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How does your school support bright children in class and is it enough?

(41 Posts)
zansi Sun 17-Jul-11 21:34:48

Hi parents this is bit of a long winded question but here we go. We recently received the year end report for my child in Y1. She received 2a for English writing, 2a reading and 2a for Maths. I have always known she is bright and tried to push the school to give her work at her level all this year but it has been a battle. They have given her some extended work for English in class although this was never consistent and I had to request it. Absolutely nothing was given for Maths and they don't believe in Maths homework either. Am a bit upset because she has been bored for much of the year and there is only so much I can do at home and surely it is the schools job to educate her. I had to push to receive English homework as they felt it wasn't necessary, as she is a fluent reader who didn't need to grasp phonics. Was a bit alarmed because English doesnt stop at phonics!. Spoke to the headteacher who has assured me that they will cater to her requirements next year but a year has been wasted. She is very happy at her school otherwise.
To cut a long story short I would like to know what other parents in my situation have been able to achieve in the way of help and support for their child?. Is there anything I can suggest to the school put in place ?

blackeyedsusan Sun 17-Jul-11 22:26:05

watching with interest.

schools should be differentiating for the children in the class. have you been able to look at her work? is there evidence that it is too easy (eg does she get everything right?) have you asked the teacher to show you how she has differentiated? have you told them what she can do at home?

zansi Sun 17-Jul-11 22:37:17

I have seen the work she does in maths and english and it definately is below her level as she is always the first to complete it and with no mistakes. I have asked for harder work but it still hasn't been pitched at the right level. They differentiate for a week a two after I visit the teacher then it slips back again. There is no consistency.They are clearly aware of her ability as they have graded her as 2a.

letthembe Sun 17-Jul-11 22:37:36

Schooling, particularly in KS1, is not just about the academics...the year won't have been wasted. The development of social and emotional skills is equally important - turn taking, collaborative work, building resilience to not getting your own way etc. Then there is the creative, physical development (fine and gross motor co-ordination). A whole year wasted - really?

IMO - children perform much better in the comfort of their own home - I know mine do.

zansi Sun 17-Jul-11 22:42:30

Her social, emotional and physical aspects are fine and I have no issue with it. She is a well balanced, confident happy child who participates in a variety of sports and clubs in schools. The education is my main concern.

letthembe Sun 17-Jul-11 23:00:34

You've missed the point - she has obviously NOT missed out on a year - evidenced in your comment that her social, emotional and physical aspects are fine.

2a at the end of Year 1 is not unheard of it most schools, certainly not in mine. The school will have had experience with it before, trust them. Year 2 is often a big year, lots of focus on English and Maths (SATs) and the vast majority make amazing progress. You may find a few children catching up with your DD and when their is a group of them, the teacher will have a group to focus on. If you are still not happy after the first few weeks back, you could always approach the class teacher and express your concern.

Teachermumof3 Sun 17-Jul-11 23:20:40

but a year has been wasted

Clearly not as she's doing well.

I completely disagree with the comment that there's only so much you can do at home, too!

rabbitstew Sun 17-Jul-11 23:30:46

I don't see how asking for homework for your dd will cure her boredom. As for work being too easy during school hours, that is something you should keep an eye on, as you wouldn't want your dd giving up the will to live! My experience of year 2 at my dss' school, though, is that ds1 has had a much happier year this year, with work that has actually interested him - he was a bit switched off by the work in year 1.

What do you mean by a wasted year, by the way? That you don't believe the school has got your dd to a level 2a and is making that up; that she should be doing better than that; that she is a level 2a but entirely as a result of her own and your efforts and nothing to do with the school???? Surely a wasted year is only one where your dd has learnt nothing, inside or outside of school, and benefited from nothing inside school? Yet you say your dd is happy, so presumably benefits from friendships, creative activities, school community life, etc., and is clearly doing better than the average child academically, so doesn't appear to be floundering or suffering in any meaningful way. I think, therefore, to phrase this issue as a wasted year, rather than a very mildly frustrating one, is being somewhat melodramatic.

RoadArt Mon 18-Jul-11 01:19:12

Hi Zansi. We had this right through school and after a while gave up the battle. Year 1 is an easy year and generally the work gets more structured through the years. My kids have never been stretched but still get high marks in their assessments and always complaining that school work is too easy. However, this is also a statement they use when it isnt that easy and they dont understand what they are learning, so I have gone in, been a pain, to find the work wasnt too easy after all.

We have found as they have gone through school that is is much harder to change their mindset to make more of an effort at school and produce fantastic work, because they have got away with doing very little for so long.

