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Maths Level 7B in Year 5

(35 Posts)
kitnkaboodle Fri 07-Mar-14 23:53:23

.. is what my son has just been assessed as. We know that his maths ability is something special and want to make the right choice with his secondary school.

Usual question, I'm afraid (and prob. unanswerable!):

How extraordinary is this? Any statistics I can look at? Or any teachers in the know?


noblegiraffe Sat 08-Mar-14 00:06:42

Well, if he's level 7 in Y5 then he will be level 8 at least in Y6 and ready to start the GCSE course in Y7.

This is very unusual in the state system, I suspect less so in private. In 9 years of state teaching I've encountered a child doing GCSE that early once.

sydlexic Sat 08-Mar-14 00:35:54

I couldn't get the school to test above. Level 6 but would say DS was about the same. He goes to superselective grammar and is still top of the class.

richmal Sat 08-Mar-14 10:08:26

Though I could not find statistics for specific levels I did find this for the number of students sitting GCSE at various ages. From this, in 2009 14 children aged 10 or below sat gcse mathematics and 303 between the ages of 11 and 13 inclusive.

Presumably they would be comparable with your DS's ability in maths.

Sydlexic, I too could not get school to do an independent test for dd and they said that she was middle to bottom of the top group. It was just my opinion versus theirs. I took her out of school just over a year ago and she will be returning in year 7, having done her GCSE, as it was the only way I can think of to get her level in black and white, so there is no argument over what level she is at in maths.

bamboostalks Sat 08-Mar-14 10:10:37

Incredibly extraordinary. Less than 0.5 of other children his age are at that level.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 08-Mar-14 10:17:05


Was your main reason to do GCSE early because your child wanted to, to get it over and done with, or because of the problem obtaining the level.
I am curious as dd was assessed as working within level 8, at the end of y3, not the same subject though.
We didn't go for the GCSE early as it had part controlled assessment and there is no hurry.
It is annoying though as if I mention it people always question it as though I am making it up.
It would be a faff to do it outside school but sometimes I wish we had done just to show the sceptics.

richmal Sat 08-Mar-14 10:41:28

morethanpotatoprints, dd started getting fed up with not doing anything new in maths lessons. If the primary school has assessed your dd as working at level 8 then that is good. To me it did not matter what others thought her level was, just the people teaching her. In mathematics there have been 7 year olds who have got GCSE. so it is not completely unbelievable that a 10 year old should be capable of it. Dd is also good at science, but I too have not gone for trying to do GCSE's with these as I too want her to feel confident with the practical aspects of the subjects, whereas in maths there is not any practical test.

lljkk Sat 08-Mar-14 10:47:43

Well done to the school for having taught him so well!
I hope he's doing well in other subjects, too.

redsquareyellowsquare Sat 08-Mar-14 10:58:21

A 7b in year 6 is amazingly high. I would certainly count this as very gifted. If it is correct. ...

I have no doubt that your ds is very very good but I would be concerned about how/if the primary school are teaching to this level, never mind assessing. I'm sure lots of primary school teachers will be upset by this comment, but as a secondary maths teacher I've always found their assessment at the higher end to be a bit dodgy (and to be fair I can't assess level 1/2 at all accurately either).

Level 6 and 7 have lots of algebra, fot example, that (in my experience) primary teachers cover very superficially for g&t, if at all).

I'd recommend getting a private tutor with experience of exceptionally gifted children to work on broadening your son's maths knowledge and having some fun with the subject that will inspire him in the long run. They could then also give you an accurate assessment.

Disclaimer: I have a wide ranging experience of state schools but none if private. If your ds is at a prep their maths teaching might could properly into level 6&7.

richmal Sat 08-Mar-14 10:58:27

noblegiraffe, could I ask what provisions you made at secondary school for a child doing GCSE early. I cannot help thinking that one of the reasons children are not assessed at high levels is that schools then have one pupil for whom they have to make special arrangements, from their already stretched resources. From this point of view would it cause her school an unreasonable problem to ask that she start A level in year 7 should she gain A or A* at GCSE?

bruffin Sat 08-Mar-14 11:07:19

richmal - universities like A levels and gcses to be sat in one sitting, I dont think there is anything to gain by doing a gcse or a level early as it doesnt show you can handle the work load of 10,11,12 gcses or 4 or 5 alevels.

bruffin Sat 08-Mar-14 11:09:01

"universities like A levels and gcses to be sat in one sitting"
sorry that doesnt sound right, i meant gcses sat at one sitting then A levels afterwards. Sitting all your Gcses is different but not one subject at a time.

ShanghaiDiva Sat 08-Mar-14 11:13:50

think it depends on how early you take the gcse and when you take the others. my son took gcse german when he was 11, and will take maths early and the remaining 8 at one sitting.

lljkk Sat 08-Mar-14 11:20:37

I would bet money that 95% of university places in this country they don't give a hoot when you sat GCSEs (all together or not). The other 5% may check & may consider whether the sittings suggest anything undesirable.

