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Do they start streaming in year 1?

(29 Posts)
Fingerscrossed76 Thu 15-Aug-13 14:55:54

DS1 is starting year 1 in September. Someone told me that they start streaming the children for English and Maths in Year 1. More than a bit worried as DS1 is ok with his reading but slightly behind with maths, according to the report at the end of reception. Just don't want him to be labelled. Seems so young to be doing it. Does anyone know if this is correct?

swlmum Thu 15-Aug-13 15:17:18

DD has just finished Y1. They did sort of 'stream' for numeracy etc but it was all very low key and the children weren't really aware or bothered by it. They had different tables with rather random names and they also had different tables for doing other projects etc so they were moving round all the time.
Every term there was a bit of a switch around as well and sometimes tables depended more on certain personalities.
I really wouldn't worry- they all click with different things at different times and won't be labelled with 'the one bad at maths'. DD is quite matter of fact about who is better at reading (wouldn't say she has a clue about maths ability) but it all changed so much during the year anyway.

Fingerscrossed76 Thu 15-Aug-13 15:19:55

Thanks swlmum. Does it really change a lot during the year? DS1 took ages to settle into Reception and only really made progress in the last term. Just hoping he won't find Year 1 too hard. He hates anything he perceives as "work" and just wants to play all the time.

SummerSevern Thu 15-Aug-13 15:26:17

It depends entirely on the school. We do. But think of it this way - streaming means that your ds will have work and support that is most tailored to his needs, as well as working to a pace which is appropriate for him. And at this age, streaming is very fluid - he will be constantly monitored and support adjusted where needed.

swlmum Thu 15-Aug-13 15:53:40

As a complete sweeping generalisation, your DS sounds like most of the boys in DDs class! In general the girls do seem to be the ones keener to sit down at 'work' but the boys do seem to get there in the end! My DS is starting reception next term and I know he will just want to play all the time!

simpson Thu 15-Aug-13 18:04:22

In my DC school they sit on a table with children of similar ability to them (maybe 5 tables altogether - although I think table 3 and 4 were of similar ability, they just couldn't fit on one table!)

My DS is now going into yr4 but when in yr1 was very aware of who was on what table etc but then he is by nature very competitive.

They are on tables for numeracy, reading, writing and science IIRC. It will all come back to me as DD is due to go into yr1 next month grin

The groups are very fluid and kids can be moved up and down at any point (in my DC school).

HorryIsUpduffed Thu 15-Aug-13 18:12:52

Mine was in groups for reading in Reception. I don't think he realised they were ability groups though.

I'm a fan of discreet streaming or setting. In theory, everyone benefits.

thegreylady Thu 15-Aug-13 18:16:38

In the school my dgs goes to they are on tables which are given colours-there is a some swapping around for literacy and numeracy and science but the tables are more or less the same.The children seem aware of the 'setting' aspect of this but without any sense of any table being 'better' its more:" John is good at number so he is with the blues for that and with the oranges for reading ."

teacherwith2kids Thu 15-Aug-13 20:31:52

Your child will be given work appropriate to his needs. Whether that is within a 'whole class' seating system in which e.g. particular children might be given a particular tool to support them but will be sitting at a wholly mixed table, or a 'grouped' system with 'tables', the teacher will give him work appropriate for him to make the next step in his learning.

It does not 'set his ability in stone', he may be grouped differently from day to day or subject to subject or week to week. But the thing to remember is that he will get the work he needs to move him on...

lljkk Thu 15-Aug-13 20:37:12

setting yes, streaming no. And they move around a lot, ime. Reassessed every half term if not sooner and moved around as needed.

ReadytoOrderSir Thu 15-Aug-13 20:40:01

Streaming means grouping whole classes into bands for several subjects - not normally done nowadays until secondary.

Setting is putting them into class groups for one subject. Again more common in secondary, but used in some larger primaries to give more targeted support and challenge (so a 3 class intake teaches in 3 maths classes)

Most primaries use groups within a class: maths might have tables called circles / triangles / squares / etc, or the literacy tables are named after punctuation marks and the reading groups are named after authors. This is not 'streaming'. It enables the class teacher to give the right support and challenge to each child, depending on their different strengths.