We now consider school as the social side of life where they meet friends, play lots of games, lots of days out and have lots of fun. Academic stuff is incorporated into daily life at home and this is working extremely well for us.

emptyshell Mon 18-Jul-11 07:41:26

I've taught some very very bright Y1s in the past (the girl who, not only remarked to me that "I wouldn't want to be Tony Blair Miss, the man's an idiot" but taught herself speech marks from her own reading - perfectly correctly - being probably the most noteable... says something for the soft spot I had for that child that I still remember her with such clarity 10 years later). I've always taken the personal line that there's no force with the potential for more mayhem and bother within a school than a very bright bored child and made sure I differentiated appropriately, but it would be by task or outcome - not by sheer quantity of much much more work if you get what I mean?

From my own childhood, and being the aforementioned very bright bored force for chaos (they ended up getting the ed-psych onto me as I was up to such mischief and that was his conclusion - but yes I was a flipping nightmare to teach!) - I also remember how much it annoyed me that my reward for aceing all the work given to me was just... more work - so I would probably have taken a similar line to the class teacher in terms of homework "sheets" to be honest. I might have suggested activities and games to stretch her thinking at home - but I just remember quite vividly from the days I was at school where you all did the same sheet and then if you wooshed through it - you got another sheet, and another and another - feeling incredibly pissed off by that, and discovering very very quickly that it was much much easier to doss off and work slowly and NOT have to do the extra work!

megapixels Mon 18-Jul-11 11:09:10

I think it depends completely on the teacher. DD1's Year 3 teacher was very good at making the children aim as high as they can and wanted to. A couple of the children used to take all Maths lessons with Year 4 and all homework she set had three different levels of difficulty. The child could choose which level they wanted to do. Everybody loved that teacher. Year 4 teacher unfortunately wasn't like that.

GooseyLoosey Mon 18-Jul-11 11:23:57

ds has just told me he has learned nothing all Yr. He got 4s at the end of Yr 2 and still has 4s at the end of yr 3 so objectively this would appear to be the case. However, he has learned how to listen more to his peers and respect their opinions more and not to tell them all the time that they are wrong. I am more than pleased with his progress.

School do give him additional work but I would rather they not make a big thing of it. I am not sure that giving him special treatment now would be a life enhancing thing - I cannot see how it would benefit him in the long term.

After much angst, I have come to the conclusion that if he is happy, I should leave well alone.

Teachermumof3 Mon 18-Jul-11 13:34:51

He got 4s at the end of Yr 2 and still has 4s at the end of yr 3

What sublevels did he get, though? The difference between a 4c and a 4a is not insignificant!

GooseyLoosey Mon 18-Jul-11 14:22:18

Teachermum - not sure that they broke it down into 4a-c at the end of Yr 2, I just recall it saying "4". He has 4cs now. It all means nothing - we know that ds is a clever little so and so but it doesn't make him friends and school is being great at trying to facilitate his social development. From my observations in life, being clever is useful, but the best predictor of happiness is being able to get on with other people.

KATTT Mon 18-Jul-11 14:44:38

RoadArt
That sounds familar - six hours of childcare while I earn some money and the rest of the time is when they might do some learning.

zansi
In answer to your question it all sounds very familiar. Schools are set up to get the majority of children up to pre-defined levels. If your child has already got to those levels there's no incentive to keep their interest.

They actually don't want them to get too high a level because then they get into trouble about 'progressing a sub level every term', so you get a child like mine who can do year six work in year three but is only given a level 3. It's just more meaningless box ticking.

Rebecca78 Mon 18-Jul-11 19:35:41

My daughter is very bright and she has always found the work easy in class and at home. She is in year 5 now and is doing really well. Her English grade was 5B for example.

I feel that if she is doing well and enjoying her time at school then that is the main objective for me.

I have another daughter in year 2 and she is just where she should be and I am equally happy with that. She has a different set of skills. My son is in year 1 and is following my eldest daughter's path. He is very bright and enjoying being in school. His teacher has commented on a number of occasions how bright he is.

I wont be asking for extra work for my two children as they are children for such a short time. They will do well without added pressure.

BeerTricksPotter Mon 18-Jul-11 19:46:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

letthembe Mon 18-Jul-11 19:56:07

Couldn't disagree with you more Kattt!! My Y5s currently range from Level 2a - 5c in every area. Through the use of a creative curriculum, TA support, setting for maths and bloody good planning we meet the needs of all the children.
I don't think it is that unusual for Y3 children to be achieving 4c at this point in the year. I know I'll have such targets with my Y3s next year (moving year group). And for what it is worth roughly 10% of the current Y6 were assessed as Level 6 in maths and reading just last week. It depends on the school and whether the child is that bright in the first place.

