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Ability levels

(231 Posts)
wishiwasonthebeach Sun 26-Oct-14 21:53:18

Do teachers tell parents which ability level table children are working on?

My son is in year 1 and I know that each table has an animal name, I imagine that they must be working in ability sets but I have no idea what sort if level he is on.

Parents evening was very general, the teacher mostly told me what they have been working on and some targets for literacy. When I tried to find out more about my son in particular she was quite dismissive. I don't know if I should ask her about the tables arrangement or if that's not appropriate.

HaplessHousewife Sun 26-Oct-14 22:08:08

In my experience they're usually quite cagey about that sort of thing but I can tell by the children that my DD is with which one she's on!

Recovering Sun 26-Oct-14 22:09:21

We were told DD was in top sets at parents evenign but i'd kind of worked it out. Ours are actually set though, as in all 3 classes mix up rooms.

Thatssofunny Sun 26-Oct-14 22:09:45

Why does the table arrangement matter? So, he might be at the "middle ability" table in a very able class...or he might be at the "middle ability" table in a very weak class. He'd be at the same sort of table, but his individual ability could be very different in each case.
(One of my previous classes was incredibly weak on the whole. My more able ones in that room would have been in the "least able" category in my colleague's class.)
Apart from that, I'm always a little confused when parents ask me why their child has "moved down" a table. My tables aren't ability set. They've got numbers, so I know which tables which pencil pots, rulers, etc. belong to when I find them on the floor. I've got a focus table with children, who I need to work with for specific things. I've also got two broad bands in Maths. Funnily enough, my L6 children currently happen to sit at the same table as my L3/4s. (They do different pieces of work and I teach them during different sections of the lesson.) There was no space anywhere else. Not sure how long for, though, as I tend to mix them up every two weeks or so. Mine also choose where to sit in the non-core subjects.

It might be an idea to ask the teacher whether your DS:
- is working at an appropriate level for his age and in relation to his starting point when he entered reception
- what you can do at home to support him in making further progress
- what he can do in class to support his progress
- whether he's behaving himself or not

Apart from that, I wouldn't know what additional information you hope to gain from knowing that the "jaguar" table is the table for the most able and the "hamster" one the table for the kids, who spend their day licking the glue sticks.

Recovering Sun 26-Oct-14 22:11:26

Thats v true - my daughter is top table... but in a v.v low ability area. Judging by mumsnet threads she'd be extremely average (!) elsewhere.

ReallyTired Sun 26-Oct-14 22:11:56

Usually its pretty clear from your child's reception school report whether they are considered to be high, low or middle ablity at the start of year 1. However in a good school the ablity groups are pretty fluid.

wishiwasonthebeach Sun 26-Oct-14 22:32:37

Thank you for all your replies. I guess my curiosity to know what kind of ability table he is on, is more to know how he is getting on. I was used to get so much information from his reception teacher, I knew all his strengths and weaknesses. This year, if I ask his teacher how is he doing all I get is "fine". I find it quite frustrating.

Bunnyjo Sun 26-Oct-14 23:06:12

Knowing what ability table he is on is rather meaningless. He could be on 'top' table, but in a low achieving cohort and therefore be average ability. Equally he could be on bottom table, but in a high achieving cohort and, again, be of average ability.

DD is in Year 3 and I have never asked what tables she is on, nor has the teacher ever volunteered that information. At parents' evenings I usually how DD is progressing based on national expectations and also where her strengths and weaknesses lie within those subject areas. I feel that is far more relative and indicative of her abilities than comparing her to her classmates.

mrz Mon 27-Oct-14 04:31:35

Many schools don't have ability tables or set places. My class generally sit where they want unless I have a specific reason for moving them.

Asleeponasunbeam Mon 27-Oct-14 06:24:16

We don't use ability groups in our school. We don't find there's a good reason for children to sit in a certain place to work. Unless, as Mrz says, we need them to for a particular reason. Same at my DDs school - she just tells me who was in her writing group that day, who she sat next to in maths etc. Very fluid.

