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Forgotten middle

(34 Posts)
dontcallmethatyoucunt Mon 11-Apr-16 17:43:26

My DD is very much (lower) middle of the road academically, but she is a lovely girl and very caring and sociable. She can quite easily fall behind when she doesn't understand something and I'm concerned that because she is easily distracted, this doesn't take much. As she is a good girl and she doesn't really demand attention, I'm concerned she gets lost in the group of 30.

This term it became clear to me she wasn't really keeping up and when I spoke to the school she has been given extra one to one help. We do read with her every day and she does maths with my DH too, but the school also felt she could benefit from additional support. It was us that initiated this though.

The tuition has had a good impact and when we asked her teacher if she felt we should continue, she said she felt DD really benefited from this extra support and if we were willing to pay for this, she would help us find someone suitable.

My query really is, would we be better continuing with support/tuition, perhaps an hour a week (or similar over a couple of sessions) or would a smaller class size in an independent school be better?

I can't decide if tuition in the long term seems fair on DD, or whether a 'normal' school day, but in a smaller class would be better. The independent option isn't without concerns and frankly we live in a 'naice' area and local schools are some of the best in the state system. Would the smaller classes make that much difference?

DD is in year 2, but a September birthday and Junior school is looming large. I worry she'll get even more 'lost' when she is expected to be more independent.

I'm now rambling, but hoping for opinions!

Kanga59 Mon 11-Apr-16 22:41:18

You will get far more than just a small class size at an independent school. If you haven't already, view some and see how you feel your concerns would manifest there and how your daughter may fit in.

At our independent I see all children being nurtured as individuals. it sounds cliché but it's very true. at our local state primary it wasn't like that at all, hence we changed. sadly with 30 children plus all the other govt nonsense, with all the will in the world you are going to lose some children along the way

Pippidoeswhatshewants Mon 11-Apr-16 22:46:49

Even in outstanding state primary schools the middle of the road, well behaved children get overlooked. I think this is not so much the case in secondaries.

We supplemented state education with a bit of work at home and our middle of the road dcs definitely benefited. Independent was not a choice for us.

CodyKing Mon 11-Apr-16 23:15:26

My DS also as you describe - why is this? Somebody really should be taking responsibility for those left behind - tuned out - bored kids who just switch off - !!

DS is year six and it's a bit late for him to catch up - only just told - hence seriously peed off about it!!

10 mins at home is worth an hour at school - it may just be confidence -

Can you get a tutor of an honest opinion prior to deciding on a corse of action?

AGnu Mon 11-Apr-16 23:35:59

I was forgotten in school. Always in the top set but consistently at the bottom of it & mostly ignored because I was quiet. It's part of the reason we home school our DC. It works for us, our local area has a busy HE community so they're not lacking in socialising opportunities.

Any chance HE would be an option for you?

BoboChic Mon 11-Apr-16 23:41:09

How much availability do you and your DH have to review work with your DD? Some middle of the road DC benefit (much) more from highly involved parents helping then keep right on top of school work rather than from a tutor.

Citygirl12345 Tue 12-Apr-16 07:20:30

There are some really awful independent schools out there and also some super ones.If a school has low numbers don't even consider it.If I were you I would get totally involved(maybe a little tutoring)everyone doing well at independent schools will be doing the same.

dontcallmethatyoucunt Tue 12-Apr-16 08:28:42

I think HE is out of the question, I'm not cut out for teaching, but I can really see the appeal.

I think we noticed her work slipping because we are involved with homework and home learning, but the time at home is limited. DD plays violin, hockey, swimming, has play dates, an after school club. We have cut back on this now to free up time, but I don't want to spoil our relationship by being 'teacher' and parent IYSWIM. I think a wide range of opportunities gives her other areas to shine. If we wanted this to include learning, I'd want someone else in that role I think.

I'm reassured to hear others feel the same (not that this is good), clearly it's not my imagination that good quiet kids can get lost.

I think I'll book a few visits.

LIZS Tue 12-Apr-16 08:34:59

Don't assume this problem isn't the same in an independent school. Children get very quickly compartmentalised and their subsequent treatment can perpetuate this. Watch out for all the talk about treating children as individuals etc. Those in the upper tier at year 3 are likely to still be there at year 6/8. A middling child may well struggle to break through.

catslife Tue 12-Apr-16 09:26:34

It depends what you mean by "middle" - is that average compared to national expectations or just in the middle with regards to her peer group. Are there are any specific reasons for why your child isn't keeping up such as dyslexia for example. you need to be asking these questions before thinking about moving schools.
I am also not sure why the school are asking you to pay for extra support, usually if a child needs support in UK state schools, parents don't have to pay for it.
moving to an independent school may not be the answer by the way as a child who is in the middle at a state school could be at the bottom in the independent sector which wouldn't be great for your child's self esteem.

mouldycheesefan Tue 12-Apr-16 10:50:58

I think you need be honest with yourselves, if she is lagging behind and needs extra help is she really middle or is she actually at the lower end?
If the independent schools are academically selective, would she get a place? If they are not, is she going to get a better education than she would at state school with a tutor?

dontcallmethatyoucunt Tue 12-Apr-16 11:52:44

The school we're thinking of isn't selective, she wouldn't get in (I very much doubt) and I wouldn't want to put her in that situation. Bottom of the pile (of brilliance) is a terrible place to be.

