Just Checking this is perfectly reasonable - re SAT levels

(31 Posts)
urbancupcake Sun 05-May-13 07:48:07

My dd ended up in a particularly low stream in school based on the way the school said they grouped.

Where they had a large number of level 5 students, they took the raw scores from their SAT's results, used only the English reading element only (which they leveled at a 5c), removed the writing element because they say for several dd's they were teacher assessed so could not be relied on (note, this dropped her from a 5b therefore to a 5c), and for that reason also, did not use the science scores either.

Unfortunately, if all their figures are correct, this impacted my dd's position, as her writing score was much higher than her reading score.

Would this method in your opinion be totally reasonable?

Note, they do not use their own exams like other schools do, who do not trust primary schools SAT's results.

Thanks loads

roisin Sun 05-May-13 08:01:25

Is this a selective school?
How many streams?

I didn't realise schools did streaming these days: it's very problematic.

In answer to your question any school can use any criteria they want, and externally marked maths and reading SATs are probably the least biased data.

I would hope that any school worth its salt would allow adjustments to sets at the end of yr7, if they've done well. Did a low maths score contribute to her placing?

BoffinMum Sun 05-May-13 08:09:35

Streaming is educationally unsound. However if the school insists on doing it, you can fuss about the details on which they are doing this assessment, and ask for a special case to be made for your daughter as a trial, to see how she gets on in the higher set.

urbancupcake Sun 05-May-13 16:27:18

@Roisin...Mmmm, from my own research, streaming is incredibly rare - especially if they don't set their own exams. No, maths was 5b, but they say they get a high proportion of level 5 children, which meant (if their figures are correct) she didn't even hit the top two streams!!! Five streams and a state school, in answer to your question.

@Boffin. Yes, all the research I've stumbled upon has nothing positive to say about it, educationally and spiritually. If it was a normal setting situation where movement is more fluid, I'd be so much more relaxed about it, but apparently, research also shows there is very little movement between streams and the gap just gets wider and wider.

roisin Sun 05-May-13 17:49:02

But if their third stream consists mainly of children getting L5s in Maths and English, then it should be a high achieving school and that stream should still be working towards getting B grades at least at GCSE.

Is she just in yr7? Do you feel she's made progress this year?

urbancupcake Sun 05-May-13 18:20:54

They accelerate only the top two streams, in science and maths. The top two streams are taught science, maths and physics by three separate teachers and they also get latin. Stream three compride of, according to their data, a mix of level five and level 4 dc's.

urbancupcake Sun 05-May-13 18:24:41

Progress wise, English is fine but I've got her reading the classics myself at home anyway, but certainly not maths. Had to get her a tutor as she was bored through her teeth. It's difficult, because even if I complain about it, and they giver her a few extension questions for the same dull subject she's done over and over again, I cant force them to teach the whole class like their teaching the other two classes.

Vivacia Sun 05-May-13 19:08:28

In answer to your question, yes, this seems as good a method as any other given that the school stream and they have a large in take of students about the same level (i.e. level 4 and 5).

BoffinMum Mon 06-May-13 00:40:13

Sounds bonkers. They take in fairly similar kids but privilege a few with specialist subject teachers? At my DS's school they are completely mixed ability but setted, and even the bottom sets have specialist subject teachers and aim for A/Bs where possible. This is what is supposed to happen.

Which stream contains most of your DD's friends? That might be a way forward in negotiations.

tiggytape Mon 06-May-13 12:50:28

The way they stream the children is as good as any. Plenty of schools use SATS and, where too many have identical scores, an extra layer of selection based on externally marked exams seems fine.

However, what isn't O.K is what happens after that.
There should be the opportunity to move between streams. No selection process is totally reliable and children's realtive abilities change over time. There must be flexibility to move up and down at regular intervals.

And the way the streams are taught also needs to examined. In general, the current Year 7 seem to have a lot of very bright kids - everyone seems to have commented on this. I think it is because they are a much older age group than normal (lots of Autumn babies born 9 months after Millenium night maybe!). Many schools have faced an intake of largely all level 5 students.
So in our local comp, set 3 does include children who started Year 7 on level 5's (the top sets are all 5a and level 6 children). The school are dealing with this by adapting the teaching and the pace to suit the actual abilities of the children not their preconceived notion of what a set 3 child can do. Set 3 this year are doing different English texts to set 3 last year and the same maths now as set 2.
All of the children in sets 1-3 are expected to aim for top grades at GCSE.

