How to convey to parents that level fours are FINE?

(87 Posts)

Obviously can't be specific although I'd like to. I'm just so frustrated by the parents of lovely kids with level four targets who are unhappy with progress and don't see why their children aren't getting fives.

Why do they not get that not all children can score level five on these bloody tests? Why do they not see that their children are thoughtful, honest, motivated, happy, hard working young people?? Why do they assume we are failing their children if they do not leave school with sodding level fives?? One child is on track for a four but came to juniors on a one. Still not happy!!!

Sorry for the rant, just dreading a meeting tomorrow where I'm going to have to either bite my tongue or be very blunt.

ggirl Mon 27-Jan-14 19:02:03

prob all fuelled by competitive parents at the school gates
sats suck

Oh definitely, ggirl. Bloody infuriating as we do so much to instil a culture of "being in competition only with yourself."

GW297 Mon 27-Jan-14 20:30:26

In lots of cases level 5 is no longer good enough and they are disappointed by anything less than a 6!

Ugh don't!
Oddly enough, the L6 children and their parents are most relaxed and see it as a nice way to challenge their children with no negative consequences if they don't get it. It's the parents whose kids will never be academic high flyers, but who work their arses off, who are most awful.

MisForMumNotMaid Mon 27-Jan-14 20:48:32

Could you say that their current level, doesn't restrict or limit their future potential?

Its a true and fair reflection of where they are and a good grounding for secondary to build on.

It doesn't prevent them from getting A*'s in the future.

Over egging a child's current level can leave them floundering and turned off when they find themselves out of their depth settling in a no doubt bigger environment of big school.

It is rumoured that some schools just issue 5's. Maybe consider that its better for the child to be accurately assessed at this stage so their good foundation of knowledge can be stretched to aim for good grades in the upper years of secondary school.

Gunznroses Mon 27-Jan-14 21:06:22

OP, of course the parents of the L6 kids are relaxed! They are confident in the knowledge that their children are very bright and capable, in top sets, the best schools (if looking for selective) are within realistic reach.

The parents of the children on lower grades are naturally worried, more agitated and panic about their children's progress and perhaps what their options will be in the next yr depending on what their local options are.

Its all well and good saying their kids are 'kind' 'thoughtful'and 'honest', but lets be honest here pardon the pun that's not the primary purpose for sending kids to school is it? The kids are there to learn academics and in today's fiercely competitive world its all about quaifications, you're not going to get decent job by just being kind and honest and tnoughtful hmm.

That is why the parents are all over the place. I don't think they expect you to wave a magic wand to fix their kids but you're being rather disingenuous.

Badvoc Mon 27-Jan-14 21:16:04

Hmmm.
My ds1 is a very average level 4 smile
But that's ok.
I am under no illusions he will end year 6 at level 6!!
He is very bright, but is not particularly academic.
He loves history, geography and maths. He hates French smile
I suppose I am just happy he is happy and not falling behind or struggling.
My ds2 in comparison is in YR and already a 1b for reading.
I encourage both of them as much as I can and will continue to do so.

Well, Gunznroses - I'd love to know what strategies you'd like teachers to use to push average and below average children towards the highest levels, which they have no chance of reaching, at this stage.
Level 4 is not a "lower grade," it's perfectly average.

Its all well and good saying their kids are 'kind' 'thoughtful'and 'honest', but lets be honest here pardon the pun that's not the primary purpose for sending kids to school is it? The kids are there to learn academics and in today's fiercely competitive world its all about quaifications, you're not going to get decent job by just being kind and honest and tnoughtful

Well there we disagree. I sleep easy knowing I give my class the best possible chance of success. I'm also proud that they have these qualities, even if they can't put them down on a CV.

MisFor Not sure what you mean - schools can't just issue fives as children are externally assessed.

I don't think they expect you to wave a magic wand to fix their kids
No, I expect wand waving wouldn't please them, but sometimes you think "What Do You Want Me To DO? What, physically, can I do beyond what I'm already doing?"

Badvoc Mon 27-Jan-14 21:29:57

I find it very odd that parents get het up over this.
Level 4b is the nationally expected level at end of year 6, yes?
So, if my ds1 is a 4a he is actually Above expected level, surely?
He got 70% on his maths mock sats and is thrilled.

Good for him, Badvoc
Yes, 4b is national expectation...in terms of actual attainment. However, the levels they finish KS1 on set their target for the end of Y6 - so if they got a 3c in Year 2, they need to get a 5c (at least) in year six. Bleurrrrg, sorry, I probably haven't phrased all this well....I just needed a rant. It really upsets me to see parents not being proud of their hard working, lovely kids. And it frustrates me when the odd one thinks you're obviously not doing your job if their child does not achieve the elusive "level 5"

noblegiraffe Mon 27-Jan-14 21:50:08

Do they know that level 4s should be headed for Cs at GCSE? Or at least they would have been were we keeping GCSEs.

