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DS1 is going to be 'stretched sideways' next year apparently

(78 Posts)
gingertoo Tue 21-Jul-09 16:14:30

I'll give you a tiny bit of background.
Ds1 is 10 yrs old and has just finished Year 5 and is identified as G&T.
In May of Year 5 he sat Yr 6 SATs papers and got Level 5 across the board.
During Yr 5 he has been working with Year 6 to extend and challenge him.
At parents evening I talked to his teacher about how she was proposing to work with him in Year 6 (when there will be no older year groups for him to go and work with) She said that she had decided to 'stretch him sideways' rather than starting on KS3 work with him.
Unfortunately, we were only able to have a 10 min slot at parents evening but the teacher said she is happy to meet with us in Sept to discuss this further which is great, but I suppose before then I would like to have an idea about what this 'stretching sideways' involves and whether it is a good idea or not?!

So I suppose I'm asking whether anyone is a teacher or has had Dcs in this position at the start of Yr 6. Do you 'stretch sideways' or crack on with the KS3 curriculum? Which is better?

What do you think?

bruffin Tue 21-Jul-09 17:50:28

DD has been "stretched sideways" in maths and it was mainly problem solving. She really enjoyed it.

LilyBolero Tue 21-Jul-09 17:51:46

I think stretching sideways is fantastic, and much better than getting miles ahead. Add breadth to the curriculum - learn latin! Or something like that.

cornsillk Tue 21-Jul-09 17:53:16

Yes much better to go sideways.

gingertoo Tue 21-Jul-09 18:16:17

Thanks -that was my gut feeling.
DH is concerned that DS will be 'wasting a year' but I'm very happy for him to use the year to make sure he is solid and confident with all areas of the KS2 curriculum.

Like your idea of adding breadth, Lily. He would like to get his grade 4 violin next year but is keen to take up the electric guitar so I'll encourage that and see what else I can think of....

snorkle Tue 21-Jul-09 20:43:32

I think the sideways thing is better, if he presses on with the curriculum he's setting himself up for (even more) boredom later or early university or something. The secondary curriculum is dreary/unchallenging enough for a bright child without having done most of it already. Do develop his extra curricular activities too - he'll likely have time for plenty.

DadAtLarge Tue 21-Jul-09 23:47:49

Stretching sideways is all very good, to be encouraged, a plus, a Good Thing.

It is also a cop out. I'm with your DH.

"Level 5 across the board...."
"...to make sure he is solid and confident with all areas of the KS2 curriculum."

Your DS seems solid and confident already. So what's he going to do in Maths and English classes? Play the bongo? Nah, he'll get work that's a bit more difficult but he won't be learning anything new. Which suits some teachers just fine as it makes life a lot easier.

Ponders Tue 21-Jul-09 23:52:00

But if he was given KS3 work this year, what would his secondary school do with him when he got there in Y7? Repeat? Put him in a class on his own?

Sideways ("stretching", LOL) is def the best way - as much alternative & interesting work as possible - get him thinking, not just moving ahead through the ordinary stuff.

DadAtLarge Tue 21-Jul-09 23:57:05

Ponders, you sound like a teacher with your (apparent) goal of evening everyone out.

KembleTwins Wed 22-Jul-09 00:01:10

Sideways is definitely good. Pushing him ahead with KS3 curriculum would cause problems at secondary school (and not just for teachers DadAtLarge - you seem to think they're all a bunch of wasters) as he might get bored if he's repeating stuff. Encourage him to read widely, around the stuff he's doing at school. A good Yr 6 teacher will be able and willing to talk to him about stuff he's learned independently.

DadAtLarge Wed 22-Jul-09 00:05:13

"Pushing him ahead with KS3 curriculum would cause problems at secondary school"
Hmmm. So teachers in secondary schools can't cater for kids who are a year ahead of their peers?

And I'm the one who has a low opinion of teachers? grin

KembleTwins Wed 22-Jul-09 00:11:51

Kids at secondary school can't cope with being a year ahead of their peers. Teachers can. But why should they have to? They have 180 other kids to deal with. Would you then put the child into year 8, where he has to deal with children who, socially, are a year ahead of him, leaving his current friends behind, or would you put him with other year 7 kids and have the teachers give him separate work, thus making him an outcast in his own classrom?

