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Clever table ...any views?

(28 Posts)
Holsobsessed Sun 08-Nov-15 19:51:24

Parents evening a few weeks ago. DD (year 4) doing fine, only thing we needed to do at home is to encourage her reading more widely. Maths doing well. During half term DD (who is not a weeper) started to cry and talk about how she felt that at school no one notice her and that even though she wanted harder work the teacher only concentrated on the clever table. Apparently there is a table of four girls who are on the clever table and they are the only girls who get the extended work ( her words). This was the first I had heard about any kind of streaming or clever table and just not sure on whether I should raise this with school or appropriate or how to handle it with DD. It is a private school (GDST), and the fees are high for us. For background DD is a 'good average ability' in previous years assessments. She is quite a resilient girl and as I say not normally a weeper so think there must be something going on..,but not sure how I move on from here.

Feel a bit disappointed in school in other areas and wonder if this is the normal way to manage streaming.....

eastwest Sun 08-Nov-15 19:57:22

Are you sure this is an official name for the table? Because I definitely remmeber being at school and being aware of the 'clever' group, the 'sporty'group, the 'cool' group etc. and they did sit at the same tables, but it wasn't a name given by the teacher, it was just something the children called it in private. Unfortunately children do start pigeon-holing themselves and others very early on, and teachers can also fall into the same trap of seeing what they expect to see, iyswim (not least at a private, results-driven school as I know from experience). Maybe speak to the teacher and say 'DD is really keen to get extended work, could she...?' - take a positive approach, in other words.

AlanPacino Sun 08-Nov-15 20:06:55

I would mention that dd is keen to improve and can the class teacher suggest fun activities that will give her the skills she needs to improve.

irvine101 Sun 08-Nov-15 20:17:05

I have no experience of private schools, but even in state school, children are aware of ability tables.

If your DD would like harder work, maybe she need to speak up.
In my ds's state school, certain girls get more attention, because they are more confident than others.

redskybynight Sun 08-Nov-15 20:32:00

Extension work is available to anyone who gets through the "normal" work at my dC's school. Regardless of whether they are "clever" or happen to fancy trying it.

irvine101 Sun 08-Nov-15 20:44:22

Yes, same as redsky's school. Children have a choice to do harder work once finished with normal work.

Millymollymama Sun 08-Nov-15 21:06:19

My immediate instinct is that the "clever table" is the scholarship group. Good private schools always nurture these children and often make it very obvious they are doing so. The scholarship children are often taught separately and it maybe other parents will not be pleased and feel their children are ignored. If your school does not covet scholarships to senior schools, then I would wonder why because the number of scholarships attained is serious marketing for most prep schools. In our school, the parents of the clever children expected the scholarships and these children, for example, were taught Latin. If you think your DD should be getting extra work, then I would ask if she can have it but in my experience scholarships are how many parents measure the success of a prep school.

Holsobsessed Sun 08-Nov-15 21:44:48

Thank you for all the responses.
I should have made clearer that the 'clever table' is what DD calls the table and is a private term rather than the school calling it this.
I think eastwest, your comment hit the nail on the head - I am concerned that she feels sad because she has labelled herself as 'not clever'. And feels that the teacher has labelled her as 'not clever'.
In her previous year, it has occurred to me that she did get extended work. So perhaps this would be a good way of asking the question around as she is keen, could she get some extended work?

Again apologies if this is obvious (English is not my first language) but if you are paying a considerable amount of money should not the teacher be considering all this and being alert to these kind of issues and spotting where girls are keen? Just seems to put the onus on parents and girls to speak up.

But thank you all for your help. x

MMmomKK Mon 09-Nov-15 01:24:48

In my experience of two private schools - the "clever" table you are talking about only exists in math. Kids are moved around to different tables so that they can get work appropriate to their level. Normally kids are moved back to their regular tables for all the other classes.

And, as others have noted, extension work is normally given to all who finish their normal work.

It is, of course, hard to see your daughter upset. She might be right in her account, or other things might be going on:

1. I have a Y4 DD as well and have noticed her getting a lot more moody/emotional this year, over all kinds of unexpected things. Friendships, people, her abilities, her looks. And I hear from other moms that is it happening to their daughters, so it must be part of growing up and slowly edging towards being a teenager...

