Fed up with our school being preferential to the clever kids!

(79 Posts)
minko Mon 18-Nov-13 14:00:50

My DD is in Yr 6. She came home last Friday really demoralised by school. She has issues with dyselxia and struggles with school, though she always works hard and does her best. A few of her friends keep being repeatedly selected to go on seminars and other one day/ weekend events that they have been chosen for as they are the 'brainy kids'. It is really starting to get my goat. I complained to the teacher today and she said that the organisers ask for certain 'profiles' of the type of kids they want. Now that's all well and good for the kids chosen but it's not very inclusive! I think if opportunites are going to be offered they should pick the names out a hat and that be that. You wonder sometimes if the kids are benefitting or the profile of the school. Am I wrong to get upset about this??

exexpat Mon 18-Nov-13 14:06:29

It depends what the activities are. There are certain things that are specifically set up as extension or enrichment activities for children on gifted and talented lists, or similar; they are aimed at a particular ability level, so it wouldn't make sense just to send randomly selected children on them, who might not be able to make the most of what was on offer.

If it's that kind of thing, I would hope the school might be a bit discreet about it, rather than publicising the event and then saying only selected children can go. Or is your DD hearing about these things from friends who have been selected? In which case it is not really the school's fault.

Also, some things are competitive, so obviously the school would pick the children it thought would do best in the competition.

minko Mon 18-Nov-13 14:18:08

I appreciate what you're saying, but they need to think about the other kids in the class who feel left out. And of course they all know who's doing what.

Just doesn't make life easier when you have a kid with learning difficulties...

ReallyTired Mon 18-Nov-13 14:18:14

Not all kids are born equal and the world is unfair. A good school differentiates for children of all ablities. A child with dyscalucua would find a gifted and talent maths workshop for level 6 primary students a hellish experience.

More often or not the more able child is bunged in a corner and expected to get on with other work while the less able catch up. A child with learning difficulites often gets extra attention from the TA and teacher.

Having said that, I think that all children should have access to fun enriching events. Children should be offered learning experiences on what they can cope with rather than if they are in the arbitary top 10%.

My son was on the gifted and talented list at primary, but at secondary he is considered to be normal ablity. His secondary have a higher proportion of bright children.

mrsseed Mon 18-Nov-13 14:22:50

And from the other side, our school does so much extra for those with learning difficulties or SEN, to get the best results for them, but I have to battle for extension work for mine.

sittinginthesun Mon 18-Nov-13 14:30:11

Our recent Ofsted inspection was critical of our school for not extending the more able children - their levels and attainment are fine, but they have not been stretched apparently. A result of this is that they are looking at seminars and workshops for the more able children.

I guess it's a question of keeping them motivated. The bulk of the class work is at a whole class level, with extension work for some and additional help for others. The more able need challenging, and I guess it's good if they are mixing with other children of similar or higher abilities.

exexpat Mon 18-Nov-13 14:32:51

Are there things your DD is good at and does get involved in? Does the school offer extra-curricular activities in those areas?

My DCs are on G&T lists so have been on the odd enrichment day or competition, but DS for example is hopeless at sport, so has never been invited to join school teams, or go on away matches or rugby tours. He's also not particularly talented at music or singing, so no big choir or orchestra performances, and he can't act for toffee, so no starring roles in school drama productions. I don't feel he has been excluded from these - they are just not appropriate for him to get involved in, given his lack of talent in those areas.

gleegeek Mon 18-Nov-13 14:38:35

The only thing is, is if you have a child who is above average but not gifted. They don't seem to get chosen for anything IME. In fact we spoke to the head teacher recently about children who just seem to be invisible, and who with an appropriate push could achieve far higher/gain confidence etc but who don't get anything special to work towards or reward them for always trying hard.

ReallyTired Mon 18-Nov-13 14:39:38

I think that there is an issue in some schools in that that the top table children get chosen for EVERYTHING. (Ie. showing round parents, collecting books, playground buddy, role in play) This is plain WRONG and unfair.

