The Best Start in Life - Tonight ITV1

(34 Posts)
difficultpickle Thu 08-Nov-12 19:46:04

Watching this open-mouthed. 11+ teacher charging £50 an hour and she has a waiting list of 200. Really surprised.

Programme is about tutoring young children, including 3 year olds to do Kumon Maths and English. Utter madness.

difficultpickle Thu 08-Nov-12 19:47:17

One child they spoke to is doing 25 hours a week extra study for the 11+ (home and then several hours with a tutor at the weekend).

JakeBullet Thu 08-Nov-12 19:49:06

Sad isn't it? I mean okay if the child loves and wants to study as I am sure some children do. If its being forced on them though then it's dreadful.

difficultpickle Thu 08-Nov-12 19:51:32

Poor weird boy telling the interviewer that gaining intelligence is more important than having friends as his mum told him people will want to be his friend if he is intelligent. Double hmm to that.

losingtrust Thu 08-Nov-12 20:22:11

So sad for the boy after I read your post Bisjo. That is shockingly bad. How can a mother really think like that.

difficultpickle Thu 08-Nov-12 20:25:40

I feel bad that I described as weird. Of course he isn't, he is just lacking in social skills. Finland have it the best way - learn social skills first and then education. Imvho good social skills will take you further in life than a stellar academic education.

GreatAuntMaud Thu 08-Nov-12 20:32:40

They all seem like a bunch of weirdos.

difficultpickle Thu 08-Nov-12 20:42:53

Maud I agree about the parents but the children can't help how they are.

NewFerry Thu 08-Nov-12 20:45:16

However much a child loves and "wants" to study, I would seriously question any parent allowing a child to study for 25 hours a week.

GreatAuntMaud Thu 08-Nov-12 20:47:55

Of course bisjo, that goes without saying. The kids seem to be robots that fulfill the parents' needs for academic success at any cost.

difficultpickle Thu 08-Nov-12 20:51:39

I can't imagine my ds being so compliant, but I suppose they have been raised not to have a choice about anything they do.

losingtrust Thu 08-Nov-12 21:10:18

They will also be the adults who are least likely to take any risks and stay in boring jobs that give them no satisfaction so they can do the same with their kids.

honeysmummy1 Thu 08-Nov-12 22:52:29

It saddened me. Children should be able to have a childhood, fun memories. I could not believe a mother would have their child study for three hours after shool and six hours at the weekend, rediculous.
I'm all for encouraging my child to do well and excell but not sacrafising her childhood.
I have a two year old, she can count up to ten, knows her colours and is learning the alphabet and im really proud of her, but would never put her into maths and english classes at age two dont think its fair at all, she should be out at the library looking at picture books, playing in the park and learning how to socialise with other children.
The children on the program seemed like they were being kept in to study to fulfil their parents dream of having an einstien child! pfft.
what chance do these kids get to make friends. There is only so much you can learn about the world on paper.

mummov3 Fri 09-Nov-12 07:47:43

I watched the programme and was astounded at the pressure some mums put on their children. I must say though that I send my eldest to a tuition class for 1 session a week for help with reading - something I wouldn't do if he didn't like it! Since attending it has made him happier and more confident in school. I think it has actually put him under LESS pressure because he is now keeping up with the others in his class.

orangeberries Fri 09-Nov-12 08:54:01

We don't live in a grammar school area, but I have family who do and the amount of pressure put on the children is terrifying.

The government has some responsibility to stop it, in my view it shouldn't be about making the tests tutor proof, it should be about scrapping the grammars altogether or if they decide to keep them then making them available to a much larger extent so competition is a lot less fierce.

I can't believe this is being allowed to continue really.

RosemaryandThyme Fri 09-Nov-12 11:24:17

would have liked to watch this as I'd love to drill my lot more, anyone know if it is available online or going to be repeated ? thanks

hopingtodrive Fri 09-Nov-12 11:53:51

It's available on itv1 player

Hamishbear Fri 09-Nov-12 13:35:29

Interesting. A few things strike me.

