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Stuck in the bottom group!

(66 Posts)
Wintermelonsoup Tue 19-Feb-13 13:15:41

Y5 DS has to stay in bottom group maths because there’s no space left in the other groups. He knows all his timestables and division tables back to front since y4 while some of the children still struggling with 3Xs and 4Xs. The problem is that a lot of the time he finds maths lessons too easy. If he finishes the tasks too early he will be given extra work to do or play computer games instead. What should I do?

PastSellByDate Tue 19-Feb-13 13:45:41

Hi wintermelonsoup:

Well first of all it sounds like your DS is doing very well (many at our school don't know all their times tables, let alone how to divide in Y6). So relax - the important thing is that he can do it, not what table he's at - since ultimately it is these key calculation skills that will set him in good stead for engaging with maths curriculum at senior school.

Next - many here have posted about using on-line tutorials for extra practice or to enhance what the school is (or is that is not) providing. There are a number of very good ones out there now: Mathletics (, Maths whizz ( and Mathsfactor ( have all been praised here on Mumsnet. I'm fairly certain these all offer trials - so maybe worth having an explore.


seeker Tue 19-Feb-13 13:48:08

Hang on- he has to stay in the bottom group why? Have you explored other options with the teacher?

mrz Tue 19-Feb-13 13:55:49

Groups should not be static and why can't they make a space ...

wheresthebeach Tue 19-Feb-13 14:02:19

At our school we were told that someone had to move down before DD was moved up...

cumbrialass Tue 19-Feb-13 14:05:22

I just keep moving the furniture! There is no reason why a group shouldn't grow or shrink in size, but times table knowledge is only a very small part of the knowledge needed, how is he doing on the rest of the curriculum, what level has he been assessed at? ( Although clearly the groupings do depend on the ability of the rest of the children in the class!)

sittinginthesun Tue 19-Feb-13 14:06:24

I would be making an appointment with the teacher asap to discuss this. The group is irrelevant - the teacher should surely be setting the level and amount of work by the individual child's ability, not by the ability of the children they sit with.

seeker Tue 19-Feb-13 14:12:35

You are absolutely sure he doesn't think he's in the bottom group because of where he's sitting, are you? Have you had this "no room" line from the teacher, or from him?

PastSellByDate Tue 19-Feb-13 16:58:04

I don't know wintermelonsoup and I'm just assuming the situation is similar to our own - but I can assure those of you who've suggested there is no limit on numbers or there should be lots of movement between groups that this can be very rare in some schools (like ours).

It's 6 students per table

Maybe one or two move a year, when it's downright embarrassing not to move them.

Staffs children, PTA & governors children always grouped top table when starting at school (and usually remain there).

auntevil Tue 19-Feb-13 16:58:14

As others have said.
My DS in Y5 has tables - even the DCs know that they are ability based.
Some of these tables of 6 children are still split/differentiated. So your DS may know he is on the lowest ability table, but might still be doing work of a higher level than the others.
Also in DS1's class, there is the logistic of numbers. You can only fit a certain number of bodies around a table. Then there are those that for vision reasons/ behaviour reasons etc have to sit in certain places.
It could be that the extra work your DS is given is an extension to progress him further.
Speak to the teacher to get the whole story - and find out what is being done to further and progress his understanding.

LindyHemming Tue 19-Feb-13 17:18:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mrz Tue 19-Feb-13 17:20:06

I recently sat in on part of a Y5 lesson in my school in the 30-40 mins I was in the class the teacher mixed up the groupings and moved children around the tables 3 times for different parts of the lesson. Sometime the children were working as individuals, sometimes in pairs and sometimes in mixed ability groups ...never static.

seeker Tue 19-Feb-13 17:21:16

"Staffs children, PTA & governors children always grouped top table when starting at school (and usually remain there)."


LeeCoakley Tue 19-Feb-13 17:26:18

Agree! Another hmm from me. Never heard of that and I expect I never will.

cumbrialass Tue 19-Feb-13 17:31:01

Just thinking of my "top" table, no staff children, no PTA children ( one is on the Lowest ability table, one on table "3" for maths and "4" for English) one Governor's child on top table, another on table 4.
There is some rubbish written on Mumsnetgrin

mrz Tue 19-Feb-13 17:33:17

I don't have a "top table" to think about grin

wintermelonsoup Tue 19-Feb-13 18:10:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mrz Tue 19-Feb-13 18:18:40

30 children in each group?

seeker Tue 19-Feb-13 18:23:47

So is this about the work or where they are sitting? I'm getting a bit confused, sorry!

juniper904 Tue 19-Feb-13 18:30:46

By groups, do you mean that the year is streamed?

jalapeno Tue 19-Feb-13 18:33:16

In our school they split the 3 classes in every year into 3 groups of 30 (based on ability across all the classes) for some lessons, mostly phonics, spellings and times tables, but presumably within that they differentiate for ability. Is this what your school do OP and is your DC on the top table of the bottom group if "waiting" to go up?

pashapasta Tue 19-Feb-13 18:42:04

Er, I am a governor and ds is nowhere near the top table!

wintermelonsoup Wed 20-Feb-13 09:26:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PastSellByDate Thu 21-Feb-13 11:35:38

Seeker, LeeCoakley, Cumbrialass, mrz

Please privately contact me. I'm more than happy for you to know the school we're at. I can provide the tracking data DH and I (and friends also with kids at the school) are keeping.

Bottom group usually full of minority students at start of Class R.
Top Group usually full of 'in crowd' parents (governors, PTA & Staff children).

I admit this does not remain static - but mostly because the children themselves start to openly say X shouldn't be in this group, they should be on top table.

Tables are only 6 students.

Work for top table is independent without teacher or TA support.

Oh and Head's child is a teacher in the school - sole interviewee for the post, from what a former governor tells me.

I'm not making this up and am more than happy to document this for you off MN.

Mumsnet should be for parents and although it's lovely to have teachers come on here, as mrz knows, I have repeatedly and now am openly complaining about teachers 'bashing' parents who are expressing distress/ concern over what they're observing playing out in their individual school.

I'm thrilled there are good schools out there. I'm also sorely aware my children's school is definitely not one of them.

PastSellByDate Thu 21-Feb-13 11:37:47

Forgot to add - I'm glad that there are what I'd class 'normal' schools who don't have this rigid 6 to a table grouping structure and there may even be a lot of movement and jumping around between tables/ partners.

But again, sadly that's not our school and I can verify that.

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