However I think that complaining about enrichment events is just plain jelousy. A good school will nurture all children and give different opportunities to different children.

minko Mon 18-Nov-13 14:45:14

It might be a bit of jealousy - but really I just don't want to see my daughter so frustrated and fed up. I have to admit she has represented her school in various sporty events and I will have to remember this when I have to counsel her next!

exexpat Mon 18-Nov-13 14:45:29

Getting picked for everything isn't always an advantage. DD was one of the brightest in her yr1/2 class (so always finished work quickly), and was also sensible and mature for her age - so yes, she got to go on maths enrichment days etc, but she also always got picked to run errands for the staff, including nearly always being the one who got asked to take the boy with behavioural issues out of the class and into a different classroom. They were short of teaching assistants, but I don't think asking another 7-year-old, no matter how clever and well-behaved, to take charge of another 7-year-old, is really on.

moldingsunbeams Mon 18-Nov-13 14:46:45

OP I have a dd with learning difficulties who is also rubbish at sport, The kids who are clever and good at sport get all the praise.
I have actively sought out things out of school that kids in her class haven't thought to do and are limited numbers with waiting lists and further away so she had something special as she was so demoralised.

She said the other day headteacher thought the son shone out of the backside of the school sports stars.

mrsseed Mon 18-Nov-13 16:45:59

A more helpful reply than my earlier reply should have been that I've always thought its a parents responsibility to find what their kid is good at and encourage them in it, so they have something to shine at. whether thats a certain sport, music, art, science, maths; english, woodwork, gardening etc. Academic work shouldnt be a different category where everyone is treated the same. For mine so far its maths literacy and running. But she doesnt recognise the beat in music so thats dancing and singing out the window. Her friends make up dances, enter competitions etc she doesnt get it. So she gets competitions in maths instead. Its easier in a that her competitions are organised by school but their are exams and competitions for mist things out there.

Retropear Mon 18-Nov-13 17:40:43

Hmm I hear you.

2 of my dc go on those courses,1 doesn't(even though there is very little difference and in some areas dd is better).Said child has zero confidence and imvho our school has zero expectations regarding her.She gets really upset.

They push the top and the bottom but the middle can go hang.I think the middle kids miss out far more than other kids.My dd's maths group is huge but the top and bottom have nice cosy little groups with extra this and that.She gets nothing and as I said there are zero expectations.They want the bottom to do better so push,push,push and re the top they have to be seen to be pushing soooo the kids in the middle aren't really given the same level of attention.It stinks.If my dd was pushed as much as the other groups she'd fly.

Parents have to pay for the courses,they're not free.They are fab but I think there should be ops for all kids to go on enrichment courses away from school and school should focus on stretching all kids themselves.Tbh though I think some schools use those courses as a default ie we sent them on a course,we've done our bit.

Retropear Mon 18-Nov-13 17:42:35

Glee's word invisible is spot on.

If you're quiet,well behaved and in the middle you just merge into the background.

nooka Mon 18-Nov-13 18:03:41

My dyslexic and not always terribly well behaved ds was on the G&T program (not a term used here, but you get the picture) at primary and went to a few enrichment days, I think that there were four or five a year. We gave the children a lift to the program and they all seemed to be clever misfits really smile

dd who was top of the class, honour role student (ie straight As) was not on the program, but went to a couple of art days as that's her other bent.

Not sure how the selection procedures worked, and all the programs have disappeared now they are at high school. I think that these sort of programs are a really good idea, but I can see if you are in the middle and not particularly gifted at anything you might feel a bit left out.

Periwinkle007 Mon 18-Nov-13 19:19:08

but you could say that about so many things. my very good daughter gets upset because all the good behaviour incentive things seem targeted at naughty children so if they are good they get rewarded to try and make them want to be good again but the always good children are ignored, there is nearly always good artwork on the walls or a drawing competition so strong art pupils get picked out, those who have loud clear voices get to do speaking parts, those who are outgoing get to act (even if they aren't the best ones), those who play an instrument in school get to do music things but others might do them out of school and the school don't know, the sporty ones get to be read out in assembly and so on.

cory Tue 19-Nov-13 08:31:01

Could it be that the gifted child who gets picked for the extension workshop is the child who sits through day after day at school without ever getting classroom work that is geared to their ability? Could it be that this is the child who feels left out every day because the work is never geared to his/her ability?

Maybe you could discuss this with your daughter and ask how she would like to be stuck in a Reception class and made to work at their level day after day without learning anything new: might she not be glad if one day somebody offered her an extra day where she could work at her own level and actually feel she was learning something?

"They push the top and the bottom but the middle can go hang."

Retro, isn't the point that the middle already have the luxury of having the everyday curriculum geared towards their needs? And that consequently they are the people least likely to go hang?

disclaimer: I haven't had one of these high flyers myself so I am just using my imagination here. But I always found my own dc coped better with perceived injustices if I asked them to put themselves in other people's shoes and imagine what their lives might be like.

Theas18 Tue 19-Nov-13 08:54:11

Just saying.... like.....(LOL) as others have that the G+T kids don't always get "to do everything".... working where the curriculum isn't geared to you ( eg when year 6 is spent getting kids to level 5 and you were level 5 at the start of year 5..) isn't a good thing.

