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academic 4 year old

(41 Posts)
soundevenfruity Mon 26-Nov-12 01:26:11

I've been pondering an advice for parents of primary school age children the general gist of which is that if your child is academic, do everything to get them into an academic school. I have no idea what that means. Or is it one of those questions: if you ask the answer is no. As far as I am concerned at 4 they are too young for such labels. I have no idea if my DS is academic. Did/do you know and how?

simpson Fri 30-Nov-12 17:51:48

DD is in reception at our local primary school and has been identified as g &t.

She taught herself to read before she started nursery and her comprehension is very good as is her spelling/writing.

I have had no problems at all with how the school differentiates for her, but it is helped by her having the same teacher that she had in nursery.

She has phonics/numeracy lessons with one other boy (same level as her) taught by the TA.

Having said that, I am concerned that this continues in KS1.

sausagesandwich34 Wed 28-Nov-12 23:22:46

I didn't think of DD as academic at 3 as I had nothing to compare her to.

She was very verbal, very interested in books, was writing her name and numbers at 2 -I thought all children did this

1st day at nursery -the day after her 3rd birthday, she was painting and the teacher came over and asked her what colour she was using

she answered blue

the teacher said do you like blue, and was visibly shock when dd said...

'I do like blue but only light blue because light blue is a happy colour like the sky on a sunny day, I don't like dark blue because that is an angry colour like the sea in a storm, so yes I do like blue but only if it is light blue'

people talk about not having a real choice about schools but I'm lucky in my area I had a realistic choice of 4 schools

I actually chose the one that was considered the least academic of the 4 and at the time was 'needs improvement' -people thought I was bonkers!

I loved the feel of the school, it's very inclusive, everyone is important and adds value to the school community. There is a great sense of peer support and the efforts of children are always praised

it's very local and both DDs have a number of local friends and are both very social children

DD finished y5 on a level 6 for maths and reading and 5a for writing so she has definitely had the opportunity to do well academically

she also
plays on 3 sports teams
is a peer mentor
playtime buddy
school councillor
listens to the yr2s reading
is a student advisor to the PTA
takes part in community schemes (the school helps maintain a care home's garden)
has campaigned for financial support for a new school building
been involved with a traffic calming initiative outside the school

I honestly don't see how she could have had a more rounded primary education

I have chosen to look at the more academic schools for her but if that ends up being beyond my means then she would be more than happy to go to the local high school, and I would be happy for her too

state does take a bashing but like anything there are good and bad and I don't think the good get enough recognition

losingtrust Wed 28-Nov-12 23:05:09

Sound you are academic if you have an ma and I feel for you in the early years. It must have been tough but you may have been a wonderful late developer.

losingtrust Wed 28-Nov-12 23:02:40

I must admit I am a big fan of comps because they do cater well for the different progression of kids. Having had two late developers who as sound said struggled through the early part of school. Both said to me 'at one station that they just could not do it but then Ickes up speed later in the school, grammars would have been useless because I did not know that ds was suddenly going to kick in in year 6. The kid that struggled managed to go from scraping 2 just in year 2 to all 5s at the end of year 6 and we would have needed to tutor for grammar school at a much earlier stage as the school did not do any exam work whereas with the comp he sailed straight into the top stream. There are kids moving up and down all the time and this leads to fluidity and the kids constantly challenged to stay up as others overtake but that is the best way. To separate children at 11 when kids are still developing is not something I could ever agree with.

rhetorician Wed 28-Nov-12 22:54:13

noisytoys good for you - and her!

noisytoys Wed 28-Nov-12 22:47:50

I may be in the minority but I have nothing but praise for our local state school. DD1 is a genius (and I don't use that word lightly). She is the country's youngest Mensa member, one of them once in a decade children. She is thriving at her state school, has friends and is learning there is a lot more to life than academics

soundevenfruity Wed 28-Nov-12 22:33:50

losingtrust, we are not academic.

