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Child moving down groups at start of new term

(24 Posts)
Anonforagoodreason Fri 11-Sep-15 01:21:31

I don't know whether I'm being overly precious here - would welcome some perspective.

DD just gone into year 3. In year 2 got 3's across the board for SATS (they don't give any additional marks), and got highest marks possible in report for both effort and achievement (1's everywhere). Glowing report from yr 2 teacher.

She has always been in top group from day 1 in reception.

Teacher in year 3 has put her in middle group, and leapfrogged lots of children who were in lower groups than her at the end of year 2. This was on day 1, so no assessment in year 3.

I spoke to old year 2 teacher tonight, as it was open evening. Asked her to tell me if she'd had any concerns about DD being in top group, and whether she had suggested DD would fare better in middle group. She said she hadn't, and remembered that DD had - in fact - moved up a reading level just before leaving year 2.

I have made an appointment to speak to year 3 teacher. I had, up until now, trusted that the school would make the right decisions about my child. If anyone had raised concerns with me I would have discussed them and accepted the situation if reasonable explanation. However, to move her down a group without a seemingly good reason really concerns me. It has upset DD, who came home saying that xx and yy had been moved to the top group and she was no longer in it.

What really concerns me is that the top group have always, historically, worked at a higher level and faster pace that the lower groups. This has been exemplified by the spellings they've been given this week. DD has got words she can spell in her sleep, top group much harder.

I am going to take in her report and ask where she could have improved to be in the top group. I'm going to ask for an explanation as to why she's been moved down. I don't care about the other children being leapfrogged, except as in I am bemused as to why they had been when she has always been near the top of the class. Never top, but definitely in the top 10%.

AIBU or would you ask too? I am feeling uncomfortable about making waves so early on in term, and this is the first time I've ever questioned the teacher's judgement, but I feel very unhappy about this without explanation.

WombatStewForTea Fri 11-Sep-15 06:40:56

How long have they been back? And how exactly do you know what the 'top' group are doing?
I find the jump from y2 to y3 is massive. The children in my class who were 3c at the end of y2 haven't shown me any evidence of that level of work yet. They will but they're still settling in. I'm sure I've got some children in the 'wrong' groups but as a teacher you can't go just off levels. Maybe your dd isn't showing herself very well yet. Has she settled in?

BoboChic Fri 11-Sep-15 07:03:57

Go for it. If you don't advocate for your DC, no-one else will and you need to role model standing up for oneself and one's own needs.

mrz Fri 11-Sep-15 07:11:02

How do you know that the new teacher had moved your child down an "ability" group when you haven't spoken to them?
How do you know how the groups are organised?

BoboChic Fri 11-Sep-15 07:14:19

DC are, IME, pretty good at talking by Year 3 and tell their parents what happens at school.

I am continually surprised by teachers who think parents don't know what is going on!

sanfairyanne Fri 11-Sep-15 07:18:40

This sounds more like the teacher using a different, mixed ability, system at the start of the year, for whatever reason

SevenSeconds Fri 11-Sep-15 07:23:18

OP, I think you are right to go in and have a conversation. But be open to the idea that the teacher might be right.

Is your DD an autumn baby by any chance? If so, it's quite common for the younger children to start "leapfrogging" the older children as they catch up. For example, when my DS was in year 1, the youngest child on the top table had a January birthday. By year 4, this had changed to August.

It's fine to have a chat with the teacher about this. But at the end of the day it's her decision how to organise the groups in her class. If you disagree with her, the best thing you can do is support your DD's learning at home and encourage her - hopefully the teacher will recognise progress and move her back up.

mrz Fri 11-Sep-15 07:25:15

BoboChic are they also good at mind reading by Y3 so that they know why the teacher has organised groups in a particular way?
Do they know if the groups have been mixed up for a particular reason?
How familiar are they with what the teacher has planned for the term?
Yes they are capable of relaying "the facts" as they see them which may not be "the facts" from another's point of view.

BoboChic Fri 11-Sep-15 08:04:10

Most parents I come across are pretty quick at putting 2+2 together - if you know the DC in your child's school you can work out pretty fast which criteria the teachers have used to compose the group.

redskybynight Fri 11-Sep-15 08:46:03

How do you know what group your DD is in? Maybe the teacher is using mixed ability groups.

BertPuttocks Fri 11-Sep-15 09:43:51

My dd's school switched to a mixed ability system when she was in Yr3. They found that it worked really well and got good results.

It may well be that your school has made a similar change. Either way, I would still leave it for now. I really wouldn't expect a teacher to tell me every time my child moved to another group. They would usually save this for parents evening if it was relevant.

