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Falling back to Reception?

(24 Posts)
braybeatle Sun 24-Oct-10 14:44:11

My daughter is 5.10 yrs old. At age 4 we sent her to a Steiner school, where there was no numeracy or literacy whatsoever. It was our intention to continue within the Steiner system. Steiner schools deliberately avoid reading, writing, numeracy until the age of 7.

We moved to a new area in April this year when our daughter (J) was 5.4 yrs old. We decided to put her into a mainstream ie not Steiner, fee paying school. She started in Reception in April. Having never had any numeracy or literacy, she was now exposed to the normal curriculum in Reception. We did a lot at home too esp over the summer. She grasped the basic phonic scheme and is able to read by herself (Oxford Tree level 2). Numeracy was more difficult but she can count in order to 20. She is now in Year 1.

Her class tutor indicated at parents' evening (2 weeks ago) that J is not able to cope with Year 1 work. It is too advanced for her. She said that the gaps in her basic learning and understanding because of her delayed start mean that she cannot keep up. In addition to that, J, who used to love school (both the Steiner and Reception) has been saying for a few weeks that she finds it hard and cannot do the work, she gets a little upset and sometimes says she does not want to go as she finds the work "tricky". Her form tutor has taken to giving her Reception work sheets in class, which she CAN do and which she really enjoys.

We are faced with a dilemma. Do we continue her in Yr 1 and hope that the school helps to bring her up to speed, knowing that she cannot engage with the work she is being given. Or do we allow her to go back to Reception (we've only had 6 weeks of it so we are near the beginning), so that she build a solid foundation. She may be ahead of the other kids in literacy as she has gone through the Phonics work books several times since April. She will fall back 1 year and lose her immediate circle of friends. She would love to go back to Reception as she has said so many times - long before it was on the agenda.

The school have suggested that a return would be sensible and would be more than happy to accomodate it.

What do you think? I am torn. I know that going back 1 year would be better for her educationally but a part of me resists it (prob because of the guilt associated with cocking it all up).

The school was made fully aware of J's Steiner background and said they would work with her. I'm not sure if I should be asking them to do more to support J in Year 1, rather than putting her back a year.

The other option is to change schools, something less academic or perhaps a return to the Steiner system. But we can'y keep moving her around, stability is very important.

OP’s posts: |
lingle Sun 24-Oct-10 18:13:14

You poor thing.
Your situation is quite unusual in that your daughter actually wants to return to reception and your school is happy to do it. Often, the parents wish the child could go back a year but the child is horrified by the prospect and the LEA resists.

I have done something similar in that I started my son in reception at 5.0 rather than 4.0 as is the norm. It has transformed his life-chances. If the teachers feel this is right for her and you rate the teachers, I would be inclined to follow their advice.

I would just like to add that I am impressed that your mainstream fee-paying school is receptive to this idea. In my town, we had the remarkable situation of the state schools being willing to accomodate my request but the private schools being unwilling to do so in case it interefered with 11+ preparation. I pointed out that if a child is floundering and put off for life then the 11+ isn't really going to happen anyway is it......

good luck, don't feel guilty, she is in no different a position to that of a continental European child moving to England at this age.

rainbowinthesky Sun 24-Oct-10 18:16:58

Personally I'd keep her in Y1 as she will catch up and it will be much easier in the long run keeping her with her peers. I would also spend time after school helping her catch up what's she's missed. I certainly wouldnt be considering going back to the steiner school.

PixieOnaLeaf Sun 24-Oct-10 18:20:01

Message withdrawn

lingle Sun 24-Oct-10 18:22:49

it's fee-paying I think (mind you, the way things are going with the universities, it may not be long before that ceases to mean non-state.....)

onimolap Sun 24-Oct-10 18:25:27

Are there 2 threads on this?

And did the idea of moving her back come from you or from the school?

She may be a bit "behind" at the moment but that will be because of the transition from such a different school experience. But year1 is still very early and this difference can cancel out amazingly quickly. I've seen a classmate arrive in DD's form this term from the US system and the school is putting in place a bit of extra support but is essentially taking a longer view and there's no suggestion there's anything worrying or long term about the current gap. What did the teacher say about support and differentiation for now if she stays in yr1?

seeker Sun 24-Oct-10 18:27:38

If you do let her repeat reception, just be aware that it could cause difficulties at secondary school level - particularly if you intend to use the state system at any time. Iy's difficult to be "out of year" in state schools.

braybeatle Sun 24-Oct-10 18:28:26

Thanks all. Lots to think about.
It is an all girl fee paying school for kids from 3 to 18.

