Mixed ability maths Y7

(55 Posts)
ihearttc Tue 18-Oct-16 18:07:33

Ive posted about this before but we are now 6 weeks into the school year and nothing has changed. DS1 loves maths (or at least he did until he started High School) and is completely bored and disengaged with the work they are doing. He got good SATs results (111 in maths) but is not any kind of mathematical genius or anything but genuinely enjoys the subject. He used to have extra maths lessons for extension work in Y5/6 before school for fun! His High School don't set for maths until the start of Y9 so we have 2 whole years of this. Yes I knew they were mixed ability when we applied for the school but we live quite rurally so it is literally the only High School around here...next nearest is in a different county and he wouldn't have got in (plus I can't get him there everyday).

They have learnt to use a number line apparently (which my 5 year old is currently doing!) and have done some work on multiplication x 10. They have 3 levelled sheets to chose from and he picks the hardest one (he said the hardest question on there was 23X10). He could do stuff like that in Y2 so completes it in 5 minutes and basically sits there the rest of the lesson.

We had a form tutor parents evening 2 weeks ago and I mentioned it then and his tutor said he would speak to the maths teacher but nothing has changed. Im completely at a loss of what to do? Whatever I say comes out like I think he is some maths prodigy and needs calculus or something but I just genuinely want him to be challenged and to enjoy maths again.

Nermerner Tue 18-Oct-16 18:13:01

Oh God I am dreading this. Dd is in year 6 and is predicted 110+ in maths - not a genius but confident and engaged. Our state secondary doesn't set for maths either. I am getting her a tutor!!

ihearttc Tue 18-Oct-16 18:17:31

I did think of that but to be honest I haven't got the money to spare for one.

I totally get that they have to go over the basics and refresh their knowledge but he is so fed up with it all.

noblegiraffe Tue 18-Oct-16 18:56:40

That's not mixed ability teaching, that's shit teaching. I hate mixed ability teaching but if I were doing that, I'd expect 23x10 100 and 100 to be on the easiest sheet (are you sure he didn't pick up the wrong one???) multiplying and dividing 10,100,1000 with decimals on the middle sheet and the top end to be doing multiplying and dividing by 0.1, 0.01, 0.001.

If the form tutor hasn't had any joy you need to approach the teacher then escalate to Head of Department. It's not acceptable that your DS is being given this, and it won't be good enough for the majority of the class.

BackforGood Tue 18-Oct-16 19:08:11

I had this for YEARS with dd1 - used to love maths but the philosophy of the Head of Maths was that mixed ability teaching was the best way for everyone.
I complained every year. I would speak to the maths teacher teaching her first, and, if nothing changed, then I spoke to him. In his defence, things usually did get a bit better after my complaint to him, and then he decided to put her in his own maths set. He did give her some more challenging work, but he couldn't grasp that lumping together children doing EYFS maths, with children on every level up to 'probably capable of taking GCSE early' level just made the challenge too great for many of his colleagues.
I spent a LOT of energy chasing it up It didn't change the system unfortunately as dd2 is now at the same school, but it did make things better for her.

ihearttc Tue 18-Oct-16 19:30:43

I just feel totally helpless. His Y6 teacher was amazing (and head of Maths at his Junior School) and he came home excited about what he had learnt. They even differentiated in Y6...the 2 classes were split so higher ability children went into one class and the lower went with the other teacher.

He definitely picked the hardest paper he said...the others were much easier. The majority of the class (obviously can only go on what he is saying) are at a much lower level. There is a girl sitting near him who he says is bored as well so Ive suggested they go and speak to the teacher together.

He's just told me they were taught the lattice method for multiplication today and had to do 28x14...which he has been able to do for years.

Im worried about it seeming like Im saying my precious snowflake is far too intelligent for this type of work but its not that at all...I just want him happy and engaged which he most definitely isn't. You'd think they'd be embracing a child that wants to do Maths not giving them a dumbed down curriculum...Im actually worried as well that he is forgetting stuff that he has learnt)

I wondered if he'd somehow messed up his CAT tests (we haven't been told how they've done) but they'd also have his SAT's score plus his y6 teacher they also had a "report" from them about each pupil so they must have some idea what he is capable of. I work in the Junior School so mentioned it last week.

Ericaequites Tue 18-Oct-16 19:33:00

How can teachers do anything with such an ability range in the classroom?

ihearttc Tue 18-Oct-16 19:38:08

I honestly don't know. Ive spoken to a few of his friends mums...and no one else seems bothered apart from me.

BackforGood Tue 18-Oct-16 19:40:10

I started being worried they'd think I was being precious too, ihearttc, but then I thought that probably most dc wouldn't complain (neither my ds nor dd2 would have, they'd have sat back and done nothing for the year) and I thought of all the dc this was doing a disservice to - probably 90% of the class.
The work was SO easy (as you state) and she was literally just sitting there for more than half of every lesson. You have to say something, and keep on saying it until it changes. Start with his maths teacher, then talk to Hof Maths, and if that has no effect, go to the senior management team.

