'He's dipped a bit' says the teacher. Four sublevels??

(26 Posts)
SuffolkPunch Fri 16-Nov-12 22:35:45

My DS is in year 3, and not enjoying it particularly - he is young in the year and would rather be playing football. At Parents Eve this week, his teacher told me that his writing had just been assessed at 4 sublevels below his year 2 SATs results. Now I know levels are not the be all and end all, but what does this suggest to you? I was pretty taken aback, but she kind of dropped it on me at the end of our 5 min chat, so had no chance to discuss it. Apparently his reading and maths are 'pretty much' where he was at the end of year 2, so it is just writing which has gone back so much.

My other DS had the same teacher a couple of years ago, and although they didn't do (give) levels then, I don't recall being made aware that his levels had dropped back so far on moving from Infants to Juniors.

Should I worry, or see how it pans out given it is a new school and all? Or should I be jumping up and down and asking what the hell is going wrong? WWYD?

Rudolphstolemycarrots Sun 18-Nov-12 12:51:34

My DS had very poor fine motor skills as a toddler and during infants. Cutting things up, drawing and writing were difficult. He also had no interest in doing these things!

I never pushed him to use his fine motor skills if he didn't want to but I always made sure we read together. Him reading to me and me reading to him.

Eventually over time his mental knowledge and ability did spill out on to paper. He still doesn't produce masses but he does about enough to get by. What he does produce is excellent though due to the extensive reading we have done at home.

Rudolphstolemycarrots Sun 18-Nov-12 12:46:11

Ask your DS what he finds difficult? If he being distracted by something? Is he doing his best? What can be done to make things better?

maizieD Sat 17-Nov-12 20:56:29

I see exactly what you mean...now!

racingheart Sat 17-Nov-12 20:31:49

I know - it's impossible to put into words clearly. I've tried before and been even more confusing! grin But it doesn't work unless your hands are upside down iyswim. Maybe there's a youtube of it somewhere. That would be simpler. Or maybe I'll get the DC to do one.

maizieD Sat 17-Nov-12 19:55:41

Blimey, racingheart. It took me a while to work that one outgrin

But I think I've got it now. I'll have to try it on some of my pupils.

Have you got anything that will persuade them that their heads won't fall off if they don't support them with their 'free' handswink

racingheart Sat 17-Nov-12 14:12:42

Writing probably does hurt his hand. The squeezy balls/animals do wonders for that. It's a very different set of muscles and skill from the pincer grip needed for lego. And lego has a muscle release every time you look for a new piece, whereas writing is a constant tension on the muscles, especially if he;s gripping too hard.

You can also teach him the Biggles hand stretch to relieve tension. It's quite silly and fun, so it may even catch on at school:
Make your thumbs and forefingers into touching circles. Put your third fingers on your chin, fourth fingers on your jaw line, pinkies up near the ears. The circles are now facing the sky. Lift them up until they are over the eyes, like Biggles' goggles. It gives a big stretch.

Bet you anything muscular tension has a lot to do with it.

maizieD Sat 17-Nov-12 14:11:35

If he says that writing hurts his hand then it most probably does. Have you checked his grip and the pressure he uses when he is writing. If he grips the pen/pencil very tightly and presses hard it will definitely hurt his hand!

Good advice already given on strengthening arm muscles. I'm not very knowledgeable in this area, but I would say that for excess pressure challenge him to see how much less pressure he can exert and still make readable marks on the page. If he is writing with a pen make sure it is one in which the ink flows very easily; a good quality gel pen is probably best.

Is he OK with spelling and putting his thoughts down on paper? The sheer effort of concentration needed if he is not very secure in these areas will lead to tension (obviously affecting his writing muscles) which will also lead to pain and tiredness when writing.

Also, does he have the paper or exercise book at the right angle when writing? It shpuld be at about 45 degrees to the left for a righthander and to the right for a lefthander. And look at his posture, too; should be fairly upright and square on to the desk or table. I've seen loads of children trying to write while practically lying across the desk; which will, of course mean that the arm can't move freely.

And another one; I've also watched loads of children trying to hold their paper or exercise book steady with the hand that they are writing with (usually supporting their head with their free hand. Goodness, their head won't fall off if they don't support it!). This clearly causes muscle tension, too.

piprabbit Sat 17-Nov-12 11:52:48

DD went through a phase when her writing really wasn't very good and didn't reflect her abilities. I suspect that she found writing very frustrating because a) she is a perfectionist and would get bogged down with spelling words instead of just cracking on and getting her ideas on to paper and b) because she had a good vocab and lots of ideas but the speed of her writing couldn't keep up with the ideas she wanted to express.

