Is such a lack of movement between ability tables normal in Y1?

(76 Posts)
averywoomummy Sun 08-Dec-13 19:08:06


I have written before about ability groups and my views as DC had entered Y1 on a lower table. Anyway she and I have worked very hard over the past term and she has improved massively but still no movement up for her.

The thing is there has been no movement at all amongst the class over the Autumn term which is nearly at an end now. They all started off on tables (which were apparently given by the reception teacher) then there was a bit of a shuffle round in the first couple of weeks and since then nothing (I know this because I go in to help).

I would have thought that even if the groupings were correct at first that there would be quite a lot of movement as children don't all learn in a linear fashion and that some children would suddenly grasp things whilst others might plateau etc. It would seem strange that they had all progressed in an equal fashion.

I am a bit concerned by this lack of movement especially as in DCs class there are a fixed number of children on each table so for someone to move up or down a corresponding child has to be moved too. I am wondering if this creates extra work for the teacher (and maybe unhappy parents coming in) and so they just haven't bothered to do it? Or would changing groups be something that would be done once at the start of each term?

OPeaches Sun 08-Dec-13 19:51:16

Are you sure they're sat by ability? I'm a primary teacher and would consider that bad practice.

scarlettsmummy2 Sun 08-Dec-13 19:58:07

I am interested in it being bad practice, is it no longer common to have children seated by ability? I had guessed my daughter was at the middle table but curious now that this may not be the case.

Talkinpeace Sun 08-Dec-13 20:00:09

for my dcs the shuffle was done at the start of each term
give them a chance
as you know nothing about the abilities of the other children in the class

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 20:02:04

It's not bad practice to have them sat in ability for certain subjects and activities

Talkinpeace Sun 08-Dec-13 20:04:49

I'm a primary teacher and would consider that bad practice.
glad you did not teach my DCs
differentiated learning is essential in non selective schools
"every child matters"
each table gets different support, targets, hoework etc
its a no brainer

averywoomummy Sun 08-Dec-13 20:08:12

Yes -it's definitely by ability - have confirmed with the teacher it is common practice at our school! Also they sit on their tables all the time in this class - it's not just moving to specific numeracy or literacy groups at certain times of the day.

My main worry is that it means DCs learning is effectively "capped" by the school as the bottom 2 groups do the same work and the top 3 groups do the same work so being in the bottom 2 means she is not allowed access to the same curriculum as the higher groups (i.e. they get fewer spellings each week/learn different phonics phases). As she is in group 4 I am really keen to get her into group 3 so she can learn more and achieve what she is capable of.

At the start of term I hoped that they would move quite frequently but I'm beinging to worry she will never get moved up!

ARealPickle Sun 08-Dec-13 20:09:27

Mrz is very anti set ability tables and prefers differentiating for each task I think.

cazzybabs Sun 08-Dec-13 20:11:33

I used to sit my class in ability tables so I could sit and work with a group and so could my TA. I can't comment on your child's teacher but just remember just because your child has made progress so will have everyone else ... just because you have put work into helping your child so might others...

in my class, it was no bother to move children but it didn't happen very often because children were all making progress.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 20:12:13

Children can sit in mixed ability groups and work can still be differentiated by needs Talkinpeace.

My class rarely sit in the same seat for two lessons in a row.

cazzybabs Sun 08-Dec-13 20:12:41

differentiating for each task - I would do this but they are still sat in tables

simpson Sun 08-Dec-13 20:12:54

I guess the question is do you think your DD could cope with the harder work? There is no point if its going to be too much for her atm.

DD is in yr1 and they are set in groups according to ability. No sure if there is any movement in the groups as nobody has moved yet (according to DD).

cazzybabs Sun 08-Dec-13 20:14:41

No MRZ mine don't either but they are still in groups ..I do not plan a different lesson for each child ... I probably have at least 3 different activities and more like 5

WipsGlitter Sun 08-Dec-13 20:15:31

My child's teacher sits them in ability groups. I'm not sure how I feel,about it to be honest. I feel she's decided what he's capable of and no matter how hard he worked he'd still be in the lowest group. I'll be interested to see if there any movement in the new year.

OldRoan Sun 08-Dec-13 20:16:12

I have ability tables, but will sometimes give different work to a child who I think can be stretched in a certain area.

