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Advice needed, should I challenge school? [looong, sorry!!]

(22 Posts)
Totallytallbird Mon 30-Jul-12 11:31:52

please heeelp!!

DD just finished yr1, is on g&t register for literacy and creativity(showed great aptitude for photography last year), but it just doesn't seem to be showing in her school report.

She is reading level 14 books easily but given a 2A level for reading and criticised for not referring back to text to locate answers. She has such a good memory that the books they use for guided reading she memorises, so why should she have to refer back? Her reading level has been heald back by teachers wanting her writing to catch up (2C) as she has great ideas but trouble putting them on paper.

Maths has always been more of a struggle as she has perfectionist tendencies and doesn't like getting things wrong. Her maths target was 2C, but she 'only' achieved 1A. Her maths test scores were 20/20 for mental and 26/30 for written maths. She easily does year 2+ work at home, and has flown through a level 2 SATS paper that I gave her. She only got 3 wrong and 1 of those was where she said the right answer but wrote it down wrong. It seems to me that the scores suggest the teaching has not gone far enough rather than DD's understanding.

We have also had issues with another child all year, DD has ended up really self conscious about her freckles and been picked on for not having a Daddy. When I have spoken to Teacher I have been told that they are good friends, school has not noticed any nastiness, and DD is 'quite sensitive isn't she' as though it were a negative trait.

To top all this I requested a meeting with school a couple of weeks before the end of term to discuss DD's progress and her feeling that she is being talked down to, and heard nothing. I left it as I knew the school reports would be out soon, then I returned the reply slip ticking the box requesting to speak to someone about the report, and again have heard nothing. Also, DD was given an IEP in April which I have heard nothing further about. At best I would consider this unprofessional on the part of the teacher. What does everyone else think?

Thanks for reading xx thanks

DontEatTheVolesKids Mon 30-Jul-12 12:26:09

Where did you get a yr2 math SATs paper from? Did you mark it the way "they" mark it? I think KS1 SATs are much more about consistency, though, which your DD seems to not be able to show.

What other school(s) would you have to choose from? Apart from your academic hopes, what are they like in other ways?

Totallytallbird Mon 30-Jul-12 13:09:17

The papers are freely available online, I used Theschoolrun as they come with the teachers notes as well - very useful. I don't understand what you mean by consistency, her test scores seem pretty consistent to me (?)

I don't want to change school, just some advice on whether I should challenge her school over what they are doing to help her overcome her issues.

DontEatTheVolesKids Mon 30-Jul-12 13:18:31

Sorry, I misread title then! Though you did seem unhappy with the school on so many fronts I wondered what you could do to "challenge" them that you haven't already tried.

I thought the y2 assessment is supposed to be a long term assessment of all kinds of work (not just tests). You seem to be describing a child who isn't consistent in her maths output at school, which is all the teacher would be able to assess, no? The marking for SATs is very strict, btw, incredibly easy to lose points & partial credit.

There is a UK Gifted Kids forum where I think you might get more the kind of feedback you want, but I can't find the link (sorry). Maybe one of that forum's mods will see this & get in touch.

imho: it's best if kids can learn to put up with some ribbing or unkind comments, you haven't gone into enough detail to know if it's unreasonable level of hassle that she's had.

KateBeckett Mon 30-Jul-12 13:21:14

I highly doubt the school was 'criticising' your daughter, being able to refer back to the text is a skill which she needs to develop in order to gain a higher level- the school will most likely have been giving her a target to move her learning forward.

Feenie Mon 30-Jul-12 13:26:02

She is reading level 14 books easily but given a 2A level for reading and criticised for not referring back to text to locate answers. She has such a good memory that the books they use for guided reading she memorises, so why should she have to refer back? Her reading level has been heald back by teachers wanting her writing to catch up (2C) as she has great ideas but trouble putting them on paper.

It's good practice to provide the next step for development in a school report - I can't believe a parent would see this as criticism, that's quite bizarre.

She has to refer back and give textual evidence in her answers because that's the curriculum - it's a reading test, not a memory test. Reading skills involve interpreting the text.

Totallytallbird Mon 30-Jul-12 13:37:09

Feenie and Kate, I feel it's critical in light of the level of books they use for guided reading - if the child is memorising the pages she doesn't need to refer back to them, maybe criticise was the wrong word to use. My point is that she doesn't need to refer back to the text to interpret it, and it concerns me that the teachers aren't picking up on that - it seems she is stuck in a bit of a spiral. How can she show that she can refer back to the text if she doesn't need to?

