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does infant attainment predict future academic success?

(38 Posts)
apermanentheadache Wed 09-Jul-14 22:25:13

DD1 is 6 and in year 1. She is bang slap average in her class, struggles a bit with writing and doesn't really enjoy school work that much. Socially and behaviourally she is brilliant, top marks for being a star pupil grin.

I was a super-achiever and found school easy. She is her own person and I'm not particularly bothered if she never goes to Uni as long as she finds something she loves doing. However, I'm aware that really good grades generally give you more options in life.

So with that in mind, I was wondering whether your children that have gone on to be high-attaining have always been high-attaining from the very start?

How likely is it that she will have average attainment throughout her school life?

Like I say I'm not going to get my knickers in a knot about it, but I just wondered what other people's experience was.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Wed 09-Jul-14 22:30:42

They all develop at different rates, so your dd may well end up way above average.

My daughter was average at primary school, she has now just got her MSc!

Mitzi50 Wed 09-Jul-14 22:50:15

No - My Dd was below average throughout primary (undiagnosed dyslexia). She got 10 A/A* at GCSE, went to grammar school for 6th form and took 5 A levels and is predicted A/A* in 4 of them (fingers crossed).

ReallyTired Wed 09-Jul-14 22:51:53

I believe its possible to spot children with substantial special needs at the age 6 and possibly some children who are truely gifted. However six year old is too young to write a child off as not academic.

There is more to life than grades and if your child has good social skills then that will stand her in good stead. It may well be that her academic marks will improve as she matures.

Hooliesmoolies Wed 09-Jul-14 23:03:24

It is a really scary thought that your life can be defined by your performance at 6! I know that isn't really what you are suggesting OP smile. Academic performance in secondary school doesn't even really predict 'success' in life all that closely, let alone success in school in KS1.

I was never obviously or easily academic. I was dyslexic, so not totally typical, but essentially I was all about the ideas, and it wasn't until I had done my first degree and was on my second that I really started to excel academically. I had found my niche. MSc and PhD later, and I'm an academic. But success in life comes in very many guises. I will often tell people that although what I do gives me a certain intellectual kudos, in reality I have just found something I like and I'm reasonably good at. It doesn't make me any brighter or more successful than a great deal of other people in life.

Your daughter has a whole lifetime of exploring her skills, talents and interests. At 6, it is impossible to know if she will be a nuclear physicist, a brain surgeon, Prime Minister, a teacher, a stay at home mum or an entrepreneur. You will get to explore all of that with her, or at least from the sidelines hopefully as her adviser/cheerleader smile.

3bunnies Thu 10-Jul-14 06:15:17

Not quite the same time span but in the beginning of yr 2 dd1 was really struggling - she was on the second bottom table in maths (by her diagnosis - she was acutely aware of where she was in the class) and she said that all the children just talked about McDonald's rather than working, she was still struggling to read although slowly working through the levels. Each book was a struggle and a battle. Suddenly around her 7th birthday things began to click.

She is now at the end of yr 4, she has been assessed as 4c in Maths and 3a which are somewhat ahead of expectations and 4a in reading - which is where she is expected to be in 2yrs time. I have no idea how she will perform at secondary school but she is moving in the right direction.

I think though that the price which has been paid is her confidence. We haven't done loads of extra work with her - she just wasn't ready to learn before. She thinks that she can't do maths and that other people are much more fluent and faster than she is at reading. Compared to her younger sister who is probably at a similar level, although further ahead in maths. Dd1 and dd2's classes were very different at this stage - dd1's was full of siblings from high achieving backgrounds whereas dd2 is in a more mixed class and her struggles have been less apparent. She has loads of confidence in herself.

Ds likewise is very confident entering reception but he is already clearly a high achieving child and I can see how the teachers respond differently to him and I know myself that he is much easier to teach than either of his sisters.

So I would say that achievement at 6 could be very different at 9 but the thing to be aware of is her confidence. Dd1 was saying that she hated maths and it was too difficult. Even though her marks have changed considerably she still says the same thing. The others have never said that and dd2 loves nothing better than being given a maths text book.

