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Bottom sets for everything...what does it do to a child's confidence?

(17 Posts)
user1474652148 Fri 23-Sep-16 18:54:38

My eldest dd is in the top sets for most things, now my youngest dd is in yr 4 in a very academic school, and she is in bottom sets for everything including sport.
I am worried this is going to kill her sense of self worth and confidence, she does not like school very much, and is a very creative child, into science etc but not interested in overly academic subjects especially. We have worked hard to support her, and have a lady helping her every week, as well as sitting with her most nights, but still the bottom sets...

What should I do? Leave her there to struggle or move her, we are planning to move house next summer, so this would be reasonably easy to do, or am I worrying too soon?
My friends with older children had a bad time, the children in the bottom sets generally stayed in the bottom sets and eventually this had a negative effect on them by year six/seven.
What are you experiences? Please tell me if this has happened to you.
I don't want to rush to move her, but equally I don't feel she is massively suited to where she is.

irvineoneohone Fri 23-Sep-16 19:03:12

I don't have any experience, but I assume you must know what she's like by now?
Is she a really late bloomer? Do you think there's still a chance she may click one day and exceed everyone? Does she have any SPLD?

IMO, if it's going to be same for years, it's better to be average in average school than being bottom at selective academic school.

yeOldeTrout Fri 23-Sep-16 19:07:53

What does she want to do?

FrazzleM Fri 23-Sep-16 19:26:48

Have you talked to the school?

Do you know how/why they set the classes?

In some of the schools I've worked in pupils in the 'bottom' sets can be there for a whole range of reasons and it isn't necessarily based on ability (some kids with behaviour issues are put into top sets, some bright kids with social issues are in the bottom and so on).

Also, some pupils thrive in the bottom set and would really struggle in the next set up.

Sometimes the bottom set classes are smaller and get more support and therefore they actually do better in their exams.

Personally I'd prefer it if my kids were in the very top set or the very bottom; often kids in the middle get 'lost'.

Obviously this is just my experience of the schools I've worked in. Your DD's situation may be entirely different.

Will the set she's in dictate which subjects/levels/exams she sits?

HPFA Fri 23-Sep-16 20:22:25

It doesn't sound like your DD is very happy in the school generally? Perhaps its simply not a good fit for her. I don't think bottom sets is a problem if your DD's happy but I'm not getting the feeling that she is.

portico Sat 24-Sep-16 06:16:47

Ds2 was in the same position at the start of year 4. He was on bottom table of bottom group for Eng and Maths. Penny dropped when teachers stated he would sooner sharpen pencils for classmates than engage in class work. I decided I had to work with him quite extensively at home, and quite literally started at Y1 work. This was to address foundations and build confidence. Over a period of 4 months from Nov to March I brought him level legging with top students for Maths. It took me a further year to improve his English via light reading and using vocab and grammar assessment books. I was lucky that he had a good work ethic, but he lacked confidence. You may really need to drop down to early school years to help him. But the progress will be quick.

For Maths I used the Schofueld and Sims Ks1 and Ks2 books for Menral Maths.

For Eng, I used Schofield and Sims Comprehension, KS2 and their KS2 Eng Skills books. Fortunately, they sell answers, too, and I was then able to assess his work and address weaknesses.

SaltyMyDear Sat 24-Sep-16 06:24:28

Yes, bottom sets generally destroys children's confidence about their academic ability.

Yes if you can move her to a school where she'd be middle set rather than bottom set she'd probably do better.

And yes you should start to research dyslexia - unless you think her IQ is massively lower than her sisters (which would be unusual given its mostly genetic)

However dyslexia isn't a get out of jail free card. Knowing she has dyslexia (if she does) won't stop her being on the bottom table. And won't stop the negative effects of struggling academically

PacificOcean Sat 24-Sep-16 06:32:31

My friend has two DDs in your position - the eldest is top table for most things, while the youngest (in year 4) is on the bottom table for everything - although it's the local state primary, not a very academic school, so not much point moving her as it would probably be the same at another school.

