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Suggesting LO be more challenged?

(29 Posts)
C0ffeebreak Fri 23-Oct-15 09:49:04

Hi, I'm completely new to this forum and would really like to ask your advice. The school recently told us that my LO has a reading and spelling age well above her own (reading age over double). She finds both literacy and maths work easy and we've broached the subject with her current teacher. I'm happy to wait again and see what happens, but I also wondered if it would be completely unwise to bring up the possibility of attending the year ahead's literacy lesson - only if the teachers feels it might be appropriate? I really want to work with the school and equally I would love my LO to be challenged too. Has anyone had any recent similar experiences or any advice on what to do? Thanks so much for your help.

var123 Fri 23-Oct-15 10:11:57

I've got recent unsuccessful experience with Y9 Ds1.
Additionally I have experience with:-
Y8 DS1 in 2015 (failure)
Y6 DS2 in 2015 (success - fabulous teacher!)
Y5 DS2 in 2014
Y4 DS2 in 2013 (abysmal failure)
Y5 DS1 in 2012 (success - wonderful teacher!)
Y2 DS1 in 2010/11 (abysmal failure)
Y3 DS in 2009/10 (failure)

What I've learned is:-
1. Nothing will happen unless the teacher can do something and, crucially, wants to do something. You cannot make her want to do something, no matter how you demonstrate and prove the problem or try to use school policy or the law to pressure her.

2. Teachers who want to help demonstrate this by contacting you and coming up with proactive solutions. If they want to help,

3. G&T coordinator is just a meaningless title to give the teacher a little extra income.

4. If you do approach the school, be persistent but always ask for things with a smile (which is difficult if you are feeling grim).

5. Schools that do not want to help will fight back either by making out that you are deluded or pushy or by simply by playing for time.

Basically, what i've learned is that as soon as you realise the teacher is not minded to help, you should drop it immediately and regard school as a time to develop social skills and then teacher your child in the evenings and at weekends.

Just t show that i put my money where my mouth is: Ds1 in year 9 and completely unchallenged in the top set of maths. Head of maths dept showed that he is unwilling to arrange for DS1 to be challenged once in a while, so I bought a GCSE coursework book yesterday and I plan to start teaching him GCSE maths tomorrow (with his agreement).

TheWanderingUterus Fri 23-Oct-15 10:20:18

How old is your DC?

Both of my DC have been in this position from infant school and we did all the challenging at home instead of at school. We treated school as a social environment where they learned to interact and communicate with others and where they taught them all the basic solid stuff. All the fun and challenging things we did at home. Several reasons including not wanting the DC to be obviously set apart from their peers (previous bullying) and we felt we could be more responsive to the DCs interests than a busy teacher trying to teach 29 other children.

The easier work at school has been a boost to their confidence and I have always felt that boredom is an excellent thing for children to experience. The teachers differentiated in Year 5 and 6 and DD has been stretched and challenged nicely at this point. DD is in Year 6 and has been selected for maths masterclasses at secondary, special school maths groups and has been sent on five extension programs for some of her subjects. She also excelled at the 11+ without tutoring (DS is only in the second year of primary)

Lurkedforever1 Fri 23-Oct-15 10:33:14

I think as var says they'll either do it of their own free will or they won't. Dds primary were great, but I never had to even bring it up, they instigated it and just told me about it casually afterwards. Only exception was one teacher who was crap all round, except for children smack bang on average, and in that situation the head dealt with it, because the school ethos was every individual.

You can ask, but I think I'd firstly ask for some actual differentiation in class. (Rather than the bull idea some teachers have about what constitutes stretching work). Purely because if you ask for some lessons with the above class, they'll just say they can challenge within the year group. So ask again for that, leave it a few weeks and then go in and politely suggest there is still no challenge if that's the case.

irvine101 Fri 23-Oct-15 16:35:09

My ds's experience was somewhat similar to var and wandering's.
He had great teacher and not so great teacher. It really depend on what they are willing to do. Crap teacher for my ds turned out to be a great teacher for struggling children.

He also attended year ahead, but this didn't turn out to be so great. Time tabling issues was so disruptive. If the school sort this out properly, it may work for you.

As other posters said, most of stretching has been done at home. I've read lots of thread from past, and asked for advice on MN. They are really helpful.

I hope your school is one of the good school, which is willing to help your child. Good luck! smile

var123 Fri 23-Oct-15 17:35:24

I agree Irvine01, a teacher can be great with one section of the class and awful for another section.

