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too early to push it?

(42 Posts)
Ladyday Sat 28-Sep-13 22:50:41

Hi, apologies if I'm repeating the substance of earlier posts - just would appreciate some advice. My five-year-old has just started Year 1; she didn't start properly reading (sounding out words) until the start of Reception so was not particularly an early reader though she has always been v articulate. During Reception she made quick progress and ended the school year reading Year 2 level books (PM Nelson series). Before the summer holidays, I was told by her (Reception) teacher that she was one of two in the year who are far ahead of the rest, though she is still not especially keen on reading. We read a lot at home (eg bedtime) but I don't ever make her read and she prefers artwork and running around, which is fine. Her school doesn't give any homework but I do the Bond books (age 5-6) and tests with her instead.

My concern is that she is under-stretched at school and I am not sure how much to intervene at this stage; I feel it might be too early. Her teacher seems very laid back. She said they'd be getting reading books two weeks into term, but we've only got a book this last week. The book she got was a very simple non-fiction book she wasn't interested in. This new (Year 1) teacher didn't know what had happened to last year's reading diaries (a record which I used to track progress and write down vocab). I emailed her, asking for levelled books, and my DD did bring one home this weekend, which was great. However, DD is still very resistant to going into school and one of the things she says is that 'the activities are short and I get bored'. I was told last year she was also very ahead in maths.

It seems from other posts that some schools have such a thing as a G&T coordinator. Do all schools have these, and do primary schools generally have a written policy on G&T (and can it be accessed easily)? How do children get put on a G&T register? I am concerned about the laid-back approach, combined with very poor communication from the school (there is virtually no opportunity to talk to the teacher except for a five-minute chat once a term). I am also wondering whether to look at switching her at 7 to an independent school, but am aware that some schools set exams at this stage, and don't want her to get behind for such tests.

Thanks for reading and for any thoughts you may have.

Mandy21 Fri 04-Oct-13 12:40:01

Sorry meant its in a selective school area!

keepsmiling12345 Fri 04-Oct-13 13:12:31

My point was that all state schools are different and all private schools are different. I am fortunate in that my DD's state school does differentiate for able pupils as well as for less-able. it seems to be abe to strecth the very cpapable and still support those striving to get to level 4. I find it really annoying when people dismiss all state schools on the basis of their single experience. It would be just as wrong for me to dismiss private schools on the basis on my single experience of attending one.

Bumpstarter Fri 04-Oct-13 13:25:36

So is there an age at which schools start identifying t&g?

I can see that ks1 is too soon.... So many early developers just end up caught up with after a few years.

iseenodust Fri 04-Oct-13 14:36:36

Schools do spot them in KS1 but in ours they didn't label them. So were told DS was 'very bright', working well in advance of expectations etc. We didn't really cotton on to what this meant at that stage especially as he's a late Aug birthday and we sent him to school not able to read. G&T as a phrase/register came after yr2 SATs.

lljkk Fri 04-Oct-13 20:03:55 favourite primary teacher remarked: "I'm reluctant to teach it [L6] because they'll get very bored later when secondary will make them do it all over again".


"I've learnt loads of new ways to work out sums!" DD, y7, just exclaimed. For y6 she got L6 in almost everything, especially math. On the back of 6 weeks specific preparation (or less).

the only thing she's struggling in is IT (ironic since her parents are programmers). Says teacher is terrible. Loves every other moment at school. Not least the explosive social life.

And what IS the point of accelerating them above L6, anyway? I don't want DD completing GCSEs in yr8.

PiqueABoo Sat 05-Oct-13 00:37:22


::sigh:: I thought programmers were supposed to be analytical. Do you genuinely think it's reasonable to extrapolate your DD's experience to the entire education system and every child therein? Did you read any of that report I linked? Notice the view that Y7 is a "consolidation year" etc?

lljkk Sat 05-Oct-13 09:18:34

We are looking at same picture but seeing different things. DD could have thought "Oh this is stupid I already know how to do sums." But instead she engages & makes the most of it.

I guess there are at least 2 types of gifted people. "Terribly clever but needs a boot up the bottom to achieve anything" vs. "Terribly clever & self motivated, will find own opportunities."

Some people think its school's job to plant that boot. Some people see strong self-motivation as intrinsic part of the Giftedness. DS1 is probably as clever as DD innately, but lacks self-motivation; I see lack of self-motivation as his problem not the school's. I see DD's terrific self-motivation as her true Gift, not so much her brains.

yr7 is so overwhelming in so many ways, I'm glad to hear lots of it is consolidation.

PiqueABoo Sat 05-Oct-13 12:39:18

My DD is currently in currently in the primary Y6 consolidation year that precedes the secondary Y7 consolidation year. For maths she routinely, cheerfully tells me that something was both 'pipsqueak' and 'fun' i.e. she finds an way to make the most of easy work and that's typically by racing.

I'm not sure how long her childish enthusiasm for new experiences will last so I see the education system doing so much 'housekeeping' across two year as significant wasted opportunity. Yes I accept that much of secondary is largely new, but you can track primary numeracy and literacy straight into to secondary maths and English and unless you're very lucky with schools on both sides of transition, despair at the fundamental inefficiency.