2. It is unlikely that in a private school only 4 kids would be getting all the attention. These school's reputation stands on the results of more than a handful of kids. So - try to chat with your daughter to understand what she is talking about. Does she find tasks set for her too easy? Does she finish them quickly and is there time for her to do something extra? And - has she ever asked the teacher for extra work?

Finally - I think confidence is very important for math results. And at primary level, many kids considered "great" at math - are kids who work hard at it. Ask her if she wants to get better at math - and whether she understands that it is possible, but requires work. And if she is eager - get her some extra practice on weekend.

ReallyTired Mon 09-Nov-15 01:33:57

My daughter goes to a state school and "yellow group" are the brightest children where as "purple" group all have special needs. There are five different groups of varying levels of ability/ attainment. Yellow group children are working at a level two years ahead of their age where as purple group children all have special needs. A TA sits with purple group where as yellow group are expected to work independently.

It's not enough for a child to be keen, they have to show that they can do the work. In my daughters class yellow group can write a page independently in joined up writing with good vocabulary, grammar and spelling. Purple group children can barely hold a pen. Other groups need varying degrees of help. Different groups of children have appriopiate targets.

Gifted children are often considered to have additional needs. It's not fair to expect them to wait while the rest of the class catch up.

PettsWoodParadise Mon 09-Nov-15 04:06:47

I have a DD at a GDST school that has two classes per year but for maths from Y4 they have four classes. One group takes the more able from each class, one the less able and then you are left with the core group from each class - worked well for all concerned. As both able and least able left the classroom to go to other rooms no one is labelled as one or the other. They did arrange a fab day at Oxford Uni's Maths Institute for the Y6 girls and took the six most keen about maths regardless of ability. At least in DD's GDST school there is a wide range of ability in the junior school despite supposed selection as I can't imagine you can effectively select at 4.

llhj Mon 09-Nov-15 05:27:41

Can barely hold a pen Really Tired
Honestly? I find they difficult to believe and it's a very disparaging and scathing way to discuss them as well.
No prizes for guessing which colour your progeny are in.

ReallyTired Mon 09-Nov-15 09:42:03

"Can barely hold a pen Really Tired"

I am talking about very young children. There is a huge range of development at the age of six especially in a state school. Why is it disparging to say that there are six year olds who still struggle with pen contol? The children in question nor their parents are not lazy, they have additional needs. For example one child in purple group has mild cerabral palsy and other children have speech and language issues. Prehaps the different is that such children in state schools get lots of resources thrown at them.

For the record I have one child who could barely control a pen at six so was in a lower ablity group and other in the top group. The ablity groups are to make sure that every child has the right level of challenge and support.

"They did arrange a fab day at Oxford Uni's Maths Institute for the Y6 girls and took the six most keen about maths regardless of ability."

Maybe that would work in a private selective girls school. A bog standard state school would take children who could cope with such a day.

irvine101 Mon 09-Nov-15 09:53:56

"Prehaps the different is that such children in state schools get lots of resources thrown at them."

I don't think this is completely true.
It is difficult for able children to get appropriate extension, but I also know parents of children struggling to get proper support from school, although the school is trying really hard.

Bookeatingboy Mon 09-Nov-15 12:36:05

Reallytired My ds7 has "special needs" and is in your "yellow group"!

Not all children with special needs have low academic ability and I don't like your assumption that they do.

PettsWoodParadise Mon 09-Nov-15 13:20:15

Reallytired the question by the OP was about a GDST school so I was giving examples of what happened in my DDs GDST school - I was not trying to turn things into a private vs independent debate.

PettsWoodParadise Mon 09-Nov-15 13:20:42

Or even a state vs independent debate!

ReallyTired Mon 09-Nov-15 13:44:21

"Not all children with special needs have low academic ability and I don't like your assumption that they do."

You are infering an assumption that is simply not there. Children with moderate learning difficulties all have special needs. Ofcourse there are other reasons a child might be on the special needs register. It is fair to say that a very small group of children in my daughter's class have learning difficulties. I doubt that they are only children with special needs.

State schools up and down the country group children in a similar way. In most reasonable schools children with learning difficulties given more support whether those difficulties are global learning difficulties or something more specific like dyslexia. Often there are different groups for different subjects. Your really gifted dyslexic mathematican might be in the top group for maths and a low group for literacy. Its called differentiation.