Be positive do a little bit extra in a fun way - e.g. baking, shopping etc at home and see how she is in a few years. I think that many of the skills to be mastered in infants (reading, physically writing and basic maths) are very different to the skills required for say science, geography and philosophy. We tell dd1 that and that she will find secondary school very different.

LittleMissGreen Thu 10-Jul-14 09:59:35

My mum was told about my brother at 7 "A dear little boy, but he won't ever amount to much". He 'blossomed' at about 11/12 and took the 13+ to go to grammar school. Then went to Cambridge.
I on the other hand was an achiever all the way through school with fairly little effort.
My sister - fairly bright, but a very hard worker and therefore a high achiever.

Lovage Thu 10-Jul-14 10:00:33

No. How old they are within the year group makes a huge difference at that age - a child who starts school at only just 4 has only been alive for 4/5 of the time a 5 year old in the same class has been alive! Looking at my two DC, one of whom is very young for year and one very old, that makes a huge difference.

Also, confidence and interest make a huge difference. I was never one of the brightest at school, although I made it to uni. Then I blossomed in my last year at uni and am now an academic with a PhD (which isn't necessarily a marker of being very intelligent but I guess is a marker of 'academic success')

CalamitouslyWrong Thu 10-Jul-14 10:03:50

I was in the bottom group for everything in infants. I got the best exam results in my year at my high school, came top of my degree class and got a PhD.

DH's teachers told MIL that he was really thick all the way through school. His secondary school were steering him down the apprenticeship route aft GCSEs but he did better than they expected and could go to sixth form college. He now has a PhD and is one of the cleverest people I know.

Who knows how things will go for your DD in the future.

Sleepswithbutterflies Thu 10-Jul-14 10:49:50

I think generally speaking that they normally stay more or less the same throughout (barring any undiagnosed problems). My ds is just 5 and average and that's where I've always thought he would be. I expect him to continue to be average throughout school.

Normally children that read / write earlier see more academic. I think it's something you either are or you aren't. I was reasonably academic - I think more so than ds - and I went through school with the same group of children, which suggests to me that you largely stay in the same academic group.
However it doesn't make much difference to success. Lots of my friends were in theory less academic than me and are much much more successful than I am.

tobeabat Thu 10-Jul-14 10:57:22

Not exactly what you're asking, but remember that all the research and stats on this is descriptive, based on averages, and so not necessarily predictive for your child. Also, you are in control of many of the variables that correlate with future attainment etc - 'home learning environment ' and so on - so can influence them should you wish...

tobeabat Thu 10-Jul-14 11:01:39

And as Lovage mentions, month of birth is a massive influence at this age, but its effects dissipate with time... Is your child relatively young?

TeenAndTween Thu 10-Jul-14 11:05:10

I think a work ethic and parental engagement can help quite a lot with attainment.

My DD1, y10, is outstripping peers from primary school that she was behind at the end of y6, as she has worked hard at secondary, and they haven't.

SomeSunnySunday Thu 10-Jul-14 12:20:34

I have a theory that being comparatively average at primary school really helped me. I didn't struggle, but I wasn't brilliant either. I wanted to do well, and so I learned how to work hard. Ultimately I did far better academically than my 2 undoubtedly more intelligent siblings, who managed to sail through GCSEs and do spectacularly well with minimal effort, but who found that the same approach could not be applied with the same results at A-level and at university.

apermanentheadache Thu 10-Jul-14 12:36:11

Wow, thanks for your replies everyone. Lots to think about.

DD is May born, so young for her year, yes.

I suspect she will remain in the middle, but we will have to see. She is not particularly intellectually curious about the world around her so I don't think it'd be correct to call her an ideas person grin. I never really noticed this until her little brother became verbal and it became evident he is very different to her.

I don't mean this as a criticism of her - I am sure she will find something she loves to do. I just find it fascinating how little children are clearly influenced by genes and how much of their character, interests and aptitudes seem inborn. If you'd told me that would be my view 15 years ago I would have said that was a ridiculous viewpoint!