Anonforagoodreason Fri 11-Sep-15 10:13:36

I know about the groups because my daughter told me. She said "I'm in x group and the others are in y group. I don't understand". I asked who was in her group - they are children that had previously been in lower ability groups apart from one. The children in y group were all the children she had been in with last year, apart from a few girls who had "leapfrogged".

I will ask whether mixed ability today, but she has got an easier set of spellings than her friends in y group. She told me, and then in the open evening last night they had the 3 spelling lists pinned up with the names of the groups on them. Hers were way easier - think will, shall, - y group was minimum 3 syllables and much more challenging.

If they had assessed her and felt that she wasn't coping in the top set for any reason then I would want to know. I don't think that's unreasonable. However, they've allocated groups on day 1, so this was a decision made over the summer, based on the teacher's report from year 2. As I said, I spoke to the year 2 teacher last night and asked if there were any concerns and she was quite surprised she wasn't in the top group.

It's not about being in the top group per se, it's the lack of explanation and understanding. If there was/is an issue from year 2, it should have been flagged up before the end of last school year, and we'd have done some work on it over the summer. If there isn't an issue, then they've just demoralised a child for no good reason. She is really sad about, she normally bounces in from school and she drooped in and was really miserable about it. She doesn't want to do her spellings because they're too easy, and she was really motivated about homework and now doesn't want to do that either.

Seven Seconds - yes, she's a December baby. A lot of her summer born friends have caught up and overtaken her, I get that's par for the course. I understand that there will be shifting. I also would have more understanding if - after the first week or two, she'd been assessed by her current teachers and moved down. It's the allocation from day one that has upset her (and me).

I'm not going to go in guns blazing, but I do want to find out why, and explain how it's made her feel. She's very anxious and keen to please at school, and she obviously won't have said anything but they need to know it's knocked her confidence and her desire to learn.

Anonforagoodreason Fri 11-Sep-15 10:18:38

Sorry, I should have also said, from the lists it isn't mixed ability. The bottom set is still very definitely the bottom set from the children that are in it. It's also only 3 groups, whereas last year it was 5, so more children in the top group (10 children v 6 last year). I would quite like mixed ability groups as they used them for some work last year and it was met with a really positive reaction from the children.

atticusclaw2 Fri 11-Sep-15 10:23:59

I think it's naive for teachers to think that parents (and children) don't know which groups are which. As a pp has said, you can tell pretty easily by the other children in the group and all the attempts at disguising it (calling the bottom group cheetahs and the top group elephants, reversing the numbers or using letters in the wrong order) are pretty pointless and IMO do the children a disservice in assuming it is even necessary.

I empathise OP, my DS2 has been moved down a group this year in one subject and they'd only been back at school for two days. I contacted the teacher to ask about it and was given a very reasonable explanation about how it was necessary to set up the groups last year based on assessments carried out at that time and the fact that DS2 had shown good ability in class but had then failed to show the necessary level of recall on assessment. As a result they wanted to give him the chance to refresh before reassessing mid term and then reshuffling groups. It is possible your DD is in the same position and I would be very surprised if the groupings are now static for the entire year. You are quite right IMO to ask the question and find out if there is anything you can do to support your DD. That's called being a parent who is interested in your child' education. Teachers who expect you to butt out and let them get on with it are BU IMO.

Iwantakitchen Fri 11-Sep-15 10:38:28

groups are mobile, they change and it's healthy I think. Some children will have a slower start and then improve quickly, others have a really good start and plateau a little, it's normal. I would question a school who has static ability groups throughout primary years I think that would be very unhealthy. I was really surprised when ds told me he's gone to top group in English I think his spelling is poor, but teacher told me his story telling and vocabulary are ahead hence the decision. But he is taking the place of another child and that's just how it is, he has also gone down in maths and it happens.

minionmadness Fri 11-Sep-15 13:20:04

My ds knows exactly which groups are which having just gone into YR3, it would be very naive to think that the brighter children didn't understand this. In fact ds's CT said the same to me this week. My advise would be to go with what you feel is right by your dd. They may well have seated in mixed ability groups and if not ask for an explanation as to why your dd has been moved down. I don't understand why some teachers take issue with this. Some parents are actually very good at plugging any gaps a child may have, so give them the opportunity too by giving them some feedback can only benefit the child surely.