Devexity Tue 19-Jul-11 06:54:20

Y2 DS's infants' school has been eye rolling-ly rubbish. He entered reception as a fluent free reader with low-average fine motor skills, and the head - who designed the schol's phonics programme - insisted on him starting it at the lowest level that his writing ability allowed. So he was reading a stack of horrible histories in a corner one minute, and then singing a song about the noise that /t/ makes the next. Not pretty.

By the middle of Y1 he had officially finished whatever phonics/spelling instruction the school had to offer, then spent the next year and a half being first, a TA (until I complained), and second, doing independent topic work. Which turned out to mean sitting unsupervised in the corridor writing mental and very entertaining reports about the French Revolution & the hadopelagic zone that no-one but me read.

I objected again. So they stuck him in an office with the head of early years to type stories. Often she wasn't there. The head told us at parent's evening that DS answers the office phone sometimes if it rings while the teacher is, you know, teaching. Good times.

/rant

naughtymummy Tue 19-Jul-11 07:32:59

I definately got the impression in yr1 that they were aiming fora minimum standard, once that was achieved then little futher work was offered. Now at the end of yr 2 ds has been taught by a probationary teacher in a group of 3 for maths all year and has made excellent progress. Next year he will be in a mixed yr3/yr4 class so will be able to be in a group with yr4s for some things.

KATTT Tue 19-Jul-11 08:51:12

letthembe

It sounds good in theory and maybe it works if you've got a narrow range. But what about the kids who are at 6+ and below 2?

Could you cope with a year three that can do KS3 maths? How can you be teaching 4 times tables or whatever when you've got a kid in the class who can do square roots and prime numbers etc. It doesn't work.

And conversely ('cos I've got one of these as well) how do you teach 4 times tables when there are kids in there who can't count to ten?

Someone's needs aren't going to be met and since it's my kids I get really annoyed by this falsehood. They are not supported and it's not good enough.

KATTT Tue 19-Jul-11 08:56:46

Devexity

Sounds depressingly familiar. Mine takes in her own work and sits in the corner.

rabbitstew Tue 19-Jul-11 09:37:06

My father spent 2 years at primary school running errands for the teachers, reading books of his choice in the staff room and helping to teach younger children, because he was told they didn't have anything left to teach him and he couldn't take scholarship exams for entry to grammar school until he was 11. He looks back on that as two very happy years of his life. If you view school as a place where you must constantly be academically stretched, you will view that as a travesty. What it didn't do is stunt his academic potential or will to live, however, and he is the most well-read, knowledgeable person I know. Maybe he even helped one or two children who didn't understand what their teachers were on about. So you could say, he wasn't really "let down" by the system, he just reached the limit of what the system was set up to provide a bit early and found other ways to fill his time which he viewed to be equally (well, actually, more) productive. Lucky he had the personality he had, which has always tended to view every situation as an opportunity for learning, whether learning to deal with boredom, taking responsibility for something, mentoring others, learning tact and diplomacy... Another relative of mine was sent to a top London private day school, because the local school could not and would not cater for him, was pushed up through the years in order to be academically stretched (was too bright to be catered for with other children his age, apparently...), took O and A-levels early, had to wait to get into Cambridge where he was miserable (still younger than those around him, who had done national service) and didn't do very well in his degree, largely because he spent most of his time in bed, being miserable. Maybe he would have benefited from a longer spell away from academic stretching, too, rather than prioritising his academic needs and wants over everything else until he was burnt out/bored by it/wondering what the meaning of life was, anyway.

yellowkiwi Tue 19-Jul-11 12:03:21

How often does your daughter say she is bored? What evidence do you have that she isn't given work at her level? Schools tend to avoid giving excessive amounts of homework in Year 1 because the children are so young and should have time out of school to do other things or just play and relax.

I've never worked with children who were so far above the level of the other children that the teacher couldn't cater for them. I have worked with some very bright children though and teachers do not usually have a problem with the differences in ability. Your daughter's levels are in the normal range for her age.

Attitude to school and learning is so important. I had one girl whose mother thought was so great at everything but in school she fussed constantly. Mum had spent so much time working with her one on one at home that when it came to working independently she simply couldn't cope. She also cried at least once a week about the amount of after school activities she had to do. Another child always declared that everything was easy but at the end of the lesson her work was full of errors. Another bright child applied herself with complete enthusiasm to everything and always took the work to the next level. She is the one who has excelled academically.

Your child has got good levels and is happy at school. If this is all you have to worry about then you're very lucky.

smee Tue 19-Jul-11 12:03:52

At our primary the kids are taught literacy according to ability rather than age. The whole school moves between classes for the first 90 minutes of each day. Maths is within the class, but they're in different ability groups, so are stretched that way. Groups are fluid and non pressurised, but definitely stretch according to ability. It's an inner city primary, with a wide ability range, but they seem to manage to cater for all.

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