to wonder if children are cognitively ready for the demands of the new curriculum?

(128 Posts)
kim147 Tue 09-Jul-13 07:35:32

So the new curriculum is out. High expectations in maths and English. Thing is though - are these expectations too high for your average 5 year old / 6 year old - or is saying that a part of a problem of low expectations?

Understanding of numbers to 100 - some will and some will struggle as their brains just find this concept too difficult.

And if your child does not meet these expectations - will they be failing or just a child who is not quite their yet?

Pantone363 Tue 09-Jul-13 07:45:51

The lunatics are in charge of the asylum.

5/6 years olds knowing their 2,5,10 times tables

Back to reading aloud in class (embarrassment is such a good teaching tool)

When's the next election?

isitsnowingyet Tue 09-Jul-13 08:02:08

Hope it's very soon for the next election, as Gove is a megalomaniac and needs to be stopped!! Some kids in reception are learning their numbers ie 1 to 10 - so what's the rush? In other European countries, they don't even start school until 6!

Times tables? At 5? Good god some kids are only just getting started on counting past 20. I knluwbthey have lots to learn but they are still only little there's only south they will take in. Fine if there's able kids in the class that can have this as extra but I doubt there's any hope of the whole class learning it.

Sirzy Tue 09-Jul-13 08:21:41

This worries me as DS starts school September 2014 and from what I have seen all this new curriculum will do is remove any enjoyment from learning.

What happened to individuals? I am all for pushing children but that has to be within their ability, and I struggle to see how anyone but the very brightest 5 year olds could grasp such concepts.

I would much rather see a move towards a more play based curriculum for the whole of ks1, but this appears to be the polar opposite.

CarpeVinum Tue 09-Jul-13 08:22:08

The thing is, if they want Singapore's high maths standards, shouldn't they be importing the whole programme rather than picking bits of it ? It's quite specific, I was going to use it with DS when we HEed for a while, but found it hard to get my head around in terms of teaching, so didn't.

Reckon to import teachers wpuld require some training to become familiar with it.

And I think the cultural aspects have to be facotred in too. High standards can carry specific costs in terms of pushing, motivations, sanctions and time lost to pure play. Have those been observed, measured for cultural suitability and "childhood" cost ?

This ac. year gone is the first year my son has been in British education. Admittedly you don't have to try too hard to look good when compared to the Italian system, but I have been blown away by the quality of the existing programmes of study and the teaching stratagies.

I'm so happpy with it I tap dance sometimes.

Don't fuck it up now I am actually enjoying his schooling rather than being reduced to puddle of stress by it !


Oh and news reports showing kids playing Minecraft at school is no help at all in my push for moderation on that front while DS bounces up and down going "look! look! it's bascially homework mum !"

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Tue 09-Jul-13 08:26:21

I am glad the expectations are high. Neither of my children are especially academic but I want them to be pushed.

Sirzy Tue 09-Jul-13 08:28:09

The problem is pushing too much too young can do a lot more harm than good. As young as 5 it is as much about encouraging a love and enthusiasm for learning as anything else.

BalloonSlayer Tue 09-Jul-13 08:29:09

Hmm well maybe a bit too high but I was hmm in the extreme to hear that the maths target for my DCs' schools' reception was that they would be able to count up to 10 by the end of it. Surely most 3 year olds can do that?

I'd certainly welcome a bit more of a challenge for the children.

Sirzy Tue 09-Jul-13 08:31:33

The problem is balloon that depends on what they come in able to do. Some children come into school with no academic knowledge at all, some struggle to grasp things so for them being able to count to 10 would be an achievement.

That is why targets need to be personalised based on the ability of each child to ensure they are pushed but within their current ability.

HumphreyCobbler Tue 09-Jul-13 08:32:33

In every Y1 class I have taught we have done fractions.

MrsMelons Tue 09-Jul-13 08:36:05

The trouble is that the expectations are very low at the moment, there is little scope for challenging the children who are academic and even children like my DS2 who are pretty average IMO are way above average as can count to 10 etc when starting school. The expectation for end of YR was numbers to 10 or 20 and very little else (this is in a school in the top few in the LEA)

I don't think 5/6 yr olds generally struggle with 2,5,10 times table, most of them can count in those in Y1 so not a massive issue IMO. I think learning through play all the way through KS1 would not suit all children and would certainly hold back children capable of more. DS1 suits a more formal learning but DS2 is definitely better with learning through play however I think it is important for DS2 to become used to more structured learning in Y1/2.

I don't think it is about being 'pushed' but about ensuring the scope is there for children of all abilities, I would worry about the fact children would be labelled below average when would have been average before but as long as schools/teachers teach to the individual then it shouldn't be an issue.

katykuns Tue 09-Jul-13 08:36:34

My daughter has already found the transition from reception to y1 difficult, her confidence was shattered and her behaviour poor because she couldn't handle the pressure. She is getting to grips with things only now in y2 with a brilliant nurturing TA and enthusiastic teacher. I really will consider removing her from school and home educating her if this pressure gets any worse. I feel that the endless assessments and formal learning attitudes have had a detrimental effect on her educational attainment. I equally DREAD DD2 starting school, and she is only 14 months!

RobotBananas Tue 09-Jul-13 08:37:57

Are some children in reception really still learning 1-10? confused

noblegiraffe Tue 09-Jul-13 08:40:02

Doing fractions in Y1 isn't an issue. Understanding what is meant by a half, quarter etc is very important. Lots of concrete examples with shapes and pizzas and manipulation.

Giving a 5 year old the calculation 1/5 + 2/5 = 3/5 isn't teaching them understanding of fractions. It's rote learning of arcane (to them) rules.

hermioneweasley Tue 09-Jul-13 08:40:41

It's a difficult one. Our children will compete in a global marketplace and education needs to prepare them for that. I understand what Carpe says about you probably need the whole system, including parents who value education and have high expectations.

I waiver between wanting my kids to enjoy their childhood, and researching Mandarin tutors for them!

Panzee Tue 09-Jul-13 08:42:24

RobotBananas very few.

MrsMelons Tue 09-Jul-13 08:53:11

katykuns - that is awful and why it is so important that the schools teach to individuals in an appropriate way. Making standards higher should not affect this if the teachers are good but unfortunately the pressure put on teachers may hinder this.

In DS2s class there are children who are challenged a lot as they are capable and need it but DS2 is not very confident so they ensure he is not pushed too much but work on the confidence side of things with him as that is what he needs.

CarpeVinum Tue 09-Jul-13 08:53:26

including parents who value education and have high expectations.

That sounds so positive. But having lived in didn't always look positive in practice. It was often draconian.

I'd deffo be returning to home ed if the "pastoral" side involved in acheiving those sorts of results became part of the package. I don't know if those kinds of results are even possible unless you are prepared to lean very hard on children and swipe huge chunks of their free time and make study their only prioriity.

Has anywhere imported bits and bobs of Singapore Maths, sans the "pastoral/parental" attitudes aspect and made a sucess of it ? Cos I thought it was falling out of favour somewhat even amoung the charter schools in the states that had fallen in love with it about five or six years ago. Still seems to be popular with homeschoolers over there, but it is a lot easier to build intensity into homeschool and still leave time over for kidness, cos of the one to one aspect. So don't think any demostrable gains in that area are relevant to an import into mainstream ed.

AnAirOfHope Tue 09-Jul-13 09:02:01

Im a bit worried about the age targets and the fact most schools are failing currently with a lot of grade 3 schools in the area. I also think that these changes require alot of parent support, a lot of work for the children at home and not every child has that. If the teachers are looking at more challenging work the basics could be forgoten.

The posatives is more IT and computer programming which I think is so needed in schools.

I would like to see more science in y1 and reception.

CarpeVinum Tue 09-Jul-13 09:02:55

Neither of my children are especially academic but I want them to be pushed.

Well do that then.

In all the countries with high levels of sucess the magic by and large does not take place at school. It is the parents seeing academic sucess as part and parcel of their responisbility, even when it is a case of DESPITE the school.

