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. Improving mathematical thinking gives a good foundation for maths in later years.

BreconBeBuggered Thu 30-Jan-14 11:55:59

I suppose it depends whether they have natural ability or they've been coached through an exam. Don't have much time for SATs myself, but it's all DS2 knows. He can't wait to sit the level 6 paper, and loves playing around with GCSE maths stuff online, but he's very much a self-starter in that department.
I know the local secondary school are fairly cynical about the level 6 though, and I imagine he'll be in the same set as the level 5 children, which is fair enough. It's all part of this huge drive to exceed expected levels of achievement, isn't it? Primaries feel coerced into stretching their most able children by whatever quantifiable means available, and the secondaries sigh and have to deal with the results.

Acinonyx Thu 30-Jan-14 11:57:10

Aren't all the levels about to be scrapped anyway?

lljkk Thu 30-Jan-14 12:01:06

mmmm, you've not convinced me it's a waste of time. But then, DD only did L6 for her own satisfaction, and she hasn't been moved down in y6. Not gifted either, not really, but very hard working & adequately clever.

If you're saying that single snapshot tests are rather poor indicators of overall ability, then I 100% agree. It's not how I was assessed at any level of education and I find it shockingly obviously terrible. Yet I often get told by British people that I'm completely wrong to take that view. Presumably because the problem applies equally to traditional structure 11+/O-level/GCSEs/A-levels/Uni exams.

DS is in y9 doing GCSE options and tells me repeatedly that a high L6/low L7 is a C at GCSE. It's what he's heard at school.

When you say many children moved down... how many? And how do you know so much about them?

ReallyTired Thu 30-Jan-14 12:02:16

"Aren't all the levels about to be scrapped anyway?"

Yes, and no. School still have to show progression.

A Level 6 keystage 2 paper is a different type of challenge to a level 6 paper in secondary school. I suspect that many secondary school children with a level 7 would not pass a key stage 2 level 6 paper.

Its non sensical to see a level 6 at primary as an equivalent ot a level 6 at secondary.

mollypup Thu 30-Jan-14 12:04:25

I remember sitting the Level 6 English SATs many moons ago. It was difficult but certainly not comparable to a GCSE paper.

flatmouse Thu 30-Jan-14 12:07:59

I had a look at a KS2 L6 maths paper online yday. I took the simple question that could be asked verbally and asked both my two last night. Neither had a clue (DS Y9 (2nd set), DD Y6) - however DD's thought processes were going in the right direction.

I actually felt it was more "logic" than maths, and was surprised by the L6 questions. (Dragon in cave, doubles in size each day, fills cave at 20 days - how many days til he half-fills cave).

ReallyTired Thu 30-Jan-14 12:11:58

In ds's secondary school there are 6 maths sets. All the children in set 1 have a level 6. I believe this as I know that ds's best friend started off in the second set inspite of getting a level 6 in his keystage 2 SATs. As parents we were told that SATs results are used for the first half term for setting in Maths until the school has had a chance to know as assess the children themselves.

After the first half term test three children were moved down from the top set and three children from the top set moved to the second set.

pointythings Thu 30-Jan-14 12:15:43

I don't think you can quite generalise like that, but I do think the push for L6 is a bit pointless. And I say this as a parent of 2 DDs who went for it/are going for it. I'm letting them do it because they want to and enjoy the challenge.

DD1 got the L6, wasn't moved down at all, sat a higher tier GCSE paper in Yr7 for practice (but under exam conditions) and got a C, so it is not entirely impossible for some children to achieve this. She just has a maths brain (which she by no means gets from me). Her middle school was good at differentiating so she had already covered a lot of the GCSE curriculum in Yr6, but that is unusual. Her secondary doesn't use SATs for setting, they CAT test during induction so that may be why it works for them - they aren't using the snapshot.

