Throwing everything at Y6?(39 Posts)
Gradually it is coming out to us Y6 parents (one class of 30 pupils) that in fact this year there are two teachers (the class is split into at least 2 groups, often in separate rooms) and two TAs. We also understand that the Deputy Head is also coming in and helping with teaching (other teachers still in attendance but dividing class into 3 groups).
Is this normal for Y6? Does your school do this as well?
Those of you who know me will know I've been saying for years our school doesn't do enough - I'm trying very hard not to see this as the school throwing everything at Y6 after their dreadful 62% combined English /Maths at KS2 SATs last year.
If this strikes you as fairly standard, please do let me know. I'll feel much better.
And I thought DD2's school was overdoing it... She got about a third of that with a request to do half an hour a day every day. We didn't, since she had already attended revision club in the first week of the Easter holidays, but she did some of the work as part of the revision club. What she did all came back marked and with helpful comments, what wasn't done did not draw any sanctions.
We started getting weekly SATs focused homework from the start of Yr6, especially the grammar ones. Since January we've been getting revision packs - 10-minute maths, 10-minute grammar and 10-minute reading comprehension so 30 minutes in all a week, nothing in addition. Practice papers once a month, extension and support groups after school but focused on learning, not endless drilling - DD2 really enjoyed them, especially reading and maths.
I thought it was all a bit full on, but compared to your school it's nothing!
no nothing at all like that!
Dd came home with a crib sheet from the TA about shape vocabulary (reflection/rotation/congruence etc) and just usual homework which took about 20 minutes in total. Advice to read as much as possible and keep practising tables.
Was a bit of a shock when dd came home yesterday and said she's done the level 6 reading paper and was doing SPAG today - no extra work towards them at all.
In view of how differently each school is handling SATs I don't think they create a true impression of each school or of each individual child's ability. No wonder secondaries are tearing their hair out!
My DD was sent two booklets to look at over Easter - she did look at them a bit, because she wanted to. We were asked to do no more than about 10 minutes a day, she would have done none if she'd not wanted to, because I think holidays are time off (and SATs are for schools not children).
They did no SATs work last week, as a chance to rest before the real things.
The week before they did 'mocks" and my DD did a trial of some new testing.
I would have done no preparation with her if I'd been sent the amount of material you have been given.
So just thought I'd update you on how school handled SATs prep over Easter break and last two weekends.
Easter Break: TES KS2 SATs spelling book sent home (15 pages)
Rising Star Achieve English/ Maths (ca. 120 pages)
Letts KS2 Success English (SPAG) - 65 pages
hand-made practice for Maths (12 pages)
so roughly 200 pages of homework over Easter with a note imploring parents to encourage their children to do a little each day.
We opted for 30 minutes a day on workbooks + DD1 carried on with her usual nightly reading. Had a few days off over the Easter weekend and with a big push on the weekend before school returned finished.
Weekend May 3/4 - DD1 was sent home with these again (uncorrected - but not an issue as I'd been through them with her - so although I can't guarantee all answers are correct, howlers were caught). She was told to review them again. And those who hadn't finished were told to do more.
Last weekend (May 10/11) sent home with a practice maths paper and another achieving L5 KS2 SATs English workbook - 80 pages (1 page instructions/ examples and a worksheet on the other page).
Now the first question I have is given the teacher didn't mark these/ didn't have time to review them - wouldn't it have been helpful to parents to have sent answers as well (maybe in a sealed envelope?) - so if our child found something tricky/ difficult - we could help them (which I did), which often is easier if you know the answer in advance. Some of this was straightforward - but there were questions - especially in English, where I wasn't totally certain & couldn't find confirmation on the web.
Second question is that a lot of this (especially the grammar worksheets) - could have been given out over Year 5 when DD1 had no English homework at all in the first term, and then only intermittent homework in Terms 2 & 3.
I hope your schools have handled this differently - but out of curiosity would love to know if you too have had tons of this kind of thing sent home over the last few weeks?