MammaK Wed 22-Jul-09 00:18:55

A fantastic idea, we spend too much time pushing our children through a given set of knoledge and skills to get through the curriculum... then expect them to make an informed choice for further education in the hope they choose something they are good at.
For your child to be given a chance now to explore other areas is great, the opportunity to find to get excited about - something they are not only good at but enjoy! More chance of becoming both successful and happy.

bruffin Wed 22-Jul-09 00:31:50

Your DS seems solid and confident already. So what's he going to do in Maths and English classes? Play the bongo? Nah, he'll get work that's a bit more difficult but he won't be learning anything new. Which suits some teachers just fine as it makes life a lot easier.

Firstly english is self limiting, you can make it as difficult or as easy as you want.

and maths can always do with a little practise!

There is plenty going on in schools even in year 6 to keep a geuinely bright and interested child thriving.

SueW Wed 22-Jul-09 01:19:04

DD took up the saxophone at the beginning of Y6 (to add to violin). She took exams in both at Grade 3 in March of that academic year, on top of entrance exams and upcoming SATS. Unlike some parents we were not in the least concerned if she missed maths/English for music lessons.

The year group as a whole switched from French to German as their MFL. (And then to Spanish at senior school!) And there was loads of other stuff going on - sports tour, residential trip, Y6 production, cycling proficiency, prefect duties, organising charity events, etc.

senua Wed 22-Jul-09 08:36:30

KS3 is a bit of a nightmare for G&T kids.
As well as passively receiving 'sadeways stretch' in Y6, I suggest that you work on getting DS to self-motivate and find ways of amusing himself whilst the rest of the class struggle with something he understood on the first explanation. This will stand him in good stead for Secondary school and covers your DH's point about 'wasting a year'.
Your DS needs to realise that he is in charge of his own education and if a year is wasted then it is his fault, not the education system's. Sorry: that has come out too harsh. I'm trying to say that the ed system is set up for Joe Average so it might be an idea, in Y6, to work on finding your own strategies for your non-average situation, to help him through KS3&4.

gingertoo Wed 22-Jul-09 08:54:53

Morning all - thanks for your replies

It seems that most are in favour of 'sideways stretching' which is interesting.

DadatLarge what you are saying echoes exactly my DH's opnions on this (you're not my dh are you??!) He too thinks that it is a 'cop out' on behalf of the school. While ds is strong across the board, it is Maths where his real 'talent' lies. (His teacher tells me that he didn't drop a mark on his Maths SAT) so I suppose that is the area where I can see where DH is coming from - I really don't want to be 'held back' but what are the practical alternatives to 'stretching sideways' and how would it work in class?

suew it's interesting that you mention languages. The language provision at Ds1's school is poor so that is something he has not had much access to - I could look at developing him in that area as well as encouraging his music.....

MammaK you've hit the nail on the head! I want Ds1 to be successful but I want him to be happy.

I'm going to make an appointment to see Ds1's teacher very early in the new term so we can have a proper discussion about this.

DadAtLarge Wed 22-Jul-09 08:55:33

"Firstly english is self limiting, you can make it as difficult or as easy as you want.

and maths can always do with a little practise!"

Great ideas for keeping them busy while the rest of the class is learning.

"I suggest that you work on getting DS to self-motivate and find ways of amusing himself whilst the rest of the class struggle with something he understood on the first explanation."
I support that. It's a good skill to have ... but it's sad that he he'll have to call on it at a time when he should be doing what the rest of the class is doing: moving forward.

ABetaDad Wed 22-Jul-09 08:58:46

I agree with both *KembleTwins and DadatLarge.

Struggling with this problem with DS1 (age9) who is in a small but very mixed ability class. Pushing him too far ahead makes him stand out in class and makes it difficult for the teacher but he does need to be stretched as he is bored.

He is being taught with Yr 6 next year for some lessons and also stretched with chalenging problems so he gets to 'apply' the things he has learned to new situations.

