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What does 'making very good progress' actually mean in the grand scheme of things?

(15 Posts)
iklboo Mon 07-Mar-16 17:29:27

DS's school used to report using the old 5a, 5b, 5c method, which we could understand. We knew where he kind of was against curriculum standards, average learning etc.

Now they've moved to 'progression' wording, which gives us no frame of reference & the explanation is too brief to work out. We have got parents' evening in a few weeks - but this report doesn't really give us any background to ask questions about how he's doing & how we can support him. They seem to be placing more emphasis on how he meets the school code on being nice, polite & helpful (which we already know he is).

Both DH & I work so can't speak to the teacher before then so I was wondering if any teachers on here could shed any light?

Brokenbiscuit Mon 07-Mar-16 17:45:19

Well, I'm not a teacher but it doesn't really mean anything very specific, does it?

I think that's the reality of the new expectations. Nobody really knows how their kids are doing any longer, and perhaps that's the whole point of them.

iklboo Mon 07-Mar-16 17:47:31

Exactly brokenbiscuit - how are we supposed to think about secondary education if we can't work out how he's doing? I mean, obviously we think he's a brilliant genius - but that might not be the reality grin

bojorojo Mon 07-Mar-16 18:04:45

I am not an expert on this, but where I am a Governor, the Headteacher and senior staff did a presentation to the parents about "Assessing without Levels". This was months ago. I am amazed all schools have not done this. It is vital for parents to understand the new system and what the new terminology means. Ask for one. Within the descriptions, Working Below, Working

Also, they cannot just concentrate on the Behaviour Policy and their Core Values, which is what you are describing. Of course you should be given information about how you can help your DS.

Regarding assessment of his progress, that is difficult and the school may even have its own method. In practice lots of schools have computer tracking of progress towards national standards based on the teacher assessing if the child is Working Below, Working Towards, Achieved or Working Above. The school teachers look at the work achieved by the child and "grade" it. I am sure others will know a lot more. However, the teachers should be able to tell you where your DS is making ecellent progress and where his progress is not so good - and therefore what you can do to help or what they are panning to do.

If you are talking about Y6, SATS will be set but the government wants to see significantly more children at Achieved level although the curriculum is more challenging.

iklboo Mon 07-Mar-16 18:09:44

Thank you Bo - it probably will be just a matter of waiting for parents' evening. I think this time I'll actually make a list of questions to ask - not hundreds - we only get five minutes apparently! I suppose if there were any real concerns they'd have contacted us before now.

TheBalefulGroke Mon 07-Mar-16 18:09:49

IMHO the government have done this intentionally, to remove parental choice. It's now impossible to compare one school with another, removing the need for parents to drive up prices around the best schools.

bojorojo Mon 07-Mar-16 18:21:12

5 minutes! Goodness me - bit of a whirlwind headlines only evening then!

I was going to write a bit more - was interrupted. This may be helpful.

Staff should be familiar with considering the "evidence" needed to identify whether a child has attained the learning objective (statement). In my school, this is being done 4 times a year. Children are also being mini tested before judgements 1, 2 and 3 are made for further evidence of attainment and progress. If your school is doing something similar, they will have detailed info for the Feb assessment. Teachers moderate each others judgements. The information they have determines if the curriculum is achieved by the child (not yet for most as it is only March) but crucially it allows staff to know what needs more practice. So they can tell you! As governors we receive a detailed analysis of progress for each year group.

If a school is not doing this, they are sadly behind the curve!

iklboo Mon 07-Mar-16 18:26:50

Ah that makes more sense. They have said this is the 'interim' report. So I should be able to ask how he's matching the curriculum and if they have advice where we can support DS if needs be?

Brokenbiscuit Mon 07-Mar-16 18:36:25

I am not an expert on this, but where I am a Governor, the Headteacher and senior staff did a presentation to the parents about "Assessing without Levels". This was months ago. I am amazed all schools have not done this. It is vital for parents to understand the new system and what the new terminology means.