I know the frustrations of a crap system and poor practice better than most. I've been in a state of unarmed combat over here for years. But unless it is in you to fight for a better education, provide the stimulous, support, space and resources (which don't have to cost any money) all the political tinkering in the world won't make any real difference for your child.

And extension work is easy peasy for a parent to provide. It's when you are trying to catch them up and stop them falling behind even further that the issues begin. Which won't improve by merely lifting the bar higher and then expecting magic to happen.

I'd like to see international seminars and think tanks made of teachers from all over the place sharing the realities ofmtheir classrooms with each other, using classroom recording, personal experience realting and sharing of student/parent perspective. The whole picture, not just a temp. and u fpunded love affair with bits and bobs in somebpdy else's programmes of study. Then maybe we'd get somewhere by lettingn the professionals at the coal chalk face get a better idea of how differening elements mesh and which elements are deserving of greater priority within their own education culture.

MiaowTheCat Tue 09-Jul-13 09:05:10

Haven't looked at the full details of it - but I vividly remember teaching fractions of a shape in the simple terms of halves and quarters to Y1 on my final teaching practice - and that would have been a good decade or so ago (it was just after the original numeracy and literacy strategies had come out and got bedded in).

Mind you - I taught a Y6 class once who had no fucking clue about equivalent fractions (this lot had ridiculous gaps in their knowledge with the most surprising things) - just couldn't get it at ALL until I brought two cakes in - cut one into halves, one into quarters and told them they had the choice of one half of one or two quarter bits of the other - which one would get them the most cake... cue them looking at me like I was daft because they were the same. Penny dropped... cake eaten... they'd just had people banging on abstractly about fractions for years, never done anything practically and it hadn't clicked into place for them at all because of that!

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 09:10:51

Some children will be fine and others will struggle. It's pretty much impossible to find something that will suit everyone.

I think counting in 2s,5s and 10s is an achievable thing for most five year olds. Tbh I think a lot of people underestimate what their children are capable of.

ToomuchIsBackOnBootcamp Tue 09-Jul-13 09:13:59

I am just sooooo glad I live, and Ds is educated in, Scotland. <unhelpful> Ds had a NQT last year, who was lovely, from down south, who basically implied (off the record, overheard) she sought out a job up here to get away from all Goves mad ideas and a future of utter upheaval in teaching. Yes our Curriculum for Excellence has many flaws, and there will be many changes to secondary school soon, but at least it's done with some levels of co-operation and understanding of the ideals involved.

Gove is a nutter.

lurcherlover Tue 09-Jul-13 09:19:29

Gove needs to worry less about the curriculum and more about tackling social deprivation.

DH is a primary school teacher. He works in a nice school in a leafy suburb. Reception kids come in being able to count to ten, write their names, plenty can read simple words already. He did teaching practice in a really poor school, high percentage of FSM etc. Loads of reception kids couldn't actually speak in sentences - he was genuinely shocked. He used to compare their ability to speak to our two-year-old. These children had to be shown how to turn the pages of a book, because they'd never been read to. For them, I imagine leaving Reception being able to count to ten would be an achievement.

PurpleGirly Tue 09-Jul-13 09:20:13

robotbananas the count to ten will be the "all children will..." Followed by "most children will ..." And then "some children will..."
It is just very simple differentiation and in some schools there will be children who can't count to ten at the age of 4/5. I have previously taught a child of 14 who did not know the alphabet.

I love that they refer to Finland as an example - where there is no curriculum and no testing. As far away from our education system as you can possibly get. Play until 7, all comprehensive until 16, no streaming or setting and no exams until 18 .... yet yesterday Mr Cameron and Mr Gove said we want to have the success those children do. And then propose the opposite. I just worry about where next!

CarpeVinum Tue 09-Jul-13 09:26:47

It's pretty much impossible to find something that will suit everyone

Everyone. Yes. But a system that focuses on not failing children, keeping them up to speed and not falling behind is in practise and keeps on topping the charts.


Having been the translator for a visiting group from a high school in Finland I am not sure it can automatically be translated becuase of a possibly culture based "collaborative and co-operation" ethos that would crash and burn over here. (Italy) Can't see any of my students uncomplainingly form a human caterpillar at the nod of a head to transport shit loads of heavey, bulky equipment in record time. It really was a sight to behold.

Finland doesn't set the world on fire with acedemic sucess, but it does rather shine at not dooming children to the scrapheap from as young as 7 or 8 by letting them fall ever more behind.

And I reckon to some extent that must make it easier for the parents who have bright kids to carve put time for extension work to stretch them. If the workload is not onerous and the homework not a mountian of time consuming busywork, then you have the time rich potential to bring in your own resources where you see a need or a desire or a caperbility that requires them.

Our visiting group was from a performing arts high school. Music to be specific. I really liked how the kids were allowed to be round pegs in round holes. And man were they good. And it wasn't like they were from the number one school or anything. Just one bog standard PA high school from a rural backwater much like ourselves.

Had a brill. chat with the teachers. Not sure over here could adopt it wholesale becuase of culutral differences, but wish the concept of not piling it on and saying sink or swim...and then watching children sink like stones in significant numbers... could be factored in over here.

diplodocus Tue 09-Jul-13 09:41:44

If children are ready a good teacher will already extend them into those areas outlined - they have with DD2, who was ready, much less so DD1 who wasn't. The focus should be on high quality teachers being able to differentiate work based on a child's development and ability and less on blanket targets.

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 09:42:54

Carpe, the current system could be failing children too. Some children are ready and want to go on and learn more and do more 'academic' work. DS definitely falls into that category and, believe me, the provision isn't there and the bit of extra work they are given just doesn't cut it.

PurpleGirly Tue 09-Jul-13 09:56:19

Finland are at the top of the world rankings for education, so must be doing something right academically
It comes first or second in all tables.

Carpe you are so right about the pressure/failure thing

MrsMelons Tue 09-Jul-13 09:56:20

I agree with bumblemummy, even the best teacher in the world cannot necessarily achieve this without the backing of the school and the necessary resources.

I was told DS1 couldn't get a higher level in Y2 due to the limitations of KS1, load of rubbish as I have read a lot on here about how some schools are stretching KS1 children above and beyond.

cory Tue 09-Jul-13 10:02:20

I was educated in a system very similar to the Finnish one (school start at 6/7, no streaming until secondary and then only in a couple of subjects) and was undoubtedly a higher ability child. Since I started reading MN I have often wondered how I coped without breaking down/becoming bored/turning disruptive/losing interest in my studies.

I think one reason was that life was generally so interesting and stimulating: even a highly academic child would also be spending a lot of time helping parents with DIY, going fishing, helping with the baking and cooking, building dens. There was none of that sense you get here that only middle class parents have something valuable to teach their children.

We didn't do play in the classroom (no need when you start at 7) but we did a lot of hands-on things: pottery, woodwork and in the later years of junior school woodwork, sewing and metalwork. And it wasn't play: it was the real stuff, with goggles and power tools. By the time I got to Yr 6 I knew how to use a lathe for wood-turning and a burner for enamelling, I had made my PE bag and some of the clothes I was wearing, I could cook a basic meal and was reasonably confident finding my way in the woods with a map and compass. And these skills were equally valued to knowing my time tables and being able to hold a halting conversation in my first foreign language.

I often wonder when I hear of MN'ers children who are unhappy because they only want to do worksheets if they are not picking up from their parents that only worksheets are real learning, and that practical skills just aren't "clever" enough.

I always remember my friend who was a teacher of remedial English in deprived London schools and who used to say that the most important thing would be to give children something to read and write about. Reading is difficult when you haven't got the wide experience to relate to people in different circumstances, writing is less enticing if you haven't got anything interesting to write about.

CarpeVinum Tue 09-Jul-13 10:04:39

Carpe, the current system could be failing children too. Some children are ready and want to go on and learn more and do more 'academic' work. DS definitely falls into that category and, believe me, the provision isn't there and the bit of extra work they are given just doesn't cut it.

I've dealt with both ends of the spectrum. My son is very advanced in languages because he is Italian/English bilingual and has a unnerving obsession with Spanish. There was no way an Italian state school could ever hope to provide the degree of extension work he required in English because he was the lone native speaker in a sea of L2 speaker teachers, of a fairly low level of proficiency at that.