Pooka Mon 27-Jan-14 21:55:09

YY to 5 not being enough any more!

The way I see it, the pressure and stress doesn't originate with the parents all the time. It's the rottenness of the basic system of SATS and league tables. So the schools are desperate to get better and better results. When they get a very high proportion of 4s, but so have the 10 schools nearby, they're differentiated by the number of 5s, and then the number of 6s.

I understand that increasingly ofsted are looking for stats relating to 'good' level 4s and at attainment/achievement increasingly in comparison to progress. So the old 2 levels progress from KS1 to KS2 not such a focus.

The school's anxiety filters to the children and parents. The children are hyperaware of their targets and learning objectives and are much more reflective with regards to their own relative progress than we ever were at age 10/11. It's just a big pressure cooker.

Badvoc Mon 27-Jan-14 21:59:34

My ds has really struggled since the start of formal learning in year 1.
In year 3 he was level 1s across the board sad
After a dx of severe dyslexia and lots of help from my dh and I He has made incredible progress (and may continue to do so.)
I think that the issue is that - these days - the term "average" is one of derision/abuse.

The school's anxiety filters to the children and parents.
See, in ours it's the other way around. We are very happy with our children's progress and are on track for about 90% with at least 2 levels progress (small cohorts are sometimes good!) The kids are happy with their learning and proud of themselves. It's the odd few parents who make things very difficult. And I really do stress "odd few." Most of them are brilliant and supportive.

ivykaty44 Mon 27-Jan-14 22:00:59

Is level four OK at age 14 Then?

Badvoc Mon 27-Jan-14 22:02:19

We are very proud of him smile
I think my ds2 will be more academically able, but who knows?
My ds1 is kind, funny and honest.
All his teachers say he is a pleasure to teach.
And that means more to me than him achieving level 5s.

*My ds1 is kind, funny and honest.
All his teachers say he is a pleasure to teach.
And that means more to me than him achieving level 5s.*
I am so glad to hear you say that. I completely agree.

Pooka Mon 27-Jan-14 22:05:55

The staff are excellent at being reassuring and low-key and calm about it all. I love our year 6 teachers. smile

Badvoc Mon 27-Jan-14 22:11:41

Our first meeting with his tutor was hilarious!
We walked in, sat down and he asked us if ds was ok.
We said yes.
He asked us if we were happy.
We said yes.
Then we asked him if he was happy.
He said yes.
Then we left!!
About 1.5 mins in total!
We had a parents evening next month with all his teachers - am assuming that will be a longer one! smile

Dromedary Mon 27-Jan-14 22:11:48

If level 4 at Y6 indicates GCSE grade Cs then no wonder parents are worried. If a child wants to go on to A'levels and university, grade Cs are very unhelpful.

Badvoc Mon 27-Jan-14 22:14:26

...but not every child does want to, do they?
I think it's far more to do with parental expectations tbh.
Living vicariously through your kids and all that?
God, I know so many graduates doing nothing with their degree.
All that time and money, and for what?
Unless you have a professions like law, medicine etc in mind then An apprenticeship would make much more sense IMO.
(my dh did his degree though work after his apprenticeship)

snowmummy Mon 27-Jan-14 22:23:09

Its ridiculous. Be blunt. These people need to wake up and smell the coffee.

Dromedary Mon 27-Jan-14 23:23:54

I'm a bit surprised that you think it's ok for the majority of children to be aiming for C grades at GCSE. I think parents do worry about a culture of low expectations.

noblegiraffe Mon 27-Jan-14 23:34:34

The majority of children aren't simply aiming for C grades. They are aiming for C or higher.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Mon 27-Jan-14 23:46:44

If level 4 at Y6 indicates that they should be aiming for only a C at GCSE then no wonder there is panic.

In a secondary where there is streaming, kids with a 4 aren't going to be anywhere near the top set initially, and then it gets hard to catch up.

You should be happy that you've got children in your class with parents who are ambitious for them, rather than being happy to achieve the bare minimum.

HarrietSchulenberg Mon 27-Jan-14 23:52:44

It depends on whether you know your child is capable of achieving higher than a level 4 but is slipping under the radar because his teachers think that a level 4 is acceptable.

I have a level 5/6 child in Yr8 and if he was to pay attention in lessons, do his homework properly instead of scribbling any rubbish just to fill up the page ("I just made the answers up, it doesn't matter if it's wrong, I'm not doing it again") and listen in lessons rather than look out of the window, he would be level 6 or above. He is not being challenged because his teachers are happy with his middling grades and he's not causing trouble in classes. School is on track to get the desired Grade C or above out of him and he's not causing them trouble in lessons - result! Meanwhile I have a bright but lazy child who thinks his mother is a nagging harridan because I want him to apply himself to achieve what he is capable of.