A few thoughts - if she is top within the bottom set, that can be better (in terms of self esteem) than bottom of a higher set. Does she do any activities outside school? These can be good for boosting self esteem and making new friends. Don't rule out SEN, eg dyslexia, which can go undetected for years.

Having said all of that, at the end of the day if your DD isn't very academic, I believe she would probably be happier at a less academic school.

portico Sat 24-Sep-16 06:34:44

I also Purchased New First Aid in English to learn a lot of everyday English foundations. I purchased a cheap accompany book, called Peactise Your English. It was a book that was linked to the First Aid book and helped to address weaknesses. Sadly, could not get answers but found the British Library had an answer book for the original 1956 edition. I bough the 1956 edition from Amazon and copied the answers. Use this book in Y4/5, and God it really improves confidence in grammar, vocab, punctuation and comprehension.

Also, I would consider using books 1/2 of Once a Week Comorehensipn by Hadyn Perry. They build intensive reading.

Wallywobbles Sat 24-Sep-16 06:40:54

I went from an excellent prep school with 2 sets where I was top of the bottom set to a very academic school where I was bottom set for everything. I saw that I'd never be more than average so I didn't work at all. I would move her to key her flourish where they value her skills more.

I begged to leave at 16.

I did very well at uni, cos by then I'd sorted myself out a bit, been travelling, lived abroad etc.

portico Sat 24-Sep-16 06:48:42

I would persevere at school till end of school year, and work with her yourself. No tuition needed. Never trust teachers, they closed ranks and refused to acknowledge son could improve. He left his state primary at the end of Y4. I deconstructed his high and mighty form tutor at the April parents evening, as she had long believed he had reached his academic limits at the beginning of Y4. So take responsibility yourself as a parent. No one else will do it for you.

FrameyMcFrame Sat 24-Sep-16 07:02:24

Hi, late development is a real thing. I was bottom set for most things and went on to get 3 As at A level. I work in the creative industry now. My daughter was similar, also creative and in primary school she was bottom table and it did affect her. We moved her into another school system and she's doing well now at 15, second too or top and predicted good GCSEs.

I think now more than ever children are pigeon holed and labeled at a very young age. Sats are used to predict future success and targets are made accordingly. It's unhelpful to those that buck the trend for progress at certain ages. Talk to the school to make sure your dd is allowed to fulfil her potential.

Longlost10 Sat 24-Sep-16 10:11:57

I would agree that there is little point in moving her, if her setting accurately reflects her achievement, it will be exactly the same elsewhere.

Ginandtonictime Sat 24-Sep-16 15:07:46

In my opinion, 'bottom' set these days indicates the speed at which they tackle the curriculum - the top sets literally fly through topics with the expectation that only the briefest of introduction to the subject matter is required because the child is either able to understand very quickly or is motivated enough to study at home to reach the required level.

This may be a phase she's going through - disliking work ... year 4 does get more interesting as it goes on, and with new teachers and different classes she may find a new enjoyment ... give it time ...

Oliversmumsarmy Sat 24-Sep-16 15:25:22

Dd was never going to set the world alight academically, bottom set for everything and really wasn't that fussed about trying to improve. I heard her talking to her friend who was in top set for everything. They were laughing that the friend if she made a slight mistake she got told off whilst dd if she wrote her name correctly would be praised to high heaven. I don't think if your child looks at it in those terms there isn't any incentive to get better.
We concentrated on extra curricula activities. She is now at college where there is no academic work and she is loving it.

RaspberryIce Sat 24-Sep-16 16:38:47

If it's a very academic school did she have to pass an assessment to get in? If so then presumably she would be around the middle of a more average non selective school. It might make her feel more successful so she enjoyed school more.

Bertieboo1 Sat 24-Sep-16 16:55:30

I'm a secondary teacher and we have kids who are in the bottom set for all the academic subjects (we don't set for PE or creative subjects thank goodness - never heard of setting for PE before!) It is a truly comprehensive school in terms of academic ability. Some of the students have massive self esteem issues from constantly feeling like the stupidest, others seem less bothered.

My brother was at the bottom end of his selective school and absolutely hated it. He has always said he wished he'd been middling at a comp, though he did very well at uni in the end.

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