Throwing everything at Y6?

(39 Posts)
PastSellByDate Thu 05-Dec-13 16:40:49

Hello there:

Gradually it is coming out to us Y6 parents (one class of 30 pupils) that in fact this year there are two teachers (the class is split into at least 2 groups, often in separate rooms) and two TAs. We also understand that the Deputy Head is also coming in and helping with teaching (other teachers still in attendance but dividing class into 3 groups).

Is this normal for Y6? Does your school do this as well?

Those of you who know me will know I've been saying for years our school doesn't do enough - I'm trying very hard not to see this as the school throwing everything at Y6 after their dreadful 62% combined English /Maths at KS2 SATs last year.

If this strikes you as fairly standard, please do let me know. I'll feel much better.

RosemaryandThyme Thu 05-Dec-13 17:00:36

Our school are doing lots more maths with y6 - 90 min morning lesson, plus 2.5hr weekly headmaster lesson plus 30 mins 1:1 child maths each afternoon, it may be a bit late in the day but I think better late than never.

columngollum Thu 05-Dec-13 17:05:28

How is it possible to do a 1:1 30mins with each child each afternoon? I wouldn't have thought there were enough people and not enough time. For 30 pupils that's 15 man hours per day?

spanieleyes Thu 05-Dec-13 17:20:20

Well, it's not standard, but then 62% combined isn't standard either! The school has to do something to raise results and unfortunately they have to start with year 6 because that's the year where the school is most heavily judged. They HAVE to get the results up before next year or all hell will let loose!
Obviously in an ideal world, the school wouldn't have to do this, children would progress in a nice neat line over the years and every year children would make the necessary progress. Unfortunately, life isn't like this and, especially in a school that is coasting/falling behind the onus is on the year 6 teachers to make up any shortfall ( speaks from bitter experience here!)

SatinSandals Thu 05-Dec-13 17:25:16

It is the league tables. They need to improve the SATs results. It is a little late, but at least they are getting the attention now. It can only be good for the year 6 children.

PastSellByDate Fri 06-Dec-13 09:52:21

Thanks all who've written in -

I kind of suspected something must be up.

ReallyTired Fri 06-Dec-13 10:10:03

What you describe is very common and sad. The deputy head is often the special needs coordinator and in a healthy school would be doing small group work with SEN children throughout the school.

The school is throwing all the resources at the present year 6 because they want to avoid special measures. (And half the staff losing their jobs!)

Schools often hire teachers for the one to one tutition. At our school its only the kids on free school meals who have the luxury of one to one tutition.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Fri 06-Dec-13 10:14:45

There are incentives for schools to cheat to improve ratings in a league table.

In DS1s school when he did KS2 SATs in year 6, the head put in the room 5 'readers' for a cohort of 16. None of these DC met the criteria and 1 had sat 11+. No LA permission needed as it is done at head's discretion and assumes they will follow guidelines.

During year 6 they had a volunteer secondary maths teacher, the head, the CT and the TA.

This is not in the interests of DC. Year 6 is just about cramming for SATs. Secondaries retest due to the 'insecurity' of KS2 levels.

The 'school' as an entity rather than education has become the priority for heads and BOGs. They 'use' the attainment of privately tutored DC to 'show' what a good school they are.

PastSellByDate Fri 06-Dec-13 10:26:55

Thanks KeeponKeepingon1

Actually, a school governor is a secondary maths teacher and is coming in to do extra sessions with about 1/2 of Y5 & Y6 cohort - but it's related to a maths competition called primary maths challenge (

The governor has come in maybe 4-5 times this term and really worked on building skills with word problems (which is a great weakness with DD1 and most of her classmates from what I understand from DD1). DD1 says it's been really good - so on that level I'm grateful.

Yes, I begin to see this as a concerted campaign to ensure this cohort does well on SATs (because previous 2011/2012 result is poor & no info on 2012/2013 cohort yet).

Have to admit I hadn't twigged the school was going 'all out' with Y6 until I heard about the second teacher (surprised to learn from DD1 I needed one more of something when getting things together for making presents for teachers - hadn't realised there were 2 Y6 teachers for the one class).

