what would be a sensible approach for school to take with dd? (Maths)

(34 Posts)
OhYouBadBadKitten Wed 06-Feb-13 14:11:37

d is Year 8 and very talented at Maths. School is lovely and doing their best with her. At the moment they have her self teaching from the Set 1 Year 9 book whilst the rest of the class are taught the Year 8 curriculum. She finds the work pretty simple, but she is coming across things she hasnt seen before. They are also challenging her through the UKMT program.

It's not ideal, we'd quite like dd to be actually taught maths, rather than teach herself. Partly because she isnt really learning formal ways of writing proofs and what not (which will become important I guess) but also, we are a bit worried that at some point she will need to learn exam technique and also we are concerned she might develop misconceptions that nobody picks up on.

Happy for her to muddle on this year, but next year she would be starting on teaching herself GCSE if they go down the same path. Not so happy about that. If she is going to do that level work, we think she ought to be taught.

In an ideal world, I think we'd like to see her moved up a year in maths now, as her maturity is really coming on and she has lots of friends in the year group above, but we think that it would be impossible for the school to timetable. But what would be reasonable for the school to try and achieve?

Thanks smile

secretscwirrels Wed 06-Feb-13 16:35:11

Ah I wish I had the answer.
My DS1 was the same, bored. I tried everything to get the school to stretch him, even offering to mark his work if they could set him something off curriculum. They did nothing. Borderline grade D/C s get hours of extra input but not those who will coast A*s. In the end he got GCSE Maths A* in y10 and Stats in Y11.
He's now doing Maths and FM at a sixth form college and he is loving it. He has renewed his love of Maths which was lost at secondary school. They are doing all sorts of stretch and challenge with him as well, so all is not lost.

He was at a bog standard comp who achieve 70% A* to C inc EM.
I'd love to know what other (ordinary) schools do.

mumsneedwine Wed 06-Feb-13 16:55:11

Is it a small school ? Our bog standard comp top sets are doing year 9 & 10 work and will start GCSE in Sept. This is 60 kids (2 halves of year each have top set). I'm surprised he is the only one in school on this level as maths tends to be the subject lots of kids go fast in. I would ask head of KS3 maths what they are going to do next year. Sounds horrid for him.

Asterisk Wed 06-Feb-13 17:11:20

OP: It's not an ideal soloution but, as part of addressing accelerated learning, the school should be subscribing to a good online programme like MyMaths where your daughter can advance at a pace that suits them. The 'explanations' on these programmes are usually well written and constitute a form of teaching. At least it will allow your daughter to see where she hasn't understood something, and the school can monitor and reward progress. It's got to be better than sitting with a text book. You could also suggest the school pairs up your daughter with a sixth-form maths student (if they have a sixth form), who will do a bit of tutoring. The sixth former will have something interesting to write on their personal statement and your daughter will benefit from one-on-one time with a good maths student.

OhYouBadBadKitten Wed 06-Feb-13 17:22:07

How did I miss off a 'd'? its my dd. It is a large school. She is significantly ahead of her peers, but so far we have concentrated in not accelerating her but stretching her sideways as we believe that is much more important in the long run.

Her maths teacher commented last year (when she was in year 7) that they could happily drop her in with the Year 11's this year but we agreed that was not the right thing for her personally, as socially we dont want her to stand out and also, if they can keep her interests stretched sideways she will be a better mathematician in the long run. So this year has been a compromise solution.

Her school doesnt as far as I know put anyone in early normally, top sets do maths and Stats at the normal time.

Before I ask the head of maths what they are going to do, I'd quite like an idea of what are reasonable expectations! I never have any idea as to whether we have been following the right path or not.

webwiz Wed 06-Feb-13 18:07:56

DD2 was like this and her school have a policy of no early entry for GCSEs so she didn't take her maths GCSE till year 11. She did however do a lot of extra work along the way that was set by the teachers to take her understanding of the topics that were being studied a bit further. Some of the time though maths was a subject to have a bit of a rest in when she was balancing lots of GCSEs and she enjoyed having something she could do quite easily.

When it came to Maths and Further Maths at A level she found the step up quite easy because she had a good grounding along the way. It didn't help with the step up to university maths though!

webwiz Wed 06-Feb-13 18:14:52

Has she done any of the maths challenges OP? They can be quite good for a bit of creative maths thinking


OhYouBadBadKitten Wed 06-Feb-13 20:14:03

She has webwiz smile and looking forward to the next one!

I guess my question to her school should be.. Are they going to start her down the path of her gcse work next year, which would follow the pattern they have followed so far, or are they going to find something different for a year for her to do. I think they kind of scuppered things a bit by having her work a year ahead of her peers this year and last year, as she's either going to have to have a gap year from gcse work, repeat a year of work or do it early.

