Why don't some teachers like to tell parents how their Dc is doing compared to classmates?

(141 Posts)
forgottenpassword Sun 10-Feb-13 08:29:31

Just wondered really. Is there a difference between practices in private and state on this? Ps not asking from position where answer is likely to be "top of the class".

Unacceptable Sun 10-Feb-13 11:57:07

You can support your child without knowing where they are in relation to others.

Help them to accept that everyone learns different things on different levels and encourage confidence in themselves and their own abilities regardless of how others are doing.

My DD often compares herself to classmates. I always tell her I'm not really interested in anyone else and want to hear her read or she what she can do and lavish her with attention and praise for her efforts.

The teachers can tell you how your DC are doing you really don't need the comparison

seeker Sun 10-Feb-13 12:27:36

I'm really sorry, nametqkenagain- I just don't understand your last post. In every case I have ever heard of, kids are given actual predicted GCSE grades. Did that not happen in your child's case?

sicutlilium Sun 10-Feb-13 12:36:10

At my sons' prep school at the end of Y5 -Y8 parents are given, for each subject, their child's exam score, the average score and the quartile their child's score puts them in.

tiggytape Sun 10-Feb-13 12:42:42

Many children are curious to know where they are placed in their class so in secondary school (where the children are the ones who are informed as much as the parents) the test results are common knowledge within about 20 minutes! As are their current and predicted nc levels, the grade they received for their science project, the content of their school reports and whether they got picked for various teams or not! Nothing is secret at all - I can probably tell you the predicted GCSE grades of virtually half the children in DS's class and they're only 11!

At primary it is too much the other way and can be detrimental. Vague assurances that all is fine is not enough for most parents yet is all many get until the Year 2 SATS are complete (we certainly did. And then again all through Year 4 and 5 when in fact things had slipped but were still above average so still deemed 'fine')

Whilst an excel spreadsheet detailing every other class member would welcomed by some, I am not advocating that either but a child's confidence is so often affected by their relative ability to their peers, it is useful for parents to know to roughly where their child sits and whether they are slipping back at certain times.
They can also counter false boasting (child thinks he must be bottom of the class because all other 29 say they are top!) or unnecessary worrying (child thinks he is way behind because all the others boast they have a reading age of 14!). The parents that go into help generally know the definitions of the ability groups which other parents aren't formally told - which adds fuel to the paranoia and parents worry unnecessarily because they feel they are being kept in the dark. Teachers vastly underestimate the lengths other parents go to in order to find out the information they want and the amount of speculation and discussion that goes on. It is not good for anyone.

I think cold, hard stats would help - such as they offer in private schools: a child's level in each subject is given alongside national expectation in each subject for that age and class average or median level. That way parents can see that it is a high achieving class so they need not worry or can see that their child is on track and reassure them that everyone else is boasting lying about their levels. Most parents just want to know the bare outline of how things stand and not feel fobbed off.

basildonbond Sun 10-Feb-13 12:42:55

In ds2's end of year report for each subject we got told his exam/assessment scores, the average score for his class (top set of partially selective comp so expected to be reasonably high) and the average score across the year. We also got told whether or not they'd met their targets for the end of the year.

MerryMarigold Sun 10-Feb-13 14:10:27

seeker, making progress is one thing. Making the progress as fast as others are is another. You can be making progress, but the gap getting wider and wider. Again, I don't think progress is hugely helpful unless you know how quickly the progress SHOULD be happening. It would have to be a very naff school or a massive special need for NO progress.

Mominatrix Sun 10-Feb-13 14:22:33

In my son's pre-prep, I had always known what position my elder son held in the class. It was very helpful as it allowed us to gauge which schools to target for prep-school entrance. It would have completely unhelpful to compare to the national average as the vast majority of the class was at or above the national average The prep-school scene in London is fiercely competitive and if one's child is not in the top quarter, it really does not make sense to look into the most competitive preps.

At his prep, they only give an indication of average, below or above average in the class.

Schmedz Sun 10-Feb-13 15:21:18

Teachers don't discuss other children's results with parents because they are NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS! <takes deep breath> I would be furious if any teacher discussed how much better/worse my child was than someone else's in test performances and as a teacher myself I completely respect the individual child's right to privacy..if they want to share their results with their peers that is their choic, but I refuse to make that choice for them.

Schmedz Sun 10-Feb-13 15:25:16

Take it a term/year at a time and every time you think about the fact that you could have a holiday/get a car/improve your home or actually move to a big enough house etc... with all the money you would save on school fees if they went to a state school, just remember what you are buying and why you chose private in the first place. And if along the way you are not happy with the choice, change it!

Schmedz Sun 10-Feb-13 15:26:55

Oops...somehow posted the last one in the wrong thread! Supposed to be in another one to do with paying private school fees for the next 12 years!

Chandon Sun 10-Feb-13 18:39:43

Schmedz, I would never ask for Johny's grades, or Matilda's grades or any individual kids' grades.

However, if the teacher had told me that he scored 15 out of 100 for litacy, and most kids were in the 50-80 bracket, that would have really helped.

Do you see what I mean?

brandis Sun 10-Feb-13 19:50:23

I would agree with Chandon. DS's school's KS1 results look great so it is safe to assume that pretty much all children in his class are above the national average. That's the reason why a more concrete indication is required. I am able and willing to help him so if, for example, his handwriting looks noticeable less neat that of many others I don't see why I should settle for "he is doing fine" rather than getting him to do some extra practice at home.

In our case, DS is bilingual so I sense the expectations of him at school maybe a bit lower. FWIW, I don't think this should be the case - so knowing how native English children are doing (without calling any names, obviously) would be very helpful.

