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They all catch up

(66 Posts)
Enb76 Fri 13-Jun-14 09:51:51

Should they all catch up?

Say you have a child who at the end of reception is able to do all that is expected of a Y1 and quite a lot of Y2. They can read, do the maths etc... I often hear the phrase "they all catch up" but surely if the child is quite far ahead then in order for the other cohort to catch up, the child that's ahead can't be being given the same amount of effort that's going into a child that's struggling, otherwise they would stay ahead. Is my logic wrong?

Do schools let the ones who are doing ok coast in order to let the rest of the class catch up and how or even should you challenge that to ensure that a bright child is challenged to the same degree as their less able counterparts?

Sparklingbrook Fri 13-Jun-14 09:59:55

It very much depends on the school I would say.

I always thought the 'they all catch up' was really by Secondary. In that you can't tell an 11 Year old that was deemed very bright in Reception IYKWIM.

elastamum Fri 13-Jun-14 10:00:25

Depends on the school. My DS is in a scholarship set at a private prep. There is a massive difference in the work they are doing and levels of attainment in his set and others in the school.

In larger state schools without the luxury of small streamed sets it is much more difficult to accommodate everyone, so the emphasis has to be on getting everyone to a level where literacy and numeracy is good enough to access the curriculum at senior level

LittleMissGreen Fri 13-Jun-14 10:02:51

I think it depends if your child who is ahead is truly gifted, or an early developer.
Take for example, a 9month old who learns to walk. At the time they seem 'gifted' at walking. In reality almost all children will learn to walk by the time they are 18months old and the early walkers are forgotten. Some of those early walkers may go on to become world class runners, but equally so could some of the later walkers.

It must depend partly on whether a child has been pushed from an early age by their parents or if their talent is natural. A child who comes to school reading because they have been taught by their parents versus a child who comes to school reading because they have worked out the phonic code themselves, versus a very bright child from a home with no books who has had no chance to learn to read yet but then takes off when given the opportunity.

I think with literacy type things, often a child is only ahead in reading because things click earlier for them, but rarely does a young child have the true maturity to read texts for older children and engage with them in a way that older children would do. So children free-reading in reception because they can decode well, but who aren't reading with an amazingly extra mature comprehension will be caught up. But the child who in reception is truly answering questions on books at a level of a year 2 child (or above) and continues to mature probably won't be caught up. They are more truly gifted in literacy than an early reader.

With maths a true mathematician ie one who works it out for themselves without needing to be taught the concepts will probably not be caught up as they will continue to develop their skills. A child who is 'good' at maths but not 'gifted' may at some point find their 'struggling point' and others catch up, especially if they have coasted before that and not learnt how to work hard.

Lancelottie Fri 13-Jun-14 10:07:00

This always seems such an odd saying, doesn't it? Of course they don't all catch up. Otherwise some adults would not be better (academically!) than others.

Sparklingbrook Fri 13-Jun-14 10:10:09

Good post LMG.

DSs went to a tiny village state Primary school (15 to a class). Teachers did have the time to set work according to ability however above and beyond the norm. I don't know what goes on at the three form year schools though.

Enb are you worried about your child catching up, or that they are too advanced?

Sparklingbrook Fri 13-Jun-14 10:10:52

It depends where the finish line is lance. grin

KatoPotato Fri 13-Jun-14 10:11:35

Great post LittleMissGreen DS is starting P1 (reception) in August, and he'll be 4.5. He's somehow taught himself to read anything put in front of him, but when reading books, is in such a rush to read the words, he's not really giving a lot of thought to the pictures and the meaning of the text.

The HT has said that they work a lot with the inferential questions of books and I'm looking forward to him spending some time doing this.

Enb76 Fri 13-Jun-14 10:11:52

Surely they'd just be a bright 11 year old Sparkling unless something disastrous happened in their education in Primary. This is partly what I'm worried about. I know that if you get bored enough at school because the work is always just that bit too easy, you never learn how to work. Then it becomes harder and you start failing (it happened to me at A-level, I had no idea actually how to apply myself because I'd never had to before then).

I think the ones who have to work hard to learn are sometimes at an advantage to those who find it easy.

Ideally, a child would always be a bit challenged with whatever they're doing. I understand that at a state school with 24 children in a class then differentiating the work makes it harder for the teacher. I don't want to make their lives any harder and I don't want to be 'that' mother.

Is there a way I can complement the work she's doing at school without actually teaching her what they will be doing in class?

