I genuinely think DD has been put in too low a group - how can I get the teacher to see this!

(27 Posts)
averywoomummy Fri 01-Nov-13 15:04:02

Hi

Firstly I promise I am not being PFB but I really feel that my Y1 DD has been put in an ability group too low for her. She is also still on pink level reading.

Now I certainly don't think she is a genius but she is capable of much more than the school feel. For example with her reading I have been doing yellow level with her at home and she can read these books fairly easily as well as answer comprehension questions on them too. I have written this numerous times in her reading records but to no avail - they just say DD is on the right level for her!

With her spellings - she is getting the lower ability spellings and yet she gets all her spellings right every single week in her tests. I certainly feel that she would be able to do the spellings that the higher level group get.

In maths the teachers says she can count up to 30 and yet I know she can count up to 100!

I spoke to the teacher at length about this at parents evening but it was basically a stalemate where she refused to believe me that DD could do these things and says that DD is not showing this ability in school. I just feel very upset and frustrated that DD is being held back and yet I KNOW she can do more. But I can't seem to get the teacher to see this or even give her a chance to do some higher level work.

So what do I do? Should I just keep doing higher level work at home with DD (as I have been doing), should I push it with the teacher or should I take it higher and speak to the head of KS1 about it. I am just at a loss and so worried that DD has effecitvely been "labelled" as low ability and the teacher seems very blinkered as to what she can/can't achieve.

Also if my DD really is not performing at school (and yet she can at home) how on earth can I change this or help her?

redskyatnight Fri 01-Nov-13 16:07:07

Bear in mind that what a child will do 1:1 with support is not going to be the same as what they can do in a group without the same level of support. So it's quite common for a child to peform "less well" at school than at home.

RAther than approaching it from the "my child is in too low a group" tack, have you asked the teacher what DD can work on to improve?

For example, if DD is on pink level for reading, what does she need to show at school to progress to the next level? Can she genuinely do that? If she can, what is stopping her doing this at school? Does her confidence need building up? (in which case being at a lower level may help).

Re spelling - she may get all the spellings right in tests but does she spell the words correctly in her general writing? Is her phonics knowledge strong enough to support her in the higher group (my DS was in a similar position where he could easily spell the words in the lower group, but the higher group was beyond him and keeping him in the lower group was the best thing to do).

Littlefish Fri 01-Nov-13 16:40:45

I agree with redsky.

MaggieW Fri 01-Nov-13 16:51:58

What children do at home can be very different from what they do at home for a wide range of reasons. My DD achieves well in spelling tests but her practical spelling ie in writing can be terrible at times.

Your approach may be making the teacher (who's a professional at this, after all) a bit bristly so perhaps, as Redsky's suggested, find out where you can help your DD to move onwards and upwards. Don't forget the jump from reception to Y1 is quite a big one so maybe she's not found her feet yet.

itsnothingoriginal Fri 01-Nov-13 16:59:13

I agree - it can be hard to see why teachers make the decisions they do until you see what is actually required for the child to demonstrate in order to move to the next level.

I had this with my DS and genuinely couldn't understand why he had been put in lower ability groups. It wasn't until I regularly started helping out in school that I could see what was required in terms of reading comprehension, inference, spelling etc that it started to make sense!

Not saying that's what is happening for your DD but that's why it's important to be really clear with the teacher about what she is looking for. Then you can challenge it - of course - if you feel her decisions are not reflecting what your DD can do without support.

AngelinaCongleton Fri 01-Nov-13 17:02:15

We had this. School tested kids and grouped them upon ability in p1 in the second week of school. DD was bored and rolling eyes at reading book by November and reading more complicated books for fun at home. Raised with teacher, treated like crazed tiger mum, and told they don't want to push children beyond capabilities (my DD quite shy) We accepted this but by March, raised it again and we agreed to move her and she was given the 4 reading books required to catch up with next group. In our case I think my DDS natural interest in reading made her learning speed up and although I wasn't wrong initially, it helped to respect the teacher and play the game.

tiggytape Fri 01-Nov-13 17:02:26

It is true about ability at home often exceeding ability at school. Even if you think you are not helping her at all, it is likely that she (and any child) will perform at a higher level when they have 1:1 adult input plus plenty of time, peace and quiet and familiar environment to work in.
It can be very different when they are assessed on things at school and parents of children in higher sets would probably say the same - that their child is capable of even harder work at home than they show they can do at school.