Take Ds2's year 4 teacher for example: the middle section of parents said she was great, "really knocked the children into shape" was the most used phrase I heard. However,the upper 15% (whose children all sat on the top table) said they couldn't wait for her year to be over and their child was bored doing work again and again that they had already mastered. Whereas the parents of children who struggled said she moved too fast and their children were feeling stressed.

irvine101 Fri 23-Oct-15 18:18:56

It must be hard for teachers! It's just so impossible to please everyone.
smile

Mistigri Sat 24-Oct-15 05:35:31

I think there comes a point when it is unrealistic to expect very gifted children to be "stimulated" constantly at school - there is a limit to how much can be done in a class of 30+ where the teacher is probably already working 60 hours a week.

I agree with the others that it depends on the teacher, and the child. My DD in primary school did best with teachers who occupied her rather than making usually fruitless attempts at differentiation, which generally failed because she was not very good at working independently, because teachers mostly had no idea where to pitch differentiated work, and because she didn't like feeling singled out.

Like one PP I treated primary school as a place where she practised social skills, learnt "soft" skills like organising her work and when to shut up (not so clever at that lol), and as childcare for me ;) A child who can read and enjoys reading is "stimulated" every time they open a book, and you will have plenty of opportunities to provide non-academic stimulation outside school hours smile

InternationalEspionage Sat 24-Oct-15 05:59:24

Excellent advice here. I would also strongly recommend a letter to the HT just before the nextc years class selection time.

Letter should contain third party assessment of academic levels/ potential as far as age permits (is this called an ed psych report in UK) which, crucially, should also contain a detained breakdown of the school and classroom environment (Inc extension opportunities and teacher's approach) necessary to deliver on your LOs needs.

Hopefully that inputs to best environment next year. That letter also goes to new teacher week one of next school year along with request for review meeting at half term (ask for this start of term so teacher knows it's coming and zero excuses on making time for it).

I do also see school for social and home for academic development (and same applied to my personal primary schooling for same reasons)....but to be honest I think the (sad but realistic) point of mainstream state schooling is to ensure the population meets lowest common denominator ed goals so it doesn't really bother me any more.

icklekid Sat 24-Oct-15 06:45:18

Really sad to hear you've experienced such resistance from teachers to support and stretch your dc.

Just to say this G&T coordinator is just a meaningless title to give the teacher a little extra income is totally untrue never known any teacher to get any financial reward for taking on g&t- maybe previously (10year+) when tlr's were used but unheard of now.

I hope you manage to work with the school to support your child -in terms of going up a year for English I would be hesitant as unless they were going up to secondary a year early they will repeat a year in yr6. English is easier to stretch ch in class than maths and as long as your dc is enjoying and producing high quality work in eng I wouldn't mind...

Mistigri Sat 24-Oct-15 09:24:52

My daughter had one year in which she did literacy and maths with the year above (she had already been accelerated by one full year). It was, with the benefit of hindsight, a bad decision that made the following year more difficult than it needed to be.

Accessing parts of the curriculum early is all very well if that can be maintained, eg by putting a child by a year, but this seems to be all but impossible in most UK state schools.

I found that by far the most useful interventions were the broader ones that involved working, in a group, on topics that were outside the general curriculum, but this is objectively a lot easier at secondary school. Probably the best example of this was when DD participated in a history competition last year - she and 2 friends wrote a dissertation about the experiences of people after they were released from concentration camps at the end of WW2. There are also international maths competitions that can be a good experience for maths oriented children.

AllPizzasGreatAndSmall Sun 25-Oct-15 18:00:03

Excellent advice here. I would also strongly recommend a letter to the HT just before the nextc years class selection time.

Letter should contain third party assessment of academic levels/ potential as far as age permits (is this called an ed psych report in UK) which, crucially, should also contain a detained breakdown of the school and classroom environment (Inc extension opportunities and teacher's approach) necessary to deliver on your LOs needs.

Hopefully that inputs to best environment next year. That letter also goes to new teacher week one of next school year along with request for review meeting at half term (ask for this start of term so teacher knows it's coming and zero excuses on making time for it).

You are obviously not in the UK. No head would decide which teacher is allocated which class based on one parent telling her what their child required. Neither would a teacher appreciate being told by a parent how to do their job before the year has even started.

teacherwith2kids Mon 26-Oct-15 11:03:25

You also have to be a little careful with what the tests that have been done actually measure - both are rather outdated and 'out of context' measurements.

Basically, they require a child to read, or spell, a series of words in isolation - that is reading as in 'decoding', not reading as in 'comprehending'. An 'age' is calculated based on how far through the test your child got, and how accurate their work was. It is quite usual for 'reasonably able' children to get high 'ages', without it indicating 'extreme giftedness' in any way. DD's reading / spelling ages were both around the top available in the test - 14? or so - when she was in year 1, but although she got Level 6 in English overall at the end of primary, she's not 'exceptionally gifted' by any stretch.

