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What if your DC is at a not so great school?

(25 Posts)
NobodyIsHere Mon 17-Feb-14 20:50:11

Do you worry?
Do you do extra teaching/tutoring at home?
Do you push on extra activities?

This is a thread for the parents of average children at average schools. They are probably doing well but perhaps could be doing better if their school was better.

No stealth boasting please.

ReallyTired Mon 17-Feb-14 22:58:59

Dd 's school is offically inadequate and I do worry. However I have very little choice as the only schools in the area with spaces are also inadequate.

I make sure that dd practices her reading everyday, but it is hard to do much with her as she is only four years old. I try to make sure dd has the chance to do an interesting range of activites that she enjoys. It is hard to know if I make a difference but I hope my little girl is happy.

I believe that parental support has a bigger affect on achievement than attending an outstanding school.

Ghostsdonttalk Mon 17-Feb-14 23:11:52

You could use websites like BBC bitsize. There are others but some are not free.

AcrylicPlexiglass Mon 17-Feb-14 23:31:02

My 4 year old is in a requires improvement school. I like it, despite this verdict, which I think is a valid assessment in some ways, as it needs a bit more exciting, dynamic teaching if possible. But I'm a great believer that a warm, caring, nurturing environment is all they really need at this age and any extra "education" is a bonus.

I also think it's easy to over-estimate the importance of school, bizarrely. My older children moved from a fantastic primary school to the school my daughter now attends when we moved to a new area. They were in year 4 (twins)and I felt terrible taking them out of an outstanding school and into a satisfactory one. But I was surprised how little difference it made. They still did fine in those SATs things, made good friends and had a couple of great teachers and a couple of average ones. They seemed to be just fine. They now go to different secondary schools, one of which I really like and the other of which I think has some major flaws and not that much going for it really. Obviously I didn't plan things this way! But again, it doesn't seem to make a major difference to their day to day happiness or achievement- they are both lazy gits despite good teaching for one and not so good for the other!

simpson Tue 18-Feb-14 00:00:17

DS is at a school that is rated "good" but he is having a fantastically pants year (yr4). So far his teachers are in double figures (supply) with yet another f/t teacher (3rd of the year) to start after half term.

In answer to your question, yes we are doing lots at home mainly maths which is his strong area. It does concern me that effectively the first half of the school year has been wasted sad

MilkRunningOutAgain Tue 18-Feb-14 08:56:37

OFSTED marked put school as requires improvement 2 years ago and it's been chaotic ever since. Head went, got acting head, now have new head, lots of experienced staff left, very few clubs now as staff all busy improving things, dd hasn't had a full time teacher for over a year and is going backwards in terms of levels, I am trying to help but she isn't interested so it's difficult. Homework set, children encouraged to produce extensive project work at home, teacher leaves, project work handed in but not marked and dd upset again just before half term when it was thrown away, she had really tried , as had I, and now it's in the bin...

PastSellByDate Tue 18-Feb-14 12:23:32

Hi Nobody:

DD1 is a very ordinary girl at a very mediocre state primary school.

She was seriously struggling at the end of KS1 - still not able to read, could only add numbers up to 20 & could not subtract.

I've posted a lot about what we've done and tried to advise others but basically the recipe was very simple - we just did more at home.

more maths (on-line tutorial) & more reading.

Slowly, day by day, week by week improvements were made and she started to visibly improve at school, steadily moving up the tables (sets) in her class (one form entry at her school).

DD1 is now in Y6 and doing very well. She's not a tremendous high flyer - certainly didn't achieve a sufficiently high enough score to get into local grammar schools (state funded here so free, but entrance based on 11+ scores). But she has managed to become quite a solid little student, with strong maths skills.

We're a few short months away from moving on to secondary. I will never regret the extra time & expense (mathsfactor subscription/ 11+ practice books) I went to so that we could help DD1 as a student - but we remain deeply perplexed why the school left it to us when DD1 was struggling in Y2. They totally refused (teachers, HT, subject leaders) to recommend solutions or advise us on what we could do at home. We also have our doubts about the secondary comprehensive - and fear it will be as uninterested in high standards, academic achievement and 'work ethic' as the primary. Unfortunately supporting students in secondary is a whole other kettle of fish - and we have already had 'that talk' with Grandma & Grandpa in the US about the possiblity of sending her there for 'high school' (ages 14- 18) if educational standards here remain so dismal.

