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Gifted in maths but school " can't offer enough challenge"

(23 Posts)
Nellsbells11 Wed 07-Feb-18 20:04:18

I've just come back from my son's parents evening. He's in year 1 and at state school. Academically ( i.e. Maths, reading etc) he is top of his year group of 60. His maths in particular is phenomenal. His teacher has said that he can't challenge him enough and that he's well beyond the limits of the curriculum for his year. He said that he sets him deeper level maths but that this is still too easy. Apparently they can only go so far and aren't allowed to teach beyond the curriculum for that year group. He has started to encourage DS to set his own maths problems as a way of overcoming the limits of the curriculum. Does this sound right ?! My sister who is a teacher says that his maths knowledge is phenomenal and at least several years ahead of where it should be, well into KS 2 . He seems to intuitively know the answer to many quite advanced maths problems. We don't and never have done maths with him at home he seemed to learn from his older sisters iPad apps and programs like numberblocks . He just seems to have a natural ability for it. Despite all of this DS is now saying that he hates maths and doesn't want to go to school because he hates doing the same numbers over and over again. Is there anyway around this? Can school do anything more to engage him or is it really out of their hands. Is there anything we can do , a tutor maybe or send him in with maths work books? Has anyone had experience of anything similar? Thanks for your help x

Namechange16 Wed 07-Feb-18 20:26:06

My dd is gifted in maths and I'm having the same issues. They don't want to teach her more because future teachers won't have anything to teach her!! Absolute crap. Are EYFS educators so inflexible in their teaching?? As a secondary school teacher I find that so bizarre. I've got year 7 students who I give GCSE work to and GCSE students who I give university level work to. Why can't they stretch and challenge kids like ours in EYFS????

Nellsbells11 Wed 07-Feb-18 20:39:07

I don't know, it just seems so sad that the subject he is clearly brilliant at is the one he now absolutely hates. That can't be right, surely? He definitely didn't get the maths gene from me as it's not my thing at all. I find it really difficult to encourage him at home because I find maths totally baffling and incredibly dull. This is why I'm wondering about a tutor, as I don't even know what level he's at, just that he's bloody good and that everyone else keeps telling me he's amazing at it ! It just seems he's being left to rot a bit at he moment.

JustRichmal Thu 08-Feb-18 08:37:46

Dd was way ahead at maths and my solution was to put her in for GCSE at ten. She now happily sits at the side of the class doing A level work.
At least you have a teacher who does acknowledge your ds is ahead and is trying to find solutions. At primary the teachers just dealt with my dd being ahead by saying she was not.
Luckily I was able to teach dd maths and so knew she had covered the whole curriculum. The problem you have is that your ds may be ahead in some topics, but may not have covered others.
One option is just to do enrichment on the parts he can cover quickly. There is always enrichment they can do eg nrich.
If you want him to go ahead, however, you could get a CGP or Letts revision book for KS2. Lots of ability in maths comes down to how well it is taught. These books are easy to follow and if you are struggling with some bits of it, you could either look on Khan Academy or better still, get his sister to explain it, as this will help her as well.
Children can often learn maths at a much faster rate than they do at school. I would also consider giving equal teaching to your dd as she has not had the advantage of an older sibling to learn from and you do not want to be giving the massage your ds is the one who can do maths and the mythical maths gene has passed her by.

namechanger456 Thu 08-Feb-18 14:06:06

I am having similar issues. DS2 is in yr 3 and they have admitted that he needs an advanced maths class. He is currently doing the yr6 SATS for fun and has taught himself the entire thing in the last week. I am asking my local council to please intervene but dont know what else to do?

noblegiraffe Thu 08-Feb-18 14:16:26

aren't allowed to teach beyond the curriculum for that year group.