SatinSandals Fri 06-Dec-13 10:36:43

Most schools do it. They get money specifically to do it! Until they abolish league tables they will continue. Some employ extra teachers, some pay it to existing teachers to do extra classes before or after school. They have been doing it for years. My 24 yr old had extra classes in year 6-after school. (maybe OP's school have low results because they have never done it in the past)

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Fri 06-Dec-13 10:38:29

DfE will have stats for 2012/13.

If the school track progress, they will target DC who don't make expected progress of 2 levels (12 NCP) or not at level 4.

These DC usually have needs that have not been supported in previous years and schools cram in year 6. DS1s complete lack of progress (3c from year 2 end to year 5 end) was only targeted when it was a (visible to ofsted) problem to the school, not DS1.

Totallyunited Fri 06-Dec-13 10:49:50

Happening in our school at the moment. The school has performed particularly badly over the last few years based on the middle class tutored cohort and the LEA are currently on them like a ton of bricks and have all but said that unless results pick up ASAP their next ofsted will take them from good to special measures. Personally, although I suspect that the current year 6 will get good SATS results I feel it's completely at the detriment of any kind of interesting work,there is nothing to enhance their learning experience and makes their final year at school a round of tests and preparation all so that the stats look good. It's a sad state of affairs.

PastSellByDate Fri 06-Dec-13 11:13:18

Hi SatinSandals:

Not totally sure what was done in the past - this is my first DC in Y6. I know that they bought in SAT practice books for Y6 two years ago when DD's friend's older sister was in Y6, but unsure about the extra teacher thing.

Thus my feeling that this kind of looks worrying. But maybe our school is late to realise they could do this when faced with a crisis.

Hi KeeponKeepingon1

2012/2013 not published yet by DfE but will be later this month (school performance table data by school). General info is available nationally. School has opted not to communicate last years result to wider school via newsletter (as they have done in the past). Silence started year of 62% (2011/2012) - prior to that they would report. But we went from a school regularly scoring 90%s to somewhere in the 80%s to a 74% and then our 62% so I think they opted to stop publishing results in the newsletter and on the website.

Hi Totallyunited:

Absolutely agree it would have been preferable if they had steadily worked to raise achievement through Y3 - Y5 - rather than this last ditch effort.

Interesting comment on middle class tutored cohort - DD1 is part of a group of 12 pupils who went for it (most of us home tutoring rather than paying for a tutor - maybe 4 will get in, sadly not DD1) but nonetheless I fear we probably fit that ambitious (academically) middle class stereotype. I hadn't realised that OFSTED tracked that in any way - although I've known for years from other old hands at the school, that the feeling was that the school hugely benefited from parents DIY tutoring/ or paying for tutors to prep kids for 11+ (very competitive here - only 1 in 7 get a place). It made them look good.

missinglalaland Fri 06-Dec-13 11:49:51

No, this seems like last minute panic.

I'd feel of two minds about it. Glad that they were finally taking some notice. Fuming that they let things drift for so long. It reminds me of the old saying, "Nothing makes a person more productive than the last minute."

I recognise your name from other education threads. Sometimes I think our dc must be at the same school! Good luck with it all!

PastSellByDate Fri 06-Dec-13 12:18:22

Hi missinglalaland:

If your school was once a well respected primary which always got 90% of kids to NC L4 and now under a new HT in the last 5 years is doing worse and worse - then yes, I suspect we are at the same school.

Happy place. Some great kids. But they honestly spend more time on singing hymns & prayer than maths. God bless 'em.

missinglalaland Fri 06-Dec-13 16:45:59

We just came down in then league tables...

Church school...

Everyone pleased as punch, kids self satisfied, parents smug because sunshine blown up their skirts...

