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Something not quite right here. How do I handle this?

(73 Posts)
PastConditional Wed 07-Oct-15 15:03:20

Dd has just started yr 5. She was doing very well last term and her teacher assessment put her at 5C for reading, which is a way ahead of where she needs to be at the end of year 4, so I thought all was well.

However, this term she mentioned that she was in a lower group for reading and being given easier work which she was finding frustrating. I didn't think too much of it until yesterday when she brought her spellings home to learn. The first two were "dog" and "dogs", and the hardest one on there was "trolleys". She said she asked the teacher if she could take the more difficult list that another table had been given as she knew all those words already, but he said "no, they'll get harder as the term goes on".

She is understandably feeling quite humiliated and I am just bewildered.

Has anyone experienced anything like this in primary school, or got any ideas on the best approach to take with the teacher?


westcoastnortherneragain Wed 07-Oct-15 15:57:37

Perhaps book an appointment to see the teacher to discuss your concerns.

keely79 Wed 07-Oct-15 16:08:00

Do they do weekly marked spelling tests? Perhaps give it a couple of weeks and if she's getting full marks, have a word with the teacher and say she's finding the spellings very easy?

They do seem to be very easy words for Year 5 - my daughter has been getting harder ones in year 1....

In the meantime, nothing to stop her reading more advanced books and doing more advanced spelling at home separate to the school homework.

PastConditional Wed 07-Oct-15 16:31:56

Thanks. Yes she's doing plenty of more advanced reading outside, and spellings outside of school are probably a good idea.

Spoke to the teacher - he was pretty dismissive about last term's levels - said the government had abolished them (which we all know but not particularly relevant in this case unless he's suggesting they were all bollocks in the first place which I suppose is possible...). Apparently all the groupings are based purely on the scores of a spelling test and some sort of reading assessment at the beginning of term. Dd had mentioned the spelling test - apparently she spent too long rubbing out and re-writing one of the words and then failed to catch up as the subsequent words were being read out so that accounts for that.

She didn't know what the other assessment was but when I quizzed the teacher about it and asked how it could be that her comprehension had got so much worse since last term he sort of disowned it and said it wasn't an assessment he would have chosen.

Anyway, he said initially that he was happy with the groups and would review again at the end of term, but eventually agreed to review at half term.

I guess we just need to wait and see. Should we be doing anything else?

PastConditional Wed 07-Oct-15 16:33:55

And yes to there being harder spellings in year 1 - dd could spell "dog" quite comfortably before she started reception ffs

keely79 Wed 07-Oct-15 16:36:17

I reckon just lots of encouragement at home, explain to her what the teacher has said so she can understand why this has happened, and make sure she's prepared for the half term review so she can prove him wrong. And perhaps suggest next spelling test she just cross out and write answer alongside if there's time pressure! It's only a few weeks to half term in any event.

PastConditional Wed 07-Oct-15 16:47:55

Thanks, yes - not normally a problem with spelling tests - she has got 10 out of 10 in weekly tests pretty much every week in the past, but the assessment test was 40 words in quick succession and she just seems to have got in a muddle on this occasion.

I'm still not entirely convinced about setting them with no reference at all to past performance - does this seem normal? I suppose you could argue that it's the fairest way to do it. The teacher is new to the school so didn't know any of the children at the start of term.

Perhaps it's a good lesson for her to learn that you're only as good as your last piece of work... Probably won't do her any harm to have to prove herself all over again.

PastConditional Wed 07-Oct-15 16:49:19

(Although in truth I still think it's pretty bad. Just trying to find a positive.)

keely79 Wed 07-Oct-15 16:51:00

Is her old teacher still at the school? Would it be worth asking him/her to have a word with the new teacher about your daughter given they know her and her capabilities better?

PastConditional Wed 07-Oct-15 16:58:46

Hi, yes the old teacher is still there - was rather hoping he would ask her himself after our conversation but that's a good idea, thanks. Headmistress knows her too so that would be our next port of call.

keely79 Wed 07-Oct-15 18:12:15

Ok - best of luck - and try not to get too stressed about it.