And no, I definitely won't be returning to Steiner, it'll only mix up my poor little darling. Throughout all this, she's been remarkably happy and resilient. She still runs to school even now when she's not too keen on it!!!

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DrEeeville Sun 24-Oct-10 18:30:50

Keep her in year one - they should be able to give her support - I'm sure there will be a range of abilities in year one. I'd rather keep with her circle of friends - is she missing the play aspect from reception?

I'd be asking the teachers where specifically are the gaps in her learning and asking what you (and they) can do to support her.

minimathsmouse Sun 24-Oct-10 18:32:21

Hi, Why did you send her to a steiner school in the first place? Do you agree with steiner education?(my son is doing courses at a steiner school part time)so I have no problem with the ideology. So I just thought I would ask.

The two schools couldn't be more different could they. Steiner is relaxed and children are not taught to read or write before they are ready. While most fee paying schools are hot houses!

emptyshell Sun 24-Oct-10 18:34:21

I wouldn't unless there's some clarity in place of what will happen come transition to senior school/secondary. I recall having a fairly hard battle with the LEA to allow a statemented child, who'd done similar and had really been the making of her in terms of social skills and maturity, to the point where she was happy, settled and had a lot of friends in her school-year group to remain with that cohort and in essence transfer to secondary a year late. We got the agreement in the end but I think being, to her mind, "skipped up a year" would have been very detrimental. Of course within the independent sector they're likely to be more accommodating (her staying back a year is more fees for them in the long run!), but it's worth considering if you're not at a school that runs right the way up into senior years - what line would the local seniors take on it?

braybeatle Sun 24-Oct-10 18:35:20

There are two threads, I'm sorry I'm new to this. Mistake!!

The idea of falling back came from the teacher initially but she did not push it. It was only when we discussed it at home as a possible option that we then went back to the school and asked if it is possible. Then it was put firmly on the agenda.

The school has said nothing about what support it will offer if J were to continue in year 1. I assume that they would just continue with giving her Reception work - whether thet actively teach and support her, I don't know. I have emailed the headmistress today asking what support will be given if that option is sought.

Her "behindness" is totally because of the late start. She is actually making good progress in reading - she's done a lot of catching up at home over the summer break. Maths we've only just begun to concentrate on, so her development there is slower.

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braybeatle Sun 24-Oct-10 18:39:49

we went for Steiner because we agreed with it! It was in the end too far away to continue as we moved house - the school was 24 miles away but is now 50 miles away! So we had to go mainstream, not out of choice.
But we made the assumption that a fee paying school would be more likely to support her gaps in learning. It seems that State schools are actually more adept at this given the range of different issues and backgrounds they have to deal with.

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lingle Sun 24-Oct-10 18:42:28

You're so lucky to be in school that's offering this flexibility - are you confident you can keep her there for secondary transition if need be?

PixieOnaLeaf Sun 24-Oct-10 18:43:46

Message withdrawn

ProfessorLaytonIsMyLoveSlave Sun 24-Oct-10 18:46:57

Personally I'd keep her in Y1. She will probably catch up, the same way children do when moving in from other countries or who have missed out on the basics for some other reason. Your DD sounds bright and capable and isn't particularly young for the year; moving her down to Reception would get around the immediate "grounding in the basics" issue but I think she'd get bored in the year below her chronological age group once she'd got to grips with those basics. Also disrupting her friendship group sounds like a bad idea to me. I would push the school to support her more where she is, as they originally undertook to do.

I do know of children who've stayed down in Reception, but generally where they've been young for the year in the first place and have some learning delays that have impacted their ability to grasp the curriculum. Your DD seems to have the ability, she is just starting behind the rest of the class and was never going to catch up a whole year inside 6 weeks.

minimathsmouse Sun 24-Oct-10 18:47:43

Is there not a steiner school in the new area? We are approx 20 miles away from our nearest. Few and far between.