Voles, you are right about the ribbing, and I am trying to quietly toughen her up. TBH it's more the teacher this last year than the school as a whole I think, I just don't want things to continue into next year hmm

Feenie Mon 30-Jul-12 13:40:16

She can write an answer such as 'Such as such was naughty when she didn't tidy her bedroom when her mother asked her to'. That's referring back to the text - within an answer. That's what her next step is - nothing to do with memorising.

Totallytallbird Mon 30-Jul-12 13:45:26

My understanding is that in yr1 the comprehension is verbal during a guided reading session, so Techer would ask her what so and so felt bout something for eg, and rather than referring back DD will say she felt...

Feenie Mon 30-Jul-12 13:56:21

At a 2A, answers would also be written sometimes.

At a 2A, your dd would still need to refer back, whether verbally or in writing, and give reasons for her answers. Giving a reasons for character's motives/feelings IS referring back to the text - your dd wouldn't necessarily need to physically go back to the text. That's her next step.

lapucelle Mon 30-Jul-12 14:32:48

I'm not sure what are the grounds for challenging them: it seems you and they simply disagree on your child's academic levels. Scoring highly on a paper at home does not mean that she works at the same level in a classroom. (And why are testing a 6 year old at home anyhow?) I also doubt they are criticizing as opposed to pointing out her next goals. Asking for more information and input into an IEP sounds reasonable but if you are not on the same wavelength as them perhaps you would be better looking for another school rather than challenging them.

Totallytallbird Mon 30-Jul-12 14:59:12

Feenie, maybe that's where I'm misunderstanding, thank you.

Lapucelle, I was advised by a tutor friend to let her have a go. She was not 'tested' in the normal sense of that word, she was happy to sit at the kitchen table and work through it - trust me, I can't get her to do anything she doesn't want to!!

RedHelenB Mon 30-Jul-12 21:47:00

Why does she need an IEP?

Totallytallbird Tue 31-Jul-12 08:32:53

They have alledgedly given all G&T pupils an IEP so that they can better meet their needs hmm

captainbarnacle Tue 31-Jul-12 08:36:11

She doesn't sound g and t to me.

Totallytallbird Wed 01-Aug-12 11:47:23

Therein lies the problem Captainbarnacle; they g&t'd her in nursery where she was working at NC level 1 already in literacy, and since then they haven't really been able to work with/motivate her to reach her potential. She is too busy moving on to the next thing to concentrate on the one she should be, and they allow kids to get a book and sit and read once they have completed a task, which just feeds in to the cycle.

Littlebluetoo Sun 12-Aug-12 13:19:30

She sounds like a perfectly average child. Sorry if that's not what you wanted to hear. Nothing wrong with being average BTW!
Getting on the G&T register in reception class doesn't mean you will be the next year or the year after. I know several children who were on the register in Ks1 but finished no further ahead than their peers in year 6. They hadn't fallen behind but the others had caught up.

adoptmama Sun 12-Aug-12 21:10:22

Firstly I would say to you to try to take a deep breath and read the teacher's comments in the spirit they are intended: that is to help you see an area in which your child needs to develop skills. It is not a criticism of your child and nor does it mean the teacher is unaware of her abilities. Many, many children can read above the level they are reading at in school (mine included) but it doesn't actually mean they are ready to move on from the level the teacher has them at. Teachers look at many things: reading fluency and number of errors in particular before advancing children a level. The fact that your daughter is relying purely on memory is not great: she really does need to develop the skills teachers are looking for. This is in her best interests. It is not about whether she needs to refer back to the text to interpret it but whether she can do so that is the skill being looked for/developed. She needs to be able to demonstrate this skill consistently, not simply plough her way through reading levels. My own DD can read at a level above that which the school has her on, but I know she loses confidence (and you mention your DDs perfectionism) and reading fluency, gets disengaged, loses focus etc when she does. She gets very competitive and is not a happy bunny at not moving forward to a new, higher level - but tough luck! She is where she needs to be! It is far better for their confidence and development of skills that in these circumstances they stay at an appropriate level. Please try to trust the professional judgement of her teacher.

