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ability groups in class 1

(35 Posts)
givemeavodka Sun 11-Sep-11 14:51:02

Hi, Does the teacher split the class into ability groups in Year 1 as standard? If so how do I know what group he is in? or Is it 'Not the right question to ask? '. Thanks

givemeavodka Sun 11-Sep-11 15:26:32

sorry i meant year 1

Stacey321 Sun 11-Sep-11 15:52:21


Stacey321 Sun 11-Sep-11 15:54:53

Obviously primary! I'm new to this! In my Daughter's school they break down each subject area into ability groups. And I think yes, ask!

mrz Sun 11-Sep-11 16:41:29

There isn't a definitive answer. Some schools/teachers ability group others don't, definitely not standard.

IndigoBell Sun 11-Sep-11 16:54:37

It's not standard, and you should definitely not ask.

Nor will knowing it help you much. In some schools/classes the bottom group are at the national average - in other schools/classes the top group is at the national average.

The 'right' questions are: is she settling in well, does she appear happy, does she try hard in class, do you have any concerns about her.......

But it will take a few weeks before the teacher will be able to answer those questions. And you'll probably have a parent-teacher interview soon to discuss all this stuff.

catsareevil Sun 11-Sep-11 16:59:59

Its not the done thing to ask. If this does happen at your DS school then you will probably be able to find out which group he is in, and the level of that group relative to the others by just asking him.

sittinginthesun Sun 11-Sep-11 21:04:01

Our school group, but we don't ask. We do know, however, as the children chat about it and the mums gossip dreadfully.

Sparetyred Sun 11-Sep-11 22:13:25

We had loose ability groups in reception for different things (phonics/maths etc).

They were all in colours or animals and a friend and I spent ages trying to work out which were higher groups than others.

Heaven help us when they do it properly in year one!

treas Mon 12-Sep-11 16:03:12

What are the names of the groups? I joked with a friend once about the use of shapes as the group names at our school, i.e. I expect that the higher the number of sides to the shape the more able the children in that group ha, ha, ha.

Turns out I was right - so as long as your child isn't in circles I'm sure they are doing fine grin

BallantyneBird Mon 12-Sep-11 16:07:35

Re asking whether they are in top / middle / bottom groups for things, I'm not sure why it's so wrong to be interested in your child's academic progress?

Surely that's better than not giving a shit? I know they are young and there's time for things to change, but all this cloak and dagger secrecy does actually seem to LEAD to playground gossip and misinformation.

IndigoBell Mon 12-Sep-11 16:15:49

It's not wrong to be interested in your child's academic progress.

It's 'wrong' to compare them with the other kids in the class. It's far, far better to compare them with 'national averages'

30 kids just isn't statistically significant. So either the top group or the bottom group could be at the national average. So that's why working out what group they are in doesn't tell you what you want to know.

But also, the teacher will be very happy to tell you how your child is doing compared to national averages. The teacher is not allowed to tell you how they're doing compared to their classmates.......

You can care very deeply about your child, and know exactly their strengths and weaknesses are in class and out, without knowing which group they are in (if indeed they are in ability groups)

Sparetyred Mon 12-Sep-11 16:42:46

treas - we had exactly the same conversations. Ours were animals. DS was a lion and his friend was a giraffe. I was hoping it was according to position in food chain, not size grin

BallantyneBird Mon 12-Sep-11 17:18:38

Thanks for the explanation IndigoBell.

It is interesting that teachers are not allowed to tell parents which ability group their child is in. What stage does this extend to? Does it extend to 'sets' in secondary schools? (Do they even have sets any more?)

Sorry for ignorance, it is a long time since I was at school and sometimes it does seem (as a parent) that you are supposed to just know all this stuff by osmosis.

mrz Mon 12-Sep-11 17:21:24

treas I told everyone I know the MN theory of group names and some said they were going to name their top group circles grin

startail Mon 12-Sep-11 17:30:00

Oh pooh sticks! Of course the parents compare their chid with others in their class and the children jolly well know what group they are in.
I really don't know why they don't just call them 1,2,3 like they do at senior school and save colours and shapes for things that are taught in mixed groups.
The present minced is an insult to the intelligence of even the, most behind the national average, child in the class.

startail Mon 12-Sep-11 17:31:06

That said muddle- it's the circle table for my ipodgrin

festi Mon 12-Sep-11 17:35:02

I would ask, it is important to know these things, not interms of comparison with other children. However having said that I get very annoyed with another mum who makes comparision with her dd in terms of my dd and another child, to guage where hers is. That pisses me off actually.

IndigoBell Mon 12-Sep-11 17:39:21

Well, if you thought your DC was doing well because they were on the 'top' table, and then at the end of year you found out they were 'only' meeting the 'national average' you'd feel a fool for placing so much store by which group they were in.....

And vice-a-versa. If you were really worried because your DC was on the 'bottom' table, and found out at the end of year that they were meeting the national average, You'd have given yourself all sorts of stress for nothing.

So compare to other kids if you want. But it's not helpful.

Much, much, much better to really understand the system. To really understand what level they are at, and what level they should be at.

For example if they bring home a book with a coloured book band it's really easy to find out if they are where they should be. So why bother with what reading group they are in?

mrz Mon 12-Sep-11 17:39:51

I really don't know why they don't just call them 1,2,3

because MN parents are going to decide either

a/ 1,2,3 first, second, third ability level
b/ 1,2, 3 ... the lower the number the less able the child

Plonker Mon 12-Sep-11 17:41:58

Just to add, that not ALL children know which is the top/middle/bottom group.

My dd2 insisted (vehemently!) that top group etc didn't exist when being grilled asked by her older sister.

They were grouped, but she had no idea. I always thought all the children knew too, till this revelation. Dd1 was painfully aware, but then she was in the bottom group, so maybe she felt it more acutely sad

They were colour groups btw. Much nicer, imo, than 1,2,3 ...

festi Mon 12-Sep-11 17:43:51

I would want to know because I would want to support my dcs education at home to ensure they did not slip behind for any reason and if they once where on top table and dropped to bottom table I would be wondering why and want to put the work in to keep them where they are as I would assume that was a bench mark of ability.

IndigoBell Mon 12-Sep-11 17:49:17

<sigh> Yes, but you can support your DCs education at home without knowing what table they are on.

Do you not think the teacher would have spoken to you if your child dropped from top table to bottom table?

Do you not think the teacher wants you to support your child, and will tell you anything you need to do?

Are you only going to support them if they are bottom table? Or are you going to support them whatever table they are on?

What if they're in mixed ability tables? Then what will you do?

Honestly you're far better off finding out what their predicted SAT mark or end of year mark is, and then working out if that's acceptable to you or not.

Knowing where your child is in comparison to national averages is useful. Knowing where they are in comparison to their class is not.

festi Mon 12-Sep-11 18:10:32

no not always, based on experience

yes of course who said they didnt, and no not always

obviously supports dcs regardless of what table

they are not on mixed ability tables, if they where not I would be able to use and understand what ever bench mark the school use.

festi Mon 12-Sep-11 18:11:25


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