I'm glad we were able to turn things around for DD1 but the cost has been a serious crisis of faith in the education system in England.

There are so many bright kids out there - most of DD1's class were doing much better than she was in Y2. She's now doing streets better than them - I'm thrilled about DD1's improvement- but left wondering why so many have been allowed to flounder/ lost interest (about 1/2 the class are seriously borderline about achieving NC L4 in KS2 SATs this May). Almost all of the year say they 'hate maths'.

I think the issue revolves around whether NC L4 is a benchmark - i.e. all students should aim to achieve this level at least or the end target (i.e. the ultimate goal of primary school ability). I fear our school very much viewed NC L4 as the pinnacle of achievement and frankly all they were required to do. Of course they can afford to have this poor attitude, because each year a significant proportion of parents interested in free grammar school education in this LEA would either DIY tutor or pay for tutors (certainly for Y5, although more recently from Y4) thus radically improving KS2 SATs scores for 1/3 to 1/2 of each cohort for them without any effort on their part.

Grammar schools may be 'unfair' and have a biased entry for the middle classes - but I suspect English primaries schools wouldn't be achieving anywhere near the pupil progress they do without the necessity to have mastered Y6+ curriculum by early Y6 in order to do well on the 11+.

Theconstantlygardening Tue 18-Feb-14 12:39:44

sorry but I find you post confusing- you say in your heading for children who aren't doing well, ( due to their ability or teaching?) then further down you say they are average, doing well but could do better if their school was better.

You seem to be mixing up lots of topics.

Is this a genuine post about your own children or are you gathering info?

Crosseyedcat Tue 18-Feb-14 12:54:54

This does look like someone writing an article.

Nobody - is this the case?

NobodyIsHere Tue 18-Feb-14 13:02:38

I think the case is that English is not my first language and my thinking process is confusing and also I don't understand the English System very well. Mix it up with a genuine worry about my daughter's education.

I can't even write a coherent post at a parenting website nevermind an article about Education grin

oh yes, I didn't want to her about the bright kids who taught themselves to read at 1,5 year old, who already read the entire library and can do Maths at Einstein's level.

JuliaScurr Tue 18-Feb-14 13:06:41

the benchmark targets are great if you would otherwise fail to get the minimum standard, but def act against achieving anything higher

Theconstantlygardening Tue 18-Feb-14 13:07:44

I'm puzzled because you've also posted about choosing a secondary school and maybe independent [ confused]

NobodyIsHere Tue 18-Feb-14 13:09:17

Yep I am already fretting about secondary.
But Independent is off the cards unless I win the lottery.

vjg13 Tue 18-Feb-14 16:52:30

Pastsellbydate, I could have written an almost identical post about my daughter. She has always been very average but no concerns have ever been raised by school. I was horrified when we did some activities at home and I saw firsthand how poor her skills were. I asked her class teacher what I could do to specifically support her and just got very general answers about reading speed and times tables.

We do maths factor and the bond books and she has made great progress with lots of input at home. She will hopefully be attending a very high achieving but fully comprehensive school (religion based) and I really just want her to consolidate her knowledge ready for secondary. If she does well in the SATS, the school can claim credit but it is despite the teaching she has at school and not because of it. Students at my daughter's school have tutors and aren't sitting exams for independent schools so there are other parents with concerns.

I do think there are lots of parents who have no idea how low the bar is being set for our children when really they should be aiming for well beyond level 4b.

Lovealotofshopping Tue 18-Feb-14 18:37:21

Vjg13 I could also have written your post word for word and DC will also hopefully be going to a highly successful non selective comprehensive where there will be significant numbers of prep school children coming who will be massively ahead and my intentions have been to ensure the gap is closed. I was horrified by what I saw going on at school and have plugged the gaps with tutor and my own input and it has paid off. My child will get straight 5's and that's almost entirely due to work we have put in at home. As it happens said child will still not meet their potential but the school will get the results they desire. Virtually the entire year are tutored yet only 1 or 2 sat entrance exams to independent schools.