I'm a bit shock at your example, flatmouse - that's not really maths, it's a brainteaser question. I suppose it tests lateral thinking and method, but definitely more logic than maths.

tiredoutgran Thu 30-Jan-14 12:16:40

It is all rubbish anyway, the way they teach maths at primary level nowhere near compares to how it is taught at secondary, it is like they have to learn all over again when it really should be only revision and fine honing understanding. I know when I have 'tried' to help with maths homework we do nothing but confuse each other because I know all the tips and tricks and they have strange ways of doing everything that make it all more complicated than it needs to be.

Perhaps they mean equivalent with regards to age/skill rather than actual equivalent in the content/achievement.

pointythings Thu 30-Jan-14 12:19:42

tiredoutgran I don't think you can generalise like that either... Certainly the transition to secondary maths teaching was seamless for DD1. Like anything else in education, I think there is too much variability in what is taught, when and how.

Dromedary Thu 30-Jan-14 12:36:14

At one point I was told that my DC (in primary) was 2 years ahead of her actual age. This made no sense to me at all, as she hadn't covered any of the curriculum for the 2 years above her. If she'd been given something from 1 or 2 classes above her in maths, she wouldn't have known how to do it. So the 2 years ahead obviously meant something different, but I couldn't get my head around it and decided to disregard it as a bit silly but basically indicating that she was doing well. Perhaps that is happening here too.

ReallyTired Thu 30-Jan-14 12:38:39

"I'm a bit shock at your example, flatmouse - that's not really maths, it's a brainteaser question. I suppose it tests lateral thinking and method, but definitely more logic than maths."

I think that having brain teasers for gifted eleven year olds is benefical. It helps develop their thought processes. Development of problem solving skills is good for anyone.

It's going to be even worse for English. The pressure on those kids, not to mention the teachers, is going to be huge. As it stands, lots of the 'Level 5s' we get into Year 7 can't consistently perform at a 5. So by the end of the year they may have made loads of progress, but it won't look like that on paper. So what on earth is it going to be like now? It's really quite hard to get a genuine Level 6 in English, even for older children.

It almost makes me laugh - if Gove is saying that 6 sub levels of progress per key stage is no longer enough, and is simultaneously introducing Level 6 into primary, he's going to run out of levels. A bright kid who gets Level 3 at KS1 is pushed to get Level 6 in their Year 6 SATS, then where, Michael? Level 9 in Year 9? There are only 8 levels and I can count on one hand the number of genuine level 8 students I have encountered in more than a decade. Most kids who achieve a 5 at KS2 are targeted As/A*s at GCSE - is that somehow not high enough?

For years I have gone by the rule of thumb (although of course there are exceptions) that if they can get a 5 in Year 9, they can get a C at GCSE. If they can get a 7 in Year 9, they should be aiming for the top grades at GCSE. Over-reliance on a stressful test they do at age 11 doesn't benefit anyone IMO.

<and breathe>

pointythings Thu 30-Jan-14 12:42:06

Agreed, reallytired - but let's not put them in the tests. My DDs love these kind of things, they see them as huge fun. Testing them is going to take all the joy out of it, and I think the joy of maths is vitally important for young mathematicians.

jeee Thu 30-Jan-14 12:48:17

The most important reason for level 6 SATs papers at junior school is clearly to allow parents to boast, normally by stealth (i.e., "the trouble is, X has so many tests, what with the level 6 papers being in the afternoons....")

Laura0806 Thu 30-Jan-14 12:51:29

ha ha Jeee, v true

MargotLovedTom Thu 30-Jan-14 12:51:37

What is the answer to the dragon question?! I want to say 10 but I'm tired and ill and it seems too obvious.

AbiRoad Thu 30-Jan-14 12:54:33

19 is the answer, isn't it?

jeee Thu 30-Jan-14 12:55:24

19 days - dragon doubles in size every day, so is half the size on day 19 that it is on day 20.

'twas on an 11+ practice paper which is how I know!