Find statistics to prove I'm wrong.

bruffin Sat 08-Mar-14 11:21:40

I would have thought a lot of children could get an successful early gcse if they took one early and didnt have to concentrate on other exams

richmal Sat 08-Mar-14 11:28:07

Bruffin, dd will sit all her other gcse's in one sitting. Also that my daughter enjoys maths and wants to progress in it is not as important to me as what universities want. Besides, at the end of the day, what they are looking for is someone with enthusiasm for whatever subject they want to study.

kitnkaboodle, If your ds has been assessed at 7b by his primary, it sounds as though your experience with school is very different from mine. What are you looking for in a secondary school?

bruffin Sat 08-Mar-14 11:29:25

from RG informed choices

"Some schools are now entering pupils early for GCSE, AS-level and A-level. You should be aware that some universities or their individual subject departments may want to see that you have taken a number of advanced level qualifications all at the same time; for example, they may want to see three A-levels taken in Year 13. This can be because they want to know that you can comfortably manage a workload of this size in your advanced level studies. Admissions policies may therefore differ in relation to A-levels taken early, and whether these are included in offers made or not.For example, some courses that typically make a conditional offer of AAB may take account of an A-level A grade achieved at the end of Year 12 and, as a result, make a conditional offer of AB for A-levels taken in year 13. Other courses may still make a conditional offer of AAB on subjects taken at the end of Year 13 and will not include the A-level already taken in their conditional offer. If you think that this may affect you, it is important to check the admissions policy for the courses and universities that you are interested in applying to"

richmal Sat 08-Mar-14 11:32:17

Oops! It makes a lot more sense if you take the "not" out of the second sentence in my last post.

noblegiraffe Sat 08-Mar-14 11:32:48

richmal our pupil did maths lessons out of their year group, which involved missing lessons from other subjects due to the timetable

The main issue I think is asking the child to be in a class with students far older than them, this is socially quite difficult for them. It also marks them out among their peer group.

lljkk Sat 08-Mar-14 11:38:03

All that quote was about A-levels take together, Bruffin (I think?) My comment was about GCSEs.

And the quote doesn't say anything about the number of university places affected by the A-levels-sat-together target, anyway. Should we also conclude they meant that every place at each of those "some" Unis is affected? Most Unis have depts with wide-ranging ratings, so their engineering school might be mediocre but the geography dept topnotch, so the Geographers can have higher entry reqs. (is that not normal, now?)

I totally agree that starting work now towards GCSEs for OP's child could be undesirable. I think there are much better ways to keep love of learning alive than targeting learning only towards exams.

Hendricksandcucumber Sat 08-Mar-14 11:41:39

And for Maths the 'GCSEs in one sitting' holds less water, take this chap for instance - Arran Fernandez who went to Cambridge to do Maths at 15, with A levels in Maths, Further Maths and Physics. The article doesn't say but I would be surprised if he also has 10 other GCSEs in English Literature, History, French, German etc. And his Maths and Physics A Levels weren't sat together!

richmal Sat 08-Mar-14 11:44:31

noblegiraffe, I think I need to talk to dd and explain these points to her as disinterestedly as I can. I also need to talk to the school.

noblegiraffe Sat 08-Mar-14 12:49:40

richmal, is your DD able to self-study maths? I think in your situation, I would try to put off the A-level maths as long as possible. For a start, if she does A-level, and then Further maths A-level, she'll be done with secondary maths before she reaches Y11, and then what will the school do with her? They'd probably have to try to get someone in from a university.

If she gets an A or lower at GCSE, then studying to resit and get an A* might be a good idea. Further Maths GCSE rather than A-level next (AQA run a nice course). She could work through that while the rest of her class does Y7 maths? Also, enrichment rather than acceleration is a good idea, I assume you are familiar with the nrich website, but the UK maths challenge people run a mentoring scheme alongside the maths challenge Every month a teacher at the school gets emailed a set of challenging problems to give to the student to work through, these are nothing like GCSE questions and require a lot of thought, so should also keep her occupied.

I do think that a child who is mathematically able who simply goes through the academic maths courses is missing out on a lot of nice maths around the edges.

richmal Sat 08-Mar-14 13:17:07

noblegiraffe, I'm concerned that if she does not go on to A level I will have to spend the next 4 years in much the same way as the last, with teachers explaining to me why dd is not as bright as I think she is. She is 10 and has got gold in the IMC. I don't know how much more enrichment she needs before moving on to the next level. I have a feeling the enrichment is something that will just expand to fill the years it has to fit into, before it arbitrarily stops because dd has reached the predetermined age for going on to the next level of learning. I will take on board your advice, but have not had the most encouraging start from schools so far.

noblegiraffe Sat 08-Mar-14 14:04:42

I don't know how much more enrichment she needs before moving onto the next level

The maths academic curriculum is very narrow (and dull) in terms of the area of maths it covers. She could reach a very high level of maths study in certain areas while completely side-stepping the maths curriculum entirely. For example she could get into studying shapes and symmetry, which would get into group theory (Further Maths A-level/uni level maths) without having needed to study A-level. Or she could get into codes and code-breaking Or number theory, there's a lot that can be done with number theory. Don't make the mistake of thinking that enrichment is pointless and just filling time until she can do the 'proper' maths of A-level. In fact the academic courses are not really proper maths, as a professional mathematician would see it. In fact, if she wants to take her maths further, I would see the enrichment as the serious business and the certificated courses as mere hoop jumping and box-ticking before you can do the good stuff.

What maths books has she read? The Number Devil? If so, did any particular chapter catch her interest?

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