I also have a level 6 child in Yr6, who achieves those grades with virtually no effort, and his teacher is not prepared to stretch him because she's home and dry with her results for the year. TBH I'm not that bothered at the moment, he's only got 6 months to go at primary so he might as well enjoy them (too be fair, it's possible that his teacher might think that too), but he's going to have to start stretching himself when he hits Yr7 next year.

Ds3 is working at 1a/2c in Yr2, which, whilst being slightly below expected attainment, is what I know to be an accurate reflection of his ability. It therefore doesn't worry me as I know that it's accurate.

anothernumberone Tue 28-Jan-14 00:00:21

I think OP all you can do is focus in trying to constantly improve your practice. I am like you I sleep easy knowing that I am all the time looking for ways to improve and hell I was good to begin with smile that is enough. The parents have different considerations though I understand that too.

Gunznroses Tue 28-Jan-14 00:10:46

OP instead of patronising parents by saying 'but 'Johnny' is kind and thoughtful' blablabla just reinforce the point that the school continues to stretch Johnny to reach his full academic potential and stop glossing over weaknesses, parents aren't stupid. When parents express concerns about their child's low attainement stop coming back with but they are reaching the national targets! to be honest for a child not be reaching national targets there is possibly some unidentified SpLD. National targets levels alone is not going to get them very far education wise. Another poster above has already said this would predicatably be a C at GCSE! Parents are thinking long term not just the year you spend with them in school.

What worries me most is not what strategies you would use to help improve grades but your refusal to acknowledge that perhaps more can even be done, its like you've accepted for each child, this is what you are capable of and there's no need to go any further.

Dromedary Tue 28-Jan-14 00:41:58

I agree with Gunz. If the parent is frustrated that their DC is only predicted level 4 when they would have expected higher, then explain why that is the case (what the child's areas of difficulty are), and if there is anything the parent could do to help the child you could point them in the right direction. Eg IME spending a little bit of one to one time with a DC going over work with them can make a big difference. Or perhaps it would help for them to use one of the online sites to help with maths or literacy. I agree that there are only so many school hours in the day, and 30 children in a class, but if a parent feels strongly about wanting their DC to do better then they can get involved themselves to provide some extra support, but might need some guidance over how to do this.
But you may well already be doing this?
Why say so firmly that not all children can get level 5s? There's no rule about the percentage of children who can get level 5.

Hiddlesnake Tue 28-Jan-14 00:53:21

Average is not seen as good enough now. Even in relation to whole school attainment, now OFSTED don't recognise "Satisfactory" and instead a school that was/is average "Requires Improvement".

How rude, Gunz. I don't "patronise" parents by listing their non-academic achievements alongside their academic ones. How very sad that you seem to place no worth on these qualities.

As I've clearly said, the people I am frustrated with are parents of children who work damned hard but Are not CAPABLE of achieving higher than level fours. For some children it's just not possible. Equally, for some children, a C at gcse is a damn good achievement.

Average is not seen as good enough now. Even in relation to whole school attainment, now OFSTED don't recognise "Satisfactory" and instead a school that was/is average "Requires Improvement".
Depends on the context, hiddle
If a child enters juniors on a level 1 but achieves that "average" level four some people on here have such a problem with, their achievement is better than average and something to celebrate - not complain because it's "not a five."

DaffodilShoots Tue 28-Jan-14 09:16:48

Parents usually want the best for their children.

Preciousbane Tue 28-Jan-14 09:19:55

I remember the last lot of sats at primary, one of DS mates Mothers had the poor child doing loads of extra work. She made him miserable and he turned from being quite a nice child to a pain in the arse as he was so unhappy.

Badvoc Tue 28-Jan-14 09:24:49

Exactly jon snow...my ds works very hard and yet is still "only" a level 4 - all his teachers say he gives 100%. His effort scores are always "excellent".
Why is his achievement not seen as good as a child who is more able and coasts to a level 5!?
Something very wrong there....

HowYaLikeThemApples Tue 28-Jan-14 09:25:06

I wish my DCs had a teacher like you. They are all average and as long as they are trying their very best, listening, putting their hands up if they don't understand and not mucking about in class I'm more than happy. I always tell them "you don't have to be the best in the class, just do YOUR best". All the other competitive parents I have learned to ignore, ignore, ignore. Yet every parents evening I come away feeling like my children aren't good enough. I could honestly cry. It's parents evening in a few weeks and it's the first time in 5 years where I'm not sure I can actually face another academic assassination of my children.

