalent to a grade B. Not sure I'd know what to expect from a pupil who had level 6 at KS2. I'm an English teacher, though, so the levels do not match as well - they don't have to study Shakespeare for their grade 5/6 at KS2, they do at KS3. Different ball game, even if the descriptors still match.

LaQueenOfTheNewYear Sat 01-Feb-14 17:06:56

Not pointless at all if the child has a natural flair for maths and enjoys it.

Both DDs are doing Level 6 maths at school, both think it's fun apparently hmm

DD1 will go to the grammar this year, and the grammar isn't remotely interested in her SATs results. Instead, all Yr 7 girls sit CAT tests in the third week of September, and it's these that the school pays attention to.

pointythings Sat 01-Feb-14 17:03:42

So, guess the test is fairly pointless, but the work is not.

Nail. Head.

Doing L6 has taught my DD2 to enjoy maths. That is priceless.

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