Some primaries do use fully mixed-ability teaching. It has its advocates, but if it's not done well then the more able can end up being used as the TAs to the lower ability children. It has to be handled with great skill.

simpson Thu 15-Aug-13 22:16:22

Streaming is done for yr2 only in my DC school for phonics (in 2 groups). I don't think there is much movement between the 2 groups either.

DD is going into yr1 in sept and her year group has 3 classes (bulge class) and they are going to stream in the same way for yr1 too. So each yr1 teacher will take a different ability group over the whole of yr1.

insanityscratching Fri 16-Aug-13 09:06:17

Streaming is done from year one at dd's school. Five year 1/2 classes are streamed into eight distinct sets meaning that children don't necessarily do numeracy and literacy with either their class teacher or their classmates. Sets are very fluid and there is plenty of movement between them. Phonics are also streamed into even smaller groups, it's interesting at phonics time seeing where the groups are as they work in hallways and cloakrooms, offices, in the ampitheatre and on the yard weather permitting.

Fingerscrossed76 Sat 17-Aug-13 13:29:04

thanks all. How do they assess they at the outset to know which groups to put them in? Do they work from the end of year reception reports or assess then as soon as they start year 1? Who can I ask about this as none of the teachers have mentioned streaming.

Fingerscrossed76 Sat 17-Aug-13 13:29:22

"them" at the outset?

insanityscratching Sat 17-Aug-13 13:46:57

In dd's school the children are streamed from the outset so based on assessments from reception but there is a lot of fine tuning done in the first weeks and pretty much always movement half termly.

SummerSevern Sat 17-Aug-13 18:18:25

We do sort of loosely go from their EYFS scores, but we do lots of informal assessment at the start of the year, and rely more on that. That being said, again, it's all very fluid because it takes some children longer than others to settle and show their true ability.

HarumScarum Sat 17-Aug-13 22:17:13

The kind of setting that DD had in her class in Y1 was very much the same as she'd had in Reception, if that helps to reassure at all - small groups of children working with a teacher or TA on a specific task pitched at whatever that particular subset of children were learning about at that time. There was also still plenty of free flow choosing time and opportunities to make stuff and draw stuff and have fun. I think Y2 may be a bit more structured but it probably depends a lot on the particular school.

PastSellByDate Sun 18-Aug-13 09:08:37

Hi Fingerscrossed76

From what you've said it sounds like your DS's school will be placing children into small groups (sets) based on ability level for things like English & Maths.

Now you can view this as labelling and damaging - but I think you need to step back and think about what the school is attempting to do here.

They may have a number of children who are already reading well. These children may be ready to deal with more complicated reading materials and more complex blending of sounds. They may also have a group of children who can sound out straightforward words like c-a-t, b-a-t, etc... and may recognise high frequency words (and, the, this, her, his, she, he, etc...), but are struggling with some of the phonics sounds and still need a lot of support. Finally, there may be a group that really are struggling to even sound out straightforward words like b-a-t or m-u-d.

In maths there may be children who can already add and subtract numbers to 20, those who can add to 20 and those who are only able to count up, maybe with fingers.

So what should the teacher do. If she/he teaches whole class do they pitch lessons to the highest ability? the middle ability? the lowest ability? Whatever they do they leave someone behind.

By dividing the class into ability groups for reading, wirting or maths - what they are doing is making sub-sets of pupils who should ideally have 'differentiated' (work assigned to their ability level) work to do & materials to work with. So the high ability readers may be starting chapter books with fewer illustrations, the middle ability readers may be reading longer Biff & Chip books & the low ability readers may be reading more of a picture book format where the pictures help explain the text and very few words per page.

Sets - or groups - usually are not openly labelled 'Top ability group'/ 'low ability group' - but have names like bumble bees, butterflies, dragons, orange, red, etc... At this age, most children are blithly oblivious about what level they are working at but you have to accept that eventually (by late Year 2/ Year 3 usually - they will twig what group is what regardless of names).

Now most schools have sets but they are fluid. Children will be moved up or down depending on a number of factors: scores on standardised tests (optional or SATs), observation of performancy by teacher/ TA and general performance (paying attention, trying hard, etc...). They may even be moved to separate children that talk to much or struggle to pay attention when working together.

Ideally the number of pupils in a certain ability level should be totally fluid - so in theory you could have 28 pupils at X level and 2 at Y. In reality schools tend to group based on number of chairs around a table (in our school new furniture means groups are now in 5s, previously in 6s). But in fact that has meant that there are two top groups, two middle ability groups and one low ability group.