They are seated by ability in our school and because ds didn't have a great YR2 in comparison to YR1. I requested that he moved from the top group to the 2nd one when he went up to Y3 since I believed that being at the bottom of the top group of 6 children was not doing his self esteem any good, he was constantly comparing his ability when in reality he was as able but I wasn't prepared to watch him deteriorate further. CT was very reluctant but she agreed to give it a go... he has been back a week and the difference in his self esteem is significant. You know your child, never underestimate the potential issues associated with low self esteem.

Witchend Fri 11-Sep-15 13:54:58

Most children know, that doesn't mean all children are always correct.

I can remember two occasions when dd1, who usually is totally on the ball of such things got things wrong. Once when they first set them for maths across the year in year 4. She came and told me she was second set. Which sounded fine, except she, with two others from her form had been working a year ahead the previous year. So I asked if she was in the same set as the other two and she was, so I was pretty certain that it was top.
What had happened was a friend from another form had told her that she was top set as all the best maths people from her form were in her set, and dd1 believed her.
The friend's mum still believed she was top set at least a term later when she told me it was a pity dd1 wasn't as good as her dd, and been in the same set as her. hmm Don't know at what point the penny dropped.

Another time was something that I suspect is similar.
Beginning of the year, new teacher, children were put into three groups. It happened that most of the group dd1 had been working with had been put into one group, she was put with a group that had a couple that really struggled in that subject.
They were given different work to do, and they were working as a group for the first bit, so dd1 was finding it very slow because the couple that struggled just needed that extra time. She was getting upset because they weren't managing to complete the tasks.

What actually was happening is that the new teacher had been given very little information about the children, and was told she had to sort them on her opinion not the previous teacher's opinion.
So she randomly divided them into three groups and they each had 2 days on each task. It happened that the first 2 days dd1's group got the easiest task, and the group that had been top got the hardest. So it looked like she'd set them.

After they'd all done the task they were given a test on the things they'd done and were placed into 3 ability groups, which, incidentally, were almost the same as the previous year's groups.

christinarossetti Fri 11-Sep-15 14:14:57

Given that children were split into groups on day one, you don't think there's a chance that the teacher is currently assessing them and will redistribute in a week or so?

Has your dd actually be told that she's been 'moved down'?

Did you speak to the new Y3 teacher at the opening evening last night?

Minicaters Fri 11-Sep-15 17:33:21

one option is to leave it 2-3 weeks and see what happens. Let your DD prove her spellings are too easy. Maybe she hasn't shown the new teacher what she is capable of yet.

You seem very upset about the lack of explanation, but I would be quite surprised to be called in every time my child moved groups.

mrz Fri 11-Sep-15 17:45:10

Yes BoboChic parents are very good at putting 2+2 together unfortunately without the facts some parents make 5.
It's very naive of some to assume they know how the class teacher has organised the class just because their child knows for certain that circles are the lowest ability and dodecahedrons are the highest ...
I don't have ability grouping in my class (there are none in my school) yet I've been grilled by parents demanding to know why their child has been moved down a group ... No actually I moved them because they weren't working well on that table and I decided to mix up the seating to see if they could work better when sitting next to different children.

atticusclaw2 Fri 11-Sep-15 17:48:18

But surely the point Mrz is that parents are entitled to know "the facts" so that they don't come up with 5 when the answer is 4? confused

mrz Fri 11-Sep-15 18:04:54

if a parent is concerned they should ask the teacher rather than jump to conclusions.

If the OPs child is having difficulties and isn't keeping up the teacher should inform parents so that school and parents can work together to provide support.

If like me and many other teachers you organise your class to suit the lesson/activity informing parents every time wouldn't be viable ... My children have sat in four different seats at least ... And that's just today!

whippy33 Sat 12-Sep-15 16:34:47

I move my children regularly according to their needs. On Friday I left their books on the tables where I want them to work on Monday. Some needed extra help to consolidate their learning and some needed stretching onto the next thing. On a given table each child will work at a different pace/level according to the skill set that day. My children will no doubt be concerned about 'moving down' on Monday but they will be told that I move them often according to their needs in that lesson. They get used to my ways pretty quickly but even though I explain it to them I often get one or two queries from parents as to why they have moved.

teacherwith2kids Sat 12-Sep-15 17:57:50

Whippy, I'm like you and mrz - children move all over the place according to the lesson and assessment of their needs. In Maths in particular their seating is often not decided until after I've done the input on what we are learning and spotted who can do it / who needs help (for efficient use of adults, I tend to group these together in a similar area of the classroom) / who is ready for the next step already. Then the children may well move around the classroom in the course of the next part of the lesson, according to their needs. I definitely don't call parents every time.....

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