New NC & ability groups(5 Posts)
DC is in mixed age groups for some subjects in our junior school - they run maths, spelling and comprehension classes based on ability rather than age. It has worked well so far and although children do move groups it doesn't seem to take long to adjust.
But we have been told that the new national curriculum assumes year group teaching so all this will change after the summer. I think DC will really miss being able to work at his own pace in mixed age groups. I can see the benefits of everyone working together with the same teacher but surely it makes it harder to meet the needs of those who need to move at a slower pace and are doing say year 3 work in year 4? (or I suppose those who are higher achievers at the other end of the range). DC had a rough time in infant school where there was little evidence of what I assume is 'differentiation ' - it would be a pity to end up there again. But maybe I'm missing something and the NC is designed to accommodate all this. Anything reassuring to tell me?!
The new nc is in the same kind of framework as the last. The only real difference is things that used to be taught in Y6 is now taught in y5 , y5 stuff in y4 etc. I teach a mixed year group and will continue to do so as it's a small school. The teacher will group children and give appropriate work.
DC's school made a similar change this year. The new NC suggests that DC are stretched sideways rather than moving onto the next topic when they understand something, so DD (Year 4) is certainly moving through topics at a much slower rate than older DS.
What it's meant in practice is that the children who require substantial extra help, still get that extra help. The teacher teaches a topic, then children are set work at different levels on that topic. The children who "get" the topic quickly are then given extension work (I presume this is the sideways stretching). I was dubious at first, mainly because it took a while for the right level of differentiation to kick in. DD actually prefers it to sets, and made the very good point that it means she can be "patchy" in a subject - for example she's very good at maths in general, but her mental maths is quite weak. When she was in a set, she felt she was struggling in the areas she was weak in - now she can do work at the appropriate level on a topic by topic basis.
... It does depend on how good your school/teacher are in differentiating though!
I am a governor in a school and we use sets based on ability and need and will continue to do so. The children who need help, and we have a small set of girls who are under-achieving for example, get the extra attention they need to "close the gap". Schools will still need to demonstrate that all children are making good progress and sometimes this can mean using sets in a creative way. The girls were in a class with a lot of mathematically good boys and lost confidence. Whatever it takes to ensure progress!
Thank you everyone - that is really useful. I imagine it will take a bit of getting used to in the first few weeks / months, while the 'stretching sideways' approach beds in. DS might benefit from it all if redsky's experience is anything to go by because at the moment he does seem to 'get' a lot of the work that his group does, but there are a few aspects that always cause him to feel 'behind' the others, which he hates. The topic by topic approach might actually build confidence. Time to stop worrying and have a !
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