This isn't true, although I understand it's a common misunderstanding of a mastery curriculum.

secretsciurusvulgaris Thu 08-Feb-18 15:55:00

I have name changed for this as I have posted about DD's school in the past. I could have written your post. Differentiation in DD's year 2 class is limited - think giving her the three star twinkle worksheet instead of the two star one. It makes no difference to her as they are both simple to her and finished in about a minute. This is a 6 year old child that taught herself the times tables, can multiply, divide, add any size of number etc and can easily do y6 sats questions. When she finishes her work in class (very quickly) she gets to read a book or finish off some colouring while everyone is still working. I work with her at home now as it is the only challenge she gets and I don't really care what the school thinks.

GeorgeHerbert Fri 09-Feb-18 18:59:10

It's very frustrating isn't it - I had similar issues in Year R and Year 1. Actually, I think the problem is more that some primary teachers (no disrespect at all) just don't know what to with mathematically able children. The solution ds primary had was to get a secondary maths teacher in for ds in Y3 and then a 6th form A level volunteer in Y 4 and 5 to do some work with ds. We were lucky they had the resources to be able to do this.
In secondary things improved dramatically because of some great maths teachers and a willing Head of Maths who was prepared to take some risks.

JustRichmal Sat 10-Feb-18 08:40:23

I do sympathise. Dd used to come home crying about the hour long boredom every day in what was her favourite subject. The number of threads there are on here suggest it is a widespread problem. The problem is, in a class of 30+,the teacher cannot give, simultaneously to the normal class, a separate lesson for one child.
I would have been happy if dd could have sat in maths classes doing a separate maths course on the computer.
Also, allowing a child to sit an independent test to prove they were ahead would have helped dd, rather than just being told that, in the teacher's opinion. she was not ahead. It still annoys me that, being a quiet and compliant child, the school went out of their way not to test her. I used to be a "don't make a fuss" parent, until I realised this was dd's education passing her by.

TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross Sat 10-Feb-18 08:47:32

I don’t understand this at all. I am a scondary teacher (not Maths) and in our school they simply differentiate as far ahead as the students need. In some years they have had the top set doing AS when the rest of the year are working towards GCSE for example. It’s not that hard to provide stretch and challenge. Some students hve been provided with university level work once they’ve finished the secondary curriculum, including Further Maths.

JustRichmal Sat 10-Feb-18 09:20:32

TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross, dd is now at an excellent secondary and this is now happening for dd. However at primary it did not. The only solution I could find to endless discussions about what level she was at was to let her do GCSE. In some schools teaching those far ahead is working, in other schools, it is not.

frogsoup Sat 10-Feb-18 09:30:21

Same issue here. Whatever maths we teach our 9yo gets lapped up. Mastered long multiplication in 10 minutes, simultaneous equations in 20. Her homework still involves sodding place value. Teacher utterly uninterested, thinks giving out 'hard and hardest' options for homework (that are still ridiculously easy for at least 20% of the class, let alone the ones like DD) is fulfilling differentiation duties. It's so frustrating. I don't really know what to do - is she doomed to boredom until A-levels?!!

Nellsbells11 Sat 10-Feb-18 23:28:16

Thanks everyone. That’s really helpful. It just seem ridiculous that they can’t let them go beyond a certain level, when he clearly is already beyond it. DH is going to work on maths with him after school to try and keep him engaged.

irvineoneohone Sun 11-Feb-18 12:07:08

You don't need to work on maths with him, just give him resources to work on himself.

Pythonesque Wed 21-Feb-18 04:40:56

Agree that a child like this does not need teaching, but does need challenging and that's a really good set of links to look at with him. I'd aim to find things that you can print out that he can work on at school - discuss this with the teacher though.

I don't think I ever had a maths teacher teach me anything as I preferred to go through the textbooks by myself. With online resources it can be easier these days. My 12 yr old has picked up all sorts of things and was talking to me about calculus over Christmas ....

Movablefeast Wed 21-Feb-18 05:03:33

Is there any chance a local strong academic private school would be willing to give him a bursury and stretch him?

