Child repeating a year...is this usual?

(26 Posts)
Mummysaysno Wed 06-Feb-13 09:00:11

We're at an overseas school, and I'd really like to know if schools in the UK will make a child repeat a year (KS1) if they're behind.
My experience of UK (independent) schools is more that children will be asked to leave if they're not keeping up.
I would really value some up to date info on what both state and independent schools are doing...do kids have to repeat?
Thanks!!

LIZS Wed 06-Feb-13 09:07:13

No they don't , would be very exceptional.

tiggytape Wed 06-Feb-13 09:12:12

State schools - no. A child will join the correct year group for their age and, if necessary, be given additional support to help them catch up. Regardless of year group, they will be given work that is differentiated to suit their current level and help them progress.
There are very few cases where a child is kept back a year and it only happens on the advice of experts involved in the child's care - for example where the child has a recognised disability or difficulty and needs that are so severe that experts all agree it is necessary for the child to be kept back. This is exceptionally rare.

Independent Schools - It depends on the school and the parent's preference. There is much more flexibility and, if a parent supports it, the school will probably allow it without too much fuss. I don't know about being asked to leave - I think it is more the case that a child simply wouldn't get an offer in the first place at some more selective schools. Most independent schools have tests and interviews to complete before an offer is made.

Mummysaysno Wed 06-Feb-13 09:22:13

My instinct is that I don't agree with it...as if there is an underlying issue this doesn't deal with it. Plus I really think children need to be with children their age. However if this was standard practice then I could have handled it (just).
I don't see how keeping a child back helps anything other than make a child feel very very different!!
Trying not to get too angry...it's only 4 months in to the school year!!!

i don't see why it's such a problem. if a child is struggling, it surely is more damaging to their self-esteem than to keep them down a year. yes, they have to make new friends but compared to feeling out of their depth every day??

my child is struggling at school and i'm wondering what to do.

i don't get why it's so terrible to keep them back a year.

Melissakitkat Wed 06-Feb-13 09:29:51

Where I grew up in Germany it was normal for children to repeat years if they were failing in more than 2 subjects. As this was the norm there was no bullying involved and it gave children time to process the topics at their own pace and leave with good results at the end. It was seen as normal. X

Melissakitkat Wed 06-Feb-13 09:32:20

In state schools here, you can ask for your child to repeat a year. It has to be with agreement if head teacher and they might not like it as it can muck up funding but you are within your rights to get the best solution for your child and if they are struggling then sometimes this can be a good solution especially during primary. X

EarlyInTheMorning Wed 06-Feb-13 09:34:00

That was standard practice in my home country when I was growing up. Not really sure if it still is though. Horrid horrid horrid way to go about things. Basically the school detaches themselves from the fact that a child is not keeping up, and instead of providing extra support they just leave them behind to go through the same stuff all over again but this time without their peers. The stigma attached to this situation as far as their schoolmates are concerned marks them as 'stupid' for the rest of their time at that school. The child that is left behind will see the other kids they started with progressing ahead whilst they'll be left with 'the little ones'. In most cases this doesn't work when all the kid needs is some dedicated support. I can see how this may work is some other more complicated cases though.

Scootee Wed 06-Feb-13 09:36:03

In the uk:

A state school will keep the child in their correct academic year and put additional support in place for them. I have a friend who had this for her ds.

A private school may choose to do the same as a state school. I have a friend who had this for her dd.

Or a private school may have the child repeat the year and stay "down a year". Again, know someone who has this.

Or the private school may ask the child to leave. Would think more usual for an older child, not seen this happen myself.

Or the private school may let the child struggle in their correct year group with no help to nudge the parents into removing them. (Nasty!). Seen this scenario on mumsnet.

tiggytape Wed 06-Feb-13 09:36:09

Mummysayno - Why are you angry? Is your child being made to repeat a year?
The usual practice is that this does not happen in state schools so it is not something you are likely to encounter. Even children who speak no English or have recognised additional needs get put into the correct class for their age.

claude - No child should be out of their depth everyday. Age is only one factor affecting current ability.
In any class there will be children at vastly different academic levels even if those children are exactly the same age. There will be children working 2 or 3 years ahead of the norm with no trouble and children who have yet to acquire even very basic skills. All teachers must cater for all levels not just set work aimed at the expected level for an age group.
If your child is struggling, have the school recognised this? What extra support is being offered? Is the teacher setting appropriate levels of work within the class?