Bitlost Mon 27-Oct-14 06:43:42

Our teacher volunteered the information. I was really surprised! I guess it depends on the school.

To be honest, this info was not all that helpful as I was so surprised I then forgot to ask what level she was working at!

Cric Mon 27-Oct-14 06:44:52

I would tell parents the ability of a child in relation to national averages. I would never compare to the class because some parents gossip about others and the only person that needs to know about the child is their parents.

FlowersForAlgernon Mon 27-Oct-14 06:55:37

Knowing your child is 'fine' is absolutely meaningless.

That's why we get so many questions about book bands and writing in here smile

His book band colour should tell you how his reading is.

And if you do a lot more detective work you can find out about maths and writing.

But lots of schools have policies of telling nothing useful at parents eve.

mrz Mon 27-Oct-14 07:04:11

We don't use book banding and there are no longer writing levels (or levels for any subject) our pupils aren't grouped by ability - wonder how our parents cope confused strangely they seem more than happy to know what their child can do and what they need to do in order to progress.

manchestermummy Mon 27-Oct-14 07:25:53

Dd1's class was ability grouped for maths; it was so obvious if you had any knowledge at all of the children in the class. We had the following tables for maths:


See the pattern?

DD1 came home once telling me that she was going to be with the Squares as Pentagon's work was "a bit tricky". The groups were quite fluid with soul of discretion Dd1 always telling me who had moved to which group!

Literacy groups were also ability set:


Again, see the pattern?

No idea what happens in her current y2 class. I have enough knowledge of the other children to make a guess at where dd1is if that makes sense.

Essexmum69 Mon 27-Oct-14 07:48:24

Wish ours were that simple, maths groups are pentagon, trapezium, octagon and triangular prism, and spellings are adverbials, clauses, symalies and prepositions!

Essexmum69 Mon 27-Oct-14 07:50:23

Sorry that should be similies, not sure what language my tablet thinks its in!

Panzee Mon 27-Oct-14 07:54:27

Another one here who doesn't have ability tables, but individual targets. Children who are on similar targets might sit together if that's what we are focusing on in particular in that session, but apart from that they sit where they want.

"Where" your child is, is a pretty vague way of gauging progress. They might be in a group of way above or way below average for that year group, which skews the whole thing. Best to focus on the individual targets, like the ones the teacher told you.

Panzee Mon 27-Oct-14 07:55:46

Ooh Mrz can you explain more about your non-book banding please?

FlowersForAlgernon Mon 27-Oct-14 07:57:45

mrz - how would you know if your parents are happy? Almost everyone will be too polite to tell you if they're not.

You can tell from reading MN that lots and lots and lots and lots of parents aren't happy with the info they're given at parents eve.

Knowing what your child can do, without putting it in the context of what the govt expects them to do is absolutely meaningless. Especially since most parents do know what their child can do. What they don't know is what the child should be able to do.

Equally telling them what they need to do in order to progress is normally not very useful. You have a parents meeting twice a year. Telling a parent the next target, which you will be covering in class in the next few weeks, does not help a parent at all.

Or you can reiterate what is said in every newsletter - 'your child needs to read every night and practice their times tables.'

nonicknameseemsavailable Mon 27-Oct-14 08:12:37

children tend to know where they are in relation to other children anyway IME

manchestermummy Mon 27-Oct-14 08:13:01

grin at triangular prism.

Hakluyt Mon 27-Oct-14 08:17:22

A teacher should be able to tell you what NC level your child is on at any point. Just ask. You may have to be a bit forceful, because many teachers for very good reasons don't like telling.

redskybynight Mon 27-Oct-14 09:28:18

A teacher should not be able to tell you what NC level your child is on. As they don't exist any more. A teacher should be able to tell you how your child is performing related to national averages/ expectations. As others have said, this is way more useful than knowing how they perform relative to others in their immediate class.

chickenfish Mon 27-Oct-14 10:00:07

NC levels don't exist any more .. but you're right we do have very good reasons why we don't like to share levels sometimes, and it's nothing to do with hiding things from parents.

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