Schmedz Sun 10-Feb-13 20:02:15

I don't believe you can help your child develop any better skills by knowing how his or her performance relates to others in their cohort (or even nationally). If they are scoring low in literacy there are obviously specific issues which need addressing to improve, regardless of whether this is average/above or below for the class. Children develop at different rates, so no amount of worrying about how they compare to others is going to change their ability to learn at that stage in their development. Knowing what needs attention and development at ANY ability level is what is important and is a practical step you can take to help develop the skills they need.
If a teacher refuses to identify any weaknesses which need support, that is a different matter!

Schmedz Sun 10-Feb-13 20:03:49

And PS Chandon, you are obviously a lot more restrained than some of the parents with whom I deal who want to know EXACTLY how Johnny or Matilda are performing!

nametakenagain Sun 10-Feb-13 20:07:52

Seeker - he was not given predicted gcse grades until mid gcse, which I imagine is usual. Until then, the reports (which showed him achieving what the teachers expected) gave the impression to his parents he was doing well, and they assumed A levels and University were the natural progression.

I am not suggesting rank in class is useful but I think his case is an example of parents needing a bit of context on his expected grades a lot earlier.

bamboostalks Sun 10-Feb-13 20:13:35

It truly never fails to amaze me how interested folk are in the progress and achievements of other children which is essentially what this is about.

BelindaCarlisle Sun 10-Feb-13 20:14:53

I'll tell you why OP.
Son was g and t at primary. Top of class. Went to secondary grammar. Us lower middle.

That alone shows how pointless it is.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 10-Feb-13 20:35:06

It's not usual at all to only be given a target mid GCSE. Targets in core subjects at least are based on KS2 results, so will be fixed from that point on. Projected grades maybe, but if I were given just a comment on whether my child was working above, at or below target, I would be asking what the target was. I do realise that I am clued in to education. However, I am surprised that schools get away with giving inadequate information.

nametakenagain Sun 10-Feb-13 21:19:46

Tfm- I think your response to questioning the target is the right one, but you can see why many a parent might simply think " oh that looks complicated, I'm not sure I fully understand, but it looks okay, if he's on target".

Perhaps this is uncommon, and most schools are much clearer with parents about their children's potential and achievements. I'm not in a position to comment.

tiggytape Sun 10-Feb-13 22:08:39

Even if they can do nothing about it immediately, parents do appreciate reassurance and context about what is O.K - look at virtually any thread on MN and you'll see this is true.

So if your child fails the Yr1 literacy test, for example, yet you aren't told the precise score, the cut-off mark for a pass or how many other children also failed you could easily become very anxious about it.
That's just one example but it is a new area where schools were given leniency about how to report the results to parents.
Some did a pass/fail and nothing more.
Some did a pass/fail plus score and explained how close the child was to the cut-off score.
Some schools did reassure parents further and give scores and cut-offs and also let parents know that a small (or sometimes larger) percentage of the class has failed. Reassurance was given that this was going to be addressed. It was explained that some children who generally had good grasp of phonics had failed because the teacher has to take the first answer given or some children could not cope with the concept of 'made-up' words and tried to over rationalise things to form a proper word instead......

As a parent, you don't want to know that Johnny totally bombed his literacy test or that Matilda got full marks but some sort of context eg 'your son failed by 2 marks, but only on made-up words, and so did half the class' is actually helpful. Not helpful in terms of immediately rectifying reasons for failing but helpful in reassuring parents that this is not completely abnormal and cause for great alarm.

Dromedary Sun 10-Feb-13 22:27:35

In my DC's state primary school her teacher told me that she was a long way ahead of the rest of the class (comparison).
In my other DC's private school the school report tells you where they come in the class in each exam, and overall. I was also told by the art teacher that DC was doing well in art, and she demonstrated this by showing me drawings by several members of the class, and pointing out how my DC's drawing was better than theirs. This was useful, as I am not artistic and didn't get what she was talking about.
In my nephew's grammar school they put up class results in order of achievement in the form room, in order to spur them on.

So it's possible to find comparisons being made in all sectors! To be honest, I think it is useful for parents to know this. For example, my DC is not strong at maths (natonally speaking). If she were doing well compared with the other children in her class, then I would be concerned about the school. As she is doing relatively badly in comparison with others, this tells me that at least part of the problem lies with her.

seeker Sun 10-Feb-13 22:36:46

"I'll tell you why OP.
Son was g and t at primary. Top of class. Went to secondary grammar. Us lower middle.

That alone shows how pointless it is."

seeker Sun 10-Feb-13 22:42:13

Sorry- posted too soon.

If you know what you dc's NC scores are, and hat the national average is, you know that p, even if he is G&T qt primary, once he gets to a selective secondary,he's going to be in a different cohort, so probably not top of the true any more. Whit is that pointless?

tiggytape Sun 10-Feb-13 22:58:58

G&T is actually another area where schools are choosing (or not) to tell parents about ability relative to classmates because many schools define G&T as the top % of a class not of a national expected level. It isn't such an issue as it once was but many schools do still have formal G&T provision and identify pupils as such.
Some choose to share this with parents. Some have a deliberate policy of not telling parents because it is subject to change and they fear parents will get difficult worried if their child is initially identified one year but not another or not identified at all.

Some decisions on sharing relative ability is definitely linked to fear of how parents will react rather than how helpful it would be for them to know - G&T labels are usually based on class positions and again the Year 1 screening test results are much more useful if taken in context that you know only 65% of the class passed.

sashh Mon 11-Feb-13 02:15:46

I think that the position of a child within their class is of huge relevance. Let's take year 2 - the children in the class have received 2.5 yrs worth of identical education so far. The child at the bottom of the class has a problem IMO.

Not necessarily. What if that is the only bright child in a class of geniuses?

Also what makes you think their education is identical? Teachers should and do differentiate work.

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