CrohnicallyFarting Thu 30-Jan-14 12:58:13

We frequently have this argument- but in terms of levels at foundation stage (reception) and national curriculum levels at year 1. The government wants us to convert FS scores to NC scores so we can see the progress. However, they measure different things. At FS you are looking for things like 'can count and recognise numbers to 10' whereas at NC level 1 they need to know 1 more/1 less, count out numbers of objects, know that adding is putting 2 groups together, etc. And of course there are other areas of maths like telling the time. So a child can be above average in reception because they can rote count to 20, but it doesn't mean they'll be above average in year 1.

Dromedary Thu 30-Jan-14 13:02:26

Love the dragon question - can't wait to try it on my DCs!

ReallyTired Thu 30-Jan-14 13:03:09

I feel the present focuss on exams sucks the lifeblood out schools. Even gifted eleven year olds need time to play and be children.

I wish I could send my daughter private or at least had a choice of state schools.

Songofsixpence Thu 30-Jan-14 13:04:52

My eldest did SATs last year and was really, really pushed to do level 6 maths.

She was given so much coaching by the school it was ridiculous, she was put under so much pressure I threatened to remove her from school for SATs week if it continued.

She was basically taught to pass the test in order to up the school's ratings. It didn't really reflect her actual ability.

When she did CAT tests when she started secondary, her levels were much lower

flatmouse Thu 30-Jan-14 13:09:03

Margot both mine said 10. I had thought DD would get it when she said "well you need to halve it" - but she halved the wrong thing smile The rest of the questions were more 2 or 3 steps problem solving. I certainly had to stop and think a little. Would like to see how DD gets on tackling them, but no point if they use these past papers as tests as would give unrealistic results if she did it twice!

I majorly disagree with L6 testing at KS2, and think that extension work can be done with the more able (more sideways than upwards). I would certainly not be asking if DD could do L6, but she is aware of it. Not sure she would be offered - if she was, i've told her it's up to her (as she's asked me about doing it) - but in no way is it a "failure" if she doesn't get to do the paper, or does it and doesn't achieve the level.

I'd imagine they would need to be a comfortable 5b/5a at this stage to be put forward for L6?

pointythings Thu 30-Jan-14 13:09:56

I feel the present focuss on exams sucks the lifeblood out schools. Even gifted eleven year olds need time to play and be children.

Couldn't agree more.

Song my DD2 is having extension classes for L6 - but they are not doing practice tests and won't be until after Easter and then only one or two just so they get the format. It's really more of an extension class for maths, and I think that's how it should be presented - DD2 is working at that level and is ready for the challenge. She's jumping for joy at algebra for some reason confused and it has really boosted her confidence.

She loves SPaG too. Strange child. grin

SATs for the glory of the school are a waste of time.

MargotLovedTom Thu 30-Jan-14 13:19:21

Gah, of course - 19!
<slaps head>.

Dromedary Thu 30-Jan-14 13:23:46

The primaries around here don't seem to do Level 6? I don't think children are even offered the option.

Songofsixpence Thu 30-Jan-14 13:32:05

DD was given extension classes, from the start of term when they went back after Christmas they ran a daily after school club. DD did 2 nights a week as she had other commitments but she was put under pressure to do all 5.

She was then given level 6 practice papers to bring home each night and if they weren't completed they had to stay in at lunchtime.

They were told stuff like their SATs scored affected their GCSE results, could affect which uni they could apply to. The pressure was immense.

DD loves literacy and is much more naturally able so I think they would have been better focussing on literacy. Maths isn't, and never has been her strong point, so I ended up with a very stressed and worried 11 year old who spent nights in tears as she was so worried.

When she did CATs, her score was a whole level out, her Maths report just before half term still doesn't put her at a level 6.

5madthings Thu 30-Jan-14 13:34:50

I think it depends on the child, my ds2 got level 6 in maths, but he didnt have specific coaching to do so. He is naturally good at maths and loves it. The school just encouraged that and it hasnt caused problems at high school, he is in the top set and continuing to do well.

5madthings Thu 30-Jan-14 13:35:29

There was no pressure from the primary school at all!

Horrified by some of the experiencesothers have had.

brettgirl2 Thu 30-Jan-14 13:40:10

level 8 is roughly equivalent to a b at gcse.

yabu, why just pick on L6?