Our school did do a curriculum evening at the beginning of this school year about assessment after levels, which I attended. I left feeling none the wiser I'm afraid. They talked about working within/towards/above etc, but that didn't really clarify it for me.

Two parents' evenings later and I still don't really know what progress dd has made this year. Her teacher is lovely and dd is happy and motivated, so I trust that the school is doing a good job. Academically, I know that she is fine, because she continues to be included on "gifted and talented" days etc. But how far has she moved on during the course of the year? No idea.

The old levels were far from perfect, but at least I understood them.

grumpysquash3 Mon 07-Mar-16 22:16:39

If your DS was getting level 5s before they changed the system, he is clearly doing very well.......
If he is year 6 he would be top set for most things in secondary
If he is year 5 he would be mid/top end of top set
If he is year 4 or below he is doing super-excellently!

I don't think there is need to worry, but it's good to clarify.

iklboo Mon 07-Mar-16 22:36:10

He was in Year 4 when he was getting 5bs, 5a etc. He's in Year 5 now & they've swapped to the new system.

iklboo Mon 07-Mar-16 22:36:40

Sorry, thanks Grumpy.

bojorojo Tue 08-Mar-16 01:26:24

If he was previously getting 5s in Y4 then he is very bright. It is good that the new curriculum has been extended and that will suit him. He will be doing some areas that were in the curriculum for Y7. He should be capable of going on to be working above the "expected" for his age. This means you should be asking what the school is doing to extend his work so that he works beyond the expected. The teachers need to be skilled in setting higher level work, but they will need to make sure he really has secure knowledge and understanding before moving on. This is something you could ask about. If you look at his books, can you not see that there is progression from last year? What topics is he doing in Maths, English etc? Is he doing the hard, harder or hardest work set by the teacher? What are the teachers comments in his books regarding further extension work? What is he doing for homework?

Lastly, pregress is often not even. A child that has excelled early, can plateaux. The ones that appeared slower can suddenly click and catch up.

Brokenbiscuit - The school will know how much she has progressed this year. Just ask them. In our school they plot progress into a computer program. Lots of schools are doing this. It is vital they know. Some schools are being very cautious about making judgements on children reaching the expected level too soon. They really want to know the child is secure. Teachers will be moderating the judgments of their colleagues to ensure accuracy, as far as they can. If a school has taught a child very well to date, they would probably be able to continue with the new curriculum. Their ability to teach has not changed.

Brokenbiscuit Tue 08-Mar-16 07:41:17

Their ability to teach has not changed.

Indeed it hasn't, and as I said above, I trust that the school is doing a good job, as they have done throughout. I respect dd's teacher and I can tell that dd is happy, interested and motivated to do her best. These aspects are far more important to me than any levels.

But still...I find the new system very vague and obscure. Perhaps it is because the teachers are still trying to find their way through, I don't know. It doesn't really matter that much to me in any case - there is so much more to education and a child's progress than levels. I just don't understand why the government thinks that the new system is an improvement on what we had before!

noramum Tue 08-Mar-16 11:38:25

I agree the typical "he/she is doing fine" is useless.

But if a teacher says that a child is working at expected level or towards it or exceeds it than you can know that it is either where he is supposed to be and will have managed to learn what the curriculum says he/she should know at the end of the year.

If my child would get a "working towards" than I would ask where the problem is and what I can do to get her going. If she exceeds I would ask how they stretch her.

DH and I work but we still take time off if we feel a parent evening is not enough and make an appointment to see the teacher for a more detailed discussion. That is my duty as a parent, the 10 minute slot was useless even when the old levels were in place because it still wouldn't give enough time to talk about a problem if she would work below/above the expected level.

Our school had information evenings twice now and even publish the links towards the curriculum paper so parents can see what the goals are at the end of each year group.

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