I guess, my own experience is clouding the issue. Because we moved half way through primary school I had an experience of what would be in UK oustanding and good schools. I was desperately lonely and unhappy in the oustanding one and actually once told my mum that in our class there were 2 idiots, me and another boy - we were repeatedly told we weren't doing well. It was very results driven and we normally had some teachers from other schools watching our lessons to improve standards in their classes. Another school was good, inclusive in today's terms and local. I flourished there, at the end of it I had only As and A+s. But in terms of knowledge the first school really gave me a great foundation in maths and reading, writing. I did MA in university, did well there and enjoyed every minute of it. I don't think my first primary teacher would've predicted it.

prettybird Wed 28-Nov-12 17:57:09

Neither ds nor I were "academic" enough to get into private/selective schools via their assessment process at age 4.

My mum told me that she found out afterwards that most kids got special coaching for the school they tried to get me into, even though it was supposed to be based on potential.

They claimed the same thing at the private school we had tried to see if ds could get into (back-up plan 'cos we didn't realise we were already in the catchment for the school we wanted ds to go to). However, it was useful, at the 2nd assessment (they did 2, in case one was an "off" day) to see other parents getting their children to read to/at them before the session. We looked on, thinking, "ds know the letter Mmmm " (his first initial) hmm. We therefore weren't surprised when he wasn't accepted.

He would have struggled at this school in P1 as he wasn't actually ready to read until near the end of P2 (despite lots of 1:1 support from the school). However, he left primary school in the top group for both maths and language. He is now in S1 (Y7) and in the top set for both English and Maths (they were set very quickly for Maths 'cos they could do a test to sort them out but they only chnaged the English classes arounf a few weeks ago as they wanted to take time to form their own views of the S1 cohort) and has just brought home an interim school report with a clean sweep of "Excellents".

You can't pigeonhole kids at 4.

BTW - I went on to get 8 As at "O" grade and 6 As at "Higher" (most Scots only do 4 or 5 Highers). Something my mum took a lot of pleasure from! grin

losingtrust Wed 28-Nov-12 17:41:04

Choco mine was the opposite remedial group for everything in reception. Not interested in reading until about age 8 and then went straight up all tge groups and now one of the best at secondary. I have probably said this on other threads but academic at age 4 usually just means they pick up reading quickly but no sign of how they will do later. However op and partner both academic so much more chance as parents educational levels are supposed to be an indicator but no guarantee. As many have said children develop at different rates and it would be impossible to plot a graph and some kids with all 4s do well at secondary. Same when I was at school. Out of those winning prizes for O'levels very few did as well at A'Level and a lot were sent to private cammers by there very disappointed parents. However I still monitor my kids levels to see they are stll progressing and will intervene if they don't and that is what I would advise the op.

chocoluvva Wed 28-Nov-12 13:52:29

When my DD now 16 was 4 I would have put money on her being academic as she was clearly bright and enjoyed writing, having stories read to her etc.
She did QUITE well in her GCSE's - at an excellent local state school, but is not remotely interested in anything academic except modern languages and I can't get her to read for anything.
She was bright for her age IYSWIM.
She has turned out to be gifted in a non-academic field however.

choccyp1g Wed 28-Nov-12 13:42:20

Having said that, some schools do "push" children harder, but how much difference it makes in the long run is v. difficult to prove. A child going to secondary with solid level 4s and a positive attitude to learning may do better in year7 than one with "high 5s" and a jaded attitude from working purely to get the scores.

At the school where I am governor, we are now looking to get some feedback from the secondary schools, as to how our (probably less pushed) DCs do over the next few years, compared with the other main feeder schools, some of whom seem to push the more able children harder. Anecdotally, the "top sets" from all the primaries correlate roughly to the As and A*s at GCSE, despite some of them coming in with level 6s and some with 4a's

So the short answer to the OP is "it all depends"... grin

choccyp1g Wed 28-Nov-12 13:31:22

Seeker is right, the value added scores are based on the average point score at the end of KS2 compared to the end of KS1.
This means a 6 scores more than a 5a, a 3b scores more than a 3c etc.
So to get a good value added score (100 or more) the school needs on average to move EVERY child up by 9 points. (for example from a 2a to a 5a)

OFSTED are looking more closely at the value added score so that every child gets suitable work, not just the borderline cases. IN the past schools may have been tempted to focus on the borderlines to get as many of the 3a's up to 4c's and 4a's to 5c's

BTW I am a governor of a junior school, and we went through all these scores last week, so I do know about this.