Note it was @richmal talking about accelerating to a GCSE for their reasons. I just want my DD's time at school to be time reasonably well spent and that could be on 1001 things, including aspects of social development. She has acquired lots of interests, is typically very good at anything she sets her mind to, but there is never enough time so poor use of that at school is frustrating and I can go ballistic over school demanding large amounts of home-time with crocky, box-ticking homework.

Have you read the Ofsted 'most able' report? It's a bit mangled but is quite damning on the efficiency and continuity around primary-secondary transition. It's also worth noting that like the DfE the Ofsted definition of 'most able' is apparently anyone who gets an L5, roughly the top third of the ability range. That range will include whatever 'gifted' means, but given the normal distribution the majority of their 'most able' won't be too far away from the mean, 'average'.

richmal Sun 06-Oct-13 08:14:17

The reason I want dd to do GCSE is because I do not want dd to spend 4 years of revision in maths. Taking this exam is the only way I can think of to prove she is at this level. It seems bizaar that children are not limited by age in taking music exams. If a child were to have passed grade 7 at 10 another teacher would not say "We'd better go back to grade 5". Yet our education system does not seem to accept children could be a vastly different levels in maths.

keepsmiling12345 Sun 06-Oct-13 15:27:24

Excellent post lljkk. I fully agree that it is essential to understand the different approach. I believe my DD's true " gift" which, if I can support and encourage her not to lose is that she is in the "terribly clever and self-motivated, and will find own opportunities" camp and her school is really excellent at providing her extension work...which is seldom "harder questions" but more often going into the topic or task in more depth or more breadth.

PiqueABoo Sun 06-Oct-13 16:16:27

"children are not limited by age in taking music exams."
There is a bunch of headteachers, the Headteacher's Roundtable, who are attempting to claw some initiative back from the inept dogmatic politicians and they have proposed a system loosely based on piano grades. The catch-phrase for this is "stage not age" and they're serious i.e. genuinely think our mass education system could accommodate that approach.

Pistillate Sun 06-Oct-13 16:36:26

While I see the point about the frustration for a bright child of. 2 years of consolidation during transition, I think richmal's comparison with the music exams is flawed.

Our local regional orchestra invites people to join their youth orchestra with a grade exam requirement. However, they found that they had many applicants who met the necessary grade requirement for entry, but were unable to keep up with the standard required because of a lack of training in Rhythmn.

. After trying to get these young people to go back and learn some basic stuff that had been missed in their previous teaching,they created a programme of training for children age 4 plus in order to provide opportunities for local children to learn everything they need to play in a professional orchestra.

Grade 8 is a great achievement, however, in music and other areas of learning, when there is widespread teaching to the test, many aspects of skill are left behind because the tests are not assessing those areas.

Currently, good teachers will be picking up on what bits and pieces kids have missed out on, and enriching their lessons by assessing individual learning needs and addressing them. However, this kind of teaching is not, I believe, valued by the powers that be who would like to see the national curriculum, which never fails, adhered to at all times.

richmal Sun 06-Oct-13 19:01:32

Surely any child who has reached GCSE maths or grade 8 music could have gaps in their ability, be they 10 or 16. Equally there will be some at either of these ages who will be ready to progress to the next stage. Why should one person be ready to study A level because they are 17 and another not because they are 11 if both have attained a good grade at GCSE?

Pistillate Sun 06-Oct-13 20:46:19

I don't understand why the focus on the qualification? A levels are a useful qualification if you want to go to university, or do an advanced apprenticeship etc. they are a ticket to the next stage. Which is probably not appropriate for an 11 year old.

Sure, once a child's learning needs move on, the teacher needs to provide relevant work.

Like I just said, teaching to the test leaves gaps, and the obsession with sticking to the curriculum meaning teachers cannot always respond to children's learning needs.

The answer is more responsiveness to individual learning needs, not allowing 11 year olds to sit A levels.

richmal Sun 06-Oct-13 21:41:52

But in a class of 30 children how is a teacher to know what an individual child's learning needs are if there is a ceiling on what a child may be assessed at?

PiqueABoo Sun 06-Oct-13 23:54:26

@Pistillate I think you're demanding a little too much from the music grades analogy. I understand your point, but I could just as easily say grades don't teach you improvisation or composition. Those 'traditional' grades are what they are and don't purport to make someone entirely fit for every possible path they might take as a musician.

You've clearly got some issue with children being constrained by the NC and think they should be able to go off-piste. The difficulty I have with that for primary age is that they'll spend a week of "additional maths" lessons doing that, working out the first 50 items of the Fibonacci sequence or something similar scraped from the web, which seems absurd when they could be learning say algebra. The upstream curriculum contains the core maths concepts and skills so it's sensible to want to go there next...

Pistillate Mon 07-Oct-13 21:23:28

Yeah, maybe I ranted on a bit.

I do feel very strongly that mixed ability teaching can be very successful,in an environment where invididual learning needs are assessed and addressed. That's not what you are describing with a week of Fibonacci, I think.

It is possibly something not seen much in mainstream uk children's education.... With so much focus on level attainment, and top table ssecond table etc heading towards streaming in secondary.

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