It is perfectly possible that children are ready to move up a table, but there isn't any space for them. I have 8 children who could be in my middle group, but no space for more than 6. Rather than constantly shuffle them round every few days depending on who is having a good/bad week, I put the generally lower ones on the lower table and give them the harder work if appropriate. If a child asks why it is different, I generally say "oh I didn't print enough of your work" or something similar.

I also had a parent request that her child not be on a table with child x, because of issues throughout the previous year. This means that, realistically, they have fixed tables, because they are similar in ability. They might appear to never move, but I don't really have any option.

averywoomummy Sun 08-Dec-13 20:17:09

simpson yes - I really do think she could cope with the harder work. I am not saying she should be on the top table but she could definitely go up from group 4 to group 3.

I know others will be progressing but surely not all children will be progressing at exactly the same rate? As DC is first child I wasn't sure how it worked in terms of movement. Some schools seem to have a lot but not sure how often is usual and how they asses it i.e is it by formal tests or just teachers intuition?

OPeaches Sun 08-Dec-13 20:21:01

Hmm, well, according to both Shirley Clarke and Dylan Wiliam, it IS bad practice. I'm in Scotland, and HMIe (like ofsted) would come down on us hard for sitting children by ability. Groups should be fluid, not set. My pupils sit with a different, randomly selected, talking partner each week. Sometimes they will be more able than their partner, sometimes not, but each child has experience of supporting other children - everyone is 'better' at something, right?

averywoomummy Sun 08-Dec-13 20:21:12

wipsglitter that is how I am feeling at the moment. DD has worked really hard and I have put a lot of time and effort into helping her. She has improved and matured so much over the term and it is a bit dispiriting not to see any movement for her (although luckily she is not really aware of this so she is not feeling demotivated!)

OPeaches Sun 08-Dec-13 20:22:26

Talkinpeace, how on earth did you gather from my first post that I set all children the same work?

lljkk Sun 08-Dec-13 20:23:21

To answer thread title:
it's not what our school do.
They are set for different subjects and the groups are quite fluid (DC have moved up & down). Plus kids get moved because of behaviour or personality conflicts. I should think the literacy & numeracy groups both change about once a term as in a big upheaval, and the odd 1-2 person change at least once a term, too.
They all get presented the same lesson but the worksheets handed out will vary by which group you're in. The groups all overlap in ability, although the very bottom & top groups maybe less so. Typically 5 groups in a class of 22-24.

Talkinpeace Sun 08-Dec-13 20:25:44

but you are taking her progress out of context
teachers like mrz look at the whole class - many of whom have mummies who have put in time and effort
so on a relative basis they will end up in the same order, just al of them at a higher level

unless your child makes progress relative to others they will stay "on the same table"
but that "table" will move forward - potentially quite fast

youarewinning Sun 08-Dec-13 20:28:33

Some groups gave a cross of ability/ levels. Eg a year 1 class this early on in term probably has children working in p level (working towards level 1) right up to those who are already a level 2. (Likely a 2c) so if there is 5 groups. Group 5 is those working towards and the 1c. Group 4 1c group 3 1c/1b group 2 1b/1a and group 1 1a/ level 2. As you would expect most of the pupils to be 1c/1b at this point that is groups 2-5. Although it would maybe have started as group 4/5 being those who had just achieved a 1c and group 3 being the solid 1c ready to start working on 1b targets it may now well be group 4 are solid 1c and group 3 solid 1c/1b. So no they won't tend to move groups because they are all working at a similar level and the work will be differentiated. Also you may think your dd is ready to work on more phonics because she 'knows' them but her teacher will need to see that within her class work when working unsupported.

My DS is year 5 and there's never been much movement over the year as most pupils make an equal amount of progress. They do however switch ability groups for numeracy/ literacy. He's top maths and bottom literacy - always has been!

averywoomummy Sun 08-Dec-13 20:29:08

talkinpeace I realise that lots of parents put in a lot of effort too but it's just that I would have thought that, especially at this young age, there would be lots of peaks and troughs in children's learning. That some would have rapid learning spurts, some might plateau, some might start to find work or a particular subject harder?

Otherwise surely it would mean that if they are all progressing at the same rate there would be no chance for any child to ever move up from their original group - or is that the case?