The way they teach maths and science over here is to pile it high, raise the bar (set theory in year six, as in with all the symbols and the history, not some nice benign venn diagrams). and test the kids so the focus is on "parrot fashion" short term memory not comprehension and retention.

Out of the two, playing catch up while the mountain gets higher presents a truely impossible task even with a basically average kid, let alone one with a specific issue in one or more subjects. Whereas parent provided and guided extension...would have been a piece of piss had it not been for the lack of time due to the catch up issue, the mountains or homework issue and the constant testing issue. Even with those restrictions I maanged to put him in a British school at year 7 last Septemeber and in ENGLISH he exited with an 82% average for homework and 74% in the end of year exam. Parental extension for specific higher level ability is a walk in the bleeding park compared to the other end of the spectrum.

There has never been a time when so many many free and low cost resources were available to parents whose children are capable of more.

Where is the societal gain to place a nation wide priority on the more able children (despite the relative ease with which they can access extension opportunities), at the expense of the average and less able kids falling ever more behind and leaving compulsory education with a low sense of their own intellectual prowess and a shaky foundation in basic skills ?

Ask Italy how well that is working out for them.

cory Tue 09-Jul-13 10:14:05

I am inclined to agree with Carpe. My sufferings if any at being rather more advanced than my friends at reading just don't seem to compare with 4yo ds coming home from school every day muttering forlornly "I'm not very clever, I can't do the things my friends can". I could always sneak a book in and read at the back, or write my own book: ds could do nothing.

NoComet Tue 09-Jul-13 10:17:54

I'm certain that all the pressure to learn to read in reception/Y1, especially having to read at home every night did not help my dyslexic DD1 at all.

She just got totally stressed and made more mistakes.

She finally learnt to read in Y6, when she was ready.

I think she'd have learnt a year a year or two earlier if she'd just been left to read books that interested her and heard just two or three times a week.

quesadilla Tue 09-Jul-13 11:03:29

I'm not a teacher and don't (yet) have a school-age child so maybe don't know what I'm talking about and am prepared to be flamed by people who understand this but if kids of five are congratulated for being able to count to 10 then it sounds like they do need to be more challenged.

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 11:08:40

I'm not saying it's easy for children at the other end of the spectrum but it's incredibly frustrating watching my bright/bubbly/eager to learn little boy become bored and frustrated and disinterested in learning. Spending 6 hours in school learning very little new stuff and then spending more time on tedious homework. By the time he gets through all that he has absolutely no interest in doing any of the additional activities that would actually stimulate him.

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 11:14:51

Both my boys could count to 10 before they were 2 and not in a 'parroty' way - they were counting objects. Seems a bit ridiculous to still be doing that at 5 imo.

noblegiraffe Tue 09-Jul-13 11:21:35

I am pretty sure that the children who are learning to count at age 5 are not the ones who could do it at 2.

lustybusty Tue 09-Jul-13 11:22:49

I was lucky at primary school I think. I can remember one y6 maths lesson where the maths whizz (y5 teacher) came in and sat next to me. The y6 teacher put on the board something like "5-6" and asked what's the answer? The entire class chanted "it can't be done". The maths whizz muttered in my ear "do a number line" I didn't write it out, just visualised it and replied "-1?" He nodded and said "off you go, do the worksheet". Everyone else in the class seemed to struggle through the lesson, but they'd twigged I "got" maths, and that 5 mins of someone pushing me to THINK and use the tools I had (number line) made such a difference. That is one of the lessons I enjoyed the most in primary school.

Sirzy Tue 09-Jul-13 11:24:54

Bumbley - when children come into school unable to count what choice do they have but to start with the basics?

That doesn't mean to say they shouldn't be pushing the children who have grasped that but racing ahead before others are able to count will only leave those children at a bigger disadvantage.

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 11:25:05

But what are the ones who already know how to count supposed to do for a year noblegiraffe? If all the work is tailored towards teaching the kids who don't know how to count then they are basically left to their own devices and missing out on learning opportunities.

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 11:27:57

I'm not saying they should rush ahead and leave people behind Sirzy. I'm just pointing out the flaws in an education system that can't fairly cater to everyone's needs.

noblegiraffe Tue 09-Jul-13 11:28:05

Differentiation, bumbley, means that different children will be doing different levels of work. While the children who can't count are learning to count, the other children won't be twiddling their thumbs.

meboo Tue 09-Jul-13 11:30:36

I'm seeing a lot of posts mentioning that teaching should be tailored to the individual depending on their needs. Well in reality when in a state school this just does not happen, they do not have the resources to do so. You have to fit between the lines and if you fall outside of them you fall by the way side.
Expectations are low in school, if they stay low then it is easier to say that they have achieved great things, this is one of the reasons that previous outstanding/good ofsted schools are now going into special measures.
If the school have high expectations then eventually the parents will have them too.

Lurcher that is such a sad situation, why do we as a society tolerate disadvantaged children being at such a further educational disadvantage?

quesadilla Tue 09-Jul-13 11:32:06

Sirzy I get that the children who can't count need to start at the beginning and to be accomodated, no problem with that. But for the sole goal of a reception class in maths to be to count to 10 (if that is the case in some schools) seems unecessarily limiting to me. Surely there are ways of making sure that the basics are covered but putting some new and more challenging goals out there to give them something to aspire to.

Even the children with more limited academic ability and little guidance and stimulation at home presumably don't want to be stuck on counting to ten for the whole of an academic year?

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 11:32:44

I already know the reality of that situation NG. The children who already know are left to their own devices and given an extra bit of work that they can work on with while the rest of the class 'catches up to them'. hmm They don't have the time or resources to dedicate to the ones who are already ahead when the majority are not.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 09-Jul-13 11:36:06

Maths targets are ridiculously low at the moment though.

DS1 is almost the youngest in his reception class, and he is already covering parts of the Y2 curriculum. That is crazy.

nenevomito Tue 09-Jul-13 11:38:22

I do wish that politicians would stop fucking around in education.
Totally discriminates against children with SEN too.

Sirzy Tue 09-Jul-13 11:40:18

I have never come across a school where that is the only goal for reception. It may be the goal for the first half term or even term but it wouldn't be for the whole year (other than perhaps for one group of "strugglers".

The point is though pushing children is great but it has to be realistic. Some of these proposals simply aren't.

Feminine Tue 09-Jul-13 11:42:23

I'm totally confused. I thought the new EYFS was going to be about learning through play ....from now on?

Its what the pre-schools are getting to grips with this year.

My younger 2 started school in the US, a much better system where starting formal education was done at 7.

drivinmecrazy Tue 09-Jul-13 11:43:51

I'm really saddened by reading this thread. My DD2 (late august baby) could not count consistently to 10 in YR, could not order the days of the week and barely had the concept of sitting on the carpet for ten minute periods. Now in yr3 has barely got to grips with her 2, 5 & 10 times tables (infact last night she asked me 'what are times tables again mummy?') I asked her what she knew of fractions, her reply was 'I know we've done it in class but can't remember'. It is kids like her who are being let down, not the children like DD1 (yr7) who used to get slightly frustrated because the teacher would have to go over and over a subject till the rest of the class grasped the concept (she's working at level 7 in most subjects at the end of yr7). I'm doubtful DD2 will achieve mid level 4's by yr6. And do you know why? cos she doesn't give a stuff sad she's so used to 'failing' she actually finds it quite funny to get 2/11 in her spellings.