Is there shame in being in the low ability group? Absolutely not - they simply are the children that are struggling to work at the level of the majority of the class - actually low ability groups tend to get the most direct one to one time with teachers and TAs. High ability groups often are left to themselves with the teacher/ TA setting work, getting them started and maybe checking now and then, but concentrating on working with other groups. This isn't neglect - it often is that a teacher can explain a concept the once and give them a worksheet and they immediately settle down to work and get on with it - therefore, requiring minimal teacher time. Middle ability group can be the one that slides through the cracks - especially if there are a lot of struggling students. However, this all depends on the organisational control/ planning abilities of the teacher, the quality/ amount of TA support and if the teacher is good at what they do all 3 ability groups (high, middle & low) should be working at appropriate levels and making good progress.

No parent likes to learn that their child is not doing so well in Reading or maths. It can be upsetting, but try to see it as a wake-up call. Now you know they're weak in an area, you can put extra effort in on that at home to help in that area.

Also remember that grouping children will just be based on that class, not all pupils. Low ability group at one school or in one from may well be middle or even high ability at another. So try to keep in mind where your child is at in terms of expected performance and if you aren't clear talk to the teacher.

Finally two things:

1) I've found these documents from Campaign for Real Education helpful because the explain clearly what should be covered (and presumably learned) in a given year: - just select area of curriculum.

2) Woodland Junior school Maths Zone is a fantastic resource of games/ support materials to help with primary mathematics: There also are a number of on-line maths tutorials: mathsfactor, maths whizz, mathletics, komodo maths, etc... which may be worth investigating as well - especially as maths is ideally suited for a video game format.


mrz Sun 18-Aug-13 09:10:29

We don't stream or set in any year group

FloraFinching Sun 18-Aug-13 09:15:13

dd1's school doesn't stream or set at all, but the was work differentiated from reception up, pretty much on a task-by-task basis.

dd1 seemed to do different bits of work with different DC, and occasionally some DC did some work with other year groups.

Feenie Sun 18-Aug-13 09:17:10

In reality schools tend to group based on number of chairs around a table

Whilst I have heard of this happening occasionally on MN, it is not standard practice, or something that 'tends' to happen 'in reality'.

High ability groups often are left to themselves with the teacher/ TA setting work, getting them started and maybe checking now and then, but concentrating on working with other groups. This isn't neglect - it often is that a teacher can explain a concept the once and give them a worksheet and they immediately settle down to work and get on with it - therefore, requiring minimal teacher time

Again, this is something that may happen in your school, PSBD, but it isn't at all representative of the majority of schools - as you yourself point out, all groups of children have to make progress; the model you describe would not help more able children to learn effectively. And worksheets are not great practice either - many schools won't use them at all.

ThreeBeeOneGee Sun 18-Aug-13 09:21:42

I have never heard of a primary school that does streaming. A few secondaries do it, but most do setting instead.

My children are at / went to a three form entry primary, so from Y3 they had actual sets (not just different table but a different classroom and teacher) for Maths and in Y6 they have sets for English.

There is the potential to move between sets if needed, as both of my younger two have done. DD started out in lowest set of 3 and is now in middle set. DS3 started in middle set and is now in highest set.

At the end of Y7, DS1 was moved straight from set 4 to set 2 (of 7) for Maths.

I don't think this sort of mobility is as easily done when children are streamed. My other reservation about
streaming is that some children are gifted at one subject but struggling in another, so putting them into one ability stream for all subjects seems bizarre.

meditrina Sun 18-Aug-13 09:25:45

" Someone told me that they start streaming the children for English and Maths in Year 1. "

Who is that "someone" and how well do they know your school?

PastSellByDate Mon 19-Aug-13 16:05:08

Info on ability grouping by DofE who state:

"Setting by ability is very common in UK schools."

Interestingly they suggest that in mathematics setting by ability may be detrimental.

on the rigth of of the DofE web page is a report entitled "Primary Pupils' experience of different types of grouping in school" - makes for interesting reading - especially as the school which least used setting/ grouping in fact had the biggest issues with teasing of brighter children.

mrz & Feenie - I'm in the largest LEA in England (so you should be able to guess where) and dividing classes into ability groups for reading, writing and maths is the norm here, at least.


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