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 20:29:08

No Talkinpeace very few of my class have "mummies who put in time and effort"

diddlediddledumpling Sun 08-Dec-13 20:36:57

I think you need to let go a bit, tbh. She is making progress and she is not feeling demotivated. It's you that is dispirited by her not moving up a group. You've said up thread you are really keen to get her into the next group up, but everything is going fine for her where she is. Please be careful you don't pass these feelings on to her, and I mean that with the best will in the world. I often think we do things as parents that we think are the best thing for our children, but it can end up having unexpected consequences. I teach in a girls' grammar and I often see girls who feel they are a disappointment to their parents academically, and I know their parents only wanted them to fulfil their potential.

Flicktheswitch Sun 08-Dec-13 20:46:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

averywoomummy Sun 08-Dec-13 21:04:33

diddle and flicktheswitch

I do understand your sentiments and we would never show any disappointment to DC. In fact I am always very very positive and proud of her achievements. I would also say that she is not at all "heavily tutored" I just make sure that I do some extra work with her at home which she enjoys - I don't force her to do it, go to the library with her, choose good books to get her enthused about literature etc.

The thing is I am not prepared to totally right her off aged 5 and to assume that as she has been placed in a lower ability group by one particular teacher then that is where she will always be and that is the course of her life set. I know what she is capable of and it is certainly more than she is being given by being in this group.

I also agree that whilst some children may just be naturally able that does not mean that a less able child cannot achieve the same things with hard work. For instance I am really not naturally talented in maths and with a normal amount of revision I probably would have achieved a D in maths. However I put so much hard work into my revision (I can still picture the text book 20 years later) that I achieved a B grade - a significant difference and one that made a big difference to my employment chances.

Actually this thread has depressed me and worried me a bit as it does seem as though the general feeling is that she will never move up groups now. I feel very conflicted as I don't want DC to feel pushed or unhappy but likewise I want to help her achieve her maximum potential and I'm not sure that anyone knows what that is at age 5.

diddlediddledumpling Sun 08-Dec-13 21:17:44

Please don't feel that she has been written off, and don't feel depressed!
I'll tell you about my eldest, who's 7. In p1 (age 4-5, NI) he was one of the slowest to pick up phonics and blending sounds into words. I could see he just didn't get it at all. I was never in the classroom, but I'd be pretty sure he was in a lower ability group, despite me knowing that he was very bright, and the teacher would comment on his verbal vocabulary and general knowledge.
He's now a brilliant reader, I have to prise the books out of his hands to get him to go to sleep. He tells me he's in the second top reading group (no idea how he knows, I've never asked) and he regularly gets full marks in his numeracy tests too. But his teacher only reports to me that he doesn't sit up straight, that he's very sensitive, that his handwriting is poor. As a teacher, I honestly couldn't care less about those things. He has an enthusiasm for learning that I know will serve him well at secondary level.
My point is that, as long as you keep your daughter interested in learning (not achieving, that's different), she will fulfil her potential. That's what I see in the girls I teach now who are both successful and happy. And that's what it sounds like you are doing. With that attitude, her ability grouping in Y1 means bugger all, frankly.

Talkinpeace Sun 08-Dec-13 21:26:49

please do not ever be depressed about children never moving sets

DS refused to read or write until well into year 2
he therefore spent quite a long time on the 'lower' tables (rightly)
before deciding to attach his brain
and has been doing well ever since

in DDs year a lad moved from set 4 to set 1 during year 7 because he was a late maturer

good teachers look at the kids as they are on the day, not how they were in the past
or, for that matter, how their parents think they should be fwink

simpson Sun 08-Dec-13 21:26:59

DS (now yr4) started yr1 on the lowest group/table for everything (probably because he did not speak much as he was/is very shy) within 3 weeks he moved to the top group.

Did the teacher actually say that there was no movement between the tables? In DD's class, all the kids do the same (ish) task to the best of their ability and the top group have an extension task too.

All kids get the same homework in parts of 1, 2 and 3 and they can attempt all of it or just one part. They do have different spellings though (top 2 tables get set 1 and the 3rd and 4th table get set 2. Both sets have 6 words.

averywoomummy Sun 08-Dec-13 21:28:45

Thanks diddlediddledumpling! Really nice to hear a positive story. I probably do need to relax a bit but it's just all these NC levels and ability groups and predictions for the future i.e if they don't get NC4 they won't get c grade at GCSE seem to add a lot of pressure!