So, good luck to all with genius children, and pray to God you don't have another child at the other end of the spectrum being left behind (and also good luck to the teacher that has to teach my DD2 her 8 times table let alone fractions grin

Incidentally, DD2 is a fantastically happy, funny, bright little girl who just has no interest in a system that already sets her up to fail

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 11:48:46

drivinmecrazy - I'm sorry that you seem to be taking that out of this discussion. My point is more that you can't cater to everyone's needs. The system is currently letting down my DS because he is at the other end of the spectrum. Making things more challenging would certainly suit him - but then what about the others? Some will cope fine and others will just get more frustrated and lose interest.

drivinmecrazy Tue 09-Jul-13 11:48:47

Sorry, didn't realize quite how sad and frustrated about it sad
Would also like to re-assure any parent of a high achieving child that it's a hell of an easier journey to fight to have differentiated work for your DC than it is to fight for the support that an under achieving, struggling child needs in the current system. Goodness knows how much harder that fights going to be if the new proposals are realized

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 11:58:57

Sorry drivin, I don't think this should be a contest about who has it harder. I can appreciate how frustrating it must be for you and how upset you must feel but I am feeling the same thing with DS1 at the other side and it is not an 'easy journey' by any stretch of the imagination. I am sure I am simply being dismissed as a pushy mum and I know people are thinking 'what is she so worried about' because he is doing fine but I know what he is capable of and I can see what this is doing to him. He lost interest in learning and doing all the things he used to love. He started acting up in class - my lovely,gentle, sensitive little boy who wouldn't say 'boo' to a goose was becoming a disruptive nightmare. The problems may be different but they do exist and they do take their toll on the rest of the family.

CarpeVinum Tue 09-Jul-13 12:16:00

I could always sneak a book in and read at the back, or write my own book: ds could do nothing.

I know that one. DS could read ahead in the text book in English, and would practice rapid translation, or think abut how English structures differed from that of Italian while waiting for the droning on/practice work re the complexities of "can" for ability was in progress.

But 30cm long complex A level standard BIDMAS problems. Not so much. He was stuck. As was more than half the class.

He was bored and under stimulated in English three hours a week. When not biting his tongue to correct pronunciation or other errors, or biting back a response when his teacher's miscomprehension meant his work got marked as error ridden...when in fact it was all correct. He never misbehaved, or disrupted the class though. Forget the teachers' wrath, it's my wrath he was most leery of.

Having a natural advantage in something was going to become carte blanche to be a rude, naughty, disruptive, disengaged little squirt over my dead body. Having a natural advantage is good luck, not dispensation to come over all "special snowflake" and take away less "luck of the draw" advantaged kids chance to get something out of the lesson.

Bored and under stimulated is no fun, but you do have options in terms of self stimulation. Especially if parents teach you how to be an autonomous learner and encourage that during dead time. Like it ? No. But it is the reality of a comprehensive education for all. It's not one-on-one or very small group highly individualised tutoring. It's not small group with some differentiation ..... all plonked on one human teacher who can't chop themselves into separate entities in three classrooms of small groups to produce ability staggered lessons, with the time for ability specific presentation of concepts, monitoring for all kids to make sure they are on task and alert to feedback (getting it, hopelessly lost, suffering from some minor misconceptions) and adjusting appropriately on an individual level.

To do that we'd need to hire teachers on the understanding that they got cloned and one salary supported all six of the original.

I am not going to cry into my coffee that my son has a massive advantage over 99.999999% of all his peers in Italy because he has a "luck of the draw" linguistic advantage. I think it does him better service to teach him to be grateful, and run with it, off his own back with my support, with a view to developing learner autonomy alongside extension to his skills in that subject.

After one year in the British system, and being able to see, oh look at that he isn't thick, he is actually mostly average in most subjects (let's gloss over History. Q Name Henry VIII's wives DS- Cheryl ?) the relief is overwhelming.

Nothing is comparable to seeing your child struggle and fall further and further behind. You get caught up in a whirlpool of "time poor, remedial needs rich" vortex that sucks you and your kid down into panic....and giving up.

I feel supremely ducking grateful for a year (Finally! FINALLY,!) where he has been a bit bored in places and perhaps not exactly over stimulated in others because it comes fairly naturally to him now the pitch is at pre teen and not A level standard.

Bordom as a problem is like a splinter in a toe compared to previous years' "falling ever more behind, run flat out to slow the backward motion" broken leg and no crutches. Mainly becuase I am not giving him much choice in the matter. Bored ? Well do some extra research. Under stimulated ? Well explain it via skype to your mate who is confused then. This is your education squirty pants, it's not ever going to be handed to you on a plate because Utopia isn't on any map, pick up what's on the table and make the bleeding most of it cos nobody else can learn as much as you can for you.

And he is doing it (albeit with the occasional poke and hard stare). Cos that is the expectation. It is set at a point where it is achievable if he puts his back into it. It is age appropriate. And it can create the foundation for an invaluable skill, well developed learner autonomy.

I honest to god think that engendering that attitude in kids will do a hell of a lot more to make them competitive in a global market than politicos dicking around with programmes of study like various cohesive, culture dependant, international education approaches were basically a classroom based version of Woolies Pick'n'Mix.

drivinmecrazy Tue 09-Jul-13 12:24:17

But bumbleymummy I do understand your position because I have also been there and experienced it with DD1. Before my experiences with DD2 I would have completely echoed what you have said. However, my DDs (did) do attend a pretty average primary school. I can't recount the amount of times i have been in the Head's office fighting for both DDs needs.

of course your child's needs should be met, each and every child should have an education provided which fulfills their needs. But I think its very presumptuous to suggest that a brighter childs whole educational future is going to be completely scuppered because they're not being stretched to the fullness of their abilities between the age of 4 and 11.

For example, in Yr2 my DD1 was a 'free reader'. She was not made to complete the Biff and Chip schemes but was given suggested reading lists and was asked to write a review recounting the story, enabling her to strengthen her comprehension, spelling etc. Maths she was often given work sheets which would strengthen and expand her understanding of mathematical concepts. That is being done all the time in classes. What isn't being done is making sure that my DD2 understands not just her 5 times table but the concept that 5x2=10 is the same as 2x5 and 10/2 before marching on and learning how to work out the area of a square.

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 12:28:24

Ok CarpeVinum so it must have been my poor parenting skills that led to him becoming disruptive in class then. hmm

I'm pretty sure that the problem was more that he was getting bored with 'self-stimulating' for around 5+ hours a day in a classroom environment.

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 12:33:19

drivinmecrazy, I'm glad we agree that children should have an education to fulfil their needs. However, I do not agree that those needs not being fulfilled will not scupper their education in the future. If they completely 'switch off' to being educated because they are bored/disinterested etc.then yes, it will scupper them and that is exactly what I could see happening.

drivinmecrazy Tue 09-Jul-13 13:20:09

But how is your DC so bored by school? Do they not gain from PE, drama, french? Do they not enjoy art projects or IT?
Or is your child not being challenged in any of these areas?

In DD2's class there is an obviously very bright boy who excels at most academic subjects. We were invited into class a few weeks ago to see the children do some French presentation they had prepared with power-point. So, using written, verbal and IT skills combined they were put into pairs to present their work. That child who is so obviously so great at maths and literacy was useless with the skills needed to complete the task. Fortunately, DD2 is a bit of a linguist (speaks spanish well and is learning french with her class) and is a whizz on the computer, was FANTASTIC grin

Point I'm making is unless your DC is equally gifted in every area of the school curriculum there will be something to challenge him, something he will have to work harder for. I cannot for one moment believe your child is getting nothing from school except learning negativity to education.

kim147 Tue 09-Jul-13 13:24:20

The cognitive bit is what worries me - some of the concepts are quite hard to grasp and children at a young age struggle with concepts that are abstract and not physical.

So fractions - of course KS1 children have done fractions - 1/2 and 1/4 etc normally using fruits and pizza. Moving to concepts such as 1/5 add 3/5 - more difficult. I've had teenagers tell me that's 4 / 10.

I'm just worried that the expectations have been set to high for the "expected level" without an understanding of what a typical child of that age can do.

Of course - the danger is with low expectations is that is all children are taught but good teachers extend the children to the next level. OTOH, schools do have a tendency to push, push and push without ensuring the basics are secure.

flatpackhamster Tue 09-Jul-13 13:35:35

I think the problem of low expectations has dogged the education system for a long time. And part of it has manifested itself in this thread, where the whataboutery takes over. What about SEN kids. What about kids with English as a second language. What about this, what about that, what about the other, what about any excuse for not achieving.