You sound almost as if you have got yourself into a position of feeling that the school is very dismissive or unconcerned about your child (I do not mean this as a criticism of you) as you mention comments about her being "sensitive" as a criticism, comments about her reading as a criticism, you say they haven't been able to work with her/motivate her etc. Your child will be given next steps/goals throughout her Primary school career - you must learn to see these in the spirit they are intended and not as a criticism of a "weakness" in her performance. If you truly feel that a target is wrong as it has totally missed the fact she can already do something - a situation I have found myself in with DD - then talk to the teacher. Try to work together to find out why your DD can do something at home but not a school. My own DD - who was assessed and worked with a psychologist due to anxiety issues - is very perfectionist. This led to fear of failure and a reluctance to engage in tasks at school she feared she would not excel at (at 4 years old!!). Some children will chose to avoid situations where failure is a possibility - perhaps your DD is like this. Also do understand most children perform much better at home with their (doting) parent (giving many prompts, even without realising it) than they will in a classroom filled with noise, colour and tempting distractions. You hint she may be skimming work to get to tasks she finds more enjoyable, so this could be one reason she is not performing as well as at home. At this age school is as much a social experience as an academic one for your DD - in fact it is more of a social experience. She has yet to develop the maturity of concentration and ability to filter out distractions that an older child will have. At home, at the kitchen table, in a peaceful, familiar environment she will concentrate better: any child would.

As a teacher I can say I put a lot of thought into my reports and I do find it incredibly irritating when parents simply react as if I don't have a clue what I am talking about! Trust me - we generally have a lot of evidence to back up what we are saying! Don't talk about "challenging" the school - it shows you have already reached a confrontational, hostile mindset which is not going to help you develop the home-school partnership you - and your DD - will benefit from. I would suggest you try to reflect impartially on what the report has said, look to see how you can help your daughter develop skills in the areas the report has highlighted and treat the teacher for what s/he is: a professional who has your child's best interests at heart and is not trying to deliberately criticise or misunderstand your DD.

AnxiousElephant Sat 15-Sep-12 23:52:11

I am intersted in this thread because I can understand the frustration. My dd 6 is similar and ended year 1 with 3c reading, 2c for maths and writing. Apparently she daydreams according to her report. The question is why? It isn't something I have control over!
Adoptmama - my dd is now free reading at the beginning of year 2 yet she says her guided reading is aimed at orange level book bands. She is able to answer abstract questions and make her own connections between things. Last year she was in a mixed class of 1/2 y, she read with the top year 2 group. Now she is in the top of her own year group and is ahead by miles. How will this stimulate her? She is still a year ahead (more for an average child because 3c is expected end of year 3!). I share the ops worries .

cory Thu 20-Sep-12 09:26:05

Why can't you refer back to the text that you have memorised? As far as I know, refer back to just means to exemplify something from the text; surely that will be even quicker and easier to do if she has total recall of the text? And it is a skill she will need throughout life- for her GCSEs/O-levels, for A-levels, at university and in the workplace. It's a skill some of my undergraduates still struggle with- whether because they haven't been taught or because they haven't taken the teaching on board. As a parent I would be delighted to find my child's school took this seriously and would try to support the school by explaining to my child what was expected of her and why (and would ask the school if I wasn't sure). It is a very important part of reading.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 20-Sep-12 09:32:10

She needs to refer to the text because that's what the question is asking her to do. She needs to write down the right answer in Maths because the marker doesn't know she thought of it right in her head and then wrote it down wrongly!

You seem to think all the problems are centred around your child actually being too clever to do well, whereas I think you need to explain to her that she has to do what the question asks her to, and she needs to be more careful in her work.

threeofthebest Sat 22-Sep-12 11:37:44

This is where I think the G & T label is used far too early with many children.
IMO learning to read quickly and easily is often a sign that the child is bright, but not neccessarily that they are gifted. After all, the majority of children (with the exception of some SEN) will learn to read fluently by the time they leave primary (providing the teaching is good!!) To me Gifted and Talented should mean that they have a particular skill that the majority of children are NEVER likely to catch up with.
The point of not pushing her reading too far ahead of her writing is that writing is very often a much more difficult skill for children to develop. If they are reading at a level that is way beyond their writing, it is difficult to use the reading to inform their writing (i.e the sentence structure/ grammar etc, will be much too complicated for her to emanate in her writing at this stage). This has always been a debate amoungst teachers (push the reading/ allow reading to help the development of writing)
It is unlikely that a professional teacher is trying to hold your child back, much more likely that she is trying to ensure that all of her skills develop to a good level. If she is reading well now, she is almost certainly always going to be a good reader.
As for your other daughter, does she socialise with her classmates out of school anywhere (e.g clubs, parties etc) where you can judge for yourself how much she is being 'picked on' and how much she is 'being over sensitive' (it is NEVER ok fo a child to be picked on at school if this is the case by the way!)

I think that you need to have a frank and honest conversation with the school. You might hear things that you are not overly happy hearing, but for the benefit of the children you and the school need to be honest.

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