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hope this is not a helicopter parenting question!

(20 Posts)
sun1234 Wed 05-Oct-11 09:48:49

My sons moved to a new school over the summer. DS2 told me this morning that he has just been moved to the lowest ability table in his new class. He gets different work from them and he is well behaved in class. I know he's getting the same work of the top ability group for maths (the teacher told me) and he tells me that he gets the same work as all the children on the table he used to sit on for the other subjects.

He was actually on the top table in his last class, although I can see that the children at the new school are further on than the last school.

He knows its the bottom ability group because their work is easy and "Miss X spends most of her time with them".

Should I ask the teacher? How can i phrase it knowing that teachers hate to discuss their class in terms of relative ability?

DogMatic Wed 05-Oct-11 09:54:22

I would hold on until the next parents evening, which is normally just after half term. I had a similar experience with dd1, she'd been in the top groups in her school then we moved and her new school put her in the bottom groups for everything. I have to admit I was very upset and shocked. However it was a better school and they brought her on so much so that she's now at a super selective grammar school so it was absolutely the best thing in the long run. Don't worry.

crazygracieuk Wed 05-Oct-11 10:02:36

I would talk to the teacher. Some teachers sit children in mixed ability groups and it may be that your son is shy or forgotten some work over the summer so is a bit lower than at the old school.

My children moved schools over the summer and they are no longer easily top of the class. (They are considered average)

I have found out what NC level they are currently working at and what their targets are. Their new school has their target and current level lower than their old school which is why they are no longer top group. I'm not a teacher so I can't comment whether the old school were too generous or the new school is too strict but as their current level is above national average I am going to try and chill.

sun1234 Wed 05-Oct-11 10:13:43

What's bothering me is that his Y1 teacher moved him into the top group before he was ready because she said he had the ability to do the same work as them. Two months later, she was proved right.

Now he's being moved into a low ability group - where the children who either can't or won't work get put. She's giving him harder work than them, but is he expected to slow down to their level? It sounds crazy, doesn't it?

Or is it about tutoring (his maths is really very good)? Two weeks ago she told him he could help the children on his old middle-ability table but not do their work for them (he'd been doing all his work and then doing their's too). He loves maths and I know he enjoys helping others. That's also a crazy theory, isn't it?

He's not shy, but I know he is well-behaved in class because every teacher, TA and parent who has helped in his class has always told me that his behaviour is extremely good.

sun1234 Wed 05-Oct-11 10:15:05

I should say that he's in Y3 now.

IndigoBell Wed 05-Oct-11 10:21:32

If he is on the lower ability table, but getting harder work then them, I would guess that the TA stays on that table and for some reason the teacher thinks he'd benefit from that.

Maybe he needs lots of reminders to stay on task or something of that nature.

sun1234 Wed 05-Oct-11 10:54:38

Indigobell - that would explain it and if its true then I need to know because I would need to have serious words with DS about paying attention in class. He doesn't seem to have a short attention span at home though, so I know he is able to pay attention and concentrate.

verybusyspider Wed 05-Oct-11 11:00:28

not sure if this helps but ds1 (year 1) was convinced he was in bottom group and got quite upset about it. I spoke to teacher and just said ds said he was in bottom group, upset and I was worried it was affecting his confidence, I said I wanted her to know just in case it became a barrier to him working... incidently she said he wasn't in bottom group but was interested/concerned to hear that was his view - not sure how she dealt with it but has moved him up reading stages and the difference in his confidence is amazing

sun1234 Wed 05-Oct-11 11:08:31

I am fairly certain he's right about being on the lowest table because apart from his description of their work and the time the teacher spends with them, the teacher has named the groups with increasingly sophisticated names. e.g. if she had chosen authors, then DS would be on the Jeffery Archer table, whereas other children would be on the Grahame Greene and theTolstoy tables!

sarahfreck Wed 05-Oct-11 12:02:37

Well I would assume one of the following:

The "top group" of children now has too many to physically sit at one table so someone has to sit elsewhere. There is a spare place on the "bottom group" table.

There has become an over-nosey/chatty partnership on top group table or some children are messing about so teacher has decided to split children differently to help concentration. This may not be your DS at fault, he could just have found others' behaviour very distracting.