Is it bothering your daughter at all or is it more you are worried she won't progress as well as she should? Do you think that shyness holds her back from being able to do these things at school?

Dancingdreamer Fri 01-Nov-13 17:02:51

I had this situation with my youngest DS with his maths group. Was in gifted and talented for maths at infants, and one of 4 selected to represent school in county maths challenge (group came first). He transferred to juniors but put in second set. Was told that there were "so many gifted children" and he was no where close to these in ability!

I debated group but teacher refused to move him. DS complained all year that work was too easy. Work in exercise books always 100% correct. Observed his maths class on open day. DS doing 7 x table work in 5 mins when rest of class doing easier tables in double the time. DS then sitting waiting for them to finish!

In end of year exams DS 3rd in year and further got non verbal reasoning score of 125 which I believe is well above national average (correct me if wrong but that was on papers given to me with results). Tell me if he was in wrong group!

Incidentally this year he is in top group. Would just prefer teachers to say if made mistake in groups and how will extend (which is clearly what school did) or why he would benefit from lower group (build confidence etc) rather than just stonewalling questions and treating you like a pushy parent.

Sorry for long post!

Dancingdreamer Fri 01-Nov-13 17:05:25

Forgot to say there were 20 children in top group - not 4 or 5!

juniper9 Fri 01-Nov-13 17:26:47

I think lots of parents don't realise how much they are guiding and supporting their children when they work with them at home. At school, teachers are looking for the children to be able to approach a problem independently and solve it using a range of skills, especially applying methods from other areas of the curriculum or earlier in the topic. These are really important skills.

Sometimes teachers do get it wrong, but from my experience, group setting is more complicated than just 'Joe Bloggs can do xyz'. It may be that you've got the teachers back up with your approach, or it may be that the teacher genuinely does not agree with you.

Some children have more confidence than others, some can apply the information from one area to another with ease, some have fast processing speeds, some have great memories etc. Your son may be very strong in one aspect but less confident in another.

Sometimes my groups are also based on which children work well together. I don't always place children in the 'correct' group if I know it will cause chaos.

I've also placed children in lower groups to help their confidence. I had a child in my class who should have been in the 2nd of 5 groups by ability, but could not handle the stress. By the end of the year they were in the 4th group which had TA or teacher support. It was purely a confidence issue which the parents wouldn't acknowledge.

kilmuir Fri 01-Nov-13 18:57:18

How often does teacher or TA hear her read, quite a difference between pink and yellow level

Summerworld Fri 01-Nov-13 19:15:26

OP, you could have written that about my DS, word for word. Unfortunately, I could do nothing to change the situation, and I tried. Numerous comments that the books are too easy for him and requests to move him up, put down the books that we read at home in his reading record, brought and showed the teacher the workbooks we have done at home etc. Even talking to the Head did not do much. In the end I just gave up and did my own stuff with my DS at home, at much higher level. In the new year, he had a new teacher and 5 weeks into the school year, she put him into the top group. To be honest, now he brings home stuff which is either the same level as I would give him or even exceeds my expectations. It is all about the teacher IMO.

missinglalaland Fri 01-Nov-13 19:46:14

I think the earlier comments about children performing best at home one on one are insightful.

That said, it makes such a difference when you have a year where the teacher really "gets" your child. Teachers are professionals, but they are only human. Of course there is a subjective element to their judgements. And, of course that's painful when the judgements are about our children and don't seem sympathetic. In my experience, some years are better than others. It often makes sense to be respectful of the teacher; not waste your energy debating him/her; and to keep doing things with your dc at home so they don't fall behind.