Livvylongpants Tue 28-Jan-14 09:25:37

Is it still a seperate paper for level 6?

Badvoc Tue 28-Jan-14 09:32:19

....and it amuses that many of the most successful business people in the uk left school with no qualifications at all!
(Richard Branson, Jamie Oliver, Alan sugar....)
Education is about so much more than qualifications IMO.
Or at least it should be.
But never mind.
Soon the Tories and Gove will have all our children sitting in seried ranks being talked at for 6 hours a day and being expected to regurgitate boring facts about irrelevant crap.
But as long as they get a level 6, eh? sad

Gunznroses Tue 28-Jan-14 09:35:19

I state again, you ARE patronising parents by saying this

Why do they not see that their children are thoughtful, honest, motivated, happy, hard working young people?? Why do they assume we are failing their children if they do not leave school with sodding level fives??

What makes you bloody think they don't know their children have those qualities and don't celebrate them? They are coming to see you about ACADEMIC progress!! Why are you so hellbent on compartmentalising these children? Just be honest with the parents, keep stressing their academic strengths, ways in which parents can reinforce teaching at home, you are coming cross in your post as if there is absolutely no room for further improvement, but don't even realise it.

The reason for the parents assuming you are failing their children is because you are coming across a bit lack lustre about expectation levels for their precious children. I totally agree with you on the point about the child came in on a level 1 and is now a 4 is good prgress but there are lots of children aiming much higher but struggling for whatever reason, their parents are dissapointed and most likely the children too.

Badvoc Tue 28-Jan-14 09:51:20

Gunz...do you really believe kids give a tiny toss about their levels? Really?
The schools and parents seem to be the only ones getting their knickers In a twist!
Anyway...we are quite happy with ds1s "average" level 4. It's a huge achievement for him.

lljkk Tue 28-Jan-14 09:53:41

@ OP: I don't think you can change culture.

of course the parents of the L6 kids are relaxed! They are confident in the knowledge that their children are very bright and capable, in top sets, the best schools (if looking for selective) are within realistic reach.

The parents of the children on lower grades are naturally worried, more agitated and panic about their children's progress and perhaps what their options will be in the next yr depending on what their local options are.

Isn't that an indictment of selective schooling? (don't have around here).

I've got both kinds of kid, DD who sailed thru L6 tests & another DS who is probably below avg. In y6, I was tense with DD, I had to campaign & connive to allow her to take the L6 tests (long story). And she was very het up about what mark she would get (very competitive). With DS I'm very pleased that he's a naturally hard worker. And we will barely talk about the SAT results at all.

Friend's y10 14yo is probably L4-5 in most things. He's one of the nicest lads I know. I wouldn't be at all unhappy if he were mine. Yes, maybe he'll "only" be a bricky or Plasterer. Is that supposed to be shameful?! Plumbers make darn good money ime.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 28-Jan-14 09:55:20

Badvoc of course children care. My DS1 is only in Y1 but they all know who is on what reading level, who is on the top table for maths, etc etc.

Some children are motivated by having peers around them who are also doing well, it pushes them on because they want to keep up.

Dromedary Tue 28-Jan-14 09:55:51

I imagine that there are children who are only capable of Level 4, and who would struggle if pushed to aim for Level 5. But are you really sure that all of those who get Level 4 and below (I think roughly 3/4 of children?) are not capable of doing better? If a parent just spends half an hour a day doing maths or literacy with their child on a one to one basis, this can make a big difference to how well they do at school, and doing well at school IME makes a child more confident and happier. I'm not suggesting sending them to tutors till 10pm every night, as per South Korea.
I had the experience of having a young child who I was basically told, by a newly qualified teacher in Reception, was thick and I shouldn't expect them to learn to read anytime soon. So I taught my DC to read myself over the summer hols, she shot up to the top ability table and has never looked back. I had previously taken the view that it was up to the school to teach the child, and I should take a back-seat, but I learned my lesson with that experience. Teachers don't always know best, and they don't always have the time or willingness to put in the work that a child needs to help them overcome a difficulty.

lljkk Tue 28-Jan-14 09:59:46

Is it really a teacher's job to push push push?
I can see it's a teacher's job to provide opportunities and encourage.
The actual push has to come from within or perhaps parents can provide incentives or punishments (Amy Chua, £50 for every A, etc.)

But I am not sure that's a teacher's job to push push push, or that it even works if teachers try. Some have charisma to lead/push/demand, perhaps, but for those kids who don't want to be pushed or are already trying their hardest, that could make the teacher into an ugly ball-breaker they don't want to spend time with. Talk about a learning turn-off.

Can't believe that pushy charisma is an essential attribute in all y6 teachers.