I bet there are a lot of schools like ours.

gleegeek Fri 06-Dec-13 18:23:16

I wish our school was doing this tbh. We've had a 'requires improvement' Ofsted recently and the school don't seem to be responding at all to it. I can see massive gaps in dd's learning which we're attempting to fill at home. She is getting spellings home which are suitable for a year 3 and she's in year 6. Very worrying... No sign of more teachers/properly targetted work etc etc, I feel we've been forgotten sad

lljkk Fri 06-Dec-13 20:22:24

I just found the most impossibly detailed report for our county.

It seems our school had a combined result of 56% a few yrs back, and they did not do what OP described. Didn't do anything different that I could tell. 2012 stat is 78%.

PiqueABoo Fri 06-Dec-13 20:40:04

" Didn't do anything different that I could tell"
You can get some significant swings in average class ability from year to year. In the county results rankings, DD's school went directly from a couple of hundred down to the top ten because of that.

spanieleyes Fri 06-Dec-13 20:55:05

I generally have 10-12 year 6 children in my class, so for SATs purposes each child counts as 8-10%. Having 2 statemented children this year will affect my results scores considerably ( although thankfully, not my points progress) and together with 2 other SA+ children who are working below L4 will take us from "above average" to " well below average" without me doing anything different!

MillyMollyMama Fri 06-Dec-13 23:30:14

OP. I think your school is poorly led. Last minute cramming is not the way to go and teaching and learning should be consistent all the way through school. This is typical of a school that is not tackling the issues it has regarding teaching and learning lower down the school, hence the panic now. Ofsted will look at progress being made by the children, not just the sats results.

Many schools do not have the Deputy Head as SENCO but often a deputy will be monitoring progress very closely with the head so it looks like they are having a year 6 frenzy to improve the situation. Have you lost the brightest children as this slide looks pretty bad? I know year groups are different, but your 2012 results were poor. What a shame these children have to be taught in this way.

Dd's school sets for numeracy and literacy throughout the school and employs extra teachers so sets are half class size on average anyway. There are lots of TA's so nothing strange about having three in each class or at least one for each set here.
What is different in y6 are the extra enrichment activities so dd was out of school all day yesterday doing activities at a university and out for half a day earlier in the week to watch a production and there has been something most weeks either in or out of school since September.
There has been no cramming for SATs, in fact I don't think they have entered dd's radar yet anyway.

Snowbility Sat 07-Dec-13 19:17:43

Our school has definitely ramped things up for the Sats and although you'd think I should be pleased I'm not - they are doing piss boring work compared to other years and I feel slightly annoyed that it has all come down to year 6 to make it all better.....rather than inspiring them it's making them feel learning is a dull, repetitive and boring task - hardly a recipe of continued academic success...but it gets the school the Sats results they need and they don't have to deal with the long or hopefully short term consequences.

teacherwith2kids Sat 07-Dec-13 21:15:13

Just for comparison, DD's school - recently made 'Outstanding', L6 percentage in reading, writing and maths way higher than national average, improving results each year - doesn't do any of this and never has.

DD - and DS 2 years ago - did some trial SATs papers at the beginning of the year. Think they may do another set sometime in the Spring term, then the real ones in the summer. A secondary maths teacher does enrichment with some of the more able mathematicians once a fortnight ... and they do the full complement of trips, topic work, art and D&T weeks etc etc. They don't set for any subjects, all teaching is mixed ability, 1 TA between the two Y6 classes, only other teacher is the PPA cover teacher who is a French and Science specialist so takes those subjects for the whole year group.

So no, not normal.

HmmAnOxfordComma Sun 08-Dec-13 17:07:24

No, not normal.

Ds's old primary had ~36 children in a mixed class of yrs 4,5 and 6.

One teacher, one TA.

No child had a private tutor.

No missing PE, drama, art, trips etc etc at all in yr 6.

Admittedly some packs of practice papers sent home over Easter with the instruction to do some of them.

High percentage of SEN children - lowish percentage FSM.

They achieved 100% L4 and 70-80% L5 for the last three years.

My sons primary did this when he was in Y6. Then they did no work at all after SATS in February, there were cycling challenges, sports challenges with special football coaches in, and between Easter and end of term, all they did was work on the school production.

