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Average kids - do they get lost in the middle?

(26 Posts)
shebird Thu 17-Oct-13 16:59:18

My DD is in Y5 and in the average ability group in her year. Her levels are on target or maybe just above in some areas. My concern is that because she is neither in the the top or bottom groups she is not being pushed or helped to go that bit extra. She is happy coasting along but I feel she is sort of drowning in the middle and worry she could fall behind. I know she could achieve more with some encouragement at school and I do my best at home. Do average kids who are quiet and compliant just get drowned out by everyone else? How do I address this with the school without sounding like a crazy pushy mum? Perhaps a question for teachers or those who have similar experience.

SpeedyMackechnie Thu 17-Oct-13 17:04:51

Watching with interest as my daughter is p4 (Scotland) and I feel exactly the same. Could have written your post actually.

moldingsunbeams Thu 17-Oct-13 17:16:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Sneezy86 Thu 17-Oct-13 17:47:09

Although unlikely at year 5, unfortunately this could well be true when they hit year 6.

When it comes to SATs there is so much pressure on schools a teacher can (not meaning they necessarily will) look at a 4b child just just before SATS very differently to a 3a or 4a child. They could well be far more likely to put a lot more effort into pushing that 3a into the 4 category and the 4a into the 5, whereas they are less likely to be bothered about whether a child gets a 4b or 4a.

Fortunately some teachers know each sub level does help with league tables (as well as it being obviously unfair to let a child coast just because they are 'average').

I would like to point out that it also depends on what the child's level was at KS1. Children who achieve high levels at KS1 will have 5s as their FFT predictions for KS2 and a school looks bad if they do not achieve it.

shebird Thu 17-Oct-13 19:15:16

So it seems those in the middle are in danger of getting lost as I thought.

moldingsunbeams I don't think the situation has changed very much. My DD has already realised that her teacher is only bothered about the top set while the TAs deal with those who struggle with learning or behaviour issues and she is starting to get despondent. I can see her attitude towards learning and enthusiasm for school is changing which is a bit alarming to say the least.

Periwinkle007 Thu 17-Oct-13 19:45:58

interesting - my daughter is a lot further down the years but the top children definitely don't get any attention as far as I can see.

PiqueABoo Thu 17-Oct-13 20:00:49

"Do average kids who are quiet and compliant just get drowned out by everyone else?"

That depends on the school, HT, teacher and so on and they don't have to be 'average'.

My Y6 DD is one of the brightest but like a couple of similar girls was pretty much ignored for not being a noisy Hands-Up Girl. The relevant teacher managed to rate her an entire SATs level too low for Numeracy and seriously over-rated their 'preppy' favourites.

Y5 was pleasant because the long-experienced teacher dragged the relatively neglected children (any ability) out of the shadows for a fair share of the limelight, boosted quite a lot of social confidence, self-belief etc.

shebird Thu 17-Oct-13 20:12:17

I agree piqueaboo it is easy for those quiet kids to get lost in a class of 30 and my DD also needs encouraging to be more hands up. This comes down to self confidence and it takes a good teacher to make those more reluctant kids come out of the shadows. Unfortunately we have an NQT this year who has really differentiated work across the ability groups and my fear is this is widening the gap even further as those like my DD are not being stretched.

enderwoman Thu 17-Oct-13 20:39:35

I agree- especially if they are well behaved.

I feel that if my ds2 (academically average) was worse behaved then he'd get more TA attention or if I was academically more pushy at home then he'd get more teacher attention.

racmun Thu 17-Oct-13 20:46:51

I think it is true unfortunately.

The nice well behaved coasting along child is easy to ignore. The lower ability have to be helped to the school targets and the high achievers have to be stretched to reach targets.

Sad but true.

sweetpieandpeas Thu 17-Oct-13 20:53:12

In my school each child has intervention at some point during the course of the year to support their learning. Each half term there is a focus of children to support and every child has to have some intervention at one point to ensure they reach their full potential. We have to log when each child has had intervention, what for and the impact it has had on their learning. Those who need more support on a regular basis still do get it throughout the year.

MissWimpyDimple Thu 17-Oct-13 20:55:59

I think it's true too unfortunately. My not-very-loud generally well behaved and relatively average/above average ability daughter seems to get lost in the middle.

Last year her teacher was great but the year before I wasn't completely convinced she really knew who my DD was by the end of the year confused

Izzy82 Thu 17-Oct-13 21:01:18

have you considered that all teaching is geared towards the middle ability. Teachers can't Pitch lessons at the more able because it's too hard for everyone else. they can't pitch it at the less able because it's too simple for the rest. this means that every lesson, every input, every bit of teaching is pitched at the middle ability. this is why teachers and TAs will then go and stretch the more able and support the SEN.

Noseynoonoo Thu 17-Oct-13 21:29:10

Well said Izzy. Of course it has to be pitched at the average ability. I can't imagine how it could be pitched differently. However, whether the less or more able then receive extra help rather depends on the teacher

Both of my children happen to be at the higher ability end of the class. Some teachers have stretched them, some have not bothered at all, some don't agree with differentiation. Both DCs are well behaved and report back that the naughty ones, regardless of ability, get a disproportionate amount of the staff's attention.