Badvoc Tue 28-Jan-14 10:06:50

Ali...oh...that's so sad sad
If the child does not want to achieve for achievements sake, then pushing them will not help.
Or bribery shock

Gunznroses Tue 28-Jan-14 10:11:06

Badvoc Oh yes! Every single one of the kids i know do, as did i and my contemporaries at that age. If a child at age 10 does not give a tiny toss about their attainment levels then its time to sit down and explain it to them.

lljkk Wether its an indictment of selective schooling isn't really the point, the point is the higher the levels the more doors open for you academically, i'm speaking broadly regardless of wether its a grammar area, what about university? More children want to go to university now than ever, even if you don't go on to further education, you can at least aim for a good set of GCSEs.

Badvoc Tue 28-Jan-14 10:18:12

My son doesn't care what levels his friends are on...and neither do I.

Gunznroses Tue 28-Jan-14 10:19:48

Badvoc Wonderful! Each to their own.

Badvoc Tue 28-Jan-14 10:24:55

My ds would like to be a professional battle re enactor...how on earth do you gain quals for that!? smile

lljkk Tue 28-Jan-14 10:44:32

My children don't know exactly who else is on what reading level and only fuzzily who is on which table (because they get very excited if someone is on wrong table so might get told off by the teacher).

I humbly submit that some MNers children are only mimicking the obsessions of their parents.

Badvoc Tue 28-Jan-14 10:45:24

Lljkk...I equally humbly agree 100% with you! smile

Dromedary Tue 28-Jan-14 10:51:41

Certainly at secondary level some schools are "pushy", eg very on the ball with letting children know how they are doing and how they should be doing, testing them, etc, and some are laid back, and just let the children get on with it or not, as they prefer. In the latter case only those children who are naturally self- motivated or who have parents pushing them do well, and the others waste their school years messing around with their mates and dodging homework, and end up applying for jobs in McDonalds. Children are very let down by the culture of low expectations.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 28-Jan-14 11:51:48

Badvoc I think you've misunderstood my meaning. I'm not pushing him to do as well as anyone else, I only encourage him to achieve his potential.

He, and others, are the ones who are aware of what other children are achieving and they want to do as well as their friends. I don't see that there is anything wrong in that at all.

Please don't direct your sad at him, he is happy, thriving, gets lots of praise for effort.

Badvoc Tue 28-Jan-14 12:19:17

Well, yes. Goes without saying. I encourage my son too. Just because he's a level 4 does not mean he isn't encouraged hmm

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 28-Jan-14 12:21:45

No I know that confused Why are you picking a fight with me?

Badvoc Tue 28-Jan-14 12:34:56

Sorry, not picking a fight at all.
Just pointing out that even kids who are "only" level 4s have parents who care and encourage them!
Some posters above seem to imply they don't!

I also reckon it's wroth pointing out that for many children, 5 gcses at C grade is a bloody fantastic achievement. It is NOT simply a case of "aiming for mediocrity."

Badvoc Tue 28-Jan-14 12:47:54

Yes, exactly jon.
Some of the views on this thread make me very, very sad.
As long as ds comes out of school with the qualifications he needs to follow the path he wants to, then I am happy.
Although, as I said upthread, no idea what quals you need for battle re enactment! smile

Dromedary Tue 28-Jan-14 13:33:13

If a child gets the qualifications they need to do the job they want to do, and which is likely to be obtainable, and which will provide them with a decent and secure living, then that's all that is needed. But many don't know what they want to do or will change their mind later on, or will find that what they wanted to do is now oversubscribed or pays too little to live on. If they have good qualifications their options are wider, which surely has to be a good thing, especially as in recent times even non-intellectual jobs have tended to require reasonable qualifications.
I have a young relative who went to a good school, wasn't "pushed" by either school or parents and happily spent her non-school time watching TV and on Facebook, and ended up with 1 GCSE grade C. I don't think it was even a useful one. She is getting by, but only because she gets a lot of financial support from parents. If she had been given more "encouragement" she would have far more options now.
If the views on this thread make you sad Badvoc, try the recent threads where some posters are saying that their child should not be allowed to aim for any job which does not pay mega-bucks, because the gap between haves and have-nots is now so wide that the only option for their children is to be top earners. That made me sad.

Badvoc Tue 28-Jan-14 16:46:18

I have only given my dc one piece of advice regarding school and jobs and it is this:
"Find something you love and then find someone willing to pay you for doing it"
I wish someone had given me the same advice as a youngster!

Dromedary Tue 28-Jan-14 21:20:29

A lovely idea, but easier said than done.