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 21:31:03

NC levels are being scrapped

Flicktheswitch Sun 08-Dec-13 21:33:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

averywoomummy Sun 08-Dec-13 21:35:04

Thanks for some more positive stories simpson and talkinpeace!

simpson that's great that the children in your class get the same homework and the same amount of spellings I would love it if it worked like that at our school as then all children get the chance to do the same work and the same chance to prove themselves.

I think this is one of the key things that worries me about the grouping in DC school because the groups get different homework and the higher 3 groups get more spellings than the lower 2. I get concerned because this instantly means DC learning is capped in that over the course of the year she will learn about 50 spellings less than the higher groups and won't get to practice the harder phonics words (they get phonics homework). This will then make it harder for DC to catch up and she never gets the chance to prove she can do more. I think if they were all give the same work and chances I wouldn't be so concerned about her group.

averywoomummy Sun 08-Dec-13 21:39:33

flicktheswitch I have worked hard with her as she started Y1 behind and in a lower group and surely like any parent I wanted to help her catch up and the way I could do that was by helping her at home. As I said earlier I have not been hothousing her but have simply been doing a bit of extra work and supporting her learning.

Why would any parent whose child was struggling not want to help and support them to catch up? Would it have been better just to leave her floundering? In fact by helping her I have actually increased her happiness and confidence at school as she no long dreads reading or their "big write" days as she feels confident to do it.

toomuchicecream Sun 08-Dec-13 21:41:11

See what happens after Christmas. When I had fixed groups last year, I needed the space to sit down and think properly about moving children and I simply didn't have the available brain cells to do that in term time.

diddlediddledumpling Sun 08-Dec-13 21:43:30

Forget about NC levels. Keep spending time and energy on visits to the library, museums, nature walks, chatting about the world, as well as the extra work that she enjoys. An enthusiasm for learning is such a valuable thing to pass on. I imagine NC levels wouldn't take it into account much, though, which is why I'm glad to hear they're being scrapped.

AbbyR1973 Sun 08-Dec-13 23:39:32

Also is it actually true that many children of this age "plateau" for some time in a good learning environment?
I know this is often said but does this actually happen in this age group. My thought is that children might progress faster or slower at times as they hit concepts they find easier or more difficult to grasp, but plateau? I'm not sure.

Aeroaddict Mon 09-Dec-13 09:41:59

I think you need to stop focusing on ability groups, and just look at your DD, and how she is progressing. If you are happy with her progress as an individual, then all is well. If not then maybe have a chat to the teacher about how she can be helped to progress. What other children are doing has absolutely no bearing on how your DD is doing.

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 09-Dec-13 10:19:26

Like Aero has suggested stop worrying about where she fits in with the other children and just reflect on her individual progress.
What you have done is amazing she is happier and more confident and this maybe what the teacher is trying to build on - so big fish small pool.
Every class is different and there are a different range of abilities in the class, so the difference between the group she is in currently and the next group maybe quite large and the teacher doesn't want to damage her new found confidence.

glastocat Mon 09-Dec-13 10:29:45

Oh my goodness she is only five, you are really over thinking this! It's not a race, there is really no need to push her when she is still so little.

I think you should stop comparing your dd to her classmates and where she is sitting - neither really tells you anything about your child's abilities. If you have spoken to her teacher and your DD is enjoying the work she is given and is working well, then I would step back from worrying about what is happening in the classroom and just enjoy the extra activities that you and she share at home.

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Mon 09-Dec-13 11:28:37

OP - you are getting a lot of stick here which you don't really deserve. I know and understand exactly where you are coming from. It isn't about trying to be pushy, it's about you being concerned that the current classroom set up is such that your child won't get the opportunity to ever progress from the bottom. Even if they are ready for it.

I have to laugh at comments telling you to stop comparing your child to others. Oh, for goodness sake, everyone does it. It's one of the few ways of getting any idea if a child is genuinely making progress or not.

My ds started yr1 very behind and comfortably on the bottom table. His teacher kept them in very rigid groups for the whole year and I too got similarly frustrated. He had SEN (a speech/language disorder) that he was rapidly overcoming but still the gap between his table and the one up seemed to be ever widening. Was he happy with the slow pace? Well, yes actually, and besides he didn't know any different. I ended up doing stuff with him at home to make sure that he'd be able to bridge the gap when he was ready, which is exactly as you have been doing.

He's now in yr2 and I definitely get the feeling that there is much more movement with the new teacher. Even if it isn't him who is doing the moving, it's reassuring to know that things aren't static. He's probably still in the bottom half of the class, but he's now going at the normal pace so I can now stop worrying.

