Stuck in the bottom group!

(66 Posts)
Wintermelonsoup Tue 19-Feb-13 13:15:41

Y5 DS has to stay in bottom group maths because there’s no space left in the other groups. He knows all his timestables and division tables back to front since y4 while some of the children still struggling with 3Xs and 4Xs. The problem is that a lot of the time he finds maths lessons too easy. If he finishes the tasks too early he will be given extra work to do or play computer games instead. What should I do?

wintermelonsoup Thu 21-Feb-13 12:18:16

As I was so worried about his progression in maths when he was half way in year 4 I had him assessed by the KipMcGrath centre. Even the manager of centre were surprised that he was in the bottom group. The KipM manager thought he would be at least in the middle group from thier test result. I don’t have any involvement with the school it really is hard for me to know how to proof that my ds is not getting appropriate level of learning.

ReallyTired Thu 21-Feb-13 12:56:11

Groups vary so much from school to school. Bottom group in a selective private prep school may well be working at a far higher level than the middle group in a state school on a council estate.

My son's school has six children per table, but children are given work according to their ablity. For example the top maths group has 9 children split across two tables. There are children who are seperated for social reasons even if they are at the same level academically. Maths is like a set of subject. Your son may well be strong in his tables, but poor at understanding word problems.

On the basis of a recent test the teachers know which areas of maths the children are strong in. Sometimes my son does top table work and sometimes he does easier work depending on his level of understanding of a topic.

If you are worried about your son's progress then I suggest you ask for his national curriculum levels at the end of year 3 and year 4 and now. Your child should be making two sub levels of progress a year.

indyandlara Thu 21-Feb-13 13:00:24

I'm a parent as well as a teacher so I do feel I am allowed to post here!

I, like someone else said, do not have a top table. The children do not sit beside the children in the same group as them academically. I'm not even sure how that would work to be honest as a child may be group 1 in maths but group 3 in reading. My groups are fluid. The children move up and own according to ability and progress.

I would ask for a meeting with the teacher to find out how he is doing. It is great he knows his tables but is he equally strong in other aspects if maths? How does he manage data handling for example?

Having limits on how many children in each group is a new one for me!

Ixia Thu 21-Feb-13 13:15:32

Our school also limits groups by furniture and space :/ Dd is in a yr 3/4 class, she's on the 2nd to top table for everything, only yr4s are allowed on the top table. There is only room for 6 on her table, she is the seventh and gets her books pushed off the table etc. Just fed up of this whole nonsense.

cumbrialass Thu 21-Feb-13 14:03:40

But because someone doesn't physically sit at a table doesn't mean they aren't given the work for that table. I have a large "table 3" of 12 who are working at about the same level, some sit at one table, some sit at the other, simply because I don't like large groups. Sometimes some of the children from group 3 will be given group 2 work, because they "got it" the previous day and need to move on, but I don't physically move the child, just the work they do. Sometimes children from group 4 will do group 1 work-especially in maths where ability in topics such as time or money can be very different to ability in addition and subtraction. Group 1 is often split into 1a and 1b with different work for each, Also we have different seats for maths,science, writing and reading work- children move around the classroom into different groups depending on subject and ability)

The seat/table isn't important, what is, is that the work matches the ability, a child could sit in the corridor and still have work that stretches them!

wintermelonsoup Thu 21-Feb-13 14:51:14

Thanks for all of your responses. ReallyTired – When my ds was in year 4 I was told that his data handling was good. The main problem he had was word problems. Since then I have been doing more word problem work with him at home. However by the Sept beginning of year 5 he did very well with the year 4’s questions. So from Oct I started doing the year 5 word problem book with him. From what I see from his homework with me he is rather shaky with half of the y5 word problem questions. But I kind of feel that if the word problems is his only weakness the school shouldn’t prevent him progressing further in other areas. I suppose my concern is that if he will progress enough to meet the demand for his year 7 later on.

ReallyTired Thu 21-Feb-13 14:56:44

What is your son's reading like? Sometimes children under perform across the curriculum if their reading comprehension is poor.

ipadquietly Thu 21-Feb-13 15:00:00

It sounds like your ds is getting some kind of differentiation within his maths set (i.e. 'he is given extra work to do'). If they are setting three ways, it looks like he is working at a low average for the year group. His teachers may feel he will be more confident at the top of the 3rd group, rather than at the bottom end of the 2nd group.

wintermelonsoup Thu 21-Feb-13 16:26:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cumbrialass Thu 21-Feb-13 16:41:20

What level is he working at in maths?

lljkk Thu 21-Feb-13 16:50:40

Come back OP....

wintermelonsoup Thu 21-Feb-13 18:35:48

I don't have the most up to date level but level 3c at the end of year 4.