Pyrrah Tue 27-Nov-12 15:52:35

soundevenfruity - to even think about sitting for a selective school at 11+ you need to be confident of level 5's across the board at KS2 and since the exams are taken the year before the child really needs to be at that level a year early.

So if a school only gets 15% of kids to L5 at KS2 then you haven't a snowflakes chance of getting a place at 11+ without tutoring.

It doesn't mean you need to reject the school outright. If I thought a school was good for my DD in terms of social development and that she was happy there, then I would be looking for them to have the right attitude and work with me in getting her up to the standard needed. What would make me very worried would be a school that had an issue with my wanting DD to exceed the levels that they were teaching at.

madwomanintheattic Tue 27-Nov-12 01:27:18

Well, on state Ed terms, 'gifted' is usually referring to academic (and of course may be across the board, or in specific areas) and 'talented' refers to less academically tangible stuff like music or gymnastics.

There is no legal requirement for a school to make any g or t provision, which is really why it's necessary to judge each setting in the context of the individual child's needs.

The old 'g&t' label just referred to the top 10% academically in any context in any particular setting, and was a complete nonsense. If a child moved schools, they could easily not make the 'g&t' cut, or vice versa. Same kid, no change in ability or output.

If you suspect a child is gifted academically at 4, you are better off logging onto hoagies or whatever. Most schools do 'cope' - it's easy enough to loan books from a key stage or two higher - but it is rare that a school will truly look at an individual and meet their needs.

soundevenfruity Tue 27-Nov-12 01:18:27

Thank you everyone. So much to take in - I am so ignorant about the whole education politics vs actual results. Our nearest school gets less than 15% in KS2 so not promising for an average child leave alone an academic one. I am a bit puzzled about the whole talented and gifted issue - surely you can't be talented across the board. Gifts and talents so to speak are normally very specific. This questions kept popping up in a couple of school I recently visited. Generally it was dismissed by head teachers in the most polite way so in my experience state primary schools don't think it's relevant for their work.

madwomanintheattic Mon 26-Nov-12 23:57:42

They are supposed to, seeker. And I'm not disagreeing with anyone - all schools should be able to provide a meaningful and enriching experience and enable all pupils of all abilities to reach their potential.

The increase of importance of KS attainment just means that individuals of higher ability aren't realizing their potential, as their scores are outwith the national expectations. So their potential isn't really important in the grand scheme of things. In ye olden days, teachers were able to extend more able pupils routinely, but there is so much pressure to conform to expected curriculum and standards and reporting that much of this seems to be going down the pan in favour of a more mediocre but attainable across the board leveling.

Of course, in ye olden days they also routinely excluded and segregated pupils with sn, so it's all swings and roundabouts.

I don't like looking at numbers at all, tbh, so although ks1 and ks2 attainment is interesting, it tells me nothing at all about how my own three very individual children will perform in that setting. Each kid needs different things in order to reach potential, so it's just about looking at settings and asking questions in relation to your own kid's needs. In addition to 'academic' are they also sporty, dramatic, quiet and studious, thrive in busy places, like to hole up on their own and concentrate in solitude - are they gregarious and fun, or loners. Are they musical and mathematical? Artsy and bookish? Learn tons through role play? Constantly need adult feedback? Hate adult interaction and want to be left alone to read? Love 'doing'? Have any health or additional issues that need to be taken into account?

I like to read ofsted reports, but stats are largely meaningless in terms of individuals.

Pyrrah Mon 26-Nov-12 23:44:29

rhetorician - I think it is very possible to have a great education that surpasses many independent schools at some state schools. My secondary was a state grammar, so I am not some 'if only we could afford private' type.