The spellings that you mention is an interesting one. My ds was in the bottom set so he got things last year such as 'I', 'me' and 'the'. The bottom set spellings became far too easy so he's now in middle set. But suddenly he has to spell things like 'especially' and 'unfortunately' which is a ridiculously big step up given that he missed out on learning so many key words last year. But then this is perhaps simply evidence that teaching should ideally be differentiated for the child rather than the group...

How does comparing your child to others help you understand if they are progressing? Genuine question.

How do you know the abilities of all the children in the class? If you aren't able to judge if your own child is progressing (despite spending a lot of time with them) how on earth can you tell what sort of progression the other children in the class have been making? How can you tell if your child is doing well - but happens to be in a high-achieving class. Or if they are coasting at the top of a lower-achieving class?

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 09-Dec-13 12:13:45

I have never compared my child to the others in the class, never knew what reading levels the others were on and didn't care.
MrsCakes makes some excellent points about the cohort and how comparisons can give you a false feeling for how your child is doing. My child would fall into one of those categories if I compared her to others.

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Mon 09-Dec-13 12:33:06


How do you ever know your child is making any progress? Genuine question.

If my child didn't know a single letter of the alphabet but now knows five of them then they've made progress. The question is whether it's good enough progress and if I should be happy with it or not.

There are NC levels, of course, but how helpful are they really? Apart from in yr6, they are are subjective. My own 14 years of schooling taught me that not all teachers mark the same and unless the current crop have turned into Stepford-like automaton I doubt that will have changed.

In reality, I have very little idea of the children in my dcs' classes' abilities beyond what their parents mention. (And that may or may not be accurate anyway.) However, if I know the usual spread of yr2/yr6 NC levels of the school and it has a fairly large intake, I can make a reasonable guess at what the ability spread of my dc's class is likely to be. Whilst knowing a child's relative position within a class may have some in-built flaws (such as you mention) it doesn't mean that this data should be disregarded. Instead, you should always make sure that you put it in context with all the other information you can find out.

It's a bit like forecasting weather, though, you take in as much data as you can but you might still get it wrong...

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 09-Dec-13 12:48:34

How do you know if your child is progressing? You ask the teacher. This is always my first question at parents evening is she making the progress you expect? If not why not?
When books come home from school or at parents evening I look through them how many questions are being got right or wrong what are the teachers comments.
Even between year groups in a single school it is possible to have very different spread of abilities. Range can be single peak to bell curve very high up the ability range so your DC could be above average nationally, but at the bottom of that class. Equally you can have double peaks and so on an so forth.
You could also limit a very able child by being satisfied with top of the class.
Avery I would arrange a chat with the teacher to ask are they happy with your DC's progress is it what they expect and are you supporting it correctly.

theweekendisnear Mon 09-Dec-13 14:48:40

averywoomummy, I'm on your side! I have to go pick up the children now, so I'm not going to write a long story, but my DC was similar to yours. It seemed that I was the only one that could see that he could do more than what he was given by his teacher - he was in bottom group 3 years ago (aged 6). I am sure I was perceived as a pushy parent by his teacher. Anyway... we worked at home, and he moved to middle group 2 years ago, and to top group this year (and it seems like it is very unusual to move group). This year he has a very experienced teacher, who "gets" him, and she has decided that he was ready to move up to top group. I have to say that a couple of years ago I had given up - I mean, I kept on working with my DC at home, but I didn't care anymore about what the teacher thought/what group she thought he should be in. I made sure that he actually understood the logic behind the maths that he was doing, and trusted that in the long term he would blossom in school.

I disagree with the posters that say that you should back off - remain vigilant! You are the one that cares the most about your DC, teachers do their best, but have 30 children in a class.

cloutiedumpling Mon 09-Dec-13 18:49:42

averywoomummy - I can see where you are coming from too. There seems to be very little movement between the maths and English groups in my DCs school, particularly as the kids get older. Could you ask the teacher for some of the extra work that the next group gets so that you could work on it at home? If there are spelling tests etc this would give your DD a chance to show the teacher what she can do.

youarewinning Mon 09-Dec-13 21:23:36

But it's not as simple as simply having a spelling test and being able to get them right in a test. My DS continues to get 9/10 correct out of 10 weekly - always has. But he remains in the lowest group for literacy/ spelling because in the work he cannot apply his knowledge and is actually making a slower than average rate of progress despite being behind and therefore should be making accelerated progress. He has SN/sen which complicates things though.

