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Going from ability groups to mixed ability teachng in Y2 - how will this work for phonics??

(6 Posts)
DataColour Wed 15-Jul-15 11:16:33

DS is currently in Y1 and in our Y2 transition meeting yesterday they informed us that they are doing away with ability groups for phonics and teaching the class as a whole from Y2. The reason they gave for this is with the ability groups, the gap between the lower ability group and highest ability group is getting bigger and bigger..so...I don't know...they want to close the gap??
My concern is that my DS is one of the higher ability kids, well into phase 6 phonics, whereas the lowest ability groups are on phase 3/4 I think. DS reads white band books and there are children still on red band. I get that mixed ability teaching would benefit those that are struggling, but rather selfishly, I wonder how DS is benefit from this change.
They said that both kids from both the extreme ends of the spectrum will get extra input to help/challenge them, but is it actually going to happen, and won't it be a heap of extra work for the teachers, meaning intervention will hardly ever happen?
Has anybody had any exprience of mixed ability phonics teaching in a class of very variable ability?

Elsashmelsa Wed 15-Jul-15 16:29:13

OP, in your position I would arrange for an appointment with the teacher. The phase of phonics that your DD is on will be known to them and also the book band she reads. So there is no harm in mentioning those specifics and expressing your concern.

My DD is similar to yours, does all her spellings and reading (Lime level) with year 2, even though she's a summer born Y1, so I would, like you, be very concerned about this.

I haven't been told that they're doing it at our school so fingers crossed they're not, but if they were, I would definitely ask for a meeting.

You may find that they will do break-out groups because there will undoubtedly be others in a similar situation, but you need to understand that from the start.

Also, I have no doubt that they wouldn't have made this decision if it was going to negatively impact so you can bet that they will have plans in place to ensure all the kids are OK. No harm in speaking to them though. smile

Galena Wed 15-Jul-15 16:40:39

Sometimes breaking into groups just doesn't work very well - you take your group to the room you use every day, only to find a meeting going on in there, so you need to take them somewhere else. You finally find somewhere, but it's a room people walk through so you are continually disturbed. Also, because it's the hall, there is no whiteboard or laptop, so your carefully prepared PowerPoint is wasted and it has to be an oral lesson. Needless to say, one or more of the children has left their pencil in the classroom, and you don't have spares because you keep your spares in the room you are usually in. Eventually, half-way through what you'd planned to cover, it is time to go back.

It may well be that the children on higher phases will still be taught in a group together, but in the class rather than withdrawn.

Lurkedforever1 Wed 15-Jul-15 17:01:12

I'd be concerned because I actually think it's something to be expected that high ability kids will get further and further ahead, because being high ability, rather than pushed, implies you learn faster. Dd has had lots of subjects taught non set in terms of a separate room or even table and it's been fine because the work is differentiated. So I'd want to find out how they do it before worrying. And even then wait and see how it goes so you have a genuine reason to say why it's not working for your ds if it turns out its not.
Also considering the benefit to your son isn't selfish, it's normal and acceptable whatever his ability. I believe every child has a right to learn, within practical boundaries, in a manner that is best for their needs, and it's not the duty of an able child to hang back because it benefits others. Practically with the best will in the world it can happen to a degree, but as an aim I really object to it.

chocfireguard Wed 15-Jul-15 21:12:37

I teach year 2 in a school where phonics ot taught as a whole class. We have found it works exceptionally well and certainly no child is held back from achieving their full potential. Materials used are still differentiated and the words/sentences vary in complexity from child to child. However, by keeping all the children together, it means that all children are exposed to the higher level work (even of they may not choose to / be able to tackle it). Children at a lower ability do not have their experience of language being capped by their ability to decode, but rather they remain in a language rich environment where other children and adults are exposing them to richer vocabulary and higher level skills. Higher ability children are challenged in the tasks they are given, but they have the additional challenge of sometimes being asked to explain their methods or teach a peer; which really pushes them into higher level thinking. If you are unsure about it, I certainly think you should raise any concerns with the school; but go in with an open mind.

QueenOfNothing Thu 16-Jul-15 08:12:10

I think phonics is easily able to be differentiated in a group situation. The phases are an artificial way to teach phonics.

Think about the 'ea' grapheme. Some children can be learning that there are 3 ways to pronounce ea ( bread, sea, great). Some children can be learning whether to use 'ee' or 'ea' when spelling words ( see, sea, bead, seed). Some children can be learning how to read and spell far harder words ( pleasant, reason, meantime, release, treatment....)

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