TarteAuxRiz Thu 30-Jan-14 22:37:29

I think its easy to state what you have in your OP from the basis of knowledge that you area. Teacher who is willing to take each child as far as they can in academic achievement terms. As a parents. Have NO idea whether my child is where she is in the class because she is less capable than her peers (which i struggle to accept as she is very capable at home) or whether she slips under the radar because she is kind, helpful and just gets on with it.
The disruptive, rude, arrogant child in her year gets extra help because he is so bright that he's a year ahead of the others. My summer born, below average for her class child gets no extra help, because she is well behaved.
It fucks me off to be honest, because I believe with some one on one time like the high achiever gets she'd fly...but of course never as high as he does, which won't boost the schools results in the same way...

None of this would bother me a single bit if she herself didn't come home upset because she feels she's not as Clever as the other kids. She's 8 FFS, and she's already being taught to write herself off..

TarteAuxRiz Thu 30-Jan-14 22:43:31

An example of what I mean. Last week dd struggled with homework. She let her teacher know. The teacher promised to go through it with her...that was two weeks ago and nadda....bright boy meanwhile has had TWO one on one half hour sessions to complete his advanced work. Where is the fairness in that??!! Why should hebe trained to achieve his level 6 and dd have to make do with C's at gcse...how on earth can she know at this age WHAT she wants to do? Only by encouraging her to get he highest possible grades can we ensure she gets choices later on. It's not what I want to do. I want her to have a childhood and not WORRy about any of this stuff...but I'm scared of letting her down if I DONT push her because of all the competition she is facing.

TarteAuxRiz Thu 30-Jan-14 22:44:00

Sorry, week BEFOREl sat she struggled with homework...

Dromedary Thu 30-Jan-14 22:52:40

I've heard a lot about schools concentrating on getting lower ability children to Level 4, while not bothering about higher ability children who will get to Level 4 without help, but could do better with more attention from the teachers. So it can work both ways. As parents I think you have to accept that you may have to do something yourself to help your child progress. At primary school it is quite do-able, but much less so at secondary unfortunately.

Maria33 Thu 30-Jan-14 22:56:38

Level 4 at end of ks2 would suggest level 6 at end of ks3 which would actually put them on B grade trajectory.

I'm a teacher and think that there often is a culture of low expectation. I think the point is about levels or exam grades is that kids can be trained to pass them. It's not indicative of some innate intelligence, it's just a test.

Being a good person has nothing to do with grades but parents want good opportunities for their kids. Level 4 is fine but level 5 is better. I'm not saying there's anymore that you can do but why shouldn't parents be ambitious for their children? God knows schools aren't.

I'm sure they know their kids are great. That's not why they've sent them to school. They need school for education and qualifications. I too find your attitude patronizing.

TarteAuxRiz Thu 30-Jan-14 23:00:43

We do quite a but already dromedary, reading every night, tables practice several times a week...unfortunately I have NO idea the methods they are using to teach her certain things (maths) and I don't want to confuse her further by using the wrong methods. As it is she is very anti us trying to teach her anything she is doing at school. If I try and help she switches off and gets moody. I've checked with her teacher who says she is very receptive and gives her all in class, so it's just is she's like this with. Right now I'm seriously considering a tutor, which is honestly the last thing I want for her, but at the same time I'm worried that if we let her start to slip behind at this stage the gap will be too wide later.

It's ridiculous really. We had no homework at primary school when I was a kid, I didn't ever hear of a school friend having a tutor in my entire school career until gcse's. Now I have several friends who have their children tutored because of similar concerns to ours. If dd was amenable I'd homeschool....but she loves school!!

TarteAuxRiz Thu 30-Jan-14 23:03:58

She's y4 btw. And 3a across the board at the moment. More than half of her year group are 4c/4b

Dromedary Thu 30-Jan-14 23:14:15

Tarte - I think the government expect 4b or above in Year 6 SATS? So your DD must be ahead of her current government set target. And from what you say only just below halfway point for her year group (and it may be a good year or a better than average school). Personally I wouldn't panic (and have no idea what level my own primary school child is at - also Y4). There are some good books you can get which go through the methods and then give some sums to try? I think that with maths doing lots of practice really helps. With much of the rest of it reading a lot is key, if you can find books which enthuse her.

TarteAuxRiz Thu 30-Jan-14 23:19:19

Thanks Dromedary. I think she's capable of getting a level 5...and I think doing so would afford her more choices later. At the same time I want her to enjoy learning, feel positive about it and to have a childhood. She does read. I raid the charity shops and she gets new books nearly every week, plus has loads of my old books and gets tons for Xmas birthday...no shortage of reading material for her and she does like reading...though not as much as some of her peers. She loves art too, and I'd love her to develop that as something just for her...
What I want is for her to have grown up when we did...without all this pressure and expectation!! :/

TicTacTastic Thu 30-Jan-14 23:26:32

The way you'll convey it to them is not by saying "not all kids can get level 5s" or "your child is lovely and hardworking", but by getting across to them that you know their specific child very well indeed, have a good detailed knowledge of her strengths and weaknesses, and that you don't think a level 4 is "fine" but rather a sign of her working very well and achieving or exceeding her potential as indicated by earlier learning.