At your school the children at the bottom of stream 2 have a huge advantage over those at the top of stream 3. They will be of roughly identical ability but getting totally different opportunities. That is what I would base any complaint on (that and the lack of movement) rather than the way they chose the streams in the first place.

urbancupcake Mon 06-May-13 21:56:06

@Boffin - Tell me about it. Hence my battles.

@Tiggytape - You just always come up trumps.

Opportunity to move between streams This is dependable on a child moving up and or down, so if everyone in the top two sets stay the same, there is zero opportunity for a child to move up. Also, my own research about streams show, as opposed to schools that set per subject, there is very little movement between them, and as time goes on, the gap just gets wider and wider.

The advantage of being in the top two streams I guess this explains why my poor child is so bored in maths and we've had to fork out for a tutor to keep her inspired.

The whole situation is simply so, distressing!

Thanks awfully though for your feedback.

BoffinMum Mon 06-May-13 23:14:02

Apologies on behalf of the education profession that they are being so hopeless.

tiggytape Mon 06-May-13 23:21:30

urban - Thank you and I definitely think you should approach the school about this. It is very distressing but I think you should be hopeful you can change it for your DD.

Approach it maybe from the point of view of wanting to ensure your DD's needs are met rather than questioning how they arrives at the streaming decisions.
As a parent, you probably don't care at all which stream she is in as long as she has the opportunities to reach the best attainment levels and pace of progress possible. At the moment, the rigid expectations placed on each stream is hampering an unusually bright year group including your daughter. Schools have a duty to ensure your child is set work of an appropriate level and this simply isn't happening

The school are allowed to have their own policies for streaming but they should not be content that, due to lack of room in stream 1 and 2, a girl of equal ability in stream 3 is bored rigid and denied opportunities that she would benefit from.

It is great if this can be resolved via form tutor or Head of Year.
If however the softly approach doesn't work, I think you should approach the Head and if necessary the Governors to raise this.
Afterall with so many level 5 children in the year, a lot of other children will be in the same boat and it is ridiculous that they don't tweak things to suit the abilities of the children that start rather than deciding in advance that everyone in stream 3 has to do a set maths curriculum even if it is far too easy for them.

With the majority of children being very able, they cannot physically squeeze them all into steams 1 and 2 which is fine. So instead they need to change set 3 perhaps to make it an additional stream 2 just for this year. Lots of other schools manage to do this when required.

nohalfmeasures Mon 06-May-13 23:21:54

What does the school say?Have you been in to see them or can you raise it as an issue at parents night?

urbancupcake Tue 07-May-13 07:55:41

I can not thank you all enough for your support with all this.

Up until now, I've been questioning how the children were streamed, as there seemed to be so many inconsistencies every time I speak or write to another member of staff.

@ no half measures. I have another meeting scheduled for next week with the head this time and will keep you all posted.

@Boffin - apologies not needed. All my friends children are in some really great schools where nothing even remotely similar happens. I know this is an exception rather than a rule.

@Tiggytape - yes, you're totally right. It's just a number, of course. We didn't give a hoot what the stream number was; the concern has always been the 'lessons' she's missing out on. I must admit, as I deal with her education, it's the aspect her father has never been quite able to get his head around - that all the children are not taught the same subjects, but perhaps at least to a different level, depending on stream. He's now having to fork out for a tutor for Maths to move her up a sublevel, and of course being one to one, he said she'll be at level 7 by summer as she's bright. He's also having to recruit a science tutor starting this week. This was totally not budgeted for. To have to HOPE that someone fails, so she can be moved up is totally immoral. But if that happens, we didn't want her to be behind. She's a bright and beautifully behaved, studious child, and I'm desperate for her confidence to remain intact. Another damaging effect of streaming also, I believe.

Thanks so much again.

JenaiMorris Tue 07-May-13 12:52:57

If a school is going to insist on streaming and on limiting opportunities to some (most?) of their pupils, despite all the evidence that it's a crap way to do things, then they ought to being doing so based on actual levels of schievement and not on a pupil's levels in relation to the rest of their cohort.

I would be looking at other schools tbh.

urbancupcake Tue 07-May-13 14:46:58

@JenaiMorris - your responses are making me feel quite emotional tbh. They have so tried to make out that my fears are unfounded and I'm just a panicky Mother (if only my child's livelihood didn't depend on it, I'd probably appear less so). Of course, they keep rattling on that everyone does just fine and the problem with streaming only occur if the pupil is in the wrong stream. No mention of course, that as @tiggytape highlighted, that if you have a higher number of level 5's children, those now in stream 3 and below, are now effectively 'in the wrong stream.' From all the research I've done on it, spiritually, mentally and educationally, the only children who benefit are those in the top streams and as such it should be outlawed.

tiredaftertwo Tue 07-May-13 16:05:12

Absolutely rubbish. What tiggytape and BoffinMum said. Even if streaming were educationally sound practice (I know it isn't but just suppose), there are massive problems with their approach. Streaming should mean that each stream has a curriculum suitable for that ability profile. If you have lots of bright kids, hurrah, you don't just say well they have to do the curriculum designed for an entirely different group of kids who happen to have the same stream number.