Stretching sideways is good but not if it is just an excuse to make the teacher's life easier. Last year DS1 was just sat at the back of a class reading a book while everyone else learned to do 'joined up' handwriting. We took him out of the school.

bruffin Wed 22-Jul-09 09:00:52

Depends on the school.DS's set from the very start of YR7 and there are a lot of very bright children in top set, even top band.

A child on level 5 in yr 5 will not be unusual and some do get a shock to find although they may have stood out in Primary,there are a lot more like them at secondary.

ShrinkingViolet Wed 22-Jul-09 09:03:20

IME (two G&T children having been through Year 6) there's no "moving forward" in Year 6 whatsoever - it's consolidation and SATS revision and SATS practice papers.....
However think about doing something different with Maths, either in class, or out of school - there are loads of topics which don't come up till university level which are fairly accessible to bright 11 year olds. The NRICH website has (or at least had) loads of problem solving activities as well.
Science can always be taken one step further ("so what would happen if I did this, and why is that the result?"), and English, as someone said earlier, is limitless.
Extra music is good, also chess, and strategy games.

gingertoo Wed 22-Jul-09 09:07:09

Senua I can see what you are saying - it will great for him to be able to self motivate and have his own strategies in place but I don't think that 'if a year is wasted then it is his fault, not the education system's' The education system should be able to accomodate every child from the those who have SEN to those who are G&T and everything in between but it doesn't. The fault lies firmly with the Ed system - not with the 10yr old child.

DadAtLarge Wed 22-Jul-09 09:07:48

"Kids at secondary school can't cope with being a year ahead of their peers. Teachers can. But why should they have to? They have 180 other kids to deal with."
Spurious arguments and you take liberty with the numbers to make your point. No teacher has 180 children to deal with.

And if you think kids born in September can't cope with being at the same level as children born a month before them then you severely underestimate children.

In DS's primary there are several children who are 2+ years ahead of their peers. My Yr2 DS is at least 4+ years ahead of his peers in maths. What do you suggest kids like him do for the next four years? Wait till everybody else catches up? Ridiculous!

gingertoo, many schools are particularly bad at catering for children advanced in Maths. Read up on the G&T, speak with your local authority about it, get your school's policy on G&T and keep speaking with the teachers and checking on the work (don't let them make you wait for your 10 min on parents' evening) and for goodness sake, don't worry about coming across as a pushy parent!

senua Wed 22-Jul-09 10:43:48

"The education system should be able to accomodate every child from the those who have SEN to those who are G&T and everything in between but it doesn't. The fault lies firmly with the Ed system - not with the 10yr old child."

I totally agree; there are some good schools out there who do cater for all, but they are the exception. You cannot rely on getting teaching specifically suitable for your DS so this is why I suggested the more practical approach of 'self preservation'.

KembleTwins Wed 22-Jul-09 17:54:11

DadAtLarge I am basing my "numbers" on the fact that the majority of secondary teachers in core subjects teach approximately 6 classes of approximately 30 kids each week during an academic year. That adds up to 180. In my twelve years teaching secondary Drama, I have had approximately 360 kids to deal with in any one week. And, socially, I do not believe that a child is in any way advantaged by being pushed a year ahead.

One point that seems to be missed here is that ALL teachers are taught the skills of differentiation during training, and now schools are being asked to take this further and to invest in individual learning plans for each child. That means that every teacher has easy access to information about the students, including their strengths, weaknesses, preferred learning styles, and whether they are on the SEN register (obviously this includes G&T, which is seen as a special educational need) As a parent you may be unaware of how much knowledge your DC's teachers have of him/her and how much this is taken into account when lessons are prepared. Differentiation is something which is looked at at EVERY lesson observation (whether by head of dept, head of school or OFSTED) and therefore there is no reason to assume that a gifted child's needs will not be taken into account. If you have genuine concerns about your DC's needs, then no teacher is going to dismiss you as a pushy parent.
DadAtLarge, perhaps you should wait until your children are involved in the secondary sector before you start making insulting and erroneous generalisations about how it all works.

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