NobodyIsHere Tue 18-Feb-14 20:03:42

Thank you ladies.

Dd is improving at literacy after I finally managed to get her assessed for dyslexia, so the school is putting in the extra effort (however sacrificing P.E and Arts, but I can cover these out of school), so her reading and writing are improving but Maths still needs attention.

Is MathsFactor a online tutoring program? So you all recommend then?

Also I need to start get my head around all the levels, I don't understand it at all. In my home country the system is very different.

She is Y2 at level 1a/b across the curriculum, what does it mean?
I have been hearing from school since reception that she is fine and doing well, but I had to fight for her dyslexia assessment.

So the expected minimum level is for children to achieve level 4 at the end of Y6?

vjg13 Tue 18-Feb-14 21:06:21

Maths Factor is an online tutoring programme led by Carol Voderman, it has been helpful for my daughter but there are lots of others that people suggest on here.

Yes, the accepted minimum level for the end of year 6 is level 4.

IdRatherPlayHereWithAllTheMadM Tue 18-Feb-14 21:20:06


I do think there are lots of parents who have no idea how low the bar is being set for our children when really they should be aiming for well beyond level 4b

Your sending shivers down my spine...I am desperately trying to understand everything going on at DD's school and its posts like your that really worry me.

I do find whilst the school want parents to help, read, come to classes on phonics, there is also an invisible wall up, when you try and find out what they want, and are doing, sort of leave us too it ....we know our job.

I am trying to understand levels and what they mean and how they relate to anything...and what is in the schools interests to say and do. Its all so confusing, I am desperate to help her as much as I can but my own skills are woefully lacking the basics of Math and Grammer.

Sorry to budge in op blush just VJ post really worries me.

IdRatherPlayHereWithAllTheMadM Tue 18-Feb-14 21:22:38

Also I need to start get my head around all the levels, I don't understand it at all. In my home country the system is very different

me too op!

VJ and pastsellby

When one asks how ones DC is doing; what bench mark should we be asking about?

Doing well, compared to what for instance?

NobodyIsHere Tue 18-Feb-14 21:25:47

It is ok MadM, this thread is for people like you and I.
Glad to see I am not alone. I find the levels hard to grasp too.

Just had a look at Maths Factor and I could definitely buy it, if it will help Dd with her maths. We just done a few trial lessons but the times table comes separate, not with the maths program and we would need both of them. I would be happy to receive more recommendations so we can try them all out and pick the most suitable one.

NobodyIsHere Tue 18-Feb-14 21:27:31

And what do you all have to say about a Y2 child working at level 1a/b.
Don't hold back and use sugar coated sentences like the teachers.

Lovealotofshopping Tue 18-Feb-14 21:38:31

I am probably putting my head on the block but I have been quite shocked how low the expectations are, even to get a level 5 especially in reading. My child struggles with comprehension, finds inference hard and really can't get decent marks on 11+ practice comprehension yet is a level 5b/a consistently on SAT's papers. If this is what it is to exceed expectations at KS2 then I am not surprised that there are concerns about our education system.

IdRatherPlayHereWithAllTheMadM Tue 18-Feb-14 21:45:36


sorry to be a pain, would you mind explaining further what mean , are you saying that according to school, your dc is doing really well....but in reality you don't think he/she is...

vjg13 Tue 18-Feb-14 21:49:36

Nobody, the level expected for the end of key stage 1 (end of year 2) is level 2. This is assessed just by the teacher.

Lovealotofshopping, I agree with you totally!

Madm, I don't really understand the levels and sub levels but had always been told my daughter was making expected levels of progress. It was just when we tried some work at home that I realized that she needed help!

IdRatherPlayHereWithAllTheMadM Tue 18-Feb-14 21:53:38

This really worries me.

I wonder if one set the bar at the 11+ exam, one could then ask, is child on course for it....

But would the teacher know.

Where is the motivation for any kind of standard though...or bar?

There is non.

Your child gets taught, sinks or swims, or does both in range of subjects, then gets streamed and goes into secondary. There is no motivation.

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