If your child is ahead, what would help in primary?(23 Posts)
Dd is now happy in secondary school, but was always ahead in maths in primary. She was not learning anything in her maths lessons and eventually I took her out because the system was failing her.
If I could have changed anything, I would have had the school let her go at her own pace on computer lessons, such as Khan Academy.
Or I would have happily taught her at home and set work for her to get on with quietly in class.
In an ideal world, dd would have been taught separately by a teacher, but there is only so much budget and only so many teachers in the school. So, rightly, this support is reserved for those with special needs.
Differentiation did not work. Dd still had to sit through and listen to things she had mastered years ago before being given a worksheet with more difficult questions on the same topic, usually only once she had completed the easier sheet.
So this is a question for parents, of what would have helped your child, and for teachers, as to what you would like to see happen for those children who were say starting KS2, already having mastered a lot of KS3?
I do agree, I wish my ds was allowed to get on with work by himself on computer. I once suggested few websites to his yr1 teacher when he was made to practice times table on computer while others were taught by teacher. It was rejected.
My ds is just facing what you describe, doing ks2 work when more then ready for ks3 work. My ds' school isn't interested in his talent.
I recently asked similar question to one of MN poster(governor at school)
who said they stretch even the brightest, and yr2 child who is ready for ks3 work doesn't exist.(as a response to another poster.)
I said my ds was, with evidence that he got lv4 for attainment, but I was brushed off by comment "he must be genius."
If the people from school who claim to stretch brightest thinks this way, then, school like mine have no chance. My ds' school didn't get outstanding for Ofsted, because they aren't stretching able children. HT's comment shocked me, she said something in line with we are only failing minority in the news letter.
Aaaahh I so wish I knew the answer to this - I'm currently living this nightmare!
Ideally - I would just like my DS to be able to go at his own pace but this seems to just be a pipe dream!
I have (no negative comments please) recently employed a tutor for an hour a week where he can go as far and as fast as he needs to. For how long it is going to work I don't know but (touch wood) it has had a hugely positive effect so far. It doesn't help the boredom of school but it does seem to be meeting his additional needs at the moment. He has his thirst and excitement for learning back. I hate the fact I have to pay for something I feel the education system should be meeting but after 18 long months of banging my head against a brick wall with school I conceded. I have considered moving schools, but would the grass be any greener and socially he loves school.
A rock and hard place is how I feel most of the time. But for the past four weeks, the first time since he began school he seems much more content.
It doesn't get better. If anything, secondary is less flexible.
Schools in the UK are so focused on the standardised tests that the whole system doesn't come close to accommodating kids who don't fit into a fairly narrow spectrum of maths ability.
Are we talking maths here? Then yes, definitely the do something at own pace. When I was at primary we were given a textbook to get on with. There was also a degree of you do every third question, so you didn't have to do all the repetition if you didn't need it. Worked much better for me as an able student than what DC are getting is for them. (And gosh having to sit through taught lessons at secondary, even at a selective school in top set, was dull and slow in comparison.)
I got quite excited when people first started talking about mastery curriculum as asking really hard questions doesn't require advanced maths, and there's so much fun stuff they could do. In practice, though, DS' teachers haven't got close to his challenge level. They say he's being challenged, he says not, and I've seen no evidence of it in his books. And this is a good but not that good child. If he's finding it all easy, I'd be pretty sure there are others in the class.
I'm beginning to think that it is almost impossible to give a very able child a wonderful educational experience unless you have a fair amount of disposable income. DS is in primary and while teachers and school doctors have been keen to tell me how advanced he is, and his current teacher is a very enthusiastic good teacher, it just isn't stimulating enough. I can understand why parents consider employing private tutors and home schooling.
I think one problem is that children who are far ahead to the extent they are bored in lessons are very small minority, with only one or two in each school. It seems, as parents, there is no way to have a say in what happens.
I thought sitting quietly at a computer would be an good option. A nationwide course, tailored to their education, could be set up as a computer course and made available across the country, specially designed for schools to cater for their able maths students.
State schools are geared to the majority middle. I have a high achieving 6 yo who completed an entire maths year curriculum in a term. And I have taken upon myself to tutor him outside of school. Pointless asking the primary school to differentiate - they won't. They don't have the resources and few primary teachers have the maths to teach confidently at an advanced level, when you have the one class teacher who's been teaching her class level year on year and not much movement further up a year. I'm STEM and have degree level Maths although I majored in Chemistry and molecular modelling) and work in data analytics so maths is a big thing in my company. It's what I'm employed to do and our maths graduates get paid starting salary £40k+. Maths is really important to me because it offers huge opportunities as a career.
Anyway, back to Primary school. Their mandate is not to stretch the most able so you are better off looking elsewhere.
My opinion with working with a number of professionals in my company (who are employed mathematicians - not teachers) and as a data analytics professional myself is that there should be no limit to personal achievement and that applies to my own children. Obviously there needs to be strong foundation but to be told by a school that my son can't attempt certain maths topics because he's not in the correct year for it is just ridiculous IMO. But I'm not a Maths teacher so don't know what is best in terms of teaching. I can only say speak from my own experience and my interactions non-teaching data scientists as to how they got to be where they were.
