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Confused about ability groups

(16 Posts)
Chocovore Wed 23-Oct-13 10:37:12

Whoops, I made the rookie error of posting this in AIBU by mistake! i will try again!

DS is in a standard state primary, 30 in a class. He is in Y3 and they are in ability groups for literacy and maths. He is a summer born but has always been way ahead in reading/writing. Up to now he has always been in top literacy group. He is still progressing well as far as we can tell but he is no longer in the top group.

I feel a bit disappointed in this as the top group now get additional input/tuition from the SENCO so I am concerned that if he isn't in the top group now and getting the extra help the gap wil only widen and he will never be able to move up. Is that a true reflection if how it works? His teacher said he was a 3C and would be expected to be 3A by the end of the year. Wouldn't that normally be top group level I wonder?

I do feel for him as he struggles with maths but has always been hot on literacy and now feels he has been demoted he isn't good at anything, which is ridiculous as I think he is still way above average no?

Periwinkle007 Wed 23-Oct-13 11:10:05

I think you can only really ask the teacher. Groups have to be fluid and whilst he was a 3c at the end of last year it is possible that they have assessed other children as being higher than him. Children do develop at different rates and some of those who have been in the second group might now have pulled off ahead of him.

I would be surprised if the top group really get that much more input, certainly don't in my daughter's school (although mine are younger).

I think personally that you should speak to the teacher from the point of view of reassuring him he hasn't been demoted, he has just been placed in a group with others who are working at the same level/rate as him and that it doesn't matter what the other groups are doing.

When kids used to be streamed at school I think that it often helped for children to be top of the second group rather than bottom of the top group and it could be partly to do with ability of the other children or it could be that they think it would be better for his confidence or that there are some things they need him to work on/revise which the others have already mastered.

redskyatnight Wed 23-Oct-13 11:18:26

Whether your child is in the top group depends on the rest of the class! 3C is good, but not absolutely stellar - it's quite possible that there are 5 or 6 children (depending on size of group) that are working at a higher level.

Also it may be that groups over lap - so the top of the 2nd group may be identical to the bottom of the top group - but a better place for some children (e.g. they may take longer to grasp concepts or prefer to work at a slower pace).

Periwinkle007 Wed 23-Oct-13 11:29:46

something else which I have already started to notice in my daughter's yr1 class is that the EAL children are now starting to catch up the 'only english speaking' children and in some cases seriously overtaking them. Obviously this can take a few years to come about and so it may well be that at the end of Yr2 some children who are bi or trilingual have now overtaken others in writing. It is quite common I believe and I suspect there will be a few of the top group in my daughter's class will be 'demoted' fairly soon to be replaced by some incredibly bright children who were a little slower due to learning more than one language but who are extremely capable. As they develop their skills and confidence in English they can make quite dramatic jumps in groups.

enderwoman Wed 23-Oct-13 11:30:36

3c is middle group at our school.
There is very little difference between the top 2 groups and there can be reasons like personality which determines which group has which children. Eg. Shy children being split from bossy alpha characters etc.

Groups are usually fluid and maybe there's a logistical reason like it being easier to have 5 groups of 6 for literacy rather than groups of 8,5,7,6,6 or the teacher moving your son away from a group of 5 girls to a mixed group.

LittleSiouxieSue Wed 23-Oct-13 11:31:57

Level 3 a at the end of year 3 may not be that high. Many children will be at this level at the end of year 2 but I do not know the ability of the children in his class to know how many will have been 3a in year 2. Do you know? With very good progress you could reasonably expect him to be 5c by SATs time whereas some will be 5a or 5b. It is maybe these are the children who have been selected. Are they thinking some of these children could reach level 6? Also rates of progress are not an exact science and some progress more quickly than others. I would ask for clarification however as it can be de motivating when children are not chosen and the school seem to have singled children out rather early in my view. Also you can do quite a lot to keep his interest going. Do lots of reading, work on his comprehension of reading and definitely work on writing and spelling. You can probably replicate what the SENCO is doing anyway. Children's reading ages come on by leaps and bounds when they are exposed to very many books and discuss them with an adult. He is doing well, by the way!