Your Poor DD, she must be a bit confused with the sudden changes. If the school knew about her background I should think they have a responsibility to do more than just offer a few reception worksheets. Your daughter should have extra tuition in the school to fast track through the work she will have missed and bring her up to speed with the yr1 work.

seeker Sun 24-Oct-10 18:49:57

I do think children are generally better with their peer group if at all possible. But I would really pin the school down on how it it going to support her. Just giving her reception work sheet isn't good enough - there needs to be a proper plan in place and everyone - the school, you and her all need to understand what you should be doing.

Littlefish Sun 24-Oct-10 20:09:19

I would be disappointed that the fee-paying school were not able to differentiate their curriculum appropriately in order to accommodate your daughter in her correct year group.

I am concerned at your mention of "Reception work sheets". This suggests that all the year 1 children are being given the same thing, and nothing is being differentiated at school at all. This is poor practice on so many counts.

If you are absolutely certain that there is no way you are ever going to have to move to the state system at any point in your child's education, then you may be right to move her back to Recepion if that's the only way the school thinks they can educate your dd. However, if there is any chance of her going back into the state system at some point, you need to think really carefully. On entry into the state system, she would almost certainly have to return to her chronological year group.

gabid Sun 24-Oct-10 21:03:39

What is this obsession with chronologilcal year groups? I know 2 boys in Y1 now who seem too young to learn to read and write. One of them is now being given literacy support and has to start school at 8.30! He was 5 in August - what a nonsense!! He was a late talker, couldn't he have started in reception this year???

Saracen Sun 24-Oct-10 23:22:23

I don't have an opinion on what you should do now, but I agree with Littlefish, who said "I would be disappointed that the fee-paying school were not able to differentiate their curriculum appropriately in order to accommodate your daughter in her correct year group. I am concerned at your mention of "Reception work sheets". This suggests that all the year 1 children are being given the same thing, and nothing is being differentiated at school at all. This is poor practice on so many counts."

It seems to me that your daughter is not too far out of average. The school seems very keen to decide your daughter isn't up to scratch and to pin the blame on her background, which worries me. Are they very results-driven? What on earth do they mean, "delayed start"? Your daughter started school upon reaching compulsory school age; she wasn't "delayed"! Many children miss out part or all of Reception, or arrive in UK schools without an academic background, often not speaking English. They are usually accommodated in their year group and there is an expectation that they will catch on quickly.

I might be able to see the school's point of view if your daughter were, say, ten years old and had no literacy or numeracy skills. But she is five!!

Your hesitation about changing schools again is understandable, but I find this school's attitude quite a strange one and hope it won't cause other problems for you. I think you might ask them some more questions about why they feel the proposed move is necessary. Their answers may tell you more about the school than they do about your daughter!

dikkertjedap Mon 25-Oct-10 00:16:16

I would keep in year 1, but ask teacher what work to do after school/weekends to help her catch up. My dd knew alphabet but only started proper phonics in September and is now reading OLT level 3, so I take that with extra help your dd can catch up very quickly. Same for numeracy, find out which system they use. Good luck.

lingle Mon 25-Oct-10 09:58:01

interesting how many people don't like the idea. It is always considered unusual in England.

I suppose one difference between our stories is that my son really really needed to wait because he needed to be with the right peers so he could practice his poor social communication skills (his language and communication development had "paused" between 18 months and 3 years but then started developing at normal pace again). The teachers could not have made the kids from the "right" year group into appropriate peers - he would have been mothered or bullied.

In your case though it's an academic issue so the teachers should be able to differentiate the curriculum.

I think I would be most influenced by the likely effect on her morale. Will it boost her confidence and make her think "now I'm in reception I'm good at maths"? or will she think "I'm not good at maths so I've had to go down to reception"?

good luck!

braybeatle Mon 25-Oct-10 14:44:22

all of these comments are extremely helpful. it is gratifying to know that people out there have had similar experiences and that so many have very simple, no nonsense ideas.

i'm waiting for the school to get back to me aafter an email yesterday asking what support they will put in place if she stays in yr 1. plus a phone message. no response yet.

lingle's point about how J will perceive the move is, i think, very instructive.

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