You have to remember what you do with your child at home is 1:1 and will likely be a much higher standard than she can produce on her own in a classroom setting.

My advice would be to encourage your dd to produce her best work in school and to show the teacher all she can do. There is a chance she
is in a group where she's not challenged by what she's asked to do so produces work to the standard of the group and not the standard at which she is able to work iykwim? If she doesn't show anymore than what is expected the teacher cannot know what she is capable of. Having said that I know many schools and teachers who level literacy on outcome rather than differentiate to level. So all children will be asked to produce a story and they know what children can do by what they produce.

I expect ATM they'll be doing assessed writes and numeracy etc so the teacher can reassess where children are and group accordingly next term. I doubt they'll be much movement now as many schools are doing a lot of Christmas things and plays etc.

Please don't think that because your dd is in a certain group now they'll always remain there. Ime teachers generally know what they are doing!

Snowbility Tue 10-Dec-13 07:13:57

I should say I think you should speak to the teacher, figure out a way to ask casually how the whole thing works and share your concern rather than asking for your dd to be moved.
After having a chat you can then decide what to do, although ime when I have a chat with the teacher she understands my worries and concerns, completely agrees with me, makes all the right noises and then does bugger all about it. hmm

PastSellByDate Tue 10-Dec-13 10:50:33

Hi averywoomummy:

I've written on your other thread about this but just wanted to say our school is very similar (? the same).

START OF SCHOOL YEAR - tables maintained from previous year
assessed start of school year
A FEW WEEKS IN - places on tables shuffled

Either end of 1st TERM/ START of 2nd TERM - re-shuffle
end of 2nd term Optional SATS
end of 2nd TERM/ START 3rd term - reshuffle

TERM 3 - stable - maybe one or two moved toward the very end (usually under the impression it's done for political reasons).

I've written on your other thread - but genuinely in a nutshell I'd say stop worrying about the table - worry about mastery. Is your DC doing what they should by this age. Only the teacher can really judge performance (because they can see the whole picture). Yes, it's maddening to have the impression (or indeed know) that top table has a richer range of material/ challenges than other tables - but on the other hand that is the nature of 'top table' systems. What is unfortunate, is there seems little impetus to close the gap between the rest of the class and the 'top table' pupils. However, what one can never truly factor/ comprehend is how much extra work/ support, or indeed tutoring, is going on behind the scenes.

A school governor (and friend) swears blindly her DS only does school work (for which read 10 minutes at weekend + nightly reading 10-20 mins) and is just naturally bright. The little boy regaled me about how mommy is always buying him workbooks and quizzing him, and how he'll start with an 11+ tutor at Easter, when I gave him a lift home from a birthday party. Certainly with DD1's friends (all Y6) it's coming out that huge amounts of workbooks/ DIY tutoring/ 11+ prep workbooks/ 11+ private tutoring was going on.

So given all that - sincerely - just focus on what you need to do with your DD and don't worry about what table she's at.

lougle Tue 10-Dec-13 11:07:04

This is why my DDs' school has a policy of no parents helping in their child's year group.

It's not right that you are gaining knowledge of the by going into your child's class.

mammadiggingdeep Tue 10-Dec-13 13:58:59

It's not that it's 'not right' but I certainly think it can make it difficult for everyone. You don't really get a whole picture if what's going on because you're not seeing all the work and differentiation that goes on. The teacher then has to justify the decisions made and worry about upsetting/worrying parents. It's a tricky thing because its lovely to have parents in to help but a bit counterproductive when issues like this are the result.

I agree that you should focus on your dc's progress and just wait to see how things pan out. If they're a good teacher they will have a handle on what your child can do and be setting challenging work accordingly despite which group they're in .

columngollum Tue 10-Dec-13 14:37:15

But, ability doesn't come from a table does it. It comes from within.

lougle Tue 10-Dec-13 14:45:37

Potential ability + Oportunity + Effort = Outcome

If either one is lacking then the outcome is going to be poorer for that child than one who had all 3.

Children who are put in fixed ability groups and therefore are denied the opportunity to learn at the level of a higher ability group will have a poorer outcome.