Kind of no point talking to governors - all teachers elsewhere & clearly very friendly with staff at school.
Our school will not put their improvement plan on the web (we have asked). I've been told I need to pay £50 and apply via FOI in order to see it. So glad the school respects that tax payers (including yours truly) are paying for this.
To be honest I think parents are voting with their feet. We certainly warn friends at work (University & Hospital attached to University) to avoid this option for their kids. I've ended up going part-time so that I can support learning at home.
DD1 has had a horrible run through school - all sorts of gaps. But we've just about patched her up and got her to a good point (she looks fairly confident to get L5 on SATs possibly L6 in Maths). We're basically so warn out we're just counting down until DD1 is free of school.
DD2 has had a better run - so I think the school are trying to improve things lower down the system but ?maybe they've somewhat written off poor Y6. Y4 are currently doing work DD1's class did at end of Y5 - deeply depressed DD1 to see this - she keeps asking about it. It's really upset her to realise her sister is virtually working at the same level.
Unless your child needs 'boosting' you probably wouldn't know. The extra classes are only for the weak ones who might not get level 4. Some teach them after school or before school or they take out of lessons but there is either extra pay for the teachers or they employ extra teachers.
It's the same at GCSE level. So much time wasted in years 7-9, when they could have been learning and practising some of the knowledge and skills they need now - particularly in English. Suddenly they are being crammed in English with vocabulary and spelling and punctuation - stuff they could have learned properly if and some effort and practice had been devoted to it in years 7-9 (not to mention before that). The errors my daughter recounts to me as being made by quite bright kids are horrifying. They are also being crammed with essay-writing techniques, something else they could have been working on from Year 7.
I can assure you that they DO in our LEA which comes near the top in the league of LEAs. It is a fact- I have been employed to do it for at least 10 years, I have lost count. All the schools do, it wasn't just one.
Most schools do NOT do it.
I think the OP should ask to discuss what is going on with the chair of governors. You see while it would be unrealistic to stop the school from "gaming" KS2 sats by throwing resources into year 6 in an attempt to avoid another year of results decline, this should only be taking place in the context of a proper school improvement plan for the longer term.
They should be looking for support from the LEA and the Diocese.
Thanks all for posting. Glad to hear that there are voices out there saying that this reflects poor balance in curriculum to this point.
Also pleasing to hear that this isn't everywhere - and there are some schools who've clearly made a conscious effort to get students to a good position by end Y5, so that Y6 isn't so highly skewed toward KS2 SATs prep.
My dd has missed out on art classes it's part of the Sats drive...all the arts stuff will be dine after the Sats exams are a
Sat - so looking at it over the year they will gave done everything needed...but looking at pre vs post Sats nothing is well balanced and in moderation.
I think that's rather the point! PSBD's school doesn't have 100% L4 and 70% level 5 so are doing everything they can in an attempt to improve results. In an ideal world, they wouldn't need to. Every year group would make expected progress and the year 6 teacher would just sit there twiddling his/her thumbs But that isn't happening and, in an attempt to stave off even worse results next year these measures have been put in place.
Is it ideal? No, certainly not, but is it necessary? Certainly this year the school believes it is, that gives them one more year to sort every other year group out so that the poor old Year 6 teacher doesn't have this every year. Nothing has been said about missing out on art, drama, PE etc, just that the year group has been split into smaller groups with additional support, some parents pay a small fortune for small class sizes!
My sons primary did this when he was in Y6. Then they did no work at all after SATS in February, there were cycling challenges, sports challenges with special football coaches in, and between Easter and end of term, all they did was work on the school production.
It was like 6 years of learning were crammed in between September and February of Y6. School on top of the league tables, affluent area, outstanding in all areas. Y6 was divided in 3 groups. L6, L5 and L4. 1/3 of the class passed L6 for maths, the rest mostly passed L5, with a few L4. Of course, HT was very proud.
But, a lot of these children had been tutored since Y4 and planned to go into the selective independents for Y7, so the great results were not only a reflection of how good the school was, but how aspirational the parents were...