Mummysaysno Wed 06-Feb-13 09:40:12

Interesting viewpoints on positive side...for me I would rather have kids with kids their age for all the friendship social side of it, and have the support needed. Plus if there is a reason why, then that needs to be looked in to, and help put in place.
If it was happening to three or so children per class then this would make it more normal and not make the child feel like there is something wrong with them.
But positive thoughts on it help, as if we have no choice then being able to see what's good about it help!
One thing does concern me is if this happens, then we return to UK, how will that work...either they join a class with kids a year younger if it's not happening, or they have to join the year they should be, and are behind and feel totally at sea!
Or do I need to take a step back and exhale!

CoffeeandDunkingBiscuits Wed 06-Feb-13 09:42:16

In our school there are two children who have been kept back a year. Both stayed in reception whilst the rest of the class went to year one. One was this academic year and one was last academic year. So it does happen if necessary. (State school)

jkklpu Wed 06-Feb-13 09:46:45

Are you in France or Portugal? I know they do it there. Last year I met the mother of 2 boys 18mths apart in age in Portugal. They are both in a small village school and her elder boy was about to start his second repetition of a year and would be in the same class as his younger brother. Really awful for all of them. But the school had no additional resources to support the elder boy.

FossilMum Wed 06-Feb-13 09:59:57

A positive perspective on changing year groups: when I was 9 and changed school systems when we moved to Canada, I found the work really easy and after a few months the school suggested moving me up a year. I was a lot happier in the next year group up: not only was it more interesting, but for some reason I immediately got on better with the new group of children.

When I was 10 I had a friend who was really struggling at school, and at the end of the year the school decided to hold her back a year as they did not feel she was yet ready for high school. She was initially very shocked and upset by the decision, but when I spoke to her a few months into the new year she was really happy, as she finally felt on top of things and "near the top of the class, instead of always at the bottom", feeling hopelessly lost and left behind. When she started high school the next year she again said that staying back that one year had definitely helped her, as she would not have been ready for high school the previous year.

So it can be a very positive thing, at least in some cases. After all, there is almost a 1-year difference in age within one year group anyway - though it might be harder if the child was already at the far extreme of their usual year group. I imagine it would be easier if seen as normal for the local system, or if the child can use the difference in systems between countries as an 'excuse' for being in a different year group from usual if they face any possible teasing.

Mummysaysno Wed 06-Feb-13 10:01:43

No not in Portugal, but interesting to read. I have more than one child and have experience of the full range of academic ability, so feel like i've experienced a wide range of issues, but didn't see this coming. Where we came from in London children would be asked to leave school if they were struggling, and obviously that is very very hurtful.
My mummy instinct agrees with the poster who talked about the child being stigmatized by being kept back...ultimately that is my fear, and with that comes anger in that protective way we have for our children.
As a mum I just want my children to be happy and accepted and confident. How this happens with children who struggle academically isn't straightforward and I don't have the answer...

tiggytape Wed 06-Feb-13 10:03:47

Mummysayno - It won't happen and it is true you have no choice about this. Your DC will not be put in a younger year group. If it is a state school they will definitely go in the correct class for their age.
The only times it happens is when children have significant learning disabilities and are under the care of experts who insist the child is kept back a year. Those cases are very rare and it is not the school's decision to hold a child back - it has to come from an expert who insists that it is the only option because no amount of support will allow the child to stay with their peers.
It is not done because a child is a bit behind (or even a lot behind!).
Even children who do not speak a word of English or who need 1:1 support go into the correct class for their age.

As to feeling at sea: There will be some children in the new class who are streets ahead and some who are at the same level and probably some who are much further behind. The teacher will target the work to make sure it is challenging but not impossible for your DC and give extra help if needed. In any given class there can be a 5 year gap (or more) between the level of the highest ability and the level of the lowest ability children.

deXavia South Korea Wed 06-Feb-13 10:10:43

Hello Mummysaysno (Seorae Maeul from many NCs ago!) I think with international schools you have to also watch when they do their cut offs. So some run Jan to Dec but others run like the UK Sept to August. So I find that kids can seem a year ahead or behind the UK system. Then when they 'go home' it can be either a easy landing or they are suddenly plonked into a higher year. DS is in the 'right' year for the UK but deemed to be repeating where we are. However it is absolutely the best thing we ever did and is the right decision for him.

