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Do bright children do better with an able cohort?

(139 Posts)
rebus1 Fri 10-Jul-15 22:50:13

Bit of an academic question really as I'm not really in a position to change anything for a year or so.

DS very bright and is just finishing year 2. According to the school's data the %s of level 3s very low- works out at 2 or 3 per class.

Should I be concerned - does this mean that the expectation for the Y3 classes as a whole next year will be quite low? I realise he will get appropriately differentiated work but I'm concerned he will spend lots of time listening to whole class input that he knows already.

Would he learn more in a school with a higher achieving cohort? I'm thinking faster pace, less need for constant revisiting etc.

Or am I just over worrying- he's only 7 and I can do stuff at home with him.

ReallyTired Fri 10-Jul-15 22:59:32

I think a bright child does better with bright peers to bounce ideas off and give competition.

GoodSouls Fri 10-Jul-15 23:02:16

I'm interested to know this as well, my DS is bright and is doing really well at school, just finishing year 2, in his class there are a group of maybe 6 or 7 with similar abilities but the rest of the class seem to be less able, with a few needing significant extra help.
I'm hoping that he continues to do as well but I do worry that he is being held back.

SweetAndFullOfGrace Fri 10-Jul-15 23:05:37

Having been a bright child in a fairly average year group at that age I can report lots of time staring out the window bored out of my mind.

GoodSouls Fri 10-Jul-15 23:09:22

That's what I suspect sweetand, I don't know what can be done about it though, I will talk to his new teacher to see if she has any suggestions.

TinklyLittleLaugh Fri 10-Jul-15 23:15:51

Yes, when DS1 was at his small primary he was miles ahead of any of the boys. He hated being put with the girls all the time and deliberately dumbed down to fit it, (to be fair I don't think he was ever teased or anything).

Things only improved when he was put in a class with some older boys at his level. But he never developed the love of succeeding at learning that DS2 seems to have picked up at his different primary. DS2 is thriving in a very able group of boys.

SunnySomer Fri 10-Jul-15 23:15:54

In my experience (only one child, admittedly), primary work is largely topic based, and differently able children get different things out of the lessons they are taught.
In our school children are set for maths (2 sets as 2-class intake), and within those sets are subdivided into tables, each table receiving differentiated work, so even if the whole class objective is, eg, adding fractions, there will be some children adding 1/4 + 1/4, and others adding 3 3/4 + 9 5/7 - all working out how to express their answer correctly etc.
They are also in ability groups for guided reading and literacy, so no one feels held back.
For the "topic" work, although standard tasks may be set (eg write the ship's journal for day 1 of a voyage to the Americas), individual children will be very clear about the teacher's differing expectations of what they will produce - one child might produce 5 lines, another 3 sides.
Sometimes it is very good for children to understand that everyone can make a valid contribution.

SweetAndFullOfGrace Fri 10-Jul-15 23:47:40

I think personality plays a big part. So does the nature of the talent. In primary school it's all fairly easy stuff to learn if you're able intellectually so I don't know if preferences show as much.

For me, my main intellectual strength is creative lateral thinking so staring out a window at primary school was great since I could dream and think. And it hasn't had any ill effects (two degrees, great job etc).

Someone with a more linear thought process preference or a strong rules bias might have felt differently.

rebus1 Fri 10-Jul-15 23:47:47

I get your point Sunny and I definitely feel that school is not just about the academic.side of things and that it is important to value everyone's contributions and strengths. However, I am worried about him being bored and staring out of the window! The school has been fine for my DD1, who is bright but not as bright as her brother.

There's not much alternative at the moment. The other school in our town has a similar cohort. I am planning to go for a independent school bursary for year 5. I'm regretting not going for the Year 3 entry now.

What concerns me is that he doesn't really enjoy school at the moment. He doesn't hate it but has been reluctant to go.a few times this year, though is fine when he's there. He'd rather be at home, not sure if that's how he would be whichever school he went to, DS is a bit of a glass half empty person!

mrz Sat 11-Jul-15 06:54:05

Research shows ability grouping in primary has little positive effective.
Probably more important is how motivated the child is. A child with a positive attitude to learning is unlikely to become bored and will achieve

squareheadcut Sat 11-Jul-15 06:58:26

I too was a bright child in a lower average class but it taught me values of being humble and socialisation amongst different strata. I still excelled academically too by the way. Never hindered me.

downgraded Sat 11-Jul-15 07:04:35

It depends on the child, but I can see that often a few bright. Kids in a class will compete and push each other. Fair enough as long as they're not rushing and they are doing the work properly.

If he's motivated I don't think it will matter. If he's lazy though and content to coast I would look at possibly moving him. It's sometimes a shock to the system to suddenly have to work to maintain class position at the top.

YeOldTrout Sat 11-Jul-15 07:05:57

I was best off being a big fish in little pond. DS need a kick up the bottom & others to aim to beat.