We kept practising and suddenly her writing became more fluent and lot of her frustrations disappeared - making it easier for her to write a reasonable quantity and quality.

If practising handwriting doesn't appeal, how would your DS get on with some of the craft projects that use similar skills - painting by numbers, those foil pictures which use a fine pen-like scraper to reveal the image etc.

SuffolkPunch Sat 17-Nov-12 11:44:49

Thanks for the reassurance racing heart. DS loves his football, and has good gross motor skills, His writing has always been poor as he never did colouring in type activities and only writes when he has to, so he is just less experienced I guess. School teach cursive from infants so he has never just printed. I had assumed his fine motor skills were ok though, as he is very good with lego. He does find school tiring, so asking him to practice handwriting will not go down well, though I will look into getting him a pencil grip. He says writing hurts his hand, but I am not sure if that is just an excuse!
However, writing isn't just about letter formation is it? it is about ideas, vocab, plus punctuation and spelling etc. His verbal skills are great, but his written stuff is really simplistic by comparison...

racingheart Sat 17-Nov-12 11:34:34

You could also get him some of those foam grips or ergonomic pens and pencils. Ask him if they make a difference. Check he hasn't got novelty pencil toppers on his pencils as the weight of those can make it really hard to control the pencil if you aren't really solid in letter formation skills.

Did he do cursive script at infant school? Lots of children regress if they start with printing and then move on later to cursive.

racingheart Sat 17-Nov-12 11:32:27

Don't worry, but do act. I suspect one teacher was over generous in an assessment, and this one is super-strict. And that he has dipped. I think it's very usual for some skills to drop if other skills are being developed. you say he loves footie. So maybe his gross motor skills are on the up right now and the fine motor skills have regressed a bit. It's so normal.

I get my pupils of that age to squeeze squeezy balls or animal fifty times a day (with both hands). You could also get him to mist your plants with plant sprays and to do fun arm wrestling with you. These build up the right muscles in the hands and forearms. If you think it'll help, tell him these are to build up his pop-eye writing muscles. I think a lot of children, especially boys, don't equate writing with physical strength but it really can help.

SuffolkPunch Sat 17-Nov-12 11:21:53

Thanks all.
To answer questions:
The Juniors is a separate school, but the Infants told me they met up frequently with the Juniors and did work on levelling to make sure they were comparable.
I think his SATs levels were optimistic. They were what he was capable of on a good day, but not imo what he acually produced day by day.
I have no idea what this new level was based on, as I said it was just dropped in at the end of the parents evening. It does put him well below national expectations, but he has never 'qualified' for extra support at either school (so far!).
Also should add that some other parents have told me their dc's levels have also dropped, though none as drastically as DS's. Additionally, the school was Ofsted-ed recently and dropped a rating, so teacher morale is (allegedly) low. Plus, the class DS is in is a nightmare one - loads of children with low-level behavioural issues that the teacher doesn't seem to be dealing with well by all accounts. DS is one of these children, and is very easily distracted too.
So, I need to arrange a meeting then to discuss this, rather than give it more time to settle then? DS says work at the Juniors is hard and boring and the teacher isn't very nice... NB DS1 had the same teacher in year 3, didn't like her much, but didn't have a big drop in achievement either.

Bubblenut Sat 17-Nov-12 10:34:02

Levelling is the same across KS 1 and 2.

What a 2a means in year 2 is the EXACT same as that in year 3,4,5 and 6

Bubblenut Sat 17-Nov-12 10:32:37

Teacher here! waves

To fall down 4 sub levels is not normal. There is a possibility that his current teacher or previous teacher messed up the assessment.

You need to find out if this was a 'summative' assessment or a 'teacher' assessment.

Summative means a booklet was put in front of your child with a small amount of input from the teacher and then told to crack on with it - this provides a snap shot of what the child can do at that moment - if the child is having an 'off' day then obviously his/her results will reflect that.

Teacher based assessment is what your teacher should have done to get the grade which is a result based on the work they do in the class and what the teacher knows the child can do.

If it was teacher assessed and he / she is down 4 sub levels then that is something you need tower with the teacher and SENCO immediately!! You should not have been made aware as late as parents evening!

