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To think that sometimes, children are labelled by school as low ability as young as 6....

(51 Posts)
lottieandmia Fri 15-Mar-13 14:31:37

I am not saying in every school and of course I am not saying every teacher. But I do think it's wrong for teachers to make a mental note that a child is low ability at such a young age. I have seen it happen in a school I worked in when I was helping children with their reading. A teacher whispered to me 'oh dear, you've got the thick table'. I think it is awful that children are written off so young and also that they are given the message that your self worth boils down entirely to how academically bright you are.

I can understand that in schools where there are classes of 30 the teacher may need to stream them to remind them of where the children are at but this tends to lead to a fixed idea imo. My friend has been told her dd is low ability and she's only in year 2. The reason was that she is on a lower ORT level than the other kids, apparently.

My dd, when in reception could not read ORT and was the last in her class to learn to read but she was not labelled in such a way and now in year 4 is working at NC level 4 so she's doing fine now.

Labelling negatively is surely a self-fulfilling prophecy isn't it?

MNetBlackpoolLE Fri 15-Mar-13 14:37:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ReallyTired Fri 15-Mar-13 14:37:41

Some times children are labelled as "low ablity" in nursery at the age of 3! (Ie. the August born child who has just turned 3 and is barely out of nappies)

I agree it is depressing and takes all the fun out of learning. Its not good for children on the top table either who can become arrogrant little sods. Telling a child that they are "clever" does not encourage them to work. It can be a real shock for a child to find something difficult if they are used to finding learning easy.

I am sure that with computer technology a less blatent method of differentiating work could be made. Ablity groups is thought to be one reason that summer borns do worse than winter borns. It is a self fulfilling prophecy.

MNetBlackpoolLE Fri 15-Mar-13 14:38:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SashaSashays Fri 15-Mar-13 14:39:57

I don't think it is self-fulfilling or really that bigger deal as long as there is regular testing and the opportunity to improve.

My DS2 was really slow at school, I thought he would never read, he was put in a bottom set in year 1, and year 2. He pretty much achieved nothing on his SATS.

When he went up to junior school he was tested again and put in the middle sets.When he went up to senior school, he was tested again and put in top sets for somethings. By year 9 he was in top set for every subject and considered in top few children of most classes.

He achieved only A* & As at GCSE and is currently doing A levels, excelling in classes and hoping to study medicine. He spent, the first 11 years being distinctly average, I didn't make a fuss of it, some of us are nothing too special but turns out he was just a slow starter.

DS4 is currently doing something similar, he may improve, he may not.

What I think makes the difference is how parents react to such news.

HoldMeCloserTonyDanza Fri 15-Mar-13 14:40:19

The thick table?! angry

That's appalling. Horrendously unprofessional.

ReallyTired Fri 15-Mar-13 14:50:55

lottieandmia Fri 15-Mar-13 14:52:45

I was shocked, HoldMe. I saw a lot of things that I was shocked about in that school - racism in the staff room and teachers saying they couldn't be bothered to teach that afternoon so they were going to give the children colouring in!

Sasha - exactly. I agree but if your teacher has decided you're a bit 'thick' then I think that would affect a child's self esteem.

Oh yes, the August birthday thing. My friend's dd is an end of August birthday. At 3, 6 months makes all the difference to a child's development.

But anyway, even if you're not academic you are as valuable as everyone else. But I don't think schools promote this way of thinking.

pigletmania Fri 15-Mar-13 16:34:52

Yanbu at all. I was that 'thick' child at school, I hav a 2:1 degree in sycholgy and a good Msc degree. You cannot write off a young Chidren like that they have not yet reached their full potential

pigletmania Fri 15-Mar-13 16:37:38

Wow sasha that is fantastic teir is hope for my intelligent but Autistic dd 6 who as dev delays impeding her learning. She now goes to specialist autistic school and is really accellin, catching up with her peers

Inertia Fri 15-Mar-13 16:43:06

Labelling children as 'thick' is never acceptable, nor is writing them off. But the fact is that children's abilities are assessed from the start of their time in school, and schools and individual teachers are judged on the basis of how much progress the children have made.

If a child is not making expected progress then the school is expected to do something about that. Not saying I agree that children should be judged on the basis of what boxes can be ticked for them, but it's the way schools are forced to work.

mrsjay Fri 15-Mar-13 16:47:57

Yanbu My dd has a slight learning disability and I was told she was a nice girl and very social she would do 'fine' in life,hmm she was 6 years old her primary didnt really do much with her some extra turtoring but they didnt like to push her
, her high school has been brilliant and she passed all her prelims ( scottish mocks) with 1s and 2s and is doing her standard grades in may she has to be scribed but it is all her own work, so I am glad she wasn't pigeon holed in secondary

SashaSashays Fri 15-Mar-13 17:07:59

Having re-read your OP. I can sat yanbu to think that sometimes, children are labelled by school as low ability as young as 6.