Lilly948204 Tue 18-Oct-16 19:44:08

The best thing you can do is talk to his maths teacher directly, messages from form tutors often get missed.

noblegiraffe Tue 18-Oct-16 20:30:24

Don't be fobbed off with anything like 'mastery'. Mastery doesn't mean 11 years olds doing work meant for KS2, and I'm struggling to believe that there is a whole class of children for whom 23x10 would be difficult (even the weaker students can stick a zero on the end).
Have you got your DS's book to hand? What's the most difficult thing he has done this term? Anything new?

Jessia0 Tue 18-Oct-16 21:21:19

Feel your pain, the English school system is very basic, my DD is just finished her first term of GCSE and its just as bad. Still doing work she was doing at primary, adding and subtracting numbers with decimal points, fractions, learning what an angle is... Math class is always a good lesson for her to curl her eyebrows.

I couldn't afford to send her to a selective high school but have been saving to go to a private for sixth form college. Hopefully its not to late by then to rescue her education. If I had known things where so bad I would have been more selective and married a rich man, so we could have moved to a good selective school.

noblegiraffe Tue 18-Oct-16 21:28:47

This week my top set Y7s have been doing estimating the mean from a grouped frequency table. Top set Y10 have been solving simultaneous equations, 1 linear and 1 quadratic.

These issues are nothing to do with the English school system, or indeed comprehensive education, but crap teaching, and a crap decision on the part of the school.

TheColonelAdoresPuffins Tue 18-Oct-16 21:35:07

Dd's comp has six sets from about a month into year seven so doesn't have this problem. You'll have to badger them about it. It shouldn't be like that.

JustRichmal Tue 18-Oct-16 22:01:42

If I were in your situation I would request a meeting with head of maths, the maths teacher and the head teacher. Let them know that the system is failing your son as he is loosing enthusiasm for the subject.
If he is sitting doing nothing for half the lesson, tell them so. I would also let them know you appreciate teaching such a wide ability range is nearly impossible to teach, so suggest what you could do to help. One solution would be flip leaning, where he does online lessons at home then does work set by you on this in lessons (if he has finished his worksheets or has worksheets which are too easy.) Another would be for him to do UKMT mentoring scheme questions.
It is up to the other parents whether or not they are concerned. You are. The squeaky wheel gets the oil.

Jessia0 Tue 18-Oct-16 22:01:42

If a good high school has the top math set learning the 'mean', in year seven. And the top set in exam year ten is doing simultaneous equations. I would say the English system needs a major overhaul. No wonder we are doing so bad in international comparisons.

noblegiraffe Tue 18-Oct-16 22:04:06

No, Jessia they are not learning 'the mean' they learned how to estimate the mean from a grouped frequency table. And Y10 aren't just doing 'simultaneous equations' but simultaneous equations where one is linear and one is quadratic.

Jessia0 Tue 18-Oct-16 22:06:31

JustRichmal, I am guessing your not a parent. Have you ever turned up at a school demanding to see the head of maths, the maths teacher and the head teacher. I would put £100 on it never happening.

If you get any sort of meeting and tell them here's how you should be teaching your DC, then your chances of success are even smaller. Parents have zero ability to change how teachers/schools teach. If you cant pay then you take what you are given and have to be grateful for it.

Jessia0 Tue 18-Oct-16 22:25:34

Not having a go at teachers, they do their jobs same as every one else. But I am very disappointed at the low expectations the 'system' has for children. If the cleverest at a high school are only expected to be learning the mean from a table and 14/15 year olds are only practising linear/quadratic equations then no wonder parents are so keen for private/selection.

simpson Tue 18-Oct-16 22:27:23

I think you need to speak to the school (head of yr7?)

DS is also in yr7 and they are streamed from the get go (onSATS results then do CATS a couple of weeks in but minimal moving around - he is in top stream 116 SATS result) he moaned about maths at the beginning of the year (& I thought oh no here we go!) but it has now ramped up & he is fine and says the maths is about right.

I think you have to be on this and if talking to maths teacher isn't helping, escalating to HOY7

noblegiraffe Tue 18-Oct-16 22:37:11

Jessia you wouldn't get any different from a selective school, mean from a grouped frequency table is old level 7 so grammar schools would have to teach it in Y7 too and simultaneous equations where one is quadratic is the very top end of GCSE/part of further maths GCSE.

AuditAngel Tue 18-Oct-16 22:45:45

I am about to start a simlar battle for my year 8 son in languages. He is very poor at both French and Latin, I suspect largely through a lack of desire to succeed.

However DS has learnt Spanish previously and has been put in the bottom set for Spanish. He might as well not bother going. His teacher also seems incapable of using the online homework system.

Leeds2 Tue 18-Oct-16 23:16:47

Not helpful, but I thought most secondary schools put the DC in sets for maths, at least, from October half term in Year 7 at latest.

Jessia0 Tue 18-Oct-16 23:19:10

Angel, yes having the same issue with Spanish and Latin. DD can have a conversation with a fluent Spanish speaker yet their is nothing from school to build on what they know. They are almost punished for being intelligent.

Girafffe, money talks, you want my hard earned money you dont have to settle for third best. That's a global guarantee.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Wed 19-Oct-16 00:23:34

Finding the mean of grouped data is in the 2nd yr secondary curriculum for the express stream in Singapore. Presumably later for other streams. Last time I looked, they were doing quite well in international testing.

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