cumbrialass Thu 21-Feb-13 19:08:22

That is below the level expected at the end of year 4 so ( obviously without knowing the grade profile of the rest of the class) top of the lowest group wouldn't be unusual. As ipadquietly says, perhaps his teacher feels he would be more confident here that at the lower end of a higher group ( although there will almost certainly be a degree of overlap between the work carried out by the top end of one group and the lower end of the next.)
The best thing to do would be to speak to the teacher along the lines of " he does appear to be finding the work too easy, is there any more that can be done within the class to push him along further" and ask whether he could work with the middle group ( or at the least on the work they do) to enable him to make the progress you feel he is capable of.

wintermelonsoup Fri 22-Feb-13 09:26:44

Thanks cumbrialass that is good advice. As I don't want that if he moved to the middle then finds it inappropriate level for him and makes him feel even worse. At the same time I am sure he needs to be more stretched in maths and also he himself wants to do more challenging work. I am not a competitive sort of parent but just want to get the balance right for my dc. However it does annoy me when my dc is not getting a fair deal or it seems to be the case. I believe in setting hard achievable targets is the way forward.

learnandsay Fri 22-Feb-13 10:04:27

If half of what is being said by various posters in this thread is even close to being true it seems as though some schools are being rubbish simply for the sake of being rubbish.

wintermelonsoup Fri 22-Feb-13 10:29:33

Sorry seeker didn’t mean to ignore you – The school has three classes per each year so the school can have upto 90 children per year as 30 per class.
The school separates each year children into top, middle and bottom groups. Each ability group is looked after by one teacher. My dc has no way of seeing or knowing what the other groups do every day because each group is put into different classroom and be taught by different teacher. I also know that the top group children are given workout books to take home as homework but not anyone in the middle or bottom groups. The weekly homework that my dc brings home is so easy it is hardly worth doing and it takes him barely a couple of minutes to complete. That is why I started to give him a few word problem questions to do every day. I’ve bought a year 5 workout book (not exactly the school one but from the same publisher). He does one page per weekend and he seems getting along okay with the book too. So it really is a mystery to me.

wintermelonsoup Fri 22-Feb-13 13:57:38

I agree with PastSellByDate in my dc's school children rarely move in or out of any ability group. Nearly all the children stay in the same ability group since beginning of year 3 and then in that group every – day, week, month, term, year. My dc and I work very hard since year 4 to hope that he will move up group in year 5 at least. The school teachers and head teacher know that he put in a lot of extra work in his maths as well. All he got are awards and being the maths teacher’s pet. We both are feeling very demoralised by it all. Since Christmas we gave up on the school. I told my dc that he has to accept to do more work with me at home instead and just forget about this moving up group nonsense for now. I have to keep reassuring him that all the extra work he does now will be worthwhile when he gets in year 7. I had meetings with his year 4 teacher several times already. However I will talk to his year 5 teacher again. Thanks ladies for your thoughts on this. Feel a little better now.

mrz Fri 22-Feb-13 14:18:36

I honestly don't understand why the groups have to be the same size

cumbrialass Fri 22-Feb-13 14:34:21

Me neither! I know you don't "do" groups at all but for those that do, tables move, chairs move and children move!

jalapeno Fri 22-Feb-13 18:48:47

I don't either. I think our school is stuck somewhere in the '80s! I wish some of you taught my children grin

wintermelonsoup Sat 23-Feb-13 22:48:29

Another query I have is that if all the children stay in the same ability group since year 3. Does it mean that each of the ability group will progress at different rate because the top group presumably will progress the fastest and middle second and the bottom will always be in the bottom. So as the years go by the ability gap between the three groups will grow bigger therefore harder for late developers to catch up. In other words the kids in the bottom group will get further and further behind?! Also if the bottom group children never get to do the more challenging questions when it comes to exam they will always find the test more difficult won’t they. The problem is that each group is in an seperate classroom and being taught differently. Am I being over paranoid. Will really appreciate some expert opinion.

mrz Sun 24-Feb-13 08:38:53

I'm afraid it does sound as if this might happen in your child's school wintermelonsoup

WoollyEyedandWittering Sun 24-Feb-13 08:50:19

If a child whizzes though their group's work in maths I would automatically give them a go on the next level up or an extension exercise (what seems to be happening with your son)
However, If this happened consistently I would give them the next group's up work every time (no matter where they were sitting).
I also move children around sometimes on their response to the main teaching input, for example time is a topic that sometimes your most 'able' students find confusing and yet those who struggle with more straight forward calculations are great at. I would therefore group the strugglers together so that myself or the TA could support them.
This is less 'formal' than the top, middle , bottom groups, could your school be doing this <fingers crossed>?!

WoollyEyedandWittering Sun 24-Feb-13 08:52:08

Oh ignore me, I've just seen your mid-thread post about them being taught in separate classes blush

ipadquietly Sun 24-Feb-13 09:07:47

We set (flexibly!) two ways for maths and I still have to differentiate widely within my set in the way woolly describes. There is an overlap between the lower and the upper set. as we follow the same curriculum policy, which means that the 'middle' children are all accessing the same thing.

Winter there will definitely be overlapping abilities between the three sets at your ds's school. I would talk to the teacher to find out how much the third group overlaps with the second and this may set your mind at rest.

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