Glad to hear they are now. My kids are big, and primary was horrid for them as they were academic and it was the sporting achievements that were celebrated, the footy teams that went to treats and afternoons out etc.

School is geared to the average kids and helping them progress. There is some provision for special needs too (I know I know it isn't enough)

IndiansOnTheRailroad Tue 19-Nov-13 08:58:22

Minko So your child has represented her school in various sporting events and yet you're still complaining? My DD also in Y6 has dyspraxia. She won't be representing the school in any sporting events because she can't catch or kick a ball. She is however on the G&T list for all academic subjects and will be going on a maths G&T course tomorrow. It will be an oasis of suitable work in a desert of having to twiddle her thumbs while all lessons are targetted at the other kids in her class. She's already working at level 6 in English and maths and the school either isn't prepared or isn't willing to stretch/extend her any further, the focus is on the kids at the 3/4 and 4/5 boundaries. If any of the mothers of those kids who get all the attention and resources even though my DD has a statement (she doesn't even get the SEN support to which she is entitled because she is doing so well academically that the SENCO feels it's 'not fair' not to give her time to the kids who are struggling to achieve level 4) have an issue with DD going on the maths workshop then they can bog off, to be honest.

OP your complaint looks like jealousy pure and simple. I think maybe your DD should be taken off the sports teams to give the other kids, especially those with disabilities, a chance. That would be fair, wouldn't it.

DD1 didn't realise till secondary school that it was possible for a teacher to give her enough maths work to fill a whole lesson. She would do the work as it was being written on the board, then sit and drift off till the rest of the class had caught up. Had it not been for the original G&T scheme (NAGTY) she wouldn't now be at a top uni doing a masters in maths, and have realised that it is OK to be a bit quite a lot different to your peers.

Had there been enrichment activities at primary level, we'd all have had a much happier time, especially DD sad who was miserable for the best part of seven years.

IndiansOnTheRailroad Tue 19-Nov-13 09:12:16

Ishallwear (or can I call you Tiffany? wink ) you probably wouldn't have had a much happier time. This whole term, DD2 will have gone on 3 G&T days. Which represents 100% of the ones on offer. It might be better in different areas of the country, but I suspect not much better. The G&T programme really is a cosmetic sticking plaster.

DD2 like Dd1 before her and me back in the day has spent virtually all of her primary school days reading her own books having finished the set task in 5 minutes or so. It's not all back, obviously, she has read a ridiculous number of (decent) books and being so widely read is obviously factoring into her performance in English and helping her overcome the additional hurdles she faces due to dyspraxia. But still. I'd prefer it if she was (a) being properly extended and school or (b) getting the SEN help she needs - as she moves into secondary school her issues will be more problematic to her (we have already seen this with DD1, also dyspraxic) and she could be usefully spending the time where she has literally nothing to do but read in every lesson (especially maths) in being given help with coping mechanisms, touch typing lessons so that she can use a keyboard, etc. but she gets nothing because her SEN time is given to the kids who are struggling because that's 'fair'. sad

pointyfangs Tue 19-Nov-13 09:59:34

It's striking how differently schools handle this, and even then how quickly it changes within a school. When DD1 was at primary, provision for really able children was just those one day workshops that you pay for, with the school doing no more than signposting. DD1 enjoyed them, but it wasn't regular or frequent enough to make a difference. Her secondary is much better now than her primary was then.

However, that same primary now has extension workshops in English and maths across the piece, as well as support groups. DD2 does extension in English and Maths every week on two afternoons after school, and she loves it - it isn't just about pushing their levels up, it's about the joys of literature and numbers. I expect they still struggle to do enrichment for those in the middle though...

PastSellByDate Tue 19-Nov-13 10:02:46

Hi Minko:

I think a lot of people here are making really good points.

I try to see this whole chosen for special opportunity thing as swings and roundabouts. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. The important thing is to keep that positive attitude and take advantage of what opportunities do come your way - after all we're all dealt different and individual hands of 'cards' in life.

diplodocus Tue 19-Nov-13 10:08:26

Cory "Retro, isn't the point that the middle already have the luxury of having the everyday curriculum geared towards their needs? And that consequently they are the people least likely to go hang? "
But it means the gap between the top and the middle widens. Some of the middle could actually be fine in the top with more input and expectations. They tend to get less personal attention and their strengths and weaknesses are not recognised.
I would hope no-one would resent extra input for those struggling.

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