Take 'spellings' as an example (leaving aside the fact that most education experts say that spellings are fairly useless as an exercise):

Group 1 - 3 spellings per week to learn
Group 2 - 5 spellings per week to learn
Group 3 - 7 spellings per week to learn
Group 4 - 10 spellings per week to learn.

By the end of the term, if they've learned all their spellings:

Group 1 - 36 words
Group 2 - 60 words
Group 3 - 84 words
Group 4 - 120 words

There is very little chance of a child in group 1 catching up with a Group 4 child even if they put in masses of effort. They are 90 words behind after just one term.

columngollum Tue 10-Dec-13 14:50:30

That does rather assume that all of their knowledge comes from school. If all of my daughter's knowledge came from school she'd still be reading

Bob jogs on a hog with a log in the bog.

And wouldn't yet have learned to count to thirty.

columngollum Tue 10-Dec-13 14:52:46

And she'd still be writing like this:

tH elfant wos Hot ant it woz coald sow it wend awai

lougle Tue 10-Dec-13 16:59:23

But we are talking about ability setting in schools. confused

mrz Tue 10-Dec-13 19:17:30

You will never know how your child would have turned out had you let the teachers do their job will you columngollum

columngollum Tue 10-Dec-13 20:58:44

Thankfully that's true, mrz. (I have seen some of the results in other people's children though.)

mrz Tue 10-Dec-13 21:02:27

You can't compare one child with another so not even you can know what might have been the outcome

columngollum Tue 10-Dec-13 21:09:06

Life is full of uncertainties. But when it comes to my children there are several of them, in this particular regard, that I'm quite comfortable with!

mrz Tue 10-Dec-13 21:17:23

unfortunately being comfortable isn't quite the same as being correct

columngollum Tue 10-Dec-13 21:25:06

Well, others might have some deep-seated love of non books and bizarre spelling, and they're welcome to them. There may even be some peculiar argument in favour of both of them, but I'm afraid they're not for me. I'll take my chances with real books and words spelled the way that they're found in the dictionary. It might sound crazy, but then I'm not a teacher!

mrz Tue 10-Dec-13 21:28:37

You still haven't explained what a non books is ... is it similar to an imaginary friend?

simpson Tue 10-Dec-13 21:44:24

I don't think anybody needs to volunteer in their DC class to find out where their kids are ie what table etc as the children work it out for themselves.

I love DD's phonetically plausible words. She wrote "twiangals" this evening for triangles!

mammadiggingdeep Tue 10-Dec-13 22:16:48 still haven't said why you don't home know, seeing as teachers know absolutely nothing and you have single handedly taught your daughter to read smile

lougle Tue 10-Dec-13 22:38:09

I simply can't get this notion of 'non-books' confused. A book is a collection of text, written on pages and bound together. Just because the content of a book doesn't meet your literary preferences doesn't stop it being a 'real' book.

mammadiggingdeep Tue 10-Dec-13 22:42:37 and dd make little books together. They're full of her emergent and stickers. They are real books because she sits and 'reads' them. Try telling her its not a real book.

lougle Tue 10-Dec-13 22:51:37

My DDs make 'books' too. At first they thought they needed a piece of paper for each 'page' so we ended up with a 16 page book when they wanted to write 4 words, one on each 'page' grin

mammadiggingdeep Tue 10-Dec-13 22:53:58

Aaaah bless...I love it smile my dd is 3.5 and took two 'pages' to write her name. Biggest letters I've ever seen. Still a book though grin

Rosencrantz Tue 10-Dec-13 22:55:02

Seating learning by ability was the only reason I thrived as a gifted child in a very poorly performing school.

I don't see it as bad practice at all.

simpson Tue 10-Dec-13 23:11:27

Lougle - we had that too grin 4 words on each page with maybe 6 pages (and loads of drawings too) and even the blurb on the back. DD was 3.8 at the time.

Snowbility Wed 11-Dec-13 09:01:56

I was sat by ability as a child, our table still managed to complete the work set way before the rest of the class, no further work was ever set, we just sat and chatted once we finished while we waited on the rest of the class...would therefore conclude that position of seating is not the important bit of challenging a child - have a feeling the quality of work set might be more important!

cloutiedumpling Wed 11-Dec-13 09:12:49

Not just the quality of work, but also the opportunity to access it. See Lougle's post above 10/12 at 14.49. The top group may have quality work set but the kids who are at the top of the next group may not be able to access it.

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