HundredsAndThousandsOfThem Wed 21-Feb-18 16:15:32

I'm following this as it's similar for my DD. She was assessed by an educational psychologist in YR (actually for a separate reason) and found to have an IQ in the top 0.1% with a particular ability for maths. She loves doing maths at home and would ask lots of questions etc (I did a maths related degree so help her but have no idea about the primary curriculum).

She's now in Y1 at a lovely prep school but she comes home talking about doing stuff like adding 10 to various numbers in maths - she can confidently manipulate fractions, decimals, handle multiplication, division, algebra etc so it just seems totally pointless to be doing such basic stuff. Not sure whether to approach the school. There are less than 20 in the class and the school boasts of a G&T program and have the Ed Pysch report which stressed that DD needs challenge so should be able to give her more challenge surely? Don't want to seem pushy though!

secretsciurusvulgaris Wed 21-Feb-18 16:22:14

I wouldn't as it will mark you out as a 'pushy parent' - that is obviously if you are otherwise happy with the school. We have the same issue with DD, also at a prep. I would imagine that they are already aware of your DD's ability but instead use the time to focus on those children that aren't yet meeting expectations. This is what is happening in my DD's class. We are carrying on with our own maths at home and hoping that things will improve in Y3 when setting starts.

longtallwalker Wed 21-Feb-18 16:29:41

DD was the same. Now at a tipity top uni studying maths. It's hard. Definitely keep asking, but don't expect miracles.
Try finding a chess club - that is a good mathematical, logical game to push a pupil in a less obvious way.
I expect they'll respond by letting your DC mentor less gifted pupils. Sigh. I bet that'll happen in fact bc it did to my DD.
I can only reassure that your DC will probably be ok. DD was, though it didn't seem that way at the time!

HundredsAndThousandsOfThem Wed 21-Feb-18 17:13:58

Thanks - I was thinking that I really didn't want to be that pushy parent (there are already enough of them in the class!) we chose the school because it's a lovely, happy school and we are still really happy with it. I think chess club is a great idea - mental outlet but not getting even more ahead.

I do think it's a shame though that stretch doesn't happen automatically for those that are able.There can still be difficult work set purely based on curriculum stuff.

stressedoutfred Wed 21-Feb-18 20:13:09

Had similar all the way through primary school, now at secondary he's flying and having a great time!

Nellsbells11 Wed 21-Feb-18 21:51:26

Thanks everyone, that’s all really helpful. I had thought of chess and will definitely look into it more! His sister is moving from their state school to a local private school ( she’s dyslexic but very able and underachieving but not enough for it to be a problem for her current school!) I have wondered about him sitting the common entrance at the same school and seeing if he could get a scholarship. I suspect he might get more challenged in a private setting as they don’t have to adhere to the curriculum as state schools do. It’s just a case of money. It would cost us £50,000 a year to send all three and it’s just not doable sadly. If I had the money I would! Having said that the local state secondary is very good and does seem to stretch the most able. I’m glad to hear that it’s worked out well for others like him so thanks for sharing your experiences x

Julie8008 Sat 24-Feb-18 01:57:45

I have had nearly 12 years of this so far, DS Y11. And sadly all I can say is, there is very little you can do. School sucks the soul out of gifted children. You can do all the enrichment on offer and then some but they still have to sit through mind numbing maths classes which they hate. The teachers try, they talk about differentiation, they set extension work but all that ends up happening is they are given more and more work they learnt several years ago. It really is awful when the area they love and are gifted at turns out to be the subject they hate the most. Bloody exams where you have to write down the working out but DS thinks "what working out? the answer is bloody obvious".

I tried so hard to find a solution but never did, kept hoping a new year at school would bring a challenge, it never did. At the moment I am hoping A-Levels will bring that challenge, not to confident...

The only respite was some of the outreach programs that oxford uni runs and international competitions. The only advice I have is to try and get them to hold on, and hope they can last until they get past school.

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