Whipnaenae Sat 11-Jul-15 07:06:21

Yes yes yes to what Mrsz said ^

rebus1 Sat 11-Jul-15 07:25:55

I've heard about that research mrz, but do you think that the overall pace in a class where 40-50% of a class have not achieved a 2b will be really slow? How can it work well if that many children are still at a y2 or even y1 level in the basics.

mrz Sat 11-Jul-15 07:44:01

A teacher should be able to challenge all children and motivation requires you to challenge yourself.

mrz Sat 11-Jul-15 07:45:16

There is absolutely no reason why the pace should be slower

soapboxqueen Sat 11-Jul-15 08:00:08

I think it depends what you mean by brighter. Just brighter than most, should be easily accommodated and motivating children is just part and parcel of being a teacher. I don't necessarily think having a group of similarly able students makes a massive difference. Obviously individual children may face issues with peers or teachers who don't differentiate appropriately but they are specific to that situation rather that a blanket observation of brighter children in general.

Once you get into gifted territory though I think things become tougher (or at least where a child is considerably ahead of their peers).

ltk Sat 11-Jul-15 08:00:09

I sometimes have my highers start challenge work while I teach the rest of the class for 10 minutes, then teach just the highers. Avoids boredom on the carpet. There are lots of strategies like this and teachers use them all to suit all the students.

rebus1 Sat 11-Jul-15 08:11:03

Do you think I should be concerned that so many children haven't reached a 2b? Does it mean that the school hasn't taught them well enough? I don't know the data for when they left reception but I think most had met ELG (though I'm not certain.)

Tanaqui Sat 11-Jul-15 08:26:40

Not grouping by ability isn't the same as having no intellectual peers- it sounds a bit wanky aged7, but if you are desperate to talk about Harry potter and noone else is even reading beast quest it can be a bit lonely.

CookieDoughKid Sat 11-Jul-15 09:42:40

I moved house (couldn't afford the catchment I was renting) and looked at my local area Primary schools. They were good schools and within walking distance of my new house. However, I decided to keep our old primary school and commute the 30mins each way because our old primary school has a much larger cohort of academically brighter Yr2s. For example, the SATS for our (state) Primary school (and no it is not ofsted outstanding...it's rated as ''Good'' :

Reading: 45% Level3
Maths: 38% Level 3
Writing: 28% Level 3
Science 45% Level 3

That works out to be over a 1/3 in my dd's class in Yr2.
Our old state school is in a leafy suburb with less than 1% free school meals.

Our new catchment schools - not in leafy suburb but in a town with free school meals about 20% are also all rated Good by Ofsted and have pretty good SATs overall. But they workout to be 5 to 10% Level3s.

So I took the decision to keep with a brighter cohort as the school would be then HAVE to steer towards challenging the bright ones as there are more of them.

CookieDoughKid Sat 11-Jul-15 09:51:49

rebus - I would checkout your school report for SATs results in yr6 for the past couple of years. Are they good?

In all honesty - I would look to move your dc out and go private or another school but then, I don't know your dc. I'm going by my dc who is very bright and reading the same books at yours at this age. I know I'll be flamed for saying this but this is MY opinion.

I'm aiming for superselective grammar/private school for secondary of which both options are within top 100 schools in the country (90% grade A or A* at GCSE results of the grammar and private) and even for the private school - competition is fierce.

ppolly Sat 11-Jul-15 09:55:44

Yes, bright children work better with a more able cohort. if there are a lot of children who are less able, it means that much of a teacher's time is spent with them. if a child has a group of bright classmates to work with, that can be a great help. Very bright children can get seriously bored by themselves. However, a teacher will do their best to challenge more able children.

Lurkedforever1 Sat 11-Jul-15 10:56:27

I think it definitely helps to not be a minority academic wise, but at that age it shouldn't be difficult to differentiate, even if there's too big an ability gap between the top child and the next there's always older classes they can join in that subject. I've found it's become more of an issue in older years because there's no longer been an older group to join. Her teachers have been very good mainly but it's just not practical to fully differentiate for one or 2. There have been times when she's found group work frustrating that from an academic point of view is too easy and the group not being as quick, but I think there's a lot to be said for the social skills and patience she's learnt, although there is a fine balance in that it's not fair if you ask it too often. Socially it's not been an issue, even now she's older there will always be children that may not academically be as able but are certainly just as able from a quick thinking or articulate point of view. And not forgetting that even at 11, not having a classmate that she can play chess with (not a chess champion by any means just a small intake) doesn't really matter when there's any number of kids she can play football with, or tig etc. from a grade point of view she's done as well as if she'd been with a group of 30 equally able, however she would have been challenged ( something that for her is more enjoyable than achievement) far more in an equal group and less bored at times. She's going selective for secondary, but with hindsight I'd do it again this way. But a lot does depend on the teachers, hers have been great generally, although if overall her teachers had been like the one not so good and the odd less good supply my opinion may have been very different

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