No, not normal.
Ds's old primary had ~36 children in a mixed class of yrs 4,5 and 6.
One teacher, one TA.
No child had a private tutor.
No missing PE, drama, art, trips etc etc at all in yr 6.
Admittedly some packs of practice papers sent home over Easter with the instruction to do some of them.
High percentage of SEN children - lowish percentage FSM.
They achieved 100% L4 and 70-80% L5 for the last three years.
Just for comparison, DD's school - recently made 'Outstanding', L6 percentage in reading, writing and maths way higher than national average, improving results each year - doesn't do any of this and never has.
DD - and DS 2 years ago - did some trial SATs papers at the beginning of the year. Think they may do another set sometime in the Spring term, then the real ones in the summer. A secondary maths teacher does enrichment with some of the more able mathematicians once a fortnight ... and they do the full complement of trips, topic work, art and D&T weeks etc etc. They don't set for any subjects, all teaching is mixed ability, 1 TA between the two Y6 classes, only other teacher is the PPA cover teacher who is a French and Science specialist so takes those subjects for the whole year group.
So no, not normal.
Our school has definitely ramped things up for the Sats and although you'd think I should be pleased I'm not - they are doing piss boring work compared to other years and I feel slightly annoyed that it has all come down to year 6 to make it all better.....rather than inspiring them it's making them feel learning is a dull, repetitive and boring task - hardly a recipe of continued academic success...but it gets the school the Sats results they need and they don't have to deal with the long or hopefully short term consequences.
Dd's school sets for numeracy and literacy throughout the school and employs extra teachers so sets are half class size on average anyway. There are lots of TA's so nothing strange about having three in each class or at least one for each set here.
What is different in y6 are the extra enrichment activities so dd was out of school all day yesterday doing activities at a university and out for half a day earlier in the week to watch a production and there has been something most weeks either in or out of school since September.
There has been no cramming for SATs, in fact I don't think they have entered dd's radar yet anyway.
OP. I think your school is poorly led. Last minute cramming is not the way to go and teaching and learning should be consistent all the way through school. This is typical of a school that is not tackling the issues it has regarding teaching and learning lower down the school, hence the panic now. Ofsted will look at progress being made by the children, not just the sats results.
Many schools do not have the Deputy Head as SENCO but often a deputy will be monitoring progress very closely with the head so it looks like they are having a year 6 frenzy to improve the situation. Have you lost the brightest children as this slide looks pretty bad? I know year groups are different, but your 2012 results were poor. What a shame these children have to be taught in this way.
I generally have 10-12 year 6 children in my class, so for SATs purposes each child counts as 8-10%. Having 2 statemented children this year will affect my results scores considerably ( although thankfully, not my points progress) and together with 2 other SA+ children who are working below L4 will take us from "above average" to " well below average" without me doing anything different!
" Didn't do anything different that I could tell"
You can get some significant swings in average class ability from year to year. In the county results rankings, DD's school went directly from a couple of hundred down to the top ten because of that.
I just found the most impossibly detailed report for our county.
It seems our school had a combined result of 56% a few yrs back, and they did not do what OP described. Didn't do anything different that I could tell. 2012 stat is 78%.
I wish our school was doing this tbh. We've had a 'requires improvement' Ofsted recently and the school don't seem to be responding at all to it. I can see massive gaps in dd's learning which we're attempting to fill at home. She is getting spellings home which are suitable for a year 3 and she's in year 6. Very worrying... No sign of more teachers/properly targetted work etc etc, I feel we've been forgotten
We just came down in then league tables...
Everyone pleased as punch, kids self satisfied, parents smug because sunshine blown up their skirts...
I bet there are a lot of schools like ours.
If your school was once a well respected primary which always got 90% of kids to NC L4 and now under a new HT in the last 5 years is doing worse and worse - then yes, I suspect we are at the same school.
Happy place. Some great kids. But they honestly spend more time on singing hymns & prayer than maths. God bless 'em.
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