Parents don't want something that's "fine", something that will "do" - they want their child to get the best she personally can (happily) do, not something that's OK as the generalised target for the particular quartile of the cohort into which you have decided (for your own, possibly opaque, and possibly mistaken, reasons) their child fits.

Rather than reassuring them about the value of a level 4, you'd probably do better to sound rather as though you think a level 4 isn't good enough! Let them walk away reassured that there's no way you'd be happy with a child getting a level 4 if they had even the slightest chance of a level 5, that you're not closing any doors to level 5s and that right up until the last minute if there's anything you can do to help a child get up a further level then you'll do it. That's probably all they need to know to be reassured.

The more you try to persuade them that a level 4 is fine, the more they'll worry that you won't think it's worth their child trying for a higher level even if she could get it, so the more they'll think they need to push you to have higher expectations.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 30-Jan-14 23:42:57

I think the most important thing parents need to do is not listen to other parents.
I'm serious, this is where it can go horribly wrong.
We live in a culture of competitiveness academically and that is fine, for those who thrive, are bright. They should be encouraged 100% to go for A*, but at the other end of the spectrum are those who struggle, or those who aren't very ambitious for an academic career and many in between. Some dc need the extra support, but may not benefit from a competitive environment.
I don't think there is anything wrong with tests at 7, 11, Y9. It is exactly what we have always had, well my 70's education had them.
Now it is the pressure to perform well and it is so unfair on our children. We really didn't know we were being tested and certainly were under no stress. Well I was under much more stress, but different circumstances.

You could tell them that typically dc who leave y6 with level 5's get straight Cs at GCSE grin and then see the shock on their faces.

CouthyMow Thu 30-Jan-14 23:58:27

Level four is where the student in the MIDDLE of the class is 'expected' to be. Nothing wrong with that.

When you get a child who is still on p-scales at the end of Y6, and in Y11 is on course for an F in Maths and a D in English, which is a MASSIVE achievement for this DC, you start to ignore the school gate chatter about SATS...

I have another who was lvl 3 above the board in Y2, lvl 5/6 in Y6 (and he missed half a term of Y6 recovering from illness). In Y7 now, working on lvl 7/8...

And yet another, who at Y2 SATS was lvl 1c in Maths, p-scales in reading and writing. Currently in Y5, working on lvl 4b Maths, lvl 3a English apart from his handwriting which is around lvl 2c but he's physically disabled.

Progress is not linear.

It's all pretty much bollocks if you ask me. Based on my DD's grades, she would get U in every GCSE. Based on DS1's grades, fuck knows, but he can do GCSE Maths now in Y7. And does. Often. He finds it fun. ugh

Based on my DS2's end of KS1, he has already exceeded his 2 level progress across KS2 and he's not yet halfway through Y5.

I fully intend to just nod and smile when faced with levels with DS3... grin

CouthyMow Fri 31-Jan-14 00:02:01

(DS3 is likely to be a 'late bloomer' like DS2, given his current development)

DS2 has made 6 sub levels progress in Maths in just 13 weeks. Though that IS mostly down to moving out of a school deemed 'Outstanding' to one deemed 'Satisfactory' (Due Ofsted soon.)

Give me the 'Satisfactory' school any day...

Again, it's all just pointless hoops for teachers and schools to jump through, and bears no real meaning to how real life children (rather than some textbook 'average' child) actually progress.

noblegiraffe Fri 31-Jan-14 07:23:15

Level 4 at end of ks2 would suggest level 6 at end of ks3 which would actually put them on B grade trajectory.

Not in maths, a level 6 at KS3 is more likely to map to a C.

Badvoc Fri 31-Jan-14 07:30:36

Tarte....I hear you! My ds1 had obvious issues right from pre shcool tbh but the teachers had to deal with the more disruptive/chair growing kids so ds1 just fell through the net.
We have done loads with him though and it's paid real dividends so don't despair!
Agree with morethan too...don't compare. That way madness lies!

Badvoc Fri 31-Jan-14 07:32:13

Couthy...I did the same! Moved ds1 from an "outstanding" school where he was left with clinical depression aged 6 sad to a satisfactory one.
I wasn't - and probably never would - by happy with the sen provison at either school but at least at the latter he was happy and not bullied.
And you can teach your child yourself.
For me, school is a socialisation tool.