Unfortunately in the area we live in, the number of children achieving Level 5 at KS2 is very small (20% type small). DH and I are both governors at state schools. Mine got less than 50% achieving 5 GCSE's - and that didn't include English and Maths. DH's primary is amazing and we would happily send DD there if we actually lived in catchment.

I think schooling in the UK - especially London - is one of the hardest minefields out there. We're also atheists and so that rules out the church schools - which means that 4/6 schools in the area are ones that DD wouldn't get a place at.

pourmeanotherglass Mon 26-Nov-12 23:37:23

A good school should be able to work with children across a range of ability levels. My girls have had a lovely time at their state primary. I wouldn't call it an 'academic' school as it has children with a range of abilities, but they do really well at helping the ones who are struggling as well as challenging the brighter ones.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 26-Nov-12 23:34:03

>As far as I am concerned at 4 they are too young for such labels. I have no idea if my DS is academic. Did/do you know and how?

Nope. If I'd had to guess at 4 I'd have said not really - bright but no interest in reading. Didn't really take to it all through infants. It wasn't till the end of yr4 we realised that we might just possibly want to look at the GS...which is where she is now, suits her perfectly.

They develop different abilities at different ages - some are slow starters who suddenly surge.

seeker Mon 26-Nov-12 23:33:59

"Value added is a complete waste of time for more able kids. Completely biased in favour of a cohort with below average entrance capability."

This actually isn't true. Schools are expected to show progress in low, middle and high attaining cohorts- the new league tables show the progress of these groups separately.

Pyrrah Mon 26-Nov-12 23:32:38

The Value Added, KS1 & 2 levels all seem to be on the same chart I got from the LEA, so I wasn't singling out the VA just mentioning it in the same way as the Ofsted (which is a very 'read between the lines' document).

Am I wrong in going for the KS1 & 2 levels as being a good indicator? Are there other things I should be looking at?

rhetorician Mon 26-Nov-12 23:28:46

I had excellent experiences at both, in very mixed areas - primary I had the best teacher I've ever had, secondary excellent teachers who pushed me hard, realized I was bright - ended up with 12 As at O level, 4 As at A level and an S level, matriculation offer to Oxford with scholarship. No independent could have bettered that! Not to mention the other aspects of my schooling which have been very important to me during my life. It's a long time ago, granted, and education is completely different now - but I wouldn't base my decisions about my child's education on my own experiences.

All I meant is that I really haven't thought about it much - perhaps I should - because I don't really know what DDs interests and abilities will be. It's all a minefield - hard to know what to do for the best. Easier for us as we don't live in UK and ethos of school is the most important to us (e.g. non-religious and co-ed).

Pyrrah Mon 26-Nov-12 23:27:48

I don't really see how it differs from what is going through the minds of parents who are sending their child to a private pre-prep or prep school. Same questions to be answered.

Just because you don't write a cheque at the beginning of term doesn't mean that you shouldn't be looking at what you are getting with the same level of scrutiny.

The one thing I am relieved about is that DD is very gregarious and popular at both her state and private nurseries. DH and I were both much more geeky, socially awkward kids so we are very glad she is more 'normal'. grin

madwomanintheattic Mon 26-Nov-12 23:24:52

Well, quite. Like I said up thread, most state primaries are crap about meeting the needs of more able kids.

But to suggest using value added as a means of ascertaining the likelihood of this is risible.

If you haven't got the money to shop round, you have to make the best of what you've got.

A good Value added score is often the worst possible sign that an academic kid will thrive, as all of the school's resource will be concentrating on the other end of the academic spectrum to get them up to 'average'. Kids who far exceed the average on entry are generally roundly ignored in this context.

Pyrrah Mon 26-Nov-12 23:20:10

I am totally serious.

Both my husband and I were utterly miserable and bored at our respective state primaries. My parents moved me to a very academic prep, and DH's parents brought in tutors and got him a scholarship to a very selective Indie at 11.

We don't have any indie preps in the area, so the only options are HE or state primary. I hope that this particular primary will be good and DD will be happy and thrive.

I guess a lot depends on what you grew up with and your own experiences. My experiences of state schools for me and my siblings and my nephews and nieces have been in the main poor.

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