I think that part of the problem, though, is that thanks to the all-encompassing welfare state parents don't think that it's their job to educate their children. They think it's the state's and that they don't need to be involved. My take is that, no, it's your child, you have to get your child emotionally, physically and mentally ready for school. No 6-year old child entering mainstream schooling should be unable to write their name or do basic reading or arithmetic. Part of the Gove solution needs to be to hold a mirror up to parents who are abdicating their responsibilities, and show those parents that they are the ones failing their children as much as the school is.

I hear lots of arguments on here about how wonderful the Finnish system is, but don't forget that Finland is a very different place. It's got a tiny population which is ethnically and culturally homogenous. We've had the 'benefits' of 13 years of Labour 'Celebrating Diversity' by leaving the doors wide open to everyone. It's only going to get worse in schools as teachers stop being able to teach and are forced to spend their lives bringing kids up to speed on the basics of English.

noblegiraffe Tue 09-Jul-13 13:36:42

I am generally a bit hmm at any maths curriculum that assumes the best thing for a bright maths student to do is the next key stage's work early. There is plenty of room to expand sideways.
A constant rush to accelerate leads to bright kids in secondary school asserting that 1/3+ 1/3 = 2/6, simplifying it and getting very confused. Top set kids. A solid understanding of fractions through exploring their properties in practical situations will help them tackle such problems instinctively rather than trying frantically to remember 'the rule'.

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 13:40:18

drivin, they didn't do French this year (he did it outside school) and drama,PE and art only take up a small proportion of the week. The IT element was a bit dull for him because he's been doing quite a lot with computers at home from an early age. (DH works in IT) Basically, he was bored enough for a large enough proportion of the time to start hating school and to start 'switching off'. It got to a stage where he didn't even want to do things at home that he previously enjoyed because he was just so fed up and frustrated. Apparently it is quite common and isn't as simple as just giving him a book to read at the back of the class.

I wouldn't dream of minimising the issues that you are having with your child so please don't minimise mine.

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 13:42:35

flatpack - "parents don't think that it's their job to educate their children. They think it's the state's and that they don't need to be involved." I completely agree with that. I am shocked by how many parents don't even attempt to teach their child things like counting, the alphabet, basic reading etc because they just think 'oh, they learn that when they get to school.'

FreckledLeopard Tue 09-Jul-13 13:56:20

I don't think it's an issue of children not being cognitively ready. If you look at Japan, Singapore etc, children there clearly have the ability to learn at an early age.

I think the key difference is cultural with a shift to lower expectations in our society. There isn't much tiger parenting in the UK, there aren't expectations that academic success is crucial, there is more of a focus on having a happy, rather than an academic, child. There isn't the discipline in England to be able to enforce such high academic expectations in the state system. Schools can't pick and choose which children to focus on, which to expel because of bad behaviour etc. Parents don't automatically defer to teachers anymore. So what might have worked in the 1950s is unlikely to be put into practice today. It's just not been thought through.

Having been very academic as a child, I've realised it's no guarantee of any future success or happiness. Yes, I went to Oxford and have a good job, but I'm not sure my life is any better or worse that many others.

I can understand what Gove is doing and what he's trying to achieve, but I don't think there's a hope in hell of it succeeding because the structure and culture isn't in place to support it. I don't know what the answer is - I'm fortunate that DD goes to an independent Quaker school, whose approach and values I love.

drivinmecrazy Tue 09-Jul-13 13:56:23

bumbleymummy believe me i am not minimizing your experience. as I have said i had that with DD1, infact we sent her to a maths tutor from yr5 because she wanted to. He was fantastic, he showed her many different approaches to the same work she was doing at school, it challenged her. Also humoured her in yr6 when they were learning the methods she had discovered and she relished helping others in the class to grasp the concepts.

I do take offence at your comment that 'Apparently it is quite common', because that hasn't been my experience. DD1 now attends Saturday sessions, taking the brightest kids from the local comps to do special workshops in maths, engineering, computer programming etc. It is a great use of resources which gives local kids the opportunity to spend time with and learn with equally able children. i do not see evidence that many of these children have been detered from learning through not having been pushed through junior school. Luckily i see well mannered, well adjusted, interested kids wqith a thirst to learn new skills (Maybe a with a few eccentrics thrown in).

BTW, DD1 would hate to see what i have written about her because the last thing she wants people to think of her is that she's a Geek (her word not mine) She plays sports for her school, has taken part in national maths challenges, National foreign language spelling competitions. She will spend the summer sailing and windsurfing. undoubtedly we will spend a whole day at the natural history museum in the geology rooms studying rock formations . But one thing she has never been is bored or disinterested in her education which is as broad as we can make it.

We give the same opportunities to DD2, but she prefers horse riding, playing in the pool and helping Grandma's mad spanish cleaner hoovering in the summer (her choice confused )

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 09-Jul-13 13:56:46

I think that part of the problem, though, is that thanks to the all-encompassing welfare state parents don't think that it's their job to educate their children.

I definitely agree with this. Even among parents who are not welfare state dependant this attitude prevails. The teachers at DS1's primary are all having a swap around this week to allow them all to get their paperwork sorted. I have no problem with this, the children are still learning and occupied.
One Mum complained loudly in the playground at pick up yesterday. I read with her daughter this morning and she hasn't been read with at home for over a week, and she hadn't brought her homework in. This child is a lovely girl and reasonably bright, but she is struggling because of a lack of parental support. She has been taken out for at least two holidays as well.
Her parents clearly think that it isn't any of their responsibility to do anything with her outside of school to support her learning, and it shows.

CarpeVinum Tue 09-Jul-13 14:13:32

Ok CarpeVinum so it must have been my poor parenting skills that led to him becoming disruptive in class then

In my experience, far far far more often than not, when there is a disruptive nightmare child with no ? mark over additional or special needs, where there is no hint of life events having adversely affected the child when you meet the get a "Ah. That explains it" moment.

But by and large where a child is exhibiting unwanted behaviours disruptive nightmare style and the parents are convinced it is down to the school's "lack" being the immediate problem that needs fixing for the behaviours to change, the child is not exactly immune to the message being inadvertently sent. And the parents can get so much more invested in defending the behaviours and holding everybody else responsible that they can create a self built inability to get wholly involved in getting the behaviours under control.

I am willing to leave room that your child is the exception to the rule. I've met a couple of parents over the last couple of decade who defy explanation cos the parents have come across as very level headed and just appear to have got the short straw with a particularly not bid-able child. It happens.

Just not nearly as often as parents making a rod for their own child's back.

I was primed with my kid because it left a really big impression on me pre-kids, how parents could with the best of intensions place their child at a disadvantage. Even where accommodations made an initial difference in a child's behaviour, the concept that it was up to the world to adjust around the child, or they could justifiably seriously play up, was soldered in place within the family. And the same issues tended to crop up with the same parent/child combos again and again and again. Which it's not such a big deal when they are tiny and the world is tolerant. But they can pay a really heavy price for that as they grow and tolerance wanes.

It's just not fair on them. Because yes, tolerance is there to some extent when they are little. But they grow and if the behaviours/ "it's YOUR fault I'm behaving like this" mindset comes along for the ride they can find themselves in a situation where they are being utterly hamstrung to an extent that no amount of brightness or strong personality or other positive attribute, can compensate for the ever decreasing degree of tolerance for the sort of person they have become.

I'd rather my son got a crap education than was encouraged in any way, shape or form to take on the mentality that boredom or dissatisfaction or fed upness was justification for disruptive nightmare -ness. behaviour wise.

Revisiting education is a lot more doable as an adult than readjusting an engrained idea that other people are responsible for your behaviour if you don't like the flavour of your current circumstances.

And that's why even when boredom is the absolute root of the problem, I think the biggest hurdle that demands the most attention is getting a kid past the idea that being a disruptive nightmare is an appropriate or helpful way to respond to boredom/lack of stimulus. Cos you can't eradicate boredom, or real world demands that tedious tasks are completed from a lifetime. And they need to be helped to learn how to handle that in a way that doesn't set them apart in a negative light.