TicTacTastic Fri 31-Jan-14 08:31:12

I think parents will easily do the convincing themselves that a level four is fine, but only after they are 100% sure that their child is a level four because that's his or her real ceiling level. If they've got even a whisper of a feeling that the teacher is happy with their child's level four just because "that's generally fine for most kids so there's no need to try for anything more", then they're going to be unsatisfied and worried that their child might be being affected by lower expectations than her ability deserves. You might interpret this as them not being happy with a level four in principle, but it's just as likely to be them being worried about your attitude to level fours in relation to their particular child. Being ever more reassuring about level fours being "fine" might actually be counterproductive if you want them to back off a bit and stop worrying!

Gunznroses Fri 31-Jan-14 11:22:14

Tictac You put it all extremely well!

gleegeek Fri 31-Jan-14 11:56:52

If a level 4 is a real achievement for the child than it's great. If a level 4 is the minimum they should get and there is a possibility/probability they could achieve higher grades with some hard work, then I wouldn't be happy with a level 4. It's all relative.

But I do despair about the low expectations of one of our year 6 teachers, whose class aren't expected to do as well as the other two classes angry He thinks if children are self motivated, they will be fine. I think some of them just need a rocket behind them!

HelpTheSnailsAreComingToGetMe Tue 04-Feb-14 00:55:20

Are Sats levels different from how they used to be, or are children taught a lot better? I did ks2 Sats in the late 90s, did the level 6 papers but only got 5s, just like most of my friends. This was at an academically selective private junior school which was preparing us to sit the entrance exam to the seniors, rather than specifically prepping us for Sats, but still, none of us were expected to get sixes. Seems very harsh on the little kids now when in a fairly academic environment a decade and a half ago, 4 was fine and 5 was good.

isitpimmsoclockyet Sun 16-Feb-14 20:24:03

I have a year 6 son who is on course for a level six in his SATs, a ear 4 DD who is already 4a across the board and a well-above average year one son.

In my honest opinion......there's a part of me who thinks they will be better off in a trade later on.....hairdressing, building, carpentry....because they will always have a skill which will enable to work/earn, and going on to achieve fab grades/degrees etc may not do that (as my unemployed scientist husband can testify!!) I want them do be happy in the life choices they make, and getting hung up on levels/grades is a waste of time. What I have drummed into them is that it's not the results they get which matter but the choices these results will give them in life which is important.

To me as a parent, teacher, and governor it's just a hoop for schools to jump through. I'm lucky that our school is 'good' and all three kids love it, enjoy school, have nice friendship groups and approachable teachers.....they do well academically but it's only one piece of the puzzle. I just think it's unfair the amount of pressure it all puts on teachers who are already dedicated enough.

ReallyTired Fri 21-Feb-14 23:55:09

"It's the parents whose kids will never be academic high flyers, but who work their arses off, who are most awful."

I think that the parents understand that their little ones are growing up in a dog eat dog world. It is tougher than ever to get a job in the UK as our children will be competing with immigrants for a job. Even apprenticeships are getting harder to get. Just look at the massive levels of youth unemployment in the UK. If a child has not got good literacy and maths skills then it closes a lot of doors for them.

I pushed my son quite hard in year 6 as I was not content with him scraping a 4c in English. I was utterly ballistic with the suggestion that 4c was OK, as he was a hard working child who had got level 3s in keystage 1 SATs. OFSTEd have subsequently rated the school as inadequate as they don't think its OK for a child who got level 3 in keystage 1 SATs to only get a 4c in year 6.

I wanted ds to have the literacy skills to cope with secondary so I sent ds to a tutor. He has absolutely flown at secondary where he has teachers with reasonable expectations. Secondary schools in my town ignore SATs and use CATS instead.

I feel the really awful parents are those who don't care about their children's education in the basic ways. Ie. they don't read to their children or get their children to school on time. Save your wrath for the parents of the child whose reading diary is empty and wears dirty clothes.

Quinteszilla Sat 22-Feb-14 00:05:24

Op, you asked further down "I'd love to know what strategies you'd like teachers to use to push average and below average children towards the highest levels, which they have no chance of reaching, at this stage. "

Well, maybe not the highest levels, but higher?

In my sons Y6 class there was a big focus on putting children forward for the L6, my son included, he achieved an L6 for maths.

I was not keen, because I think it is rather pointless for the children (although I understand many schools like to say they had so and so many L6 kids) to teach to three different levels, 4, 5 and 6 in class. Why start so late? And why teach to 3 different levels, rather than just try to ensure more children achieve their very best, at L4 and L5?

I did not like the pressure the kids were put under.

Lizziegeorge Sat 22-Feb-14 09:07:59

Unless a child is extremely one way or another ie high or low level in Year 6 their SATS have no bearing on their GCSE results- children are often late or early developers. Knowing how to learn and wanting to learn as much as possible is far more important. IMHO.

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