KatoPotato Fri 13-Jun-14 10:12:55

I've never 'taught' him, and I realised he wasn't just remembering words from books when we were in IKEA and he was decoding all the furniture names!

Sparklingbrook Fri 13-Jun-14 10:18:57

It doesn't always work that way Enb, but I really only have my own experiences to go on IYKWIM.

DS was particularly average in Yr and An Yr1 if I am honest. His peers were way in front, probably advanced, now in Year 10 it's all a distant memory, he's doing great and matching them. I certainly agree with waiting for things to 'click' which happens at different times for different children.

I would have a word with the teacher if you are worried, and see what they suggest.

PastSellByDate Fri 13-Jun-14 10:21:38


I think saying this kind of thing when children are quite young (4-7 years of age/ YR - Y2) is fair. So much of educational achievement depends on personal maturity (the ability to sit still, get settled down to work quickly, understand what is being asked of you, etc....).

I think previously when the main point of performance tables was getting pupils over the NC L4 threshold - there was a tendency to just focus on those pupils who were not quite on track to make NC L4 for Year 6 SATs.

However, the system has now changed (at least in the state sector) and high/ middle/ low attainers progress against expected targets is now tracked in these performance tables. My impression is that as a result schools can no longer get away with letting more able pupils coast.

What I will say is if you're worried that the school aren't doing enough for your son you do have options:

Find out what more you can do at home.

Ensure regular access to books/ learning opportunities (museums/ historic sites/ tv documentaries/ etc...)

Say something to the school (I know this is hard - but if parents do push (not aggressively/ not negatively) but continue to request higher standards/ more challenging work the message may just get through).

I think in primary there is less to worry about - because it is relatively straightforward to do more at home. Secondary however is a different kettle of fish.....

Enb76 Fri 13-Jun-14 10:27:17

My child is bright LMG - I don't think she's G&T, though my mother thinks she is truly talented at Art. She has true comprehension of texts and can read between the lines (i.e. understand motivation etc...) but I think it's because she's emotionally quite mature and is an only child so I've always been able to answer all her questions.

I didn't teach her to read - she started at level one in September and it just immediately clicked. She sees something once and it's learnt, I don't think she's even consciously decoding anymore. In maths again, she just gets it and something only has to be explained once.

I feel that the school are washing their hands of her a bit, at the end of Easter term her teacher said that she wasn't sure what to do as she was already doing Year 1 work and if she kept going there'd be nothing for her to do when she actually gets there. Mine is not the only child in her class who is in this situation. There is a child who I do think is truly G&T whose mother is having similar issues. Neither of us knows what to do really.

unrealhousewife Fri 13-Jun-14 10:29:03

The human brain is a wonderful thing, it isn't a computer with a linear progression, learn more about its development and you will be surprised.unfortunately there are some basic things like maths and reading that will hold children back so attainment in this area is important. That's why the foundation stage allows for different learning styles because some children simply can't reach that level until about 6.

Sparklingbrook Fri 13-Jun-14 10:33:49

I did think there was a change in DS in Year 2 that's true actually unreal.

Would it be worth looking at other schools Enb?

LittleMissGreen Fri 13-Jun-14 10:48:12

her teacher said that she wasn't sure what to do as she was already doing Year 1 work and if she kept going there'd be nothing for her to do when she actually gets there
In that case unfortunately the adage that they all catch up in the end will probably come true in this case, when it shouldn't. Work should be being differentiated for you DD, it will mean that she needs work differentiating next year too, but that is what the school has to do. Not let her coast just so that everybody else can catch up because it is the easier thing to do confused. DS2 is considered able (not gifted that's a separate list) in literacy and has been working with the year above since reception - small school so easier than differentiating in year. But they also stretch him 'sideways' doing things like drama. There are a couple of children in the school considered 'gifted' and they are working years higher than the expected level, soon they will be working at secondary level although won't be going there for a few years yet. The school despite being small caters for them to ensure they are continually stretched and achieving.

Enb76 Fri 13-Jun-14 11:10:30

thank you LMG what you describe is what I think should be happening but isn't. In all other respects I think the school is superb.

I guess if I can't get it to happen at the school then I should somehow try to do it at home but I have no idea how to go about it.

ContentedSidewinder Fri 13-Jun-14 11:36:53

My DCs are in a 3 class year group, so 90 children per year.