Although they are interesting pieces of data, they are not in themselves predictors, or indicators, of 'high ability in English' - which would include literal and inferential comprehension, empathy with characters, ability to explain reasoning using evidence from the text, selection of vocabulary when writing, use of varied advanced sentence structures, knowingly creating an effect on the reader etc etc etc (I could go on).

English is relatively easy to differentiate in class for the able, so year-acceleration for any but the most extreme cases is not likely to be necessary or allowed. (Maths is harder, because of the need for extra 'content' to be accessed)

InternationalEspionage Sun 01-Nov-15 08:36:28

Pizzas, you seemed to have managed misread my post entirely. And you know what they say about assuming...this was actually advice given by a UK head teacher directly grin.

Good luck OP.

JustRichmal Sun 01-Nov-15 09:50:40

A teacher has 30 children in a class, you have one. Next year the teacher will have a different 30 children, but you will still have the same child. Why would you not educate at home? My dd excelled at maths because she had a consistent education. Any teaching she gets at school I look on as a bonus and I am grateful to the teachers she has had who have gone out of their way to teach her. Unfortunately you cannot guarantee them getting a good teacher in any given year.

InternationalEspionage Sun 01-Nov-15 11:48:45

Justrichmal, agree with you completely.

var123 Sun 01-Nov-15 19:26:12

Justrichmal - I agree too, but with the caveat that parents who can't do this should not beat themselves up by thinking that they are failing their children.

fuffapster Mon 02-Nov-15 10:45:27

Hi OP, I'm new to this also, but experienced some of what the others said with regard to the difference hinging upon the teacher.

Nonetheless, we did keep on pushing for a detailed assessment and now things are on track (touch wood). The current teacher is very helpful (the previous was not).

What Mistigri says about going for topics outside the curriculum seems to make sense. My sister, wrt to her son, suggested that doing artistic activities can be good because the focus there is getting each child to go as far as they can.

Right now, we're going to try and get ds to participate in one extra-curricular activity with older children. There's one that is all about building machines, robots, programming, and stuff like that. It may work out.

Sorry to hijack the thread, but this is to Mistigri. You mentioned 'international maths competitions'. Can you give any examples/links?

JustRichmal Mon 02-Nov-15 13:49:45

Var, yes I agree with you there, but then everyone tends to play to their strengths when raising children. Dd does not have super sporty parents who will be out playing football every weekend, or artistic parents teaching her how to draw. (We try to balance what she does, just that we are better at some things than others). It does not matter what people do, just so long as they are not put off by thinking they cannot because it will clash with what school are doing.

var123 Mon 02-Nov-15 15:01:27

I agree about that too. Its hard (for me) to get excited about drawing or music, although it would be nice if my sons were more able to draw and paint good pictures, or were interested to learn a musical instrument - as long as they practice out of earshot!

I bought the children lots of art materials and toy instruments when they were pre-schoolers, but they never showed any interest in them and I had no idea how to make them interesting!

I often wonder how much is in the genes versus how much is environmental? Whatever the ratio, there is a dose of luck in there too.

AllPizzasGreatAndSmall Tue 03-Nov-15 23:41:30

Pizzas, you seemed to have managed misread my post entirely. And you know what they say about assuming...this was actually advice given by a UK head teacher directly.

Apologies for assuming you are not in the UK, it was your question about would it be an ed psych report in the UK that suggested to me you were in another country.

Sorry, I am a little confused whether you are saying you gave this advice as a UK head or you were given it by a UK head? Either way is the head in the private or state sector, as I cannot believe any state school head would let their management decisions be swayed by one parent's requirements.

var123 Wed 04-Nov-15 08:00:01

Its not a parent's requirements though, is it? Its a child's need.

Surely if a headteacher has allocated two teachers to a year group and she's busy dividing 60 children up between them, then it would be pig-headed and contrary to the good of the school, to refuse to allocate child X to teacher B, rather than teacher A, because the parent had brought the child's need to the head's attention.

AllPizzasGreatAndSmall Mon 09-Nov-15 00:03:50

Well I was thinking along the lines of the child already being in a class group and the head deciding which teacher is best for the whole class, using her knowledge of the year group and the teachers, rather than being told by a parent.

var123 Mon 09-Nov-15 10:19:19

Obviously, in an ideal world, the HT would be fully aware of all the factors which allow him/ her to make the optimal decision at each time. That does seem to be asking a lot of the HT though. So, a timely reminder about the specific needs of one child might be useful.

On the other hand, maybe there are HT's out there who think they know everything already... but then we all know that's beyond what's possible for a human being so I think we can safely assume that thinking that of yourself might be considered a character flaw.

Geraniumred Tue 10-Nov-15 16:21:07

Schools seem to vary enormously in what they are able to provide. I 'do' literacy for the G&T key stage 2 groups, but I know this is a luxury many schools do not have. We work on things that they will not cover in class at all, exposing them to a far wider range of literature than is normally possible.

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