I think it's quite hard to pick the bones out of where she actually is academically. The school use the phrase 'broadly meeting age related expectation', but we are in a very high achieving area, so this could be towards the bottom of her peers. The school won't make those comparisons directly though. I have had another parent tell me their DD is getting extra help but that is because she is lagging behind. I think, but can't be certain, that my DD wasn't lagging, but she was slipping there.

I don't think there are any specific difficulties, but she does seem to need to 'over learn' (a phrase used by her previous teacher). Basically things take a little while to embed with her. If she is supported, she will get things, but she's not quick on the uptake.

In truth I think we are more concerned than the school. I worry that if she doesn't keep up that by the time they are streaming them, we'll find she is firmly at the bottom and 2 years behind where she could be. I think this is why we are not getting school provision. She isn't a 'problem', but I want to ensure she never gets that way, because I sense she will if we don't keep the support going.

mouldy I think that's my dilemma, would a tutor that can address her learning needs directly be actually more supportive than moving to a new school. How difficult would this support become? Surely maths, english, science are a bare minimum and then this is a lot of work in addition to a school day. However the school day is longer in independents anyway (but so are the holidays).

I feel like I need a crystal ball confused

dairymilkmonster Tue 12-Apr-16 13:27:05

We moved ds1 part way through reception to a private school. He was in a local primary (not one of our three choices though - boo) with a class of 30. He complained constantly of being bored and did not progress much from preschool level. I asked the teacher and she didn't really seem to know my ds much at all and just said he had met the 'targets' needed. Unfortunately i think he was lost in the middle amongst other things.
We moved him and he has been thriving. Class of 16, teacher and full time TA, specialist teachers for lots of subjects, much mroe interesting dynamic broad curriculum. We thought he was average at best, school is now saying he is bright and esp good at maths. He now loves school and is enthusiastic about all sorts of stuff. He seems so much happier which for me is most important.
My view is different environments suit different kids - hard to know in advance and given the somewhat lottery based nature of school places - no ones fault. I would move your child if you can and see if it works better.

happygardening Tue 12-Apr-16 13:39:00

In my experience of the indepenent sector and a DS who was frequently overlooked is that they are just as capable of overlooking the middle as the state sector. They even more than the state sector are motivated by results they have to be in order to survive , and a non selective indepenent could be particularly motivated by results and therefore very focused on any able students. All will tell you how they treat each child as an individual and nurture everyone to enable them to achieve their maximum capabilities blah blah blah and obviously some do but never assume that paying means it's going to always be better.
We removed our eldest DS from the independent sector at yr 9 because I was fed up of paying for empty promises at least in the state sector I wasn't being paying for him to be forgotten.

dontcallmethatyoucunt Tue 12-Apr-16 13:43:36

happy that's very interesting, thank you.

MrsPJones Tue 12-Apr-16 14:21:36

I know what you mean about the school not giving proper feedback about how where child is progressing and where they stand in relation to peers. My son is 6, in year 2, and has been behind since he started reception. Over the last couple of years we have done a lot of targeted interventions at home, and he has slowly caught up so I think (although teachers are vague so not100% sure) he is now average academically. We paid for a specialist hand writing tutor this year. Couldn't quite believe how much money I spent on a tutor for a 6 year old! It was hard work practising every night, and I feel bad for my son that he worked so hard at school and had to come home and keep working. The alternative offered by the school was handwriting worksheets 15 minutes twice a week and get him to use a keyboard more hmm if j had the money for private would I send him? I am not sure, it would depend on options available. The specialist tutor I sent my son to see, many of her clients attend private school. Would you have the money to pay a tutor on top of school fees if the private school can not offer enough target

happygardening Tue 12-Apr-16 14:22:20

What will you do for a senior school? Fees often rise consideably at senior level can you afford it? Can you afford to continue with her current after activities if you pay fees? Does she have good friends at her current school and who are moving to the junior school will she want to be separated from them?
If she's doing better with the tuition why don't you continue with it, if necessary provide more at key stages, let her go to the junior school and monitor the situation closely, talk to the head of the junior school express your concerns, you can always move her if things don't look good.
Overlooked children need good home support and encouragement, she may be "middle of the road" academically but may shine later either academically or n other areas, she's only young I think if she was my DD Id find her things outside of school she can enjoy and boost her confidence that way.