First off, Maddie. When she gets to school undoubtedly she'll be on a G&T or some form of extension programme. She'll so get extra resources directed at her and won't be left to coast as she progresses through junior school. Maddie could be most of our children, if they had that input they could be doing as well academically. Many, IME, don't seem to grasp that. That boy, with the Kumon leader mother, was reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at 6 and able to grasp it. Again, many children could I believe with that level of exposure and practice. Again at school he will perhaps be on a G&T programme and so have extra resources coming his way etc. These children are likely to do very well at 7 at 11 and beyond. If they are 3b or 3a at the end of the Y2 - for example - there will undoubtedly be high expectations for 11.

Secondly, Kumon maths. It's an arithmetic tool. It means that children will usually develop speed and accuracy if not the understanding early on. This means a likelihood of top set, top table in infants and juniors. Again a increased chance of a better academic outcome. Speed and accuracy are valued early on, they're noticeable in a large setting, these children stand out and so usually these children have a head start. They will often be seen as brighter.

57% of those surveyed thought their children weren't stretched at primary school - strikes me as a lot. I do feel that children can do more than many realise. Striving for academic rigour, even when children are young, isn't always a bad thing IMO especially when the children have balanced lives and play too.

I thought it was a good point that the overly coached child often felt resentful and alienated from peers who were more intent on playing etc. Made me think perhaps, as the world is going to get much more competitive, whether this will change in the UK in time?

difficultpickle Fri 09-Nov-12 13:49:45

I'd be in the 43% who either thought their dcs were ok at primary school or not bothered if they weren't being stretched (there was no break down offered of the details).

Primary school is supposed to be about developing a love of learning with the hard work coming in secondary school. I wonder how Maddie will be at 13. Will she be eagar and enthusiastic about learning or will she spend her teenage years rebelling against the enforced learning regime she has been subjected to?

I'm also squarely in the category of no homework in primary school other than reading. Imvho the homework is more about the school showing the parents what their dcs are learning rather than actually about doing the work. I won't help ds do his homework at all but I wonder how many parents do? I will facilitate in the sense he has somewhere quiet to do it but if he doesn't know how to do it then I write in the homework diary that he didn't know how and leave it for the teacher to explain.

I can't imagine an 8 or 9 year old child doing 25 hours extra study on top of the time they spend at school. I know a few parents who do similar in terms of having their dcs coached for everything. The children are compliant but the discipline is incredibly strict - someone I know banned their dcs from watching tv for two weeks as they turned the tv on without permission. Their dcs are doing very well at school but I wonder at what cost both financially and emotionally.

Sonnet Fri 09-Nov-12 13:57:53

Just watching this on I player. The child of the kumon teacher said her son would be at A level standard for reading comprehension at year 3. confused surely a lack of maturity/life would make this impossible?

Hamishbear Fri 09-Nov-12 14:34:16

Isn't primary school also about building excellent academic foundations, developing confidence (academic and otherwise), establishing a work ethic, socialisation, making friends and having fun in the process? Having lots of fun and essentially coasting to 11 means a risk of serious underachievement later on I'd have thought. I've seen so many who don't buckle down to homework, they hate it, resent it and won't study when it starts to seriously begin around 14. Those at prep schools etc who are used to it take it in their stride. Same thing struck me with all those 'nervous' children (re: tests) they interviewed at the start. Reminded me of the countless preps I've visited where children just toss another completed test paper nonchalantly onto the pile before going out to play.

Maddie's mother said she was bright, confident and it was all coming from her. It might be she ends up with a scholarship to St Paul's Girls or similar at 11 because she's confident and been encouraged academically rather than being an outright rebel? Sometimes I think our academic expectations are woefully low. Maddie will be ahead, this can increase confidence and engagement with school you hit the ground running .