But I would still maintain this means very little.

Obviously labelling children as thick isn't acceptable, but I'm yet to hear of school actually labelling a group of children as that in the past few decades.

I don't think its a negative thing to be assessed, I don't think its awful to be in the bottom group, it often means children can get the support they need. I'm a massive believer in setting for nearly every subject.

We can't all be the best and differentiating between the needs of different children is important and as far as I'm concerned the fairest way to do things.

MrsMushroom Fri 15-Mar-13 18:28:02

My DD was also not reading in reception and in year four at a high level 4. Same, same. Now DD2 is in reception she is also not reading yet...I'm not worried.

pointythings Fri 15-Mar-13 18:42:48

I think labelling is hugely damaging, at both ends of the spectrum. Children really develop at very different rates - a lot of the children who could not read in YrR were flying by the end of Yr2.

It's also important not to label children as 'clever' - you want to praise effort, so that you're motivating them to keep working hard, otherwise they may become complacent and stop trying.

MrsSchadenfreude Fri 15-Mar-13 18:44:34

My friend's daughter was labelled "not academic" at her junior school and in first two years at secondary, her parents were told that she would not achieve much, and they should look for a "low level career" for her, such as working in a nursery or hairdressing. hmm She moved school in her third year at secondary and really took off.

She is now reading Maths at a RG University, with a string of GCSE at A * and As at A level...

YellowAndGreenAndRedAndBlue Fri 15-Mar-13 18:50:02

Unfortunately labelling still happens a lot and it is damaging. There are many excellent teachers, but there are a fair number of poor ones out there too, people who always locate the problem within the chld rather than reflect on their own teaching for example.

Iaintdunnuffink Fri 15-Mar-13 18:55:10

One of mine is summer born and was always on the lower end of achievement in primary, he also required extra help and was put on various schemes. I have no problem with children who are working at a similar level to be put together and given appropriate work. A teacher to refer to them as thick in a professional setting is horrible. Personally, I don't think it's right to even define them as bright, not bright, academic or not at that age. That son is now in the top sets at secondary school and the tests he did when starting showed him as having exceptional potential!

exoticfruits Fri 15-Mar-13 19:02:45

As a teacher who failed the 11+ (and is absolutely against testing children that young) there is no way that I would do it. I know perfectly well that education is not a race, and if it was, slow and steady are often the winners.
It won't happen in the majority of cases, but unfortunately it happens- but calling them 'thick' is appalling, not to mention unprofessional.

whiteandyellowiris Fri 15-Mar-13 19:04:45

i was told i wasn't acedemic at infant school, and it really fucked me up, as it was said in front of me, and i thought well it must be true
then i never really tried, as i just thought i couldnt do things

ILoveToLaugh Fri 15-Mar-13 19:20:23

Attended parents evening last week and was told that DS3 (year 2) "will never be a high achiever"! Have been incandescent with rage ever since!

exoticfruits Fri 15-Mar-13 19:36:40

Don't let them get away with it! Have they never read the life stories of famous people-Churchill and Einstein spring to mind! I would go back and talk to the Head.

lottieandmia Fri 15-Mar-13 19:48:21

I do think it's a good thing that the children who need more help are identified BUT where I live we have a few apparently very good state primary schools and in their Ofsted reports, the main thing that they are criticised for is not helping the less able children (or children who appear to be less able) enough.

This reinforces my view that it's not so much streaming a child that bothers me, but a teacher deciding a child is worth less because they think they are not bright. This makes me angry because anyone can teach a super bright child. A good teacher would be able to bring out the best in a less able child or a 'late developer'.

lottieandmia Fri 15-Mar-13 19:50:22

'i was told i wasn't acedemic at infant school, and it really fucked me up, as it was said in front of me, and i thought well it must be true
then i never really tried, as i just thought i couldnt do things'

This is exactly my point. If you tell a child they are x y or z then they will often believe you. What happened to whiteandyellow still happens now sad

jamdonut Fri 15-Mar-13 19:52:43

I've never 'got' this August -born thing.

My DS1 is a 28 August child. He never ever had any problem and left school with his A levels achieved.

My DS2 is a 22 June baby, and is way ahead of his peers in year 8, and always has been.

DD is 2 January baby, and has always been ahead of her peers, and is expected great things in her GCSE's this year.

I'm a TA and I just haven't ever seen this supposed "summer-born" problem. There is a child in the class I am in currently who is a late August birthday, and is a very able child.

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