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 14:22:01

drivin, yes, you very much are minimising my experience! Your daughter may have coped fine( I'm not sure what her ability levels were etc in relation to the rest of her class) but my son, and plenty of other children, have not. I have been told it's quite common by an educational psychologist who has seen it happen plenty of times. DS also has a very broad education - we have made sure of it - and the only time he is bored is when he is sitting in a classroom and not being challenged/learning anything new. We actually got discouraged from covering certain topics with him at home (that he was asking about and actually loves) because 'he would just get even more ahead' hmm

Re. the Saturday sessions - you're seeing them in an environment that they are thriving in - why would they be disruptive? We have a similar scheme here as well which DS is just old enough for this year. He will be perfectly well behaved there, just as he is in all his other extra-curricular activities, because he isn't going to be bored senseless and trying to occupy himself for most of the session.

Just because it hasn't been your experience doesn't mean it doesn't happen or that it isn't 'common'. Who has said anything about 'pushing' them through junior school btw? All I want is an education suited to his ability which he is perfectly entitled to. I'm glad that you found that for your daughter -we are still searching for our son.

drivinmecrazy Tue 09-Jul-13 14:22:49

Why is there the assumption that children are starting school unable to count or write their names because the parents are dis-interested? this is not always the case. My DD2 is considered to be the very lower end of 'normal' ranges in her assessments. she has no special educational needs. But she had literally turned 4 the week before she started school. There was no additional support for her when she started yet she was supposed to have the cognitive ability equal to a child many months older than her. Because of this gap, she is in yr3 and has fallen so far behind because she has essentially missed a year of her education.

She will leave yr3 still only 7, and although a few months at this age doesn't appear a great deal, when she had just turned 4 it was huge. She has missed a significant chunk of instilling and re-enforcing basic numeracy and literacy skills because it took all her effort and skills to sit still on the carpet for 15 minutes in reception not taking in instructions for the rest of the day.

This is not through lack of effort on our part. we have been advised recently to use a tutor to take her right back to basics, to re-learn and instill a confidence of the basics. It's not something we feel we can do, believe me we have tried. No lack of interest here

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 14:34:16

Carpe, I don't need a lecture on parenting skills, thanks very much. You'll just have to take our word (and the educational psychologist's and all his teachers/instructors outside of school) that DS is your 'exception to the rule' and that his behaviour in the classroom was completely out of character for him and was due to sheer built up frustration rather than because we set him up to think that the world revolved around him hmm

A round of applause for you though. Well done on your excellent parenting skills that are clearly the reason for your son's ability to adapt to the situation rather than it possibly anything to do with people all have different personalities and some people being able to cope with things better than others. Must be the superior parenting thing though...of course.

drivinmecrazy Tue 09-Jul-13 14:34:46

It appears as if your Ds is being defined and defining himself by his abilities.

it is such a small part of who they are and who they will become. To say 'its very common' is actually belittling mine and my friends experiences which have been at polar opposites to your view. it may apply for your son but I do not believe that every bright child at school is being switched off from education because they are not having their educational needs specifically tailored to them individually.

My daughter has found her own balance. And yes, maybe we have been very lucky she hasn't let her own frustrations wear her down. But I do believe that's in some part to how she values herself, and quite possibly her sister has taught her there is more to achieve in her life than purely academic success (although i think she'd be very hard pushed to say anything positive or kind about her little Sis in public grin )

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 14:42:18

Perhaps part of the problem is taking such a formal approach to learning. Why should a child have to sit still on a mat for 15 mins to learn something? Why not just let it be part of everyday life from an early age?
I remember hearing a woman at a craft fair once telling her son that he couldn't have a particular jigsaw because it had the alphabet on it and he wouldn't be learning that until school the following year. Why make such a big song and dance about learning these things?

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 14:51:38

drivin, wow, great armchair psychology there!

It's not belittling you at all. You haven't found it to be your experience, we have found it to be ours and we were told, by his educational psychologist, and by others that it is very common - I didn't just make it up. 'very common' does not mean 'this applies to every child' - you know that, right? If you want to open your mind a bit you may find this interesting reading.

drivinmecrazy Tue 09-Jul-13 14:56:12

At least we agree on that bumbleymummy

I remember having a huge brightly coloured flip chart for DD1 when she was a baby. She used to love looking at the letters and numbers, shapes and clowns. We used to talk and point. One of her favourite toys.

Got it out when DD2 was the same age and she turned it into a slide, was never the remotest bit interested what was on the page, just that she could pour juice down it, up end it and slide.

It is a real shame that it has to be a one size fits all education, because that way there are sure to be many who lose on so many levels

drivinmecrazy Tue 09-Jul-13 14:58:26

I'm sorry, have cross posted you twice bumbleymummy blush

RedHelenB Tue 09-Jul-13 14:58:37

Just to say, my friend was concerned her child couldn't recognise his numbers to 10 in Reception - fast forward in time & they're level * at the end off year. I didn't read until I was Y! equivalent but got A's in public exams.

In Maths it is the practical & conceptual knowledge that is KEY. If you have no understanding, somewhere down the line you will come unstuck

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 14:59:30

Sounds like my DS1 and DS2. DS2 is very much into the 'alternative' uses for books smile He is only 4 though and he has managed to pick up quite a bit already just through us playing various games. Eg, He can count and recognise all the numbers to 100 just from playing snakes and ladders. Much more fun than sitting on a mat reciting numbers!

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 15:00:22

Its ok drivin, My previous post was a bit snipey - I apologise. I'm very defensive about DS1. confused

kim147 Tue 09-Jul-13 15:03:38

People say counting is easy. Try putting objects so they are jumbled up or in a circle and they get young children to count them.

Not as easy as you might think. Quite a few reception children (and even year 1s) struggle with 1-1 correspondance. You sometimes hear them counting correctly but this does not correspond to when they touch an object.

Totally agree about practical stuff. Many children still need this to make maths work and make sense.

drivinmecrazy Tue 09-Jul-13 15:07:53

It is understandable why we get so oassionate about our DC bumbleymummy What year is your DS in? I only ask because my DD1 is really flourishing in yr7 because of the setting system they have, meaning that for many lessons they are working at a much faster pace, not having to stop and re-iterate til the slower member of the class grasp the concept, and able to question and therefore lead the direction in which the teacher takes the class. Has made a real difference.

CarpeVinum Tue 09-Jul-13 15:07:55

You'll just have to take our word

I did. I said so in my post.

No it is not solely down to my parenting. Thankfully I have a kid who isn't at the highly tricky end of the bidability scale. Another element previously mentioned.

It's down specifically to being very motivated NOT to make a mistake I saw repeated, sometimes with really unhappy results.

Which informed my parenting. Becuase while as a parent/child combo we have no speicifc issues that would cause behavoiral issues to flourish no matter what, neither do we have any special immunity against them either.

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 15:27:00

He's 7 drivin - I'm not sure what year that would put him in - different schooling system. We're actually looking at different schools for him because we were so unhappy with the way things went. Some of them seem to have much better provision than others.

Carpe, we didn't realise that he would behave the way he did. As I have said before, it was completely out of character for him which was why it was so upsetting to see. He absolutely loves learning and was fine in all his other classes outside school. He is incredibly quiet and studious(unlike DS2 who is a bundle of energy from dawn til dusk!) and people always comment on how helpful and well-mannered he is. He just became so unhappy and frustrated and eventually it just overflowed and his behaviour suffered for it. Thankfully he is completely back on track now and is much happier. As I said before, we are reconsidering schools for Sept and we will certainly be more on the look out for any signs of it happening again.

YoniWheretheSunDontShine Tue 09-Jul-13 15:34:41


My 5 year old knows her 11 and 10 times table.

she isnt bright or ahead in her class ( state).....she picked it up really easily.

I am moving on to the other tables soon.

CarpeVinum Tue 09-Jul-13 15:42:31

Not as easy as you might think. Quite a few reception children (and even year 1s) struggle with 1-1 correspondance. You sometimes hear them counting correctly but this does not correspond to when they touch an object.

True fact.

Since the school proper age here has been lowered from six to five I have had more and more work with pre schoolers. I can get them to parrot 1-10 in English no problem, but any kind of game to link word to concept rather than "in order, symbol" and it all goes bent. I double checked it in Italian just to make sure it wasn't an L2 thing. Nope. Same thing.