It was like 6 years of learning were crammed in between September and February of Y6. School on top of the league tables, affluent area, outstanding in all areas. Y6 was divided in 3 groups. L6, L5 and L4. 1/3 of the class passed L6 for maths, the rest mostly passed L5, with a few L4. Of course, HT was very proud.

But, a lot of these children had been tutored since Y4 and planned to go into the selective independents for Y7, so the great results were not only a reflection of how good the school was, but how aspirational the parents were...


spanieleyes Sun 08-Dec-13 17:19:09

I think that's rather the point! PSBD's school doesn't have 100% L4 and 70% level 5 so are doing everything they can in an attempt to improve results. In an ideal world, they wouldn't need to. Every year group would make expected progress and the year 6 teacher would just sit there twiddling his/her thumbs grin But that isn't happening and, in an attempt to stave off even worse results next year these measures have been put in place.
Is it ideal? No, certainly not, but is it necessary? Certainly this year the school believes it is, that gives them one more year to sort every other year group out so that the poor old Year 6 teacher doesn't have this every year. Nothing has been said about missing out on art, drama, PE etc, just that the year group has been split into smaller groups with additional support, some parents pay a small fortune for small class sizes!

Snowbility Sun 08-Dec-13 22:17:08

My dd has missed out on art classes it's part of the Sats drive...all the arts stuff will be dine after the Sats exams are a
Sat - so looking at it over the year they will gave done everything needed...but looking at pre vs post Sats nothing is well balanced and in moderation.

PastSellByDate Tue 10-Dec-13 11:19:20

Thanks all for posting. Glad to hear that there are voices out there saying that this reflects poor balance in curriculum to this point.

Also pleasing to hear that this isn't everywhere - and there are some schools who've clearly made a conscious effort to get students to a good position by end Y5, so that Y6 isn't so highly skewed toward KS2 SATs prep.

nlondondad Wed 11-Dec-13 12:03:00


Most schools do NOT do it.

I think the OP should ask to discuss what is going on with the chair of governors. You see while it would be unrealistic to stop the school from "gaming" KS2 sats by throwing resources into year 6 in an attempt to avoid another year of results decline, this should only be taking place in the context of a proper school improvement plan for the longer term.

They should be looking for support from the LEA and the Diocese.

SatinSandals Wed 11-Dec-13 13:11:52

I can assure you that they DO in our LEA which comes near the top in the league of LEAs. It is a fact- I have been employed to do it for at least 10 years, I have lost count. All the schools do, it wasn't just one.

kesstrel Wed 11-Dec-13 14:43:10

It's the same at GCSE level. So much time wasted in years 7-9, when they could have been learning and practising some of the knowledge and skills they need now - particularly in English. Suddenly they are being crammed in English with vocabulary and spelling and punctuation - stuff they could have learned properly if and some effort and practice had been devoted to it in years 7-9 (not to mention before that). The errors my daughter recounts to me as being made by quite bright kids are horrifying. They are also being crammed with essay-writing techniques, something else they could have been working on from Year 7.

SatinSandals Wed 11-Dec-13 17:13:26

Unless your child needs 'boosting' you probably wouldn't know. The extra classes are only for the weak ones who might not get level 4. Some teach them after school or before school or they take out of lessons but there is either extra pay for the teachers or they employ extra teachers.

SatinSandals Wed 11-Dec-13 17:13:48

The majority don't need it.

PastSellByDate Thu 30-Jan-14 11:33:45

Hi nlondondad:

Kind of no point talking to governors - all teachers elsewhere & clearly very friendly with staff at school.

Our school will not put their improvement plan on the web (we have asked). I've been told I need to pay £50 and apply via FOI in order to see it. So glad the school respects that tax payers (including yours truly) are paying for this.

To be honest I think parents are voting with their feet. We certainly warn friends at work (University & Hospital attached to University) to avoid this option for their kids. I've ended up going part-time so that I can support learning at home.