It's okay to support at home if you have a child who wants to do more out of school - mine wants the maths he does in school to be interesting, at home he'd mostly prefer to play. (Though was drawing different kinds of triangles and measuring angles when he was supposed to be in bed y'day...)
If my DCs are any good in Maths and ahead of their class, I probably give them a problem set each week to take to class. If they already know how to do certain things, expecting them to repeat the skill to death with some slightly altered questions with bigger numbers is not extension or differentiation. Maths is quite different compares to other subjects. If a bright child has good foundation, they can advance very quickly. Sometime, teachers cannot keep up with providing appropriate work.
I hear that the primary lessons are now much less flexible in terms of extension, tbf. My actual experience was:
DD got L6 in yr6 SATs, which I understand equivalates to a low C at GCSE math. So I think I can honestly say she finished primary having done much of KS3 level material.
She didn't need anything different from primary school. They had no plans to enter any child for L6 test until 3 weeks before the actual L6 test but she was obviously getting taught the extended material, anyway. She had a good social life. I still believe that a good social life means everything in terms of academic attainment. DS also got L6 in maths, but he had some special lessons for that.
The low achievers are very bored, too. Boredom in school is something all kids have to learn to deal with.
There was a high achiever in a school I worked in - she was bright - but come secondary school she fell out with friends truanted and will fail her maths GCSE this year - because she's skipped school so often
You have no idea how things will turn out -
My DS was failed by junior school as a middle floater - he's come in I leaps and bounds in high school - you just can't tell
The biggest fear I get from school which doesn't challenge children is that they lose excitement of challenging their own ability. The school hours are so long, and my ds doesn't complain boredom at all, but really depresses me when I look at his books. It looks exactly like GHGN's example of differentiation.
Yy Irvine. I'm much more worried about DC learning to learn and engage in a school environment than any actual input they might or might not pick up. I'm already seeing this in DC. They've got very used to finding everything easy, hard things come as a shock. DD gets cross and upset. Luckily DD's reaction in that situation is to kick repeatedly at the obstacle till it goes away - child will go far. DS is more inclined to just give up at the first sign of challenge. One reason I strongly encourage learning musical instruments, it's something that can always be pitched at a challenging level.
Totally agree, Cat.
I am so glad my ds started learning piano and struggling!
Once he lost his temper and walked off. Few minutes later he calmed himself down, come back and carried on. I was so pleased to see that happen, even though the temper tantrum wasn't so pleasant.
In our state primary school children who have completed the lesson extension work are allowed to select 'problems' from a selection available. These will be multi stage and cross maths curriculum which a child may need to try different methods to solve and would not be expected to solve in one lesson. They can pick it up again later when they next have time.This hopefully then also helps to build resiliance and a mindset good for later learning.
As parents this seems like a good way to offer extension without moving them too far ahead in curriculum terms, so we are happy with this.
I'd love DS to have a problem option like that Caspar. Not sure about having to wade through all the work the others are doing and extension questions before being able to access it though. That's making them do a lot of wrong-level work in order to access right-level work, though admittedly able children are often also fast.
I have a dc who is very good at maths. His school has allowed him to be taught with the year group above, and he's given work differentiated for him. When he goes to secondary I imagine it'll be easier to fit him in to his own year group as there will be other children of similar ability in his cohort.
Cat, the class are generally on the same topic for multiple sessions (seems to be at least a couple of weeks based on what i hear from my year 3 child) and this follows a pre-test for the topic. The class are then set work in differentiated groups based on the pre-test outcomes so should only be covering the work they need to. I'm guessing therefore that those at the very top should have very little to get through.
That really does sound good then. I love the idea of a pre-test generally. So often the approach at our school seems to be "well we need to teach it then get evidence that they've mastered the topic on three separate occasions before we can extend... oops time's up, next topic."
I've spoke to my sons teacher today and for my son they will probably teach him out of year at times as they have with other students in the school in the past. Also got assurances that he will always be challenged. I've also been given next steps of what he needs to learn.
He is only in reception though so will wait and see.
I think we are really lucky. My son is at least 3yrs ahead in maths. He was at a private prep for yr 2 last year, and his teacher there was brilliant in working at following the yr5/6 curriculum with him, which obviously was a lot easier with a small class. However, he was always working on his own, and I think long-term this would have been very isolating and marked him out as 'different'. He's now at a state junior and things are working really well. As it is a large school there is a dedicated head of maths (he has no class of his own and only teaches maths). He's made sure that in my son's usual maths lessons there is loads of extension work, and once a week my son joins three other gifted and talented children further up the school for a 'challenge' maths lesson, which usually means a lot of algebra and ks3-level work. He is so enjoying maths and I'm sad that his older sister didn't benefit from the same level of extra interest at her previous junior school. She's still outstanding at maths but hasn't got that same fired-up enthusiasm due to years of being bored and unchallenged.
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