The glass ceiling for very able children

(994 Posts)
var123 Thu 12-Nov-15 15:22:33

Has anyone else encountered the sense that the school is merely paying lip service to the ideals that they will challenge all children and work to bring all the children in the class to their potential?

I bumped along it a couple of days ago in a face to face conversation with one of the teacher's at my children's secondary.

He was full of buzzwords (like resilience and challenge) but there was a complete vacuum when it came to detail about how he planned to achieve that wrt to my children. In fact, he kept lapsing into telling me how my DC might help the others "by inspiring the less able".

Honestly, has there ever been a human being born into this world, who feels inspired to keep ploughing away at something due to being in the presence of someone who learned to do it without breaking stride?? People who struggle and then succeed are the inspiring ones because they make you feel like if you can do it, then maybe you can too. The ones who always find it easy and are just waiting for you to catch up so they can move on are just disheartening to contemplate.

irvine101 Thu 12-Nov-15 16:00:07

I can feel your pain var. I had chat with my ds's teacher while ago and she brought maths leader along.
They said my ds needs deepening, resilience etc. I agreed with them.
Reality is, he is given work on the corner of class room on his own, and just get on with work that he can already do it by himself. No teaching of new things or deeper problem solving etc. at all. If other children are doing multiplication, he is given 2,3 digit ones. I just think he was unlucky, that there weren't any children at his level in this school, and I understand it's difficult to cater for everyone.
This year, I already given up. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources online, and great advice from teachers on MN, I just try to do my best.

catkind Tue 17-Nov-15 09:44:38

Yes, and we've only just started - yr 2 - and DS isn't even that far ahead of the curve.

At the end of the day, they're teaching the whole class together, they're all getting the same worksheets, short of rewriting the whole teaching plan, there's nothing there.

I am feeling nostalgic for the days when they just gave us a book and let us get on with it at our own pace. Like you irvine, at some point I think we just give up and teach him at home. DS is being very patient, for him, but so much thirst for learning going to waste.

LEAIssues Tue 08-Dec-15 00:30:11

Oh, how I love those buzz word - resilience, challenge etc.

I was told school was worried about dd's attendance - how can I say that she stays home when she feels she needs stimulation and challenges?

In class and for homework, (Yr4) they are doing place values - so she got to write 273 in words... whole lines of that exercise.

On days at home she does on algebra, angles, decimals. And then goes on code.org to do some programming. We go on mystery science etc.

But of course they are the professionals, so they know better...

pooter Tue 08-Dec-15 01:00:18

Home educate? That's what we do, and it's working really well. Complete freedom to investigate whatever tickles his fancy at any time with me as facilitator rather than 'teacher'. No boredom, no busywork, friends with kids and adults of all ages. (quite a bit of parental stress though, but for the kids its wonderful)

catkind Tue 08-Dec-15 19:42:20

Noooo, DS is rolling eyes at place value already, it's still coming round in year 4???

var123 Tue 08-Dec-15 20:25:42

I might be wrong about this, but I am getting the impression that the new curriculum is:-
- slightly more challenging than the old one
- MUCH more rigid about herding the kids up together and moving them on together

I imagine that "slightly more challenging" presents teachers with an enormous headache when it comes to delivering on that with the least able

and

I think the rigidity of the new system is what both my sons (and your children too) have hit in maths this year. It doesn't matter what you can already do, you can only be extended, not progressed.

I am sure "extension work" looks like a great idea on a Whitehall white paper, or on the whiteboard on PGCE course at teaching college, but the reality on the ground is that its waaay toooo eaaasy!

Bounced Tue 08-Dec-15 20:29:57

Yup, here too.

Lovely school, lovely teacher. But sheets full of problems using column addition and subtraction with four digit numbers instead of two digit numbers is not extension, it's busywork. Luckily they do much better on non-maths subjects.

SarahSavesTheDay Tue 08-Dec-15 20:35:13

I agree with you. I have 2 G&T and their school has never even bothered to get in touch with me about it, I discovered this from their standardised test scores past and present. It's a strange middle-class charade that prevents me from having a fine-pointed conversation with the school.

If I had to do it over again, I would home ed. You'll have plenty of people telling you that you are not equipped to handle this, but what they actually mean is that you're not equipped to handle a classroom of 30 children having diverse abilities and special needs.

Stasie Tue 08-Dec-15 20:40:20

We were informed by email that the school is no longer allowed to give more able children anything harder/new once they have achieved the target for the year. I think this is the new rule.

They just have to keep repeating the same stuff they can already do quite well.

I have no idea why.

catkind Tue 08-Dec-15 22:25:12

Stasie, that's so wrong sad I have some gripes with our school but at least they admit in theory that mastery is more than lots of the same, and that mastery can be achieved and moved on from.

var123 Wed 09-Dec-15 09:21:27

I wonder if what Stasie experiences is actually a nationwide policy? The thing is you don't know what your school does until you test it. DS1 (and Ds2) achieve well in many subjects, but I don't have to ask that the teacher teaches something new (for heaven's sake!) in anything but maths.

They hit the upper part of the top set in science (for example) but the work seems to keep moving along. They DC feel like it could go a bit faster, but its not screamingly obvious that the school has set a speed limit in the way that its obvious for maths.

So, its unless a particular child or two children are set work that no one else is ready for, or they are clearly ready but the school delays teaching it for months on end, then you just wouldn't know.

(Hope that's not too convoluted?)

The question I am asking myself is how this came about? Was there a Dept of Education deal with the teaching unions along the lines of:
" We'll make your job harder by giving you harder targets that you'll struggle to get the least able to , and in compensation for the extra workload we'll stop requiring you to challenge the most able"?