I know an awful lot who limit TV and screen time, their children have gone on to do extremely well. Of course anything taken to an extreme is unhealthy though - I thought the comments about A level standard for reading comprehension at Y3 were a bit bonkers. To be way ahead because of high expectations and exposure to books at 8 I can well believe but not to the level of a 17/18 year old. Why would you want to take a child that far in that area so fast too?

Startail Fri 09-Nov-12 14:43:01

I truly do not understand hot housing DCs to take the 11+ from age3.

Surely a few practice papers a week in year 5 are all a half way good enough child needs.

I'm certain DD2 could have got in had she wanted to, without any more than that. DD1 can get in the top 5% for NVR without ever having done more than her a few CATS papers in her life.

Unfortunately, she's dyslexic and she didn't read well enough in Y6 to think of entering her, for our very VR heavy 11+

I'd have walked the 11+ without trying (but sadly didn't live in a grammar school area).

I guess the London super selectives are so over subscribed that you basicly need 100% at break neck speed, but round here I doubt vast amounts of work push more tan a tiny no. of DCs ahead of those who are just naturally bright.

Forcing naturally bright DCs to do loads of academic work is surely wasting time they could use to learn other things and simply be children. It also risks them becoming very neurotic about exams and not having the self belief that they can do things without vast amounts of work.

losingtrust Fri 09-Nov-12 15:11:15

To anyone who really believes a child who is clever at four is going to be the same level at year 6 needs to consider that this is not necessarily true once the young ones in the year catch up which they do and often exceed because they have been chasing the pack there will be a reshuffle. Some children just level off to their rightful place. IME year 2 levels mean nothing in the long term. I am a mother of summer borns so have seen those with 2cs getting their fives in year 6 when maturity kicks in with no extra tuition just their natural brains and competitiveness shining through. All those who think kumonvis worth it consider countries like Finland where outcomes for kids are better with no homework and pressure in the early years.

Hamishbear Fri 09-Nov-12 15:25:22

The NC essentially divides the cohort up into high, middle and low ability. If you are identified as high ability more will generally be expected from you at 11.

losingtrust Fri 09-Nov-12 15:33:42

But it does not guaranty you will do better or take into account that some kids are nearly a year younger.

Hamishbear Fri 09-Nov-12 15:34:46

No, that's why I like the idea that things are apparently changing.

losingtrust Fri 09-Nov-12 15:38:19

Me too. I think it causes parents unnecessary panic and I remember this with my first.

twistywillow Sat 10-Nov-12 22:30:25

I came and found this website because it was mentioned in the Tonight program as the source for its poll results. I have no issue with that,at all, I think they are correct. I too want my children to do well, of course I do, but I also want them to be happy and grow up and enjoy life.

I do feel the program did not address the issue fully and focused on the wrong sort of parents. They were all middle class or higher with big houses cars, stay at mums who had nothing better to do each day with a high proportion of those being immigrant and asian, even though the program clearly stated that putting children through extra tuition was a very common practice in the far east and asia. And that has what do with UK education? The program failed to mention the reason its an issue here is because most of the families doing this are in fact from those regions and are immigrants or immigrant descendent. Ok I have no problem with that either, only with the implication and not the statement the program made. If they are going to cover a complex subject as education and top up tuition they need to do it properly and all aspects of life in the UK and not just cherry pick the families who actually do not represent normal families here. I mean does that mean poor people dont care about their childrens education as much as rich ones do?!