ReallyTired Thu 30-Jan-14 13:50:42

"level 8 is roughly equivalent to a b at gcse.

yabu, why just pick on L6?"

I was told at a parents council that a level 6 was an equaivalent of B at GCSE by dd's head teacher. I told her I that I thought she was wrong, but the woman was admant.

I can well believe that a secondary level 8 is the equivalent of a grade B at GCSE. That would make a lot of sense. It is hoped that most year 9s are level 6 standard and very few of them are ready for GCSE maths.

ginnybag Thu 30-Jan-14 13:55:34

I don't have an issue with schools administering the test - without coaching.

But, then, I think Yr 6 SATS should be scrapped full stop. An attainment level can be assessed just as well from class work, books, snap tests in class - e.g. with no revising/tutoring. Or the CATs, if testing must be administered.

Test the potential, not the amount of crap stuffed in their heads!

They're children. Learning should be fun.

newgirl Thu 30-Jan-14 14:05:23

I looked at the primary level 6 paper and thought it harder than my o level - had no idea what it was asking. Any kid who does it impresses me

pointythings Thu 30-Jan-14 14:14:05

Song that is exactly how not to do it. How sad for your DD and what a contrast. Makes me appreciate our local 'Requires Improvement' school more than ever.

ginny I agree with you. But then we'd have to abolish league tables and - gasp - actually trust teachers to do their job. That wouldn't do at all. </sarcasm>

RaspberryLemonPavlova Thu 30-Jan-14 14:40:13

DS2 (Y6) is home today, he said straight away 'its not 10' then got a bit confused doubling numbers.

His school does a Level 6 lunch club to do extension work. There is no pressure as far as I can tell. DS2 loves it or I wouldn't let him do it.

I'm lucky though, I know from past experience with my older DC (both L5) that school gave them both a secure grounding in Maths and English (and in DS1s case science) and both flew in secondary. Their levels carried on going up. Interestingly the primary school at the time was 'Satisfactory' and had just missed going into special measures.

Also my chosen secondary doesn't set from SATs.

DS2 loves SPaG too. He likes rules. The secondary he will be going too is working with feeder primaries to see what they are doing with SPaG, so they can plan the Y7 curriculum (and beyond) accordingly.

MerylStrop Thu 30-Jan-14 14:44:20

"I feel the present focuss on exams sucks the lifeblood out schools. Even gifted eleven year olds need time to play and be children."

This, just this

WingsontheWind Thu 30-Jan-14 14:49:26

I totally agree with the OP. but as a teacher you are angling your head against a brick wall if you disagree. What happens when someone like Gove decides that most children should be achieving a level 6? When a level 4 as average is no longer dood enough?

Add to ths the talk of the longer school day and fewer holidays, I'm not sure i want my children in the totem anymore.

LadyInDisguise Thu 30-Jan-14 14:50:26

Well dc1 has being doing some of the level6 SATS papers and he is in Y5. As far as I know no extension program in his school, I am finding more that they haven 't been good at giving him work at the right level.
I don't think what he does is GCSE level though. Well I very much hope it isn't tbh!

I fully agree that he would have massive holes in his learning. And that extending side ways is the way to go.
Ime all this level evaluation is and should only be a way to check if a child has mastered the basics before moving a level. Not a way to evaluate the level if the child as such (ie one child could get a fantastic result with one paper but get a much lower mark with the other depending on the subjects covered. Dc1 says himself that if there is some geometry to do he isn't doing as well. Another child in Y6 who us getting excellent results will do if there is no problems with equations.

MeMySonAndI Thu 30-Jan-14 14:53:53

My son is 10 and doing level 6 maths, he has not got any extra coaching at home apart of being pestered to complete his homework. He has started having booster classes at school because he enjoys them, he was thrilled to be selected for them. I have been told that he is so thrilled with the new more complex maths that he is becoming less interested in other subjects, which is something I need to address but as his reading is also at level 6, I really don't mind if he ends up primary with a level 5 instead.