It is not normal to drop 4 sub levels.

Feel free to PM with any other questions.

mrz Sat 17-Nov-12 10:12:19

or indeed the child's fault

mrz Sat 17-Nov-12 10:11:53

4 sub levels isn't a dip and it's unlikely to be the Y3 teacher's fault.

mrz Sat 17-Nov-12 10:11:02

There isn't a different criteria but many junior schools complain of inflated levels for pupils from infant only schools

pudding25 Sat 17-Nov-12 10:06:59

There should be no differing criteria between KS1 ans KS2. Levelling should be the same across the board so a 2a in yr 2 should the same in yr 3.

mrz Sat 17-Nov-12 09:35:36

Is it a combined primary school or separate infant/junior schools?

IDontDoIroning Sat 17-Nov-12 08:27:53

I'm lead to beleive that ks1 and ks2 levels are not the same due to differing criteria.
As a result there is often an apparent drop from ks1 to 2 which may be one or 2 sublevels which is due to this factor.

It could be he was borderline into the higher level boundary but now is just below a boundary under the ks2 criteria . This could look like a drop of 2.

You could also have had a little bit of grade inflation applied at the end of ks1 although I would only expect this to occur on marginal cases where the child was borderline.

There could also be differences in the types of work that have been assessed this term for example different writing genres.

He could be finding transition hard and that's knocked his levels. There may be a higher expectation in respect of attitude concentration chatting indeoendent working which he is finding difficult.

It should all be explainable up to a point.

However if you are concerned I think you should go back to the teacher and bottom out these issues. She should be able to explain it. If not I'd be worried.

If its a natural drop then they will be happy to elaborate and reassure you that it's normal. They should have clear targets for the end if the year and she should be able to reassure you that she will be working to achieve these.

If she has other concerns re dc's attitude application etc she should be willing to discuss with you and work with you to resolve them.

Bear in mind that in some schools the "poor " teacher gets put into yr 3 or 4 where they can do the least harm so it may be her.

Wormshuffler Sat 17-Nov-12 08:08:08

Could there be a case of the previous teacher marking too generously. Maybe a school gate conversation among his classmates parents could be useful?

yellowsubmarine53 Sat 17-Nov-12 07:12:15

I agree with caffeinated. Unless he's dropped from sometime like a 4c to 2a (in which case I'd assume the Infant's school assessments were too generous), then I'd be primarily concerned that he's working below national expectations and want to know what I could do to help him improve and also what school were doing to get him back on track.

caffeinated Fri 16-Nov-12 23:20:47

My friends ds was level 3 at the end of infants in writing ended year 3 on level 3b and has just been assessed in year 4 as a 2a and I thought that was bizarre. To have dropped 4 sub levels would put him on a level far below the expected 2b for end of year 2 so I'd be going in to see the teacher to find out what steps she was taking to help him progress.

Haystack Fri 16-Nov-12 23:09:06

We were told in a similar way that our yr3 ds had dropped two levels in English, writing being the big problem.

We put it down to his innate dislike of Literacy and the big jump in expectations that comes with yr3. His teacher has gone on a campaign of high energy encouragement with lots of positive rewards in order to over come his reticence. Seems to be helping so far in terms of effort if not quality of work, fingers crossed it continues.

He has also been referred to the SENCO who is going to work on his physical writing skills and speed. Issues with the mechanics of writing become more obvious as the amount of writing increases. She will also screen for possible literacy issues such as dyslexia.

The school have been very helpful and supportive, however, it did take me pointing out I thought it was a problem in the first place as his teacher hadn't realised his levels HAD dropped!

Go in and speak to the teacher again when they have time for a proper talk. Hopefully they will want to work with you and your ds and you can put a plan in place to support him.

madwomanintheattic Fri 16-Nov-12 22:40:21

Um, I'd be putting a rocket up his arse, personally. grin

Unless you suspect sn, he's just being a lazy toad, even allowing for over-inflation of levels in y2 and greater expectations in y3.

It's not uncommon, I don't think. Ds1 is similar, but he does have sn. Half of it is 'can't be arsed and would rather be doing something else' though. The fact that he had the ht standing beside him whilst he wrote his y2 sats might also explain why he doesn't bother when left to his own devices.

Frankly, writing out all that stuff is boring. grin particularly if you'd rather be playing football.

Does he do his homework?

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