But with the lowered entry age there is much pressure to get the basics of English in early cos the bar has been raised even in first year of primary. So here I am, basically being obliged to teach children to mindlessly parrot words that have no real meaning to them(in either language). So they can mindlessly parrot them more effciently next year and the year after that and the year after that.....

It's a good job they are funny and we have a good time being really rather silly or I think I'd jump off the slide with the sheer futility of my work with kids some days.

kim147 Tue 09-Jul-13 15:44:06

A lot of people say their children "know" their tables when in reality they can recite them.

But put it in a practical problem and this "knowledge" goes out the window.

A child might know 10 x 11. Ask them what 10 more than a number is and they look at you blankly.

Or start adding in 1s to work out what 10 more is.

My DD has some additional needs and listening to the new curriculum makes me want to cry. I am not sure where she fits in to Goves new schooling system, but I imagine he couldn't give a shiny shit about her or others like her.

She starts school is September and I was feeling OK. Now I just want to pick her up and run away. She is set to fail her whole life with him in charge.

She is 4.7 and cannot tell you how old she is. I am thinking that fractions might be a bit beyond her.

I want an education system where she has a chance, not just where those that are academically able survive.

CarpeVinum Tue 09-Jul-13 16:01:06

I want an education system where she has a chance, not just where those that are academically able survive.

That was me. I was seriously thinking about packing up our lives and forcing the whole family over to Britain after six years of banging my head against a brick wall and bleeding everywhere. I didn't want to give up what I see as a better spcial landscape (childhoodwise) here. And I am sp grateful I got lucky in finding his now school.

Probably just as well if instead of listening to the people at the chalk face the PTB are still focused on playinng curriculum pick'n'mix like it was going to make magic happen and nobody was going to end up at an even sharper end.

Mind you I am now worried that new school will be affected, cos it's British too.

Oh god the last thing I want to contemplate is a return to home education.

Oh well until it happens I am going to stay postitive. I have totally enjoyed this year cos it's been such a contrast to preceeding six years earth and even if it's only an illusion I am going to pretend everything will be OK and his school being online and all will make it exempt from tinkering.

noblegiraffe Tue 09-Jul-13 16:31:57

Carpe, your DS's school is private, which means it will merrily stick its fingers up to Gove and continue to do its own thing, which is obviously working very well.

State schools won't find it so easy. A primary school which ignores the proposed curriculum (which academies are free to do) will be feeding into state secondaries, which will cause major issues if all the feeder schools have done different things.

CarpeVinum Tue 09-Jul-13 17:18:10

Carpe, your DS's school is private, which means it will merrily stick its fingers up to Gove and continue to do its own thing, which is obviously working very well.

Oh thank feck for that. <selsfish moment due to not being able to face being put back in the wringer> It does seem to be working along to the KS3/IGCSE curriculum as it is now, so I guess that is by choice ?

FredFredGeorge Tue 09-Jul-13 17:28:01

I am moving on to the other tables soon. Well done YoniWheretheSunDontShine It's good to learn with your child!

I'm not sure I really understand the problem - it's clear that some children can comfortably attain the current or new curriculum and others would struggle, such is the nature of both ability and learning experience. The curriculum doesn't define the help or teaching any individual child may get, it just gives guidance on what those who can comfortably attain should be doing next.

gordyslovesheep Tue 09-Jul-13 17:32:09

bumbleymummy if your child is gifted and talented the school should be addressing this by enhancing the curriculum and his learning - if not ask why not

The answer isn't to expect everyone to learn to his level - it's equally unfair as not challenging him

There should be a middle ground - with kids on either side of it supported

I speak as the mother of a G+T child with SEN!

kim147 Tue 09-Jul-13 17:33:52

There's also no levels - so it will be interesting to see how OFSTED and the DFE judges schools.

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 17:37:22

True fredfred. I think it's perfectly acceptable to change what they want children to learn as long as they are to coding the support required to help everyone learn it, regardless of what level they are working at.

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 17:39:45

Gordy, I don't expect everyone to learn at his level. I didn't think is given that impression in my posts. I was just pointing out how the current system is letting children down at both ends of the spectrum. Yes, there should be a provision for G&T - there isn't really. Combination of it being a small school, limited resources and unenthusiastic teacher I guess! That's why we're looking elsewhere smile

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 17:40:16

To coding = providing in my previous post.

kim147 Tue 09-Jul-13 17:41:11

"The curriculum doesn't define the help or teaching any individual child may get, it just gives guidance on what those who can comfortably attain should be doing next."

But it's also used as a stick to beat schools with - so if they're moving the goal posts again, then those schools who already struggle to achieve current expectations because of the intake / circumstances will really struggle when age related expectations are made high.

Teachers have always used the curriculum to aim higher if a child comfortably achieves it. I'm just concerned that they set these standards without looking at whether an "average" child is cognitively competent at those ages to grasp such concepts.

FredFredGeorge Tue 09-Jul-13 17:44:16

kim147 so it's a stick to beat schools with? I'm not sure I understand why that's bad unless you're a school or a teacher? The children won't be impacted any different?

kim147 Tue 09-Jul-13 17:46:01


If schools and teachers get beaten with a stick, so do the pupils (not literally). Look at what happens in Year 6.

You'll see art and music have 1 paragraph on the curriculum.

kim147 Tue 09-Jul-13 17:53:56

It's all very easy to set a target.

e.g. The average child will tie their laces by the age of 3.

But that is a hard skill for many to master as they do not have the development to do that.

Same in English and Numeracy.

It's easy to set challenging targets. But does the average child have the ability to master them by the age they suggest?

I do not want low expectations - I was shocked when I started in year 1 and saw what the average child was supposed to achieve in certain aspects of maths. So I pushed them higher as that's the whole point of teaching as far as I am concerned. To always push the child but also to ensure they understand the basics.

I'm just concerned about being given expectations that are too high for children so they feel like a failure because they are "working below age related expectations".

FredFredGeorge Tue 09-Jul-13 18:08:10

kim147 You seem confused about your arguments - on one side you're saying it's about the children and the risk they feel a failure, but then you also say it's all about sticks to beat schools and teachers with?

Having simple coherent arguments will help get things changed - suggesting why a particular part is not attainable by an average 5 year old would be helpful, rather than just "doubting".

PrincessScrumpy Tue 09-Jul-13 18:18:42

Dd is currently in reception and doing everything the new curriculum states. People tell me she's bright but I don't have anything to compare her to.
I think it's good to have high expectations. I haven't read whole thread but the person who said most would struggle with numbers 1 to 10 at age 5 infuriated me. Dd's class spent 2 Weeks in sept doing numbers 1 to 10 then moved on! Perfectly capable at this age to do that unless sen surely?

noblegiraffe Tue 09-Jul-13 18:23:15

I think they said 1-100, not 1-10.

PrincessScrumpy Tue 09-Jul-13 18:29:43

Yes 1-100, I was commenting on poster who thought they'd struggle with even 1-10

Souredstones Tue 09-Jul-13 18:32:12

Surely if the targets are raised the teaching levels are raised?

I don't work in education but hear stories that kids being bored leads to disruption so perhaps there is something in changing the achievement targets?

noblegiraffe Tue 09-Jul-13 18:40:51

I can't see anyone saying that most five year olds would struggle with counting to ten. Some will, certainly. But not most.

If targets are raised, the only thing that will be raised is the amount of teaching to the test.

It is a very odd curriculum. Having read this and the previous one, several things have been brought forward into earlier years for no sensible reasons other than to make the earlier years more challenging. The primary years, particularly for English and Maths, are minutely controlled it seems, with ridiculous amount of detail which then a drop off when it hits secondary to minimal framework. Other subjects barely seem to have any research or effort given to them.

Finland does have a curriculum that can be read in English here. Finland is not an ethnically homogenized country, it's education system is designed to deal with multiple mother languages (Finnish, Swedish, 3 Saami languages, Romany, and "Other" is used in some areas as well as Finnish Sign Language) and presumes children will learn their mother tongue, at least of one of the other national language and one additional language. It's not perfect and couldn't be dropped here wholesale, but the style in which it is written is far clearer and treat teachers with a bit more respect with a good checklist that doesn't need to go into ridiculous details (the UK one tells teachers which suffixes they teach in each year, it's ridiculous). It's odd that they talk so much about the Finnish system and seem to have taken nothing from it.