How did your dd find the step up to uni maths? I think it must come as a real shock to suddenly find its proper hard work when they aren't used to it in maths. I know it's a way ahead for dd and things change, but its something I've half thought about.

webwiz Wed 06-Feb-13 20:50:34

DD2 found the step up to uni maths difficult but then again so did all her friends on her course - she does enjoy being with other mathematicians though as she missed out on being able to work more collaboratively on the way through.

I think its sensible to look at how the path will work for your DD - DD2 had one teacher who wasn't confident giving extra work and so that ended up being a bit of a repeat year. If her school aren't planning to let her take the GCSE early then how are they going to provide enough interest for her in the lessons.

Are you near any universities? DD2 went to quite a few Saturday lectures run by Cambridge that were aimed at secondary school students. This is quite good for maths problems as well nrich.maths.org/frontpage

OhYouBadBadKitten Wed 06-Feb-13 21:14:53

She's going to some at the nearby uni at the moment smile she is really enjoying them! Whole mornings just for maths!
It's reassuring to chat with you, It feels like we are stumbling in the dark a bit (but i guess that is parent hood) but it sounds like we might be muddling through ok - I hope!

webwiz Wed 06-Feb-13 21:38:49

I think if she's managing to carry on enjoying maths then its going ok smile

PandaG Wed 06-Feb-13 21:46:49

DS is Y8 and pretty bright at maths (but not as bright as your DD by the sound of things). He's top of top set, and is coping easily with the work, but is not really enjoying it.

What he does love is his extra maths class - once a fortnight the 6 top in the year have a lunchtime lesson with the Further maths A-level students, where the VI formers discuss the maths challenge (and similar) questions with the Y8s, one VI former to 2 13 yos. He enjoys the challenge, and the small group stimulation.

Also, what abou getting DD involved ib the Cypher challenge? I think it only runs in the term up to Christmas, but is a fantastic code breaking mathsy project run by one of the universities. Friend who is a maths teacher does it with her school.

mumsneedwine Wed 06-Feb-13 21:54:51

Sorry, my last post wasn't particularly helpful (was at work and posted quickly). A large school should definitely be able to cope with stretching sideways. Ours do GCSE in year 10 & a further maths qualification in year 11 (think its FCMQ. But might have wrong letters). Also do the UKMIT challenges, maths competitions and University master classes. All I would expect of a large comp and if not getting these opportunities then I would be asking loudly why not. I agree that putting a year 8 in year 11 would be difficult, but giving them the work should not be. My daughter's class were doing A level stuff the other day as teacher said they obviously enjoyed the subject & so he kept teaching it ! I think school need a plan for the next few years - it is a SEN and should be treated with the same seriousness. Good luck.

OhYouBadBadKitten Wed 06-Feb-13 22:01:44

I'd forgotten about the cypher challenge, that could be something good to look at.

Hadn't occurred to me that one of the 6th formers could perhaps mentor dd. one of the teachers is supposed to be her mentor but he is incredibly busy so it rarely happens ( we help her with the ukmt stuff which isn't ideal) what a clever idea. I need to find a tactful was to suggest it to the school.

OhYouBadBadKitten Wed 06-Feb-13 22:05:29

Thanks mums smile it does sound like they are doing a lot of the right stuff, which is good to know. Just need to check they have a plan for the lessons.( perhaps they do, in which case letting us know would be nice)

PandaG Wed 06-Feb-13 22:12:29

the extra maths with the VI formers is entirely voluntary, as is the hw from it, but DS loves it!

Schooldidi Wed 06-Feb-13 22:18:31

Dd1 is also year 8 and is similarly talented in Maths, and I am a Maths teacher at a different school.

Dd1's school are keeping her within the normal top set but are pretty good at setting decent extension work to stretch her sideways. The top sets at her school seem to be pretty good so they are all covering the year 9 curriculum and they will all do the GCSE in year 10 (and judging from past years the majority of them will get the A* and be able to do Additional Maths in year 11), so that's 60 pupils (2 top sets) who are being accelerated. A few of them are finding it easy, dd1 and 3 of her friends, but the rest are finding it pretty challenging and are having to work hard.

The top set year 8 class I teach doesn't really have anyone in it who would compare to my dd1, or your dd from the sounds of it. We are covering mostly level 7 and 8 work but won't sit the GCSE til year 11.

I don't really like the thought of children teaching themselves Maths as they do seem to devise their own method of recording their working which doesn't match the conventions.

OhYouBadBadKitten Thu 07-Feb-13 08:12:54

That worries me schooldidi, which is fine at the moment, but is likely to cause problems as she gets older and when she gets into exams.

