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Can someone explain to me about extension work for more able pupils please?

(10 Posts)
KeithLeMonde Mon 24-Sep-12 10:30:46

OK, at risk of sounding like a show-off, both DCs are consistently top of their classes in maths, and in the top 2 for reading. They're at a decent state primary rated Outstanding. One in Y4 the other in Y2.

I think the school could be doing much, much more to stimulate them. I was struck by the thread further down about the maths problem (the one with the cats). My Y4 child would love work like this but he's doing maths that he finds very easy - adding up with HTUs, basic long multiplication.

Neither of them ever seem to have got anything wrong in maths particularly. They get 20/20 in every test. They complain that they would like more interesting work. They work with their groups and are not set extra work on an individual basis.

I am not a pushy mother but I would like them both to be in with a chance on the 11+. I would also like them to be stimulated by their work in school and being pushed within their capabilities.

Can anyone explain to me what the norm is for extension work in KS1 and KS2? Should I be pushing the school harder for them to be given more challenging work?

I asked at the last parents' evening what work was available if they found the set work easy. I was told that they would be given worksheets or allowed to do maths work on the computer. The only worksheets I've seen in their books have been more of the same and again, no wrong answers or sign that it has challenged them.

Thanks for any advice, or if you can link me to any resources that explain what the school should reasonably be providing.

adeucalione Mon 24-Sep-12 10:45:06

In DD's school the children are set for maths, and then further differentiation takes place within each class.

The teacher will present the same input to the whole class, obviously, but then when they go off to work independently there will be different expectations for those working at a higher level.

This might mean that the most able groups are given a more difficult piece of work straight away, or that they are expected to move quickly through the set work (that everybody else is doing) and then ask for the extension task.

If your children are being set work within their groups, rather than individually, that suggests to me that they are sitting in a group of children who achieve similar levels in assessments and tests.

I would be wary of challenging the school based on the work in their books looking too easy, or because they have got all of the questions right, because this is only part of the picture - they may have needed some support, they may have appeared unsure during questioning, they may have done practice questions in a group on individual whiteboards before committing pen to paper, really lots of reasons why the teacher doesn't necessarily think that the work is too easy for them, despite them getting everything right in their books.

During the plenary the teacher will also differentiate the questions that she asks, depending on the ability of the child, in order to assess whether they 'got it' or not.

However, I would not hesitate to approach the teacher if you are concerned - they should easily be able to explain how they differentiate.

redskyatnight Mon 24-Sep-12 10:47:23

DD and DS's schools both set for maths and use differentiated groups for English to allow for a spread of work.

In DS's (junior) school the most able children also go to extra specific G&T classes for maths and English (probably 10% of the year for maths; fewer for English).

PiedWagtail Mon 24-Sep-12 10:47:28

My dd is in year 4 and is one of 3 kids in her class to have extension maths work every weeek. They are taken out with a specialist teacher and given new/more stimualting work and extra homework. So far it's working well adn she enjoys it and it motivates her. At your next parents' evening you could alsways ask your dcs' teacher how they are getting on and ask if they do anything like that for G&T pupils. There are also lots of websites you can access at home and print off worksheets etc for you to give your dc at home if you feel they'd enjoy that.

dysfunctionalme Mon 24-Sep-12 11:17:01

You could ask the school what sort of extension work they can offer, or you could do it yourself ie. by signing up for mathletics and similar, and getting your dc to the library for a new stash of books each week.

Or teach them chess and similar games they can challenge themselves with.

KeithLeMonde Mon 24-Sep-12 11:19:02

Thanks everyone. Do all schools do a G&T scheme even if they don't tell parents about it? We've never had G&T mentioned to us. I don't think I am being unrealistic to say I would expect my kids to be on it (haha, maybe their genius is all in my imagination......)

Thanks for your post adeucalione. You are right, I am sure much more goes on in the classroom than appears in their books. It's so hard as a parent sometimes to actually understand what goes on at school, isn't it? Particualrly with DC1, I just don't see evidence of anything that would actually stretch him, based on what I know he can do and his interests at home. I think they're both coasting, and they tell me that they find their work "easy", "boring", "got 100% correct, like I always do".

Based on what you've all said, it sounds like I wouldn't be unreasonable to ask about extra work to stretch those few most able kids at the top of each class. Obviously to start by asking in more detail what they are already doing, as I don't feel that I have the full picture.

dysfunctionalme Mon 24-Sep-12 11:56:56

I think a good school will be open to parents' reasonable questions and infact encourage this communication.

But I also think that what goes on at school is a bit of a mystery because you just get your child's (very narrow) point of view and the occasional report.

My thing is, are they happy? are they learning? what can i do for them at home? So pretty much winging it but they're on track so all cool so

merrymonsters Mon 24-Sep-12 12:41:59

My DS is in Year 3 at a school with plenty of able children. He's on their G&T list for maths. This week he was given a 'maths challenge' for homework. I thought this was a great idea until it turned out to be addition up to 10.

The teachers are supposed to differentiate work (and I guess they do to some extent), but I think the parents at our school are the ones who do the 'stretching'.

sittinginthesun Mon 24-Sep-12 13:22:39

Our school don't have a G & T list, but do set for maths and literacy. Maths is set through the whole of juniors, so DS1 (Year 4) and a couple of classmates are currently in the Year 6 class, although not in the top group of this class.

Think we're very lucky with our school (not Outstanding, good, but not amazing Sats, very mixed catchment, but prepared to teach all chidlren to their ability).

Chestnutx3 Mon 24-Sep-12 13:37:37

Do extension work with them at home as well as question the teacher. I think most of us with G&T DC for maths do work with them at home even if they are given extension work in school. My DD would do maths for most of the evening given half the chance.

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