It's annoying that the system of education here means that children aren't given the opportunity to overachieve. If the teacher thinks the child isn't capable, the child won't be taught the information. So, no chance to exceed expectations. You get this ratcheting down effect. Or sort of a negative feedback loop: low expectations, so not taught, so doesn't learn, so doesn't perform, so expectations lowered further!

Euphemia Fri 01-Nov-13 20:00:54

In maths the teachers says she can count up to 30 and yet I know she can count up to 100!

You may be talking about different skills here. Your DD may be able to recite the numbers to 100, but the teachers probably mean that within 30 she can:

Say forward and reverse number sequences;
Count on or back from a given number;
State the number before, after, between numbers to 30;
State the number bonds to 10, 20 and 30;
Add and subtract within 30.

Can she do all if the above within 100?

If she's not showing the teacher that she can do what you claim she can do, the teacher should be taking the time to assess her 1-on-1. I had a parent write to me this week asking for her daughter to be given a reading book as she had heard that some of the class had one: a few weeks ago I had assessed this child as not able to blend yet, therefore not ready for a book. I took her aside and had her try blending again; she still can't do it so I wrote to inform the parent that she'll get a book when she's ready.

PinkPetal38 Fri 01-Nov-13 21:06:36

OP, you could have written this about my DS too. He is still on pink books, he's not great at reading but definitely doing better at home and reading a level or two higher. He's good at spellings but freaks out at school if he comes across something that looks too difficult (e.g. A book with more words in it or having to write sentences).

The school have just accepted these meltdowns and I think have labelled him as a low achiever, whereas I think it's (a) a confidence issue and (b) a 'if I can get away without doing something I'll damn well try' attitude.

As well as that he has two teachers doing a job share and I just think they've not 'got' him yet.

Meanwhile he's falling more behind, he's not being given any extra support and I'm going back to the teachers for a progress report after a 4 week period.

Summerworld Fri 01-Nov-13 21:28:25

^missinglalaland Fri 01-Nov-13 19:46:14
It's annoying that the system of education here means that children aren't given the opportunity to overachieve. If the teacher thinks the child isn't capable, the child won't be taught the information. So, no chance to exceed expectations. You get this ratcheting down effect. Or sort of a negative feedback loop: low expectations, so not taught, so doesn't learn, so doesn't perform, so expectations lowered further!^

some teachers are not afraid to challenge the child and give them tasks which will exceed their level. We have got one like that now and I am so pleased. Some things my son has been doing at school even I thought were difficult to attempt, but the teacher had the confidence!

Unfortunately, it is all down to personal judgement and the teacher's attitude, some like to play safe and not to over-challenge, some like to push the kids more.

I agree it is no use debating with the teacher, you will always be perceived as a crazed pushy parent and them as a professional who knows best. So, try and carry on doing more difficult reading/maths at home and hope next year will be different. Chances are, it will, effort always pays off!

missinglalaland Fri 01-Nov-13 22:06:59

I agree the individual teacher makes a huge difference.

I do appreciate that teachers are in a difficult position, though. The system seems to make it risky for them to be optimistic. If they "over-level" a child and don't succeed, they have a problem. Or perhaps end up stitching up the teacher next year.

I wish believing in the dc wasn't such a professional risk for them.

Disclaimer, I am not a teacher. So I may have the wrong idea here. This is just the impression I have of the whole thing after years of primary school with two kids. Our school isn't especially transparent, so I may have the wrong end of the stick.

averywoomummy Sat 02-Nov-13 07:09:32

Thanks everyone for the advice and opinions.

I think I agree that it can depend very much on the teacher which is a shame as this year DD's teacher definitely doesn't "get" her at all. The teacher is also fairly new to teaching so I feel she maybe doesn't have the courage or experience to work out which children could do with a push.

It's just frustrating as whilst I understand that there will be a difference with 1-2-1 at home work and working at school there seems to be such a massive difference with DD i.e. between pink and yellow reading level.

It is a shame that teachers don't seem to want to challenge children to over-achieve. I agree that certainly at DD's school the general theory seems to be to keep children in their comfort zone with the idea being that this increases their confidence. I can see that this will work for some children but I also feel that there are some that will just become bored and frustrated at not being able to do more. There will also be some that are happy to coast along if not challenged when actually they are capable of more.