BertrandRussell Wed 09-Dec-15 09:27:22

"We were informed by email that the school is no longer allowed to give more able children anything harder/new once they have achieved the target for the year. I think this is the new rule"

It's most certainly not a policy I've every heard of- did you ask them to tell you where "it is written" that they have to do that? If not, I suggest you do. I can't imagine any government actually formulating that as policy-could the school have misunderstood? I do hope I'm not wrong here.........

Artandco Wed 09-Dec-15 09:30:06

I'm not too concerned tbh. I think if you treat school as a place they can make friends, fun topics, sports and craft. Then you can just let them do the other stuff at home.

Many things are also not restricted ie story writing at school. Some can do basic basic sentences, some advanced stories, and some everywhere in between.

Mine like learning topics at school. For example castles recently, happy to learn what they do at school, then Ds comes home and looks up all the full details further through books. So he gets fun making castles and playing knights with friends, then researches how and why they were built, by who and where etc

BertrandRussell Wed 09-Dec-15 09:31:33

"'m not too concerned tbh. I think if you treat school as a place they can make friends, fun topics, sports and craft. Then you can just let them do the other stuff at home."

Yep. Fine for those with that sort of support at home.........

var123 Wed 09-Dec-15 10:22:03

I took that view at times through primary school and I see social interaction is even more important when they are teenagers. The problem is it gets harder to support and extend your children's education when they've reached the limits of your knowledge in certain areas.

About this issue, though, with different children receiving different opportunities because of what their parents give, its just the way of the world and it can't be changed (unless you gather all new born babies up and stick them in an orphanage!) So, equality of opportunity falls at the first hurdle. After that its just clumsy attempts at social engineering.

Every family is different, so it very much depends on who you are born to. What kind of parents they make, what sort of people they are, how much time they have available to spend at home, the parents interests and abilities, how interested they are in their children and what their priorities and beliefs are will obviously make a difference to the opportunities a child will be given. You can't completely level that sort of thing by sharing a teacher between 30 children and making up a bunch of policies to be applied between 9-3:15 for under 200 days each year!

SarahSavesTheDay Wed 09-Dec-15 10:47:08

I'm not too concerned tbh. I think if you treat school as a place they can make friends, fun topics, sports and craft. Then you can just let them do the other stuff at home.

Works well in the younger years, not so much in the older years as homework mounts.

irvine101 Wed 09-Dec-15 11:23:37

" Yep. Fine for those with that sort of support at home........."

But that's life isn't it?

My ds came home one day last year, and told me that he wanted to go to private school. One of his class mate was going to private next year, and she was talking about all the children were learning things 2 years ahead etc. I felt bad that I had to explain to him why he can't go. But that' life.

Artandco Wed 09-Dec-15 11:36:12

Well yes, of course it relies on parental help and encouragement. But as others said many wouldn't get that regardless of talent. It's not nice or far but that's life. I think teachers have too many children to be able to completely tailor to each child so of course they have to go for a middle ground usually

BertrandRussell Wed 09-Dec-15 11:45:23

Obviously you can't mKe a completely level playing field. And there are some kids that are so far ahead of their peers that it would be practically impossible to meet their needs in an ordinary classroom.

But most able kids aren't like that. Most could have their needs met perfectly well in an ordinary classroom, given the will and the resources. And able children without supportive parents need that (dare I say it?) more thN the ones with supportive parents.

Which I why I was so worried by stasi's post about it not being policy to do it any more and why I would really like to know more about that.

I do find it quite shocking that people are prepared to shrug and say "that's life" when the question of disadvantaged children comes up. People are quick enough to complain when there are behavioural or discipline problems in schools- but not prepared to think about ways of supporting children who have parents who, for whatever reason, can't provide that support at home.

var123 Wed 09-Dec-15 11:59:55

Yes, that's life, but I'm not shrugging.
If you want to help the disadvantaged children, then you do it by ensuring they get to school on time, in clean clothes that fit, with a decent breakfast inside them after having had a reasonable night's sleep.

If you want to help disadvantaged children's education, then that's where to direct resources.

You don't do it by ignoring those basic needs and then fiddling with the curriculum worrying about whether women are adequately recognised in history lessons.

irvine101 Wed 09-Dec-15 12:14:46

I'm not shrugging either. If you are a teacher, your pupils are lucky ones,
Bert.

mrsmortis Wed 09-Dec-15 13:33:52

I don't think it's like this everywhere. My nephew is in Y8 and is G&T in maths. His school are setting him up with a mentor at the local university to keep him engaged and moving. This is in addition to the stuff they are already doing with him around the national challenges etc. I don't know if this is just a really engaged head of maths or a school wide policy, but it's brilliant.

Ellle Wed 09-Dec-15 18:08:10

No, it's not like this everywhere. And a number of teachers in mumsnet have confirmed it (that there is no new rule or policy in the new curriculum that says that children cannot be taught ahead of their year group even if they are ready and have mastered the targets of their year group).

At DS's school he is taught content according to what he already knows and can do no matter if it is something from one or two years ahead.

This so called "new rule or policy" applies only in the schools where the wording of the new curriculum was interpreted that way (whether by mistake or convenience for the teachers) by the LEAs or teachers.

Greenleave Wed 09-Dec-15 21:31:11

I read my friend facebook today and her daughter had a school maths certificate provided by an university(They live in Australia). The University has been funding for extra lesson, tutor, mentor for able kids to go to twice after school hours and she came first among all the highly able ones in maths in 3 exams and 1 game competition. Well apparently I havent heard of such thing in uk yet.

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