DD1 has had a horrible run through school - all sorts of gaps. But we've just about patched her up and got her to a good point (she looks fairly confident to get L5 on SATs possibly L6 in Maths). We're basically so warn out we're just counting down until DD1 is free of school.

DD2 has had a better run - so I think the school are trying to improve things lower down the system but ?maybe they've somewhat written off poor Y6. Y4 are currently doing work DD1's class did at end of Y5 - deeply depressed DD1 to see this - she keeps asking about it. It's really upset her to realise her sister is virtually working at the same level.

PastSellByDate Tue 13-May-14 10:48:39

Hi all:

So just thought I'd update you on how school handled SATs prep over Easter break and last two weekends.

Easter Break: TES KS2 SATs spelling book sent home (15 pages)
Rising Star Achieve English/ Maths (ca. 120 pages)
Letts KS2 Success English (SPAG) - 65 pages
hand-made practice for Maths (12 pages)

so roughly 200 pages of homework over Easter with a note imploring parents to encourage their children to do a little each day.

We opted for 30 minutes a day on workbooks + DD1 carried on with her usual nightly reading. Had a few days off over the Easter weekend and with a big push on the weekend before school returned finished.

Weekend May 3/4 - DD1 was sent home with these again (uncorrected - but not an issue as I'd been through them with her - so although I can't guarantee all answers are correct, howlers were caught). She was told to review them again. And those who hadn't finished were told to do more.

Last weekend (May 10/11) sent home with a practice maths paper and another achieving L5 KS2 SATs English workbook - 80 pages (1 page instructions/ examples and a worksheet on the other page).

Now the first question I have is given the teacher didn't mark these/ didn't have time to review them - wouldn't it have been helpful to parents to have sent answers as well (maybe in a sealed envelope?) - so if our child found something tricky/ difficult - we could help them (which I did), which often is easier if you know the answer in advance. Some of this was straightforward - but there were questions - especially in English, where I wasn't totally certain & couldn't find confirmation on the web.

Second question is that a lot of this (especially the grammar worksheets) - could have been given out over Year 5 when DD1 had no English homework at all in the first term, and then only intermittent homework in Terms 2 & 3.

I hope your schools have handled this differently - but out of curiosity would love to know if you too have had tons of this kind of thing sent home over the last few weeks?

mummytime Tue 13-May-14 11:15:02

My DD was sent two booklets to look at over Easter - she did look at them a bit, because she wanted to. We were asked to do no more than about 10 minutes a day, she would have done none if she'd not wanted to, because I think holidays are time off (and SATs are for schools not children).
They did no SATs work last week, as a chance to rest before the real things.
The week before they did 'mocks" and my DD did a trial of some new testing.

I would have done no preparation with her if I'd been sent the amount of material you have been given.

gleegeek Tue 13-May-14 11:17:53

shock no nothing at all like that!

Dd came home with a crib sheet from the TA about shape vocabulary (reflection/rotation/congruence etc) and just usual homework which took about 20 minutes in total. Advice to read as much as possible and keep practising tables.

Was a bit of a shock when dd came home yesterday and said she's done the level 6 reading paper and was doing SPAG today - no extra work towards them at all.

In view of how differently each school is handling SATs I don't think they create a true impression of each school or of each individual child's ability. No wonder secondaries are tearing their hair out!

pointythings Tue 13-May-14 12:04:57

And I thought DD2's school was overdoing it... shock She got about a third of that with a request to do half an hour a day every day. We didn't, since she had already attended revision club in the first week of the Easter holidays, but she did some of the work as part of the revision club. What she did all came back marked and with helpful comments, what wasn't done did not draw any sanctions.

We started getting weekly SATs focused homework from the start of Yr6, especially the grammar ones. Since January we've been getting revision packs - 10-minute maths, 10-minute grammar and 10-minute reading comprehension so 30 minutes in all a week, nothing in addition. Practice papers once a month, extension and support groups after school but focused on learning, not endless drilling - DD2 really enjoyed them, especially reading and maths.

I thought it was all a bit full on, but compared to your school it's nothing!

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