I much rather having him all being so enthusiastic about learning maths at this level than having him getting bored in class. Do I care about him achieving a level 6? Not a iota, if he doesn't he will have time to do it in secondary school. Will I be disappointed if he didn't have that opportunity? Absolutely.

LadyInDisguise Thu 30-Jan-14 14:55:05

I also think that testing and extension work are 2 different things. One is about an evaluation if the child and the school. The other us about taking a child as far as possible in developing their knowledge on maths and their reasoning.
Just not the same.

Ihatemakingpackedlunches Thu 30-Jan-14 14:56:20

My dcs (state) primary achieved 30% level 6 in maths last year. Most of it was due to private tutors (a good 20% went on to private school for year 7). The top set at the local comp is made up of high level 5s and level 6s. From what I hear, now the tutoring has stopped the level 6s at the comp are doing no better than the level 5s and in some cases have dropped a set. IMO level 6 maths is fine if you are a natural, but if over tutoring involved helps no one in the long run.

Crazeeladee Thu 30-Jan-14 14:59:11

My dd is being put forward for level 6 maths for her sats, I didn't realise it was that level of a standard! shock

HesterShaw Thu 30-Jan-14 15:03:46

I agree.

What's the point? It used to be that Level 5 was outstanding, and now we're expecting some 11 year olds to reach Y9 standard?

How far are these children supposed to go by age 14? A Levels?


timeforathink Thu 30-Jan-14 21:33:04

Just asked my 5 year old the question thinking hed go for 10 nope he said 19 , is that right mum he said , bloody hell , how did he guess that ?, smile

I disagree, OP.i have 5 children on my class who sat a baseline test in September (year six) and all got over 96%

How do I challenge these children if not differentiating appropriately into level six? Why should they sit in tedium for a year because they're bright?

Also, if they work hard for a year on level six material, why should they not get the chance to show off their hard work at the end of it?

ReallyTired Thu 30-Jan-14 23:51:28

"I disagree, OP.i have 5 children on my class who sat a baseline test in September (year six) and all got over 96%

How do I challenge these children if not differentiating appropriately into level six? Why should they sit in tedium for a year because they're bright?"

Surely you are capable of extending a more able child sideways? Acceleration is not the only way of catering for a gifted child. Mathematics is a huge subject. Prehaps a bigger issue is the quality mathematical knowledge of the teacher.

There is lots of maths that is not covered on the national curriculum at either primary or secondary level anymore like using different bases, logaritmns doing mathematical proofs, techniques for encryption, pascal's triangle, complex problem solving.

More able children can be given maths investigations or the nrich website has lots of brilliant ideas.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 31-Jan-14 01:15:37

I think the problem is that it isn't level 6. It's more logic and reasoning which is essentially extending outwards rather than upwards. Which is good and what should be happening anyway. Calling it level 6 doesn't actually make it level 6.

I think this got talked about a bit when the level 6 papers were re-introduced. From what I remember the sample/practice papers released for the first year were based on the level 6 maths content. The actual paper that year was a bit of a surprise. There was definitely a feeling amongst teachers I know that some children who were solid levels 5s had managed to pass, while a number of children who were competent at the level 6 skills and could apply them reasonably well didn't because the skills weren't tested.

Cerisier Fri 31-Jan-14 04:42:28

Secondary maths teacher here. Level 8 is roughly a GCSE grade B.

JennyDee Fri 31-Jan-14 06:46:44

One of my year 6's sat his GCSE last year. I had nothing to do with him getting A*. His maths was outstanding. I can't imagine how I would have challenged him adequately in my classroom with children being targeted to get L5.

He sat at the back of the classroom, working on his own, and got help from a secondary teacher once a week. Not sure what on earth his secondary school will do with him now but it would have felt wrong to hold him back. Interestingly, none of the pressure came from home (no tutor) or school. He just loved maths.