Chocovore Wed 23-Oct-13 11:44:46

Thanks all. A few interesting points there. I have just relooked at the SATS for KS2 and it appears that 38% achieved a level 3 in reading and 19% in writing, so looks like a cohort of high achievers! (this is a school that is in Special Measures by the way and has been slated for its reading levels ironically!).

This came out of parents evening yesterday and it was his teacher who said the top group get taken out to do extra work with the SEN teacher. I don't think we asked enough questions to be honest. Will be better prepared for next parents eve.

Good to hear that the groups are fluid though. I guess we just have to keep encouraging him at home and reassuring him that he IS doing well.

columngollum Wed 23-Oct-13 11:53:17

It might be worth taking a look at precisely what criteria the teacher is using to score the children on.

I don't know the criteria. But if, for the sake of argument, she had previously been using recognition and pronunciation of multisyllabic tricky words and punctuation and is now using comprehension and context to score the children on, it may be the case that your child has improved markedly on his last year's performance in literacy but is just being marked on a subset of abilities which are not as well developed. And conversely, children who appeared less well developed last year are now appearing to perform better because they're being scored on different criteria this year.

Periwinkle007 Wed 23-Oct-13 12:17:37

If you feel you have some more questions which have arisen as a result of parents evening then I really don't think the teacher would mind you asking to speak to her/him about them. The next parents evening is presumably Feb ish which is a long time away if you have some queries.

If the school is in special measures then that could possibly be why the SENCO is involved with the top group or it could be that someone/some children in the top group have some additional needs and it has been decided this is the best way to do it. It may be that the second group are doing exactly the same work anyway.

ihearttc Wed 23-Oct-13 12:25:05

Just to add that my DS1 was taken out of the top group last year and put in the one below for both maths and literacy because despite working at the same level as the others in the group he got really stressed by it and was constantly playing catch up to 3 very high achieving boys which was doing his confidence no good at all.

He has absolutely thrived in the "lower' group and has made amazing progress...he could easily be in the top but in his face its definitely better to be the top of the other group rather than the bottom of the higher one-if that makes any sense at all?

To give you an idea of levels at the end of Y3 he was a 3a for literacy and a 4c for maths.

Chocovore Wed 23-Oct-13 14:39:14

Thank you for your replies.

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 23-Oct-13 15:22:58

There is no norm what is the level for the 'top group' it will depend on the ability of the cohort.
I think the most important is dealing with your DS's perception and talking to the teacher will help with this. The most important thing is that he being taught at an appropriate level for his ability.

simpson Wed 23-Oct-13 20:58:57

Agree with iheartttc, DS (now yr4 - also summer born) has always been in the top group (since yr1) but last year in yr3 he spent some of the year in the second group for numeracy because he found 2 kids too lively when the group was working together as a team and they would not listen to him (DS is v shy).

He ended the year on 3As (numeracy bordering on 4C) and now in yr4 he is a 4C in numeracy.

Sometimes it can be a confidence builder/boost but yr3 is the year that other kids suddenly catch up IMO.

withgreatpower Thu 24-Oct-13 16:14:12

In my experience, ability groups are not fluid. Maybe 2-3 children per class move from any one group to any other, per year, but I don't think this is very fluid. I don't see how easy/ practical can be to move a child up a group, especially in Maths, when the group above is usually much more advanced in terms of topics covered.

Iamnotminterested Fri 25-Oct-13 21:38:26

When people say 'literacy' here are they talking about reading or writing or an average of both?

lljkk Sat 26-Oct-13 16:12:12

quite fluid in my experience, especially in y3-4. Personality conflicts can come into groups, too. Even in Secondary there is meant to be a fair amount of overlap in ability from one set to the next.

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