Won't they get very tripped up by Ofsted, who will base its expectations of progress on the children's, ahem, real ability levels?

Really good luck OP, I can see that the school's responses could make you doubt yourself, so stick to it - you are in the right.

I wouldn't get too bogged down in the details of her individual SATs results given the third stream contains plenty of children at L5 and upper 4s (or wherever it makes sense to draw the arbitrary line about what should be happening, which I know is hard because most schools do not stream and those that do I think use more sophisticated methods. Everyone does "just fine" is complacent nonsense. And it is not just about the bare bones of GCSE results).

urbancupcake Tue 07-May-13 17:41:02

@tiredaftertwo - thanks so, so, so much for your feedback and the positive encouragement. I suspect, although I could be wrong so please correct me, the reason ofstead have not pulled them up in the past is because, where schools are measured on A-C grade's inc. English and Maths, as long as the bulk of the level 5 children are getting a B, they've reached their expected level of progress. Whereas, those same level 5 pupils, are also quite within their realm of achieving A and A*. When I've checked their last years results, as in the number of children who sat the exam and the number of children who passed at A and A*, I can't possibly see how the number's could have extended to the third stream and below - especially because, like I mentioned earlier, the gap just gets wider and wider and the top groups get specialist teachers for science.

Also, where ofsted are concerned (and assuming she was placed in the right set in the first instance which is still being debated), I guess this would be the first year they've seen such a high proportion of level 5 children. By the time Ofstead have discovered they haven't reached their expected level of progress, my dd, would be merely a statistic, I guess.

tiredaftertwo Tue 07-May-13 18:42:31

Hi there, no I think judging by my (weary) teacher friends, progress is defined a lot more tightly than that. The 5A-Cs measure is the one media reports of league tables focus on, but even those tables now include lots more information (and include an average GCSE grade for "high ability" children - so failing a group of L5 kids would show up there). And Ofsted are not using those measures anyway, or not in that form exactly. But I am not an expert on Ofsted so I don't know the details, or how quickly these failures would show up. It need not take till the next inspection though - the school should be running projections through all the time - if they are waiting till Ofsted come to find out whether the children are learning what they could be, they are also going badly wrong I think!

You could look up your school and how their high achievers do compared with other schools.......and for the other ability groups, because this approach sounds really bonkers. It's as if there is only so much physics to go round, and they've gone over the limit. It might help your case if you can show that the school is performing badly compared with other similar schools (sorry, that sounds awful, and as if I want your dd to be in a poorly performing school, but it does sound like it is failing her at the moment, so hard facts may help).

urbancupcake Tue 07-May-13 18:59:40

you could look up your school and how their high achievers do compared with other schools.......and for the other ability groups, because this approach sounds really bonkers. It's as if there is only so much physics to go round, and they've gone over the limit.

It's the first time I've laughed today.

yes, that's a fabulous idea to make comparisons, although was wondering if this is the first bumper year which many people have commented on, will there be comparisons in existence?

Thanks for the smilesmile

BoffinMum Tue 07-May-13 20:25:31

Can you take this to the governing body?

urbancupcake Wed 08-May-13 07:16:43

Yes, I can, and will. Such has been the flippancy nature of their responses so far however, I can't help wondering if they'd do anything about it. Are Governor's, truly, truly independent in your opinion, or do they just all stick together at the end of the day?

Regardless of the SATS & the numbers, your DD is not being supported/ stretched to reach her full potential.

If she is frustrated & bored she will be unhappy & not even do her best at her better subjects.

Is changing schools an option rather than you all continuing to struggle?

Really difficult I know. Good luck .

tiredaftertwo Wed 08-May-13 13:45:53

You are welcome smile.

Well, it is unlikely to be a bumper year everywhere, in every way. If high achievers at the school often do "worse" than similar ability groups at similar/other loacl schools, then the problem is not just about this year group and gives you ammunition to question their approach to streaming more generally.

If not, that doesn't mean it will work well for this particular group, if in fact children that in other year groups would be in set 2 are in set 3 - it is neutral (so not worth mentioning). But might help you get a feel for things anyway, to inform discussions with the head or the governing body.

The GB has been flippant with you shock?

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