Thanks, OP, I am capable of that. In fact, much of level six is exactly that.
E.g. Level five requires children to order decimals to 2 do, level requires them to do it to 3. Why wouldn't I let them do this?
If they've shown they can capably investigate the area of triangles, why wouldn't I let them investigate the area of a trapezium. Etc? When you let them advance and investigate on their own, it does tend to take them into level six.
Level six is not some mythical higher level we're selfishly pushing children on to - it's a naturally extension of level five. Have you read the thread about the English teach apparently telling the girl to "dumb down" her gcse work? That's what I'd be doing if I didn't let me kids access level 6 material.

Dp, not do.

And, having re-read your OP, I can assure you that at our school we certainly don't push these children through tests with gaps in their knowledge. hmm

HesterShaw Sat 01-Feb-14 10:45:52

I had a group of bright year 6es for boosters one year...mainly boys, incidentally...and I really looked forward to their maths lessons, because I already knew they were solid level 5s, and back then there was no compulsion to put some of them through the level 6 papers. I did a lot of extended investigations and more complicated space and shape stuff. They loved it.

WingsontheWind Sat 01-Feb-14 10:56:53

Problem is that once level 6 was more for 'fun'- if the child is capable, then why not? I'm worried about the possibility that it will become expected and that children will be put in for level 6 ho are not ready just so the school can show that they are producing level 6. Not good for the children if that happens.

17leftfeet Sat 01-Feb-14 11:09:03

Dd1 got level 6 last yr in maths and had transferred seamlessly to high school

No actually that's a lie, high school maths was too easy so I had a chat with the maths teacher and now it's fine

There was no pressure in primary, no extra classes -it was just to have a go

I read her the dragon question and pretty much before I'd finished reading she's told me it was 19

My yr5 top table dd however looked at me in blind panic -she is a worker rather than a natural

I think the level 6 should be available for the dcs who have a natural talent but children shouldn't be pushed into it

tb Sat 01-Feb-14 16:29:51

In my last year at primary school, at the age of 11, I was factorising quadratic equations, solving simultaneous equations, and had to do a Latin grammar paper every Friday morning after break.

There were written exams in all subjects - English, arithmetic, algebra, geometry, French and Latin in the summer and at Christmas. There were also fortnightly orders in class where we totalled up all the marks we'd got and were arranged in descending order.

Thursday afternoon music and scripture lessons were often cancelled and we walked all over local national trust hills with the head's golden retriever - Whisky - who also sat in the classroom.

It was, however, quite a long time ago........

sittingbythepoolwithenzo Sat 01-Feb-14 16:42:10

I think that the levels should simply be a true reflection of the child's levels in class. So a "push" for level 6s in the exams is not helpful.

DS1 has a natural ability with numbers, and is in a class with two other similar (and brighter!) children. They all covered the level 5 curriculum in year 4, and this year are repeating with extension level 6 work.

They will be at level 6 next year in year 6, regardless of whether there is a level 6 test or not.

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

TeacupDrama Sat 01-Feb-14 16:59:12

I was a state primary and by 11 I could do trigonometry with sines/ cosines and quadratic equations with letters rather than numbers and used log tables to do multiplying etc as this was late 1970's and calculators not really used I used a calculator when did A level in 1986 was using pi to 2 or 3 decimal places.

in last year of primary maths was mostly figuring it out for yourself working out height of trees from angles etc, the teacher was excellent at maths but expected us to work out which calculations to do as well as actually doing them

got to senior school in top set of 8 did nothing new for 2 years and got told that pi was 3 as 3.14 was too complicated though I behaved at school I deeply resented being kept back for 2 years instead of being taught new stuff, many others in class did misbehave as sooo bored

I do not think children should be stopped progressing but neither should the able ones just be taught to test they should expand both sideways and onwards,

silly rules like you can't do level 6 maths you aren't old enough or you can't read red/green/yellow or whatever books as too young is silly nonsense

the problem with reading literature is that advanced readers often have a problem getting age appropriate reading material this would not be true in maths though reading more non fiction might help

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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....

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.

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.

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.

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.

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...

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.

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.

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.

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)

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

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.

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'

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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)

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.

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