PastConditional Wed 07-Oct-15 19:47:26

I would really like to hear from any teacher peeps who are around (Mrz? Feenie?) whether this sounds normal though. Because the more I think about it the more utterly bizarre it seems to me, and that's making me wonder what other bizarre things might be going on in what is quite a crucial year of her education.

WhatsGoingOnEh Wed 07-Oct-15 19:50:13

Is year 5 a crucial year? Why?

CocktailQueen Wed 07-Oct-15 19:54:04

Weird! I'd carry on doing harder books etc outside school but can understand why she feels cross and upset. 5c in year 4 is a very good level... But if the teacher is setting via a spelling test that your dd didn't do well In, then all she can do is do well in spelling till half term then see if she's moved up a group.

PastConditional Wed 07-Oct-15 19:54:20

It is round here because of entrance exams at the beginning of year 6

LittleFishBigOcean Wed 07-Oct-15 19:56:57

Hi OP, I'm a teacher. This year for the first time I haven't received 'levels' of my class from the end of last schools year because of the move away from them, so there is a certain amount of 'assessing on the hoof'.

I have had children in the past who just haven't performed to the level that they've been assessed at by the previous teacher, and this can be for various reasons, from just not gelling with me yet, to other issues such as friendships etc. In this position I just have to go on what they've shown me, so if your Dd hasn't demonstrated tha she knows these words then that's all the teacher has to go on.

However, what I would say is keep a close eye on the spellings she's given and then at parents' evening (when I expect you'll get the chance to see her books) you can point out that she can spell these words independently and that she needs more challenging ones.

mrz Wed 07-Oct-15 20:02:56

Surely you received assessment information from the previous teacher LittleFish.

Alibabsandthe40Musketeers Wed 07-Oct-15 20:03:58

I would be wanting to confirm that this wasn't being used to 'set' for any other work.

I think it is incredibly damaging for children to be allowed to coast at school, and I would be very unhappy with a teacher who was so dismissive about it.

LittleFish would you really be dismissive if a parent came to you and said that their child was frustrated with how easy the work was - when you could easily move them onto harder work without having to reinvent the wheel?

BetweenTwoLungs Wed 07-Oct-15 20:04:21

I'm a teacher (y6). Nope, sounds like a totally incorrect assessment and going entirely on one assessment rather than common sense. Ask that she is reassessed. If teacher still won't budge then give the head a ring and explain what you've said here - you feel she has been reassessed and is now not being stretched. This is definitely an error that needs fixing.

BetweenTwoLungs Wed 07-Oct-15 20:05:58

Little Fish, you may not have recieved levels but surely you have recieved some form of assessment data? The schools chosen system?

Levels may be gone but assessment has not.

PastConditional Wed 07-Oct-15 20:06:38

Thanks littlefish, it's very helpful to have a teacher's perspective on it. I did wonder also whether there is a tendency with levels to always come up with a level at the end of the year that matched the expected progress, so she was more likely to be assessed as 5c simply because she'd been 4b or whatever at the end of the previous year, but hadn't quite got there in reality? It did seem a bit high.

PastConditional Wed 07-Oct-15 20:10:01

Ah sorry hadn't seen all the other replies. Thank you - good to have these perspectives too. I think the only other thing they set is maths. She's in the top set for that (although unfortunately it's a set of 33 and they don't even have enough tables for them all but that's another story...)

PastConditional Wed 07-Oct-15 20:18:40

BetweenTwoLungs, would you suggest pressing for a reassessment now or waiting until half term as the teacher has said he will look at the groups again then?

BetweenTwoLungs Wed 07-Oct-15 20:20:01

PastConditional, I supsect there may be an element of that, although impossible to know obviously without assessing the child myself. Progress is expected and so sometimes levels can be inflated to show progress (wrongly of course, but does happen). An old 5c would have been just above expected for end of y6, so to get in y4 would be very high.

However, saying that, although she may not be a 5c exactly(or what was a 5c), it would be a HUGE over assessment if her ability really is as low as those spellings suggest.

How is her spelling in her work?

BetweenTwoLungs Wed 07-Oct-15 20:22:43

To be honest I'd raise it as an issue now. I don't see why assessment should only happen at set intervals - if a child is in the wrong group, and it's clear that that's the case, I would change them that day, not leave them in the wrong group just because I'm not set to reassess until half term.

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