As I am not a researcher or program maker I can only comment on local area and local experiences.
My children until recently went to a very good primary school, the best in the area. We moved and so they changed schools. The difference is astonishing, but well, we knew it would be. In their old school academic genius's were held in high regard, they ignored special needs children or turned a blind eye to any issue that needed help. There was an attitude of oh we dont deal with that until next year. That followed a child through four academic years before the parents screamed loud enough and wrote to the education department when the boy was 9, suddenly the teacher became very interested at getting him tested for dyslexia and dyscalculia.
The school became one of the first academies in the area, suddenly everything is focused on big tv touch screens for reception classes and a sports stand.
My children loved their old school very much and were very happy there, my eldest is above average in the new school in everything whereas at the old one, was below. Clearly there is a disparity here. The government improvements mentioned in the program are not across the board and some schools are being left behind if they dont want to be academies. This is especially true of our new school, a small village primary affiliated to a church who doenst want to be an academy. Therefore funding has been cut and more is coming from PTAs instead.

The real issue though that the program failed to address is why so many middle class families are topping up tuition. Previously those families would have had their children in private education. Now they are saving money by putting their kids into good state schools (like our old one) and paying for tuition. Whilst I wouldnt normally have a problem with this I do know that our old school cherry picked the children it wanted and the ones they didnt ended up a different school.
We could have kept our children at this school after we moved, but personally I dont like the academy status the government is forcing out with sweeties attached, and secondly my children were being pushed, and pushed too hard to be able to read and write at 4 when clearly they werent ready for it. Unlike those oh so wonderful domestic goddesses on the program, I dont have infinate patience and when faced with 3 lots of homework to help with, plugging away night after night on the same thing when the child is tired and bored just to get the schools ofsted reports top of the tables and make the headteacher look like some sort of God worthy of an MBE doesnt inspire me and makes me question what the school is actually about.

difficultpickle Sat 10-Nov-12 22:34:14

twisty welcome. The poll was done through a different website - Netmums - which isn't the same as this one.

The programme compared different education systems so looking at how some people choose to extra tutor their dcs is completely relevant. The interviewer said these parents didn't think that UK system was good enough and those families demonstrated why (in their opinion).

blisterpack Sun 11-Nov-12 10:14:56

I think twistywillow, your point would have been better made without the stay at mums who had nothing better to do [sic] and those oh so wonderful domestic goddesses on the program digs.

ReallyTired Mon 12-Nov-12 13:28:34

I think that we have far too low expectations of our children. Countries like Finland do not put such a great emphasis on innate ablity ablity as the UK. I believe that seating children on ablity tables has an awful pychological affect on them. It can make the top table children arrogant and lazy and make the bottom table children demoviated and give up.

A big issue in Britain is low level distruption and children who need to be nagged to do anything resembling work. Children in the UK are held back by the country's mindset rather than the standard of teaching. We blame teachers rather than looking at British culture.

Singapore and Finland have very different education systems. It would be interesting to see what these two countries have in common. I suspect that both the Finns and Singaporians respect high academic achievment and believe that much is possible by sheer hard work. Even if the Finns have little homework, they work far harder in the classroom than the UK.

difficultpickle Mon 12-Nov-12 13:49:57

It would be interesting to know what the average class size is in Finland. It didn't look any smaller than UK size in the programme. I agree that we also sem to have lower standards than elsewhere and lower standards than when I was at school many years ago. I've always found it odd that exams are now, mostly, modular with the possibility of retaking umpteen times until you get the grade you need.

losingtrust Mon 12-Nov-12 15:45:33

Small class sizes are not necessarily better and research seems to be pointing to bigger classes as better.

ReallyTired Mon 12-Nov-12 15:59:18

I think that children in Finland have better self esteem. Behaviour is better and less time is wasted on dealing with low level distruption. More work gets done in lesson time in Finland than UK schools

Children in Singapore on average work a hell of a lot harder than UK kids

"Small class sizes are not necessarily better and research seems to be pointing to bigger classes as better."

Countries which pay their teachers well have high calibre teachers. Its better to have one high quality teacher teaching 30 children than two medicore teachers teaching 15 children each. It also worth looking at the impact of TAs taking children out of the classroom for one to one teaching.

I would like educational policy to be decided by research rather than tory/ labour whim.

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