A lot of parents at our school tell me my children rather unfairly receive loads of extra help though.

shebird Thu 17-Oct-13 21:37:17

izzy82 I understand that teachers teach to the middle but why is it only the more able are being stretched? Don't all children deserve the chance to shine?

Izzy82 Thu 17-Oct-13 21:46:36

Yes, I totally agree that they should all have that opportunity and it's a shame that your school doesn't seem to be offering it.
As a teacher myself, I would much rather you came
Into school and explain how you are feeling. We are still only 6 weeks into term so there is still
Plenty of time. Don't leave it until the next parents evening and say 'you aren't stretching my child'. As you said, your daughter is happy to coast- it may be that your daughter has camouflaged her potential too well for an easy life and that she has the teacher fooled. Once the teacher is aware, I'm sure she won't want her to sit back

Noseynoonoo Thu 17-Oct-13 22:22:37

Surely if teaching to the middle, it is the middle that is being stretched. The less able would struggle and the more able would have little to do.

gleegeek Thu 17-Oct-13 23:25:04

Watching with interest! Dd is a coaster - she keeps quiet and is very good at looking like she is working hard, but her output doesn't really reflect what she is truly able to do. Grrrr. I long for someone to put a rocket behind her, but she seems invisiblesad

missinglalaland Thu 17-Oct-13 23:36:56

Interesting post. I talk to mums with dc who have Special educational needs who feel this way. I just chatted with a mum whose dd is top of the class who feels this way. I was beginning to think the middle was the sweet spot! But, it doesn't feel that way from your vantage point.

Now that I reflect, 30 children, all with varying abilities, and one teacher probably means that none of us will have the pace or attention that we desire. I am coming to see school as just one piece of the educational feels like if I want certain things you be covered, I have to cover them myself at home!

NoComet Fri 18-Oct-13 00:12:28

Yes, It does happen, DD2's three quieter average ability DFs did seem to get overlooked.

It was especially noticeable in merit assemblies when DD2 and her top table group were always getting certificates and some of the lowest ability DCs did too, but these three girls and the quieter boys almost never did.

This actually got blush sitting next to a DF who's quiet, lovely DD had been ignored all year.

shebird Fri 18-Oct-13 09:19:48

I need two rockets one for DD and one for the teacher!

That's exact what happens at out school the same few get awards -those at top of the class get rewards for excellent work and others for improved behaviour etc. DD just thinks what's the point - at age 9!!!

lljkk Sat 19-Oct-13 18:34:28

I think I'm with missinglalaland, lots of parents feel like OP and can find evidence for it, no matter what ability their child is.

PastSellByDate Sun 20-Oct-13 06:56:36

Hi shebird:

It's definitely the case at our school. And I don't think it will change - the forcus (pressure) is on getting low ability pupils in KS2 upper (Y5/ Y6) over that NC L4 threshold, especially as the school had disasterous SATs for KS2 recently.

My advice is do more at home. Maybe workbooks (we liked the GCP ones in literacy & maths, but there are many out there) and encourage reading (reading to themselves & reading out loud to you - where you discuss content/ meaning/ vocabulary).

Some useful websites:

Woodlands Junior School Maths Zone:

Woodlands Junior school Literacy Zone:

Woodlands Junior School Science Zone:

BBC Bitesize KS2 (you can chose difficulty levels):

Free worksheets - math:


Worksheet Works (BETA - still in design): English worksheets are American English, so may not be appropriate.

Free worksheets - all subjects (often with indication of Year - so multiplciation 3/4 - is for Years 3/4):

Have an explore - but these are a great starting point.

With DD1 (who was floundering KS1 and then middle ability KS2 Y3/ Y4) - we found focusing on a few core things and really working on those skills made a huge difference. So if multiplication is unsteady - work on that (lots posted here on MN about help with multiplication). If division is unsteady - work on that.

Don't be frightened to type in - how to change a noun to a verb on a search engine and explore what comes up.

It does take some of your time and effort to search out good resources - but it really is worth it.

A bit of extra practice (maybe 10 minutes here or there) really does cummulative make a huge difference. Certainly at our school, it is absolutely clear those doing more at home do far better than those leaving it entirely to the school.


Morgause Sun 20-Oct-13 07:27:44

In my experience as a class teacher it is often the children who demand the most attention who get it. When there are children (of any ability)with behavioural problems and inadequate staffing it is easy to overlook the quiet children who just get on with things.

It was something I had to constantly remind myself about.

A good teacher will always try to stretch all the children in the class but, realistically, there will be times in the school day when some children (of all abilities) are coasting. I used to try to ensure it wasn't always the same ones.

shebird Sun 20-Oct-13 20:10:52

Thank you for the suggestions PastSellByDate I do use some of these already but the worksheets look interesting. I agree that help at home is key.

Morgause There are some behavioral issues in DDs class and I think the TA resources are being taken up with this. It is heartening to hear that you were aware not to overlook the quiet ones.

Like everything else wrong with schools it sounds like all of this is about pressure to hit targets. One of the most important targets is making sure those with predicted L5 based on SATS at age 6/7 reach their predicted level so teachers will focus on these pupils more and who can blame them.

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