People and companies that build the products the schools use must be scrambling. I just glanced at a maths programme's scheme of work that is used across the country and this will now seem behind. But then, very few schools will even be bound by this new one (something like less than 30%?) causing even more confusion.

FamiliesShareGerms Tue 09-Jul-13 19:00:54

I haven't had a chance to read the detail of the new curriculum, but i agree with the basic principle of upping what should be considered average. DS is just finishing Yr 2 and he is comfortably in the top half of the class, but the pinnacle of their maths this year was a times table test on their 2, 5 and 10 times table, with 3 and 4 times tables as an "additional challenge" for those who wanted to do it.

Shouldn't this be expected of all children about to go into Yr 3??

kim147 Tue 09-Jul-13 19:04:14

Kids get bored partly because the work is too easy or they don't get it.

Teachers know their class and a good teacher should give appropriate work that they know the pupils can do and challenges them / reinforces and consolidates what they know - so they can apply their learning.

So many pupils, especially in maths, are unable to apply their learning. So many are taken to the next level without ensuring they truly understand a concept. It's all about pressure to show outstanding progress every lesson (at the loss of consolidating concepts and identifying misconceptions).

I'm worried that some concepts - especially in the maths curriculum - are being introduced too early and at too high a level for the average pupil. It will mean more pressure on teachers and on pupils to try and understand stuff that is beyond them at that age.

Complex fractions and decimals are hard concepts for a lot of pupils in secondary school - but are being introduced for 7 year olds.

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 19:08:58

What ages is yr2?

SchrodingersFanny Tue 09-Jul-13 19:09:10

Ds will be 4 in sept. If he had been born a few days earlier he would be going into reception this year. He can't count to ten. He can reliably count to 3 or 4 correctly and occasionally 5. He knows loads of numbers but prefers to recite them randomly.

So he would be one of those children. I'm a teacher (although secondary) and have felt no need to hot house him in numbers or letters because, he's 3! If he shows an interest we do it. But he recognises no letters, not even for his name.

But I grew up with a foreign system of starting school at 6/7 as well and think our system is already ridiculous.

I don't want him doing fractions/tines tables at 5. I just want him to play, make stuff, lean to ask questions, learn to read, count etc

Gove is a lunatic

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 19:14:04

Can I ask why learning numbers/letters is considered 'hot housing' but learning animals/the sounds they make/colours isn't?

SchrodingersFanny Tue 09-Jul-13 19:19:27

Sorry, I have friends who do this with their children, purposefully trying to teach them. I didn't do it with colours either really, again just followed his interest. I always mentioned what colours things were but I never went round pointing at things getting him to say what they were.

I have friends who are constantly "and what letter is this, and how many biscuits are ther" etc

FamiliesShareGerms Tue 09-Jul-13 19:32:58

Yr 2 is 6-7 years old

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 19:43:29

What's wrong with purposefully trying to teach them though? What's wrong with them knowing that a cow 'Moos' and that the sky is blue? Surely this is just imparting knowledge? In the same way as you show them how to feed themselves and how to tidy up toys or whatever? I think people separating numbers/alphabet creates almost immediately creates a negative impression of them. My boys learned the letters in the same way as they learned - that is a cat, that is a horse. That's a letter 'G', that's a letter 'C'. No pressure, no differences made. It was just what it was and that was that.

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 19:44:08

Thanks Families.

SchrodingersFanny Tue 09-Jul-13 19:51:30

I do teach him now when he asks "what letter is that etc".

I just think he's 3 he should be playing etc. I think if they are interested, great. But he hasn't been until very recently. He doesn't draw either, he makes marks but isn't interested in much else.

somewherewest Tue 09-Jul-13 20:08:33

...Finland is not an ethnically homogenized country...

Yes it is, compared with the UK and with a lot of other European countries.I've travelled widely and I've seen few major European cities as white as Helsinki. A Finnish friend of mine who works supporting immigrants there would agree with this - immigration on any kind of significant scale is really very recent. Likewise an African friend of mine living in Helsinki is always addressed in English because many Finns just can't image the existence of non-white Finnish speakers (she actually speaks very good Finnish!). There is a Swedish-speaking minority and a history of Swedish/Finnish bilingualism, but that isn't remotely comparable to the thirty-different-languages-in-one-school experience of parts of the urban UK. Systems that work in small, affluent, culturally and ethnically homogeneous communities with much less social inequality don't necessarily translate elsewhere.

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 20:10:24

Fair enough. Most of my teaching was through play - eg. snakes and ladders like I mentioned earlier. Learning how to 'read' the dice and then counting up the squares etc. The letters were a big box of magnetic wooden ones that they just played with and stuck up on the board. There were animal ones too and I just said what they were. They picked it up fairly quickly - sponges at that age! I wish I could learn things as quickly now!

SchrodingersFanny Tue 09-Jul-13 20:17:28

I think maybe I'm just a shit parent as it never occurred to me to do stuff like that. He hates jigsaws and games like that. He dies ask now what letters are etc, but he never remembers again.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Tue 09-Jul-13 20:19:35

kim - totally agree with you.

lljkk Tue 09-Jul-13 20:22:45

Very few children in Singapore aren't tutored privately, many families go into debt to pay for it.
Children in Japan attend school for 46 weeks a year. A mere 70% have some tutoring by the time they reach middle school.

I can't see 70% of British paying for private tutoring.

And these places still get accused of rather excessively rote learning to pass all-important exams, rather than creative learning, .... WHICH the likes of Ken Robinson insist is what we truly need.

IneedAyoniNickname Tue 09-Jul-13 20:25:11

Other than adding the fractions, which I didn't ask him, ds2 (6, yr1) knew everything in the article. (Sorry, sounds a bit boasty) BUT I am aware that he is the exception rather than the rule. NB I didn't ask him to programme a computer or whatever it said!

Ds1 (Summer born) would never have known most of that by the end of year 1, he suffers with low confidence anyway and that would have taken a massive knock if he was on this new curriculum.

I think its a bad idea, most children that I know would be 'behind' despite being absolutely fine. I have a young cousin (5.7) who lives in Europe, and hasn't started full time school yet. She can't recognize all her letters yet, let alone spell. But where she lives that's normal.

Sirzy Tue 09-Jul-13 20:25:24

I think for pre school age children it is easy to 'teach' them through day to day life. Counting steps, looking at colours of cars etc all helps children develop and like Bumbley said children are like sponges when so young.

DS (3.5) has started pointing out letters on signs outside shops recently, I have never sat him down and taught him the alphabet but he has picked it up from day to day life.

bumbleymummy Tue 09-Jul-13 20:27:27

Don't think you're a shit parent! I don't think it occurs to a lot of people that it can be interesting/ a game. IMO people unnecessarily put up barriers to learning letters/numbers very early on because they associate them with an idea that school/learning is hard work and should be left until children are older. (The lady at the craft fair that I mentioned earlier being a good example) I just incorporated them into stuff very early on and they learned it without even thinking about it - seeing letters in car parks at the supermarket, the names of petrol stations, supermarkets etc. We used to/still do play a game when we're wandering around places like B&Q where we have to find all the letters of the alphabet on various signs/products etc. Keeps them busy for ages while we discuss paint samples! smile

Many Saami pass as White Finnish (particularly after the repeated campaigns to kill and sterilize them, those that passed as White had a better chance of survive in situ rather than immigrating) as do many Romany, and both of those communities tend to live farther North than Helsinki due to previous violent history between the groups in major Nordic cities. Having a very White area doesn't mean it is ethnically or culturally homogeneous and capitals rarely represent the whole.

The Finnish education system is designed to allow people to feel and celebrate within their own ethnic group and as part of Finnish and Nordic history. It specifically brings in minority cultures across the curriculum (unlike Gove's). The entire reasons the Finnish rebuilt their education decades ago was because it was doing so badly, particularly in minority areas. As I said, it can't be dropped wholesale in the UK, and the UK is more diverse (which doesn't make Finland homogeneous), but for something Gove says he admires, he's taken nothing visible from it.

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