They are in sets for literacy and numeracy and we have a lot of TAs so 3 per year group meaning usually that they have 2 in the lowest sets and 1 in the middle set. We also have a lot of volunteers, some who are trained TAs and just getting more class experience until a job becomes available some just come in to help hear children read.

Obviously some children should be in a different set base on their ability but the limit is 30 per class. Ds1 has always been in the middle set for numeracy but has always been 2nd from the top based on his own observations with everyone knowing each other's levels.

He and about 5 others are taken out of class and set harder work which they complete with a TA. He is doing top set work, but they have no room for him in the actual class.

Our school is all about the individual child so there are after school clubs for G&T and catch up work for those that are not yet at target both in school and after. We also have a homework club on a Friday night and booster classes for everyone in lower and upper KS2 who is near a level but not quite at that level. They don't have to attend.

Basically what I am trying to say is that our school bends over backwards to progress a child to his or her potential. Not the class, the child. So they do try to "catch up" those who weren't meeting targets.

DeWee Fri 13-Jun-14 13:38:14

"They all catch up" I think is fine if what you're meaning is they all will be able to walk, talk, do some maths, read a bit etc (obvious excluding some SEN)

Problem is it's often trotted out when there's a worried parent whose child is obviously way behind, as a comfort phrase.
Now that children in (is it Sweden?) don't learn to read until they're 7yo because they're not taught to, is actually irrelevant to the child who is not reading in year 1 despite being taught to. The fact is that this child it hasn't clicked, although it has for the rest of the form.

In this case the child may find it suddenly clicks and they catch up. But what if it doesn't? Surely it's better to say, "hmm, how can we help in case there's a problem", rather than "they all catch up"-until it's obvious that they won't without extra help.

"All catch up" is perhaps most relevant for the child who reads and does basic maths before starting school because their mum, or their nursery has taught them. Then, when everyone is being taught, they may find that others catch up, and even overtake them. They might not, if they are naturally talented in that area.

Now I would never have been even a low grade competitive runner. You could have put huge amounts of money and time on me, but there is no way I would have won anything other than the slow race. In my priamry school year there was one boy who started poor, but trained really hard and by year 6 was coming 3rd and even 2nd in races. There was also one girl in my year who, without training, came consistantly first by a long way right the way up.
I would say most things are like that:
You get the person who will never achieve great heights
The person who with hard work, determination, and training will achieve their potential at a good level
The person who is naturally good and seems to achieve easily.

But this does have a sting in the tail. I met the girl who won easily a few years ago. She hasn't done any sport for a long time and has put on considerable amount of weight, and has a knee injury. I probably could beat her in a race now quite easily. So even for the person who is naturally good, they can be caught up-but that is her doing worse, not me doing better.
However, I suspect if the knee injury is cured, and she decides to go back into training, she would beat me again quite easily.

Enb76 Fri 13-Jun-14 16:12:40

So, talked to the teacher this evening and apparently she's academically where she's expected to be at the beginning of y2. She's currently in Foundation. There is a plan being put into place for her and another similar child. Am a bit happier.

Littleturkish Fri 13-Jun-14 16:40:26

I would do work at home to complement the curriculum: offering challenging reading books and asking open questions about the events (comparing characters is a nice one to move onto after motivations, and what could have changed the ending, as well as other probing questions) ;more number work that will support her learning next year, even things that seem old fashioned like learning tables by rote is actually very useful; providing opportunities to cross your learning over, so if your DD particularly enjoys art, build upon that love to deliver information about history- there is always learning opportunities all around you, you don't have to force the issues or make it feel like extended school sessions.

sunshinecity17 Fri 13-Jun-14 16:42:51

OP -It doesn't work like that.Children don't develop in a linear fashion at a rate according to the amount of effort that is put into them !!

Would you expect to be able to spot which 14 yr old walked at 9m and which at 18m?

LoblollyBoy Fri 13-Jun-14 16:56:44

But it's not just about who reaches the finishing line first, is it, there's also the issue of whether everyone is having a good time running the race.

Enb76 Fri 13-Jun-14 17:08:17

Well, surely in education there is no finishing line, it's a lifelong journey. You don't generally get to the end of your schooling and never learn anything new.

Sparklingbrook Fri 13-Jun-14 17:21:12

No but once formal education finishes it's harder to gauge I suppose Enb.

You could say every one of us is learning all the time, but different things. We couldn't all take the same test about what we have learnt since we left Education, and all get top marks.

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