Sleepswithbutterflies Thu 10-Jul-14 12:45:07

My ds is June birthday so also young...maybe it makes a difference.
He will go into year 1 next September and they have a split class of 1/2s due to the numbers. So a year 1 class, a year 1/2 class and a year 2 class.
They've put the brightest children from year one in with the year 2s and all without exception are autumn born children.

tumbletumble Thu 10-Jul-14 12:48:20

It's impossible to say. Some people stay 'on their curve' throughout, others are late developers, others do not live up to early promise.

3bunnies Thu 10-Jul-14 13:12:52

SomeSunnySunday I tell my DDs something similar. Ds has found reading so easy when they have both struggled. I tell them that ds has learnt to read but they have learnt to read and to preserve. He will come up against things which he finds hard to do but it might be harder for him to learn to persevere later in life.

PastSellByDate Thu 10-Jul-14 13:27:39


I fear tumbletumble sums it up precisely. There really is no way of knowing and no easy fix to these questions.

However having had a DD1 who achieved NC L1 across the boards on Teacher Assessments (TA) at end of KS1 SATs and is on top table now (Y6) largely becaue of all the extra work we've done at home.

I can assure you that you can get dire results and turn it around.

I don't know DD1's SAT results yet - strike action has delayed all that - but she was asked to sit L6 papers - and that alone coming from where she was in infants speaks volumes for the benefit of keeping at it. Not overkill - but just gently putting in 15/ 20 minutes here and there day in and day out - toward getting better are reading/ maths.

The reality is there's no easy fix: It may be a supportive TA/ an enthusiastic teacher/ a fascination with a subject which spurs you on to learn more & work harder/ a pushy Mum (or just a Mum that refuses to believe it's not possible)/ concerned grandparents who send educational toys & buy books - or a mix of all of the above and then some....

The point is - that if your child is struggling and you feel you can help - why not try. It can be lovely time together and I personally will never forget the day when DD1 'got' how to borrow when subtracting.

43 - 18 - may not seem that tricky - but the day DD1 worked out it was 25 and not 35 (aged 8) after 6 months of trying was absolutely fabulous. The whole family celebrated.

cazzybabs Thu 10-Jul-14 13:32:02

I have a theory on this and it is yes and no... no because I know someone who was in bottom groups at infant school and has gone onto Cambridge and also children I have taught have changed set ... but I think if you find learning hard and struggle with reading etc it puts you off school and so you are quickly turned off school. Also genes may point of SLD, e.g. memory issues, reading problems etc

Elibean Thu 10-Jul-14 13:53:17

Lots of stories about slow starters ending up on top tables...I've seen it again and again, there are lots of exceptions.

And on the other hand, there's me - I was a star performer at primary school and early secondary school, sailed through GCSEs, then flopped spectacularly at A levels. Circumstances played their part, but still - early success does NOT guarantee future achievement smile

edamsavestheday Thu 10-Jul-14 13:59:08

same as Elibean, I was way out of line with everyone else (in a good way) at primary school, sailed through early years of secondary without breaking a sweat, got decent O levels without much bother, then came a cropper with A levels because I just took it for granted that I'd do well in the exams . It was a big lesson. Tried to go to university with poor grades, dropped out after a year, went to work, learned about putting in some effort and went back when I was 23 and more mature.

I'm still flipping lazy by inclination but at least these days I recognise that I do have to get off my behind if I want good results!

tobysmum77 Thu 10-Jul-14 16:22:51

tbh average academic ability as long as you work hard is plenty to access the majority of career paths.

I know what you mean op in that I have 2 dds and to me the second one is sharper in a lot of ways than the first. But dd1 potty trained earlier, was more outgoing/ socially developed, had more advanced gross motor skills.

I have a similar hunch to you, but time will tell I think.

MirandaWest Thu 10-Jul-14 16:33:01

My sister was below average in infants and didn't start improving until year 5. She did maths at cambridge.

I was the annoying reading at 3 type - was always high achieving up until gcses and then did less well at a level for a combination of choosing wrong subjects had external things happening.

So I'd say you don't need to be a high achiever at the beginning of school to be a high achiever later on plus you don't know what will happen in general.

MirandaWest Thu 10-Jul-14 16:38:56

My sister is born in May and my birthdays in September btw

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