MrsPJones Tue 12-Apr-16 14:22:25

Sorry posted to soon... Targeted intervention? I think private school kids with tutors is very common.

happygardening Tue 12-Apr-16 14:41:15

I suspect the "forgotten middle" being educated in the private sector with tutors is very common.

dontcallmethatyoucunt Tue 12-Apr-16 14:42:25

Fees are an interesting point. Basically we can sort of afford it, but we won't be moving, or sticking it in our pensions, so it's an either or choice for us. I think that's also something that makes me hesitate. If cost made no difference then she may well have gone independent anyway.

MrsJones I wonder if the private school kids are in a selective environment, but it's a good point. How much is down to the actual child just benefiting from that one to one attention.

Thanks for helping me chew this over, it's really useful.

happygardening Tue 12-Apr-16 14:57:25

What are your senior school options? I'd look at those especially the independent sector, check out their fees carefully we've got friends paying nearly 20k PA for what IMO could at best be described as a middle of the road mediocre independent senior school, it's particularly relevant if you currently live in a "naice" area with excellent state schools. We live in a very MC area with outstanding state schools both comprehensive and super selective grammar you have to pay a lot and start looking at the very big name independent schools with all they provide but with matching fees to really make the expense of fees worth it.

teta Tue 12-Apr-16 15:12:10

If you can afford it I would move her to a private school.My ds1 was in a similar position to your daughter in junior school.We started Maths tuition when he was 6 .We planned to move him to an independent school in year 7 and sent him for an assessment day in year 6.At the end of the day we were asked had he ever been assessed?He was subsequently found to be pretty Dyslexic.It wasn't picked up in several years of a state school. By year 6 he really was very behind in English.He subsequently told me he was kept in at breaktimes to finish his writing because he was so slow.
I had absolutely no idea his writing was so poor as he rarely got any homework. I do really regret not moving him much earlier as he is now really struggling to get up to speed in anything requiring essay- type answers.
Tuition does not compensate for lack of teaching if your child is behind ( albeit she is still very tiny)

happygardening Tue 12-Apr-16 16:12:25

My DS1 is "dyslexic" with very slow writing admittedly it was properly picked up in the independent sector, the states sector new something was wrong which they admitted they couldn't care less about, their test for dylesxia seems to primarily assess reading ability something he didn't have a problem with. He spent over 7 years in the independent sector before moving to the state where he spent another 5 years, neither equipped him with the skills to speed up his writing. I accept that if he was in an indepenent school with a specialised unit he might have done better but on the other hand he might not.
teta now my DS1 is nearly 20 I have realised that as dyslexics/dyspraxics and those with dyscalculia as they grow up and mature they develop their own coping skills. I was also told years ago by one of the worlds leading experts on dyslexia etc that if his school and us as parents really work at it we could change his processing/writing problem but at the expense of other things. My DS has a photographic memory and an incredible mind and eye for micro details significantly better than others, he is highly articulate and creative (plus a very high IQ 140+ although at times I wonder as he seems such a doughnut at times) this are his compensatory skills and strengths for very very poor processing/working memory. If we really worked on his very significant weaknesses and tried to make those as good as the average persons it would have a very negative effect on his strengths and on his mental health. He has had input over the years, advise and help on coping and strategies most of it too no avail (except the help with math), but it's only in the last couple of years that he has worked it out for himself, now at uni he's doing (much to my relief) very well, interestingly with no help at all.

dontcallmethatyoucunt Tue 12-Apr-16 16:30:50

The local secondary an outstanding single sex school, but not a grammar. We haven't moved before because it seems crazy to leave such a good area.

I know this sounds awful, but the lower down the sets you fall, I worry that the company you keep is also not great. Some kids are in the lower sets because they don't care, not because they can't do the work. I worry about disruption (I realise we're a while away from this, but moving school as a teenager is much more complicated than as a 7 year old IMO).

I wonder whether an assessment to check for any learning issues may be worthwhile, at least we would understand if there were an underlying issue.

teta Tue 12-Apr-16 16:33:50

That's interesting Happy Gardening.Yes,ds1 remembers where everything is in the house and has a brilliant visual memory.However his lack of processing skills also apply to verbal skills ,but he is hugely creative.My Dh,i reckon is an undiagnosed Dyslexic and a very slow developer as a child.He ended up doing Engineering at Uni.He still doesn't read for pleasure and can't write decent English for toffee.
What is your son studying?

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