Anyway, if the OP school thought that her daughter was capable fo scholarship work then surely it would be in their interests to give her advanced work.

irvine101 Mon 09-Nov-15 14:19:23

You don't sound like normal ReallyTired... sad

irvine101 Mon 09-Nov-15 14:21:38

I mean, you don't sound like ReallyTired that I have encountered before...

Ellle Mon 09-Nov-15 14:49:42

I understand what ReallyTired is trying to say.

Also, agree with MMmomKK.

The first thing to do is get your facts right by talking with the teacher.
It could be that it is all as DD told you, or that it is not exactly like that and there is a misunderstanding regarding the tables and the other 4 children being the only ones who get extended or harder work.

But most importantly, adress with the teacher how your daughter is feeling, and how it is affecting her confidence. It could be that she is really good, and in the right table, but by comparing herself to the other children she feels she is not clever when that is not the case.
She also thinks that the teacher doesn't notice her, and the teacher might say that is not the case, but once you let her know about your daughter's feelings she'll be able to acknowledge them and make sure she knows that the teacher is noticing her (maybe focusing on more praise, etc).

Also, check with your daughter is she feels the work she is getting is right for her, or too easy and she feels frustrated at not being able to do harder work. When you discuss it with the teacher then you'll be able to see whether the teacher is right about the table/work she gets, or maybe your daughter is right and needs harder work.

All in all, the most important thing is that your daughter stops comparing herself or places too much importance on this to define whether she is clever or not. I know this is the most difficult part. But there will always be someone else who is faster, better than us at something, and that doesn't mean we are not good or clever enough.
Just speculating, it could well be your daughter is doing well and above average, right on target, but these other 4 children are working two years ahead of the curriculum and therefore need to be on a different table occasionally to do this type of work, and this does not mean that the rest of the class doing curriculum apropriate work are not clever.

TheWildRumpyPumpus Mon 09-Nov-15 14:55:45

In my son's class they arranged the maths tables as polygons, so the 'bottom' table was Triangles, and the 'top' table was Hexagons. Didn't take any of them long to work out how they were organised, unsurprisingly.

It's only a problem if children on the lower tables aren't being kept occupied for the full length of the lesson and stretched adequately within their own abilities.

ReallyTired Mon 09-Nov-15 15:19:29

"It's only a problem if children on the lower tables aren't being kept occupied for the full length of the lesson and stretched adequately within their own abilities."

Children with lower attainment have more TA support. A child who doesn't understand what is asked for them can get pretty bored and distruptive. If they find the work very easy then they should be given harder work next time.

There is an arguement for differentiation without the use of tables. Ablity tables can lead to a fixed mindset of "Clever children" and "less able". The reality is that how much a child achieves depends on how hard they are prepared to work.

I think that the OP should have a chat with her teacher. Forget about the other children, is her daughter having the right level of stretch and challenge? Does the OP daughter get down to work straight away or does she get distracted. If she wants harder work then she has to show that she can do her existing work quickly and well.

timeforachangeofusername Mon 09-Nov-15 18:29:30

I had the same problem with my DD who is in a GDST school. She had worked out in Reception that the clever kids were put on one table, the least clever on a table with the teacher etc. No labelling by teacher or parent was required.

She got unhappy in year 2 about not being given some extension work. I spoke about it with the teacher at parent's evening. The teacher explained that she would need to explain the "year 3 work" to my year 2 DD and didn't have time as she was focussing on the ones who couldn't cope with year 2 work. I thought that was fair enough (my guess is others might not!) and I asked if she could bring it home to do with me instead. The teacher provided me with a file of work a day or so later - my daughter and I looked at it together.

She has been happily doing the extension work in class with the "clever kids" ever since. I would definitely talk to the teacher.

Holsobsessed Mon 09-Nov-15 19:47:52

Thank you all for your thoughts. I put my big girl pants on and spoke to the teacher. He said that the problem is that DD is quite erratic in Maths especially. She has brilliant days - he gave the example of her being the only one in the class who had solved a recent fraction challenge but also times when she seems to struggle with basic concepts. So fair enough. I then seem to have been given lots of worksheets to do at home to help her with these.

Thank you again for your comments, I think because I studied in a different country the difficulty I have is why have i ended up with lots of worksheets to sit and help DD with - when I am paying so much for the school. Isnt it their job to teach her and make sure she has understood these basic concepts? This is a genuine question as am genuinely perplexed. (I chose the school because I needed the wrap around care offered by the school as am now a lone working parent with elderly parents who need my help as well)

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