I guess my only option really is just to do extension work at home with DD to make sure she is kept up to the same level as the rest of the class!

Periwinkle007 Sat 02-Nov-13 10:38:28

I can see both sides here

your daughter is very capable at home, she is reading yellow books, counting well etc.

at school she isn't demonstrating her ability to the teacher.

ok so you have a couple of things you can do
1 - speak to the school and ask what she needs to work on/demonstrate in order to move to a harder reading book/more spellings/harder maths etc
2 - make her do extra work at home

making her to extra work at home doesn't address the actual problem. She isn't demonstrating her ability at school. This is probably down to confidence. I would personally take the approach of sitting her down and explaining to her that you know she can do x y and z but her teacher doesn't know this yet and won't know unless she demonstrates it at school.

Yes some teachers are rubbish like in any profession but generally I do think they try to put children in the right group for them. The group getting more spellings will probably also be writing a lot more in class. If when she is sat down to write something your daughter writes only 1 or 2 sentences then she will be in a lower group than the children who are writing 3 pages with good attempts at using longer words, punctuation etc. spelling groups aren't (as far as I know) based on spelling ability, more on general writing ability.

Maths wise - I agree with some of the other posts, it does often look like children know much more than they do. working comfortably with numbers up to 30 is very different to working comfortably with numbers up to 100.

I think it is also important to remember we are only 7 weeks into the year. Work will probably start to get harder after half term and unless you genuinely know what level others in the class are working at then you can't know for sure she is in too low a group. It might well be that the groups above her are way above her and that her group will soon be stretched more. In my daughter's yr1 class there are 4 groups I think for maths and 4 for english. I know from what she tells me that there are some children comfortably writing 3-4 pages about something and that there are some on chapter books whilst others are reading levels below her younger sister. There are some who find basic maths very difficult, can count but can't 'use' the numbers and at least one boy who is probably more than capable of understanding yr2 or yr3 maths if he was given half a chance. So out of 4 groups from what she has come home and said I think the top 2 are very similar, then there is a middle one and then one where the children are finding things harder. As the top 2 groups are actually quite similar (with a couple of exceptional children within them) then there might then be quite a jump down to the next group.

octopusinastringbag Sat 02-Nov-13 10:38:35

What is her reading comprehension like? Can she answer questions about the higher level books such as "Why does Biff feel sad?" or "How do you think Biff feels?" There isn't any point being on the higher level texts if they can't understand what they are reading.

Talkinpeace Sat 02-Nov-13 16:30:06

The other really important issue is that you know nothing about the other children in the class.
The teacher may well have structured the groups so that they all pull each other up and stretch each other cooperatively ( as learning to work with others is actually the most important part of KS1 )
Letting a child race ahead in one aspect of their learning may bite back later on, so encouraging breadth as well as height comes into play.

simpson Sat 02-Nov-13 21:32:36

I also think that you have to be careful about challenging the teacher/school too much as after all your child is going to be there for a good few years.

It could be simply down to maturity (on your DCs part) and as she gets older, gains in maturity/confidence she will start to show what she can do in school.

I would simply continue to do what you are doing at home ie listening to her read books other than her school ones and follow whatever she wants to do/learn at home.

LEMisafucker Sat 02-Nov-13 21:36:21

Why does this even matter? Be happy that your child is clearly doing well. So lets face it, the teacher must be doing something right!

LaTrucha Sat 02-Nov-13 21:41:00

Your child's teacher may not have any say in the matter. I didn't have much when I was teaching five years ago. Sometimes even the HofD didn't. Orders would come down from the Head teacher to us based on SAT scores and we were allowed maybe one change if we put forward a very special case. Just something to bear in mind.

Huitre Sat 02-Nov-13 22:30:33

I have to say that, while Yellow reading books at the start of Y1 is perfectly normal, it is definitely at the lower end of the likely spectrum of attainment. Could this be why?

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