Your DS is coping with the "top group" work but needs a bit more input from teacher/TA so it helps him to sit on "bottom group" table where teacher/TA is more accessible.

The children in the "bottom group" are benefiting from the example of having a quiet studious boy on their table. I don't think this is an acceptable reason if it is detrimental to your DS in any way.

You can ask the teacher without comparing children. Just say DS has been concerned because he has moved groups and is now worried that he might not be as clever anymore. Then ask her why he has been moved and how can you and she reassure DS so he doesn't lose confidence - no direct mention of other children's abilities! Is it the groups of children who are "named" or the actual tables. Could DS still be in (sophisticated top group name) but just be sitting on (unsophisticated bottom group name) table?

sun1234 Wed 05-Oct-11 12:41:58

From DS's description, I think he is still doing the maths of the top table and the other work of the middle table he was on for the first four weeks in this school.
My fear is that the teacher thinks he is only capable in the medium - long term of the work of this bottom table, just as his first year teacher moved him up to the top table before he was at their level. (Reading that back, it does sound a bit stupid!)

sun1234 Wed 05-Oct-11 12:43:35

I don't know if its the collection of children or desks that get these names, because apart from DS, all the children seem to get the same work as all the others at their table.

natsmum100 Wed 05-Oct-11 20:51:39

I would assume, as Sarah said, that there was not enough space for your DS to sit with the top group. However, I think the teacher could reassure him i.e. you are still a Tolstoy but I'd like you to sit with the Jeffreys. Oooh, that's a great name for a group. I'm going to change my group names. Hope no DC of mumnetters in my class.

BertieBotts Wed 05-Oct-11 21:00:06

I think that you possibly are being a little bit helicoptery (sorry!) - the teacher will have had her own reasons for moving him, and it won't be that she doesn't like him. She obviously thinks that he will benefit from being at that table - if she thought there was anything to be concerned about, or anything you needed to be doing at home, she would let you know.

sun1234 Wed 05-Oct-11 21:08:25

I didn't think that she didn't like him. I was worried that she thinks (is right?) that he doesn't have much potential after all.

Feel free to use the author names, I made them up today. DS's teacher uses a different increasing sophistication naming system based on another topic (I just didn't want to risk another parent recognising the names so i didn't give the real ones). You could really have fun with the author names.

IndigoBell Wed 05-Oct-11 21:13:51

You are being utterly paranoid.

Why would a teacher ever think a kid has no potential?

And why if she did think that she would give him work from the top group?

I hope you're OK.

BertieBotts Wed 05-Oct-11 21:19:12

But him being on a "bottom" table now doesn't mean that he has less potential at all. If a baby didn't walk until 18 months would you think that they had no chance at growing up to be an olympic athlete? Don't worry! smile

montrealmum Wed 05-Oct-11 22:42:07

I think the problem here is not being on the "bottom" table, but your son's perception that he is on bottom table.

The problem with all these crafty groupings in school is that the kids aren't supposed to know that "fairy" table is bottom and "gnome" table is top. Because kids aren't meant to be competitive - but they are.

Could you arrange to have a little ten minute meeting after school with the teacher and your son where she reassures him that she is pleased with his work, he is progressing well, etc. and that his seating position is neither a judgement nor a punishment?

Fairenuff Wed 05-Oct-11 22:55:29

As he is new to the school, the teacher might prefer him on the table with more support so that the staff can assess him by observing how he works, questioning his reasoning or even just getting to know him better and start building a relationship with him.

Also, being new to the class, he may not be that confident yet and they may be helping him to build his confidence in the classroom with adult support. There are lots of reasons for grouping children, not just ability.

If he is not that bothered by it you could explain that teachers sometimes like to mix up groups of children so that they can help each other learn and that you are pleased that he is settling in well and you are proud of his efforts (rather than his achievements). If it's bothering him, let the teacher know.

LikeABlackFlameCandleBNQ Wed 05-Oct-11 23:10:02

If the teacher and TA spend most of their time at that table, maybe this is the best way of them getting to know your DS? They will establish an unerstanding of his capabilities much quicker than if he were sat at a less visited table.

Maybe look at this to his advantage....they WANT to spend more time with him, and get to know him.

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