But the international schools abroad tend to be quite shocking in terms of extra support - however there are some good out of school options and I have found its very dependent on the teacher / head as to what you get. Back in the UK I guess it comes down to local authorities and how easy it is to access help.

JoInScotland Wed 06-Feb-13 10:11:10

Are you in America? This was standard when I went to primary school there in the 70s and 80s. It was for children who were really struggling with the work. I think they have better strategies now, more help for children who need it, but of course that costs money and perhaps your children's school does not have it?

The trouble with keeping children back is that they become physically different from their classmates. I was a tiny 6 year old in first grade, and John who had repeated first grade more than once was 9 and huge - used to chase me on the way home, hit and kick me. He really needed more help than being kept back repeatedly, but it was 1979....

EarlyInTheMorning Wed 06-Feb-13 10:12:54

Mummysaysno, the circumstances for every child are different so your DC won't necessarily have a bad experience. I feel bad that I have painted such a negative picture but this truly is the way it was back then. The kids made to repeat a year wouldn't necessarily be young for their year group, quite often in fact they were old for the year group and had different issues altogether.

Quite often, making them repeat a year resulted in them being 2 years older than the other kids. Things would only get worse for all involved from that point onwards, as the older kids would get even more bored and disengaged than they were initially.

My last year of primary school I was a 13 year old girl (standard in my country - secondary starts at 14 yo). There were boys in my class who were 15 years old. This was not good.

Portofino Wed 06-Feb-13 10:13:28

They do this in Belgium - it is very common. Dd's friend was really struggling with maths despite extra tutoring and they decided to get her to repeat the year. She is not stigmatised by it, and has caught up.

Mummysaysno Wed 06-Feb-13 11:12:21

Thanks everyone...all pros and cons raised useful!

weegiemum Argentina Wed 06-Feb-13 11:25:06

I looked into this as we (briefly) contemplated moving to London from Scotland. I've 3 dc - dd1 is 13 (today!) and in s1 (y7)' ds was 11 this week and is in p6 (y5) and dd2 is 9 in p5 (y4). I phoned the educationoffice in the borough we though of moving to and was told that they had to go into the year appropriate to their age, even though dd1 and ds hadn't started school till they were 5 and a half! They also said there couldn't be any english language support for them, even though they're native Gaelic speakers and didn't start reading in English till age 8.
We decided to stay in Scotland, and this was a large part of it. There isn't a "UK" education system.

Galaxymum Wed 06-Feb-13 16:15:40

A very useful thread and interedting pros and cons. We have this dilemma currently as the school has suggested keeping DD in year 2 when her peers move up in Sept. The issues are it's mixed classes with larger year 4 next year. Also DD hss HFA and this has held back her achievements. Socially she is more on a par with year below but it feels a huge decision.

I do wonder if it is just covering up the school.aren't supporting her effectively.

VanCampsPorknBeans Wed 06-Feb-13 22:08:09

My dd is now "repeating" y3. DD was born 27 Dec 2004, but has been a grade level ahead because we were living in France, where the cutoff is 31 Dec. I knew from the moment dd enter school, that it wasn't right. That dd was more equally yolked with the children a grade lower. There was no convincing the French local school authorities of that. So when we relocated to England, we put dd in private school and asked them to put her in her correct grade. DD is thriving. Being the least mature (physically, mentally, emotionally) in the class was really doing dd'd head-in. She was losing confidence in herself - always coming in last or near last in all areas of school life.

Mummysaysno Thu 07-Feb-13 00:59:19

I've been really interested in so many different outlooks and experiences here. I would worry that if there was an underlying problem (in our situation) keeping a child back won't solve it, and then if it keeps happening then the age difference just grows and grows...however, that is me catastrophising as clearly if my child was still struggling, we would seek an assessment from an educational psychologist, to look in to reasons why, to make sure we had access to the right support.
However, I don't want to rush in to doing this now, as I can't work out if my child is just a normal energetic young thing who is far more interested in other things than learning, which could just be age appropriate!
I do however feel better about the whole thing thanks to everyone's replies, as at least I don't feel like we're the only ones!!wink

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