I wish dds school did as your dds does!

DeWe Thu 07-Feb-13 10:16:00

I was like this, and loved teaching myself, and I think I learnt more by doing it. If ever I'd not understood the teacher would have helped, but in all honesty I don't think that ever happened.

I remember once doind a project with the rest of the set, and the teacher got a different result from me. The teacher was most amused when the class voted that I was more likely to be right than her. I was too grin <It only happened once, so it wasn't the teacher was usually wrong>

I changed school in the 6th form was was regularly commented on how much better than their pupils I set my work out.

I went to Oxford to read maths, so it can't have done me any harm.

noblegiraffe Thu 07-Feb-13 10:51:00

Sounds a tricky situation. In my school the timetable simply wouldn't allow sitting in a Y11 class. I'm a fan of enrichment rather than acceleration and teaching yourself Y9 maths in lessons sounds rather lonely, maths should include working with others. The idea of getting a sixth former to mentor her outside of lessons sounds great.
Has she read many mathematical books? Marcus Du Sautoy has written some great books about non-curriculum maths (e.g. The Number Mysteries ) which would be accessible to a bright teenager. Dara O'Briain's School Of Hard Sums TV programme which is available on YouTube has some lovely maths problems too, which should broaden her approach to maths.

Machadaynu Thu 07-Feb-13 11:05:10

I don't know the answer but you need to do something - but you know that.

I was good at Maths at school. My junior school had 8 maths books you were supposed to work through during your time there. Due to being put ahead a year and then put back, I did 4 of them twice, and was still the only person at that stage to finish the eighth book. The school then just gave me the maths books they used before the ones I'd finished and gave me them to do. The questions were no harder, just in different books.

At secondary school it was the same - in year 7 (or year 1 as it was called then) the maths was easier than the maths I'd done at junior school, and I guess by year 9 I was back up to about the same level - I basically learned no maths for 3 years. When I came to GCSE I carried on putting in no effort anf got an A (no such thing as A* then) but I remember being told off by my teacher for only getting 86% on the mock - he said I should be getting it all right, but I still didn't put in any effort - why bother when 86% took no work and was a very comfortable top grade?

Then I did A level maths. All of a sudden it wasn't easy. Or at least it wasn't based on the same maths I'd understood since I was 9 - up to GCSE I could just intuitively do maths, and I was the same for the first half-term of A levels. but then it got to the point where I didn't just get it without thinking, and as I discovered I'd also forgotten how to learn maths, if that makes sense.

I just sort of bumbled along and could sort of so it well enough for the teacher (who to be fair was off a lot with chronic back problems) to not notice.

Anyway, in summary I wasn't stretched and coasted through from age 7 to 16, and then totally ballsed up my A level maths - I passed - just - but I should have got an A.

The school has the resources to stretch your child. I'd ask why they aren't using them, and if it is possible that perhaps they could. Maybe my example might be useful in persuading them? Surely she can go in with a higher year, or have different work set? I assume the maths teachers teach to a higher level after all!

MiniTheMinx Thu 07-Feb-13 11:15:47

Have you looked at conquer maths. Something to do at home. It supports all ages right up to 18 yrs, covers GCSE and is not just about testing ability, the tutorials are brilliant. Tracks progress, tests for areas of weakness, gives weekly/monthly reports so you can track their progress.


OhYouBadBadKitten Thu 07-Feb-13 13:40:45

Really interesting options thank you smile

DeWe, now that is interesting to hear - perhaps before I go in too hard I should check with her teacher that she feels that dd is fully on track with her methods.

noble - she loves those books, we've actually tried spreading her sideways from maths a bit by encouraging her down some popular physics books, which seems to make her happy. I've not heard of Dara O'Briain's tv programmes, so that will be brilliant - thanks!!!

macha, your maths story is rather sad. I think that if you dont learn how to think in maths (because its too easy and youve not had to think) that when you finally reach the challenging bit you dont have any strategies to cope with it. I'm hoping that the UKMT side is helping dd with that, she does find some of those problems challenging.

mini - thats an interesting link, thank you. At the moment shes not having a problem with teaching herself, its us who are seeing the problem!

OhYouBadBadKitten Thu 07-Feb-13 21:10:14

Discovered that parents evening is not the time to raise these questions. Ended up with a very flustered teacher and no answers. Oops! Going to phone the head of maths and tackle it that way.

Schooldidi Thu 07-Feb-13 21:20:24

Sounds like a good idea. Parents evenings do quite often get a bit hectic and I have been known to be unable to answer questions I haven't anticipated. I would imagine that the teacher will be speaking to the head of department tomorrow to find out for you, so the head of maths will probably be expecting your call.

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