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Maths not challenging enough

(31 Posts)
candlelight22 Fri 20-May-16 09:29:51

My daughter, yr 5, is saying that in maths her set is being taught how to tell the time and how many mm in a cm - that kind of thing. She was in the top maths set but was moved down in September, which I was fine about.

She is being tutored for the 11 plus and we (us and her tutor) know she's capable of tackling much more difficult questions than this. She's doing algebra with him.

In her last maths test at school (all the class sit the same test) she got 90%. I really don't think she is being challenged at all in maths,, and the knock on effect is that she is getting bored which is my worst fear. She used to be so curious/keen about learning but I can see her switching off.

I'm not saying I want her back in the top set, but she is capable of way more than they are giving her and this concerns me.

But she is adamant that she doesn't want me to talk to the teacher about it. I told her the only way to go forward was to speak to her teacher but she would be mortified if I did.

What do you suggest? How do I go about it?

howabout Fri 20-May-16 09:39:34

My DD was demoted from the top set at the same stage because she was not happy constantly competing with the tunnel visioned maths geeks. The positive impact on her confidence and happiness was instant. She spent all the time needed on the basics such that they are second nature and she had plenty of time to reflect on the why as well as the how. It also did her good to understand what it is about Maths that others struggle with. She did have moments of regret about not being "top set" but I provided a listening ear and reassured her. The problem went away when she started outperforming them in tests.

4 years later she is top of her year at secondary school and led the UK Maths challenge team. She has never had a Maths tutor or any parental input beyond forced times tables learning.

Based on my experience I advise trusting the school, especially since you seem to have reservations about the top set.

candlelight22 Fri 20-May-16 10:08:37

Thank you howabout.

Like you I was more than happy for her to go down a set. I thought it would give her more confidence. She is fine about not being top set too.

Going back to basics is fine, but at the end of year 5 she needs challenging somewhat. She could tell the time in year 3!
Her tutor thinks some of the work she is being set is ridiculous. She had homework to convert measurement (mm to cm to m) the other night and she finished in two minutes flat.
Any suggestions?

irvineoneohone Fri 20-May-16 10:58:51

If she can do harder work at home and gets 90% on test at school, why is she not in top set? Is the work they do in the top set challenging enough or still too easy?

This seems to be the ultimate goal for year5 NC, did she mastered it all?

SilverGiraffe7 Fri 20-May-16 11:51:50

You need to talk to her teacher (whether she likes it or not!) - the year 5 new curriculum is quite challenging for most (particularly non top-set who should find it challenging but manageable). It is a 'mastery' curriculum, so rather than just being able to calculate, they need to be able to apply it in a variety of different contexts. She might be very good at the 'calculating' but need support with the application. (Which is more than just the same calculation but in a word problem)
I would make sure you don't sound like you're not happy with her provision but that you'd like to explore the possibility she's underperforming in class in comparison to her ability. Also you could ask if there's anything in particular the school would like the tutor to cover if there are gaps.
Open a dialogue with the school and they'll appreciate you wanting to work with them for the best outcome for your daughter.

SilverGiraffe7 Fri 20-May-16 11:54:22

The link from Irvine has some good examples of mastery in greater depth vs basic mastery.

Bolograph Fri 20-May-16 13:31:02

In her last maths test at school (all the class sit the same test) she got 90%. I really don't think she is being challenged at all in maths

Perhaps she is, as otherwise she would have got 100%.

bojorojo Fri 20-May-16 14:06:54

I would speak to the teacher. Your DD should not dictate to you at this age.

The new curriculum is more challenging. I would ask to see what her progress from Y3-Y5 (latest assessment) looks like. Assessment is not just one test. The teacher should be assessing what she can do roughly once every half term and they should know if her progress is good or if it has stalled. They must know what she can do and where she needs to improve. The school should also be making judgements on whether her learning and progress is as expected or greater than expected. What tasks is she doing in the lessons? Often children in lessons are given hard, harder or hardest tasks. What level is she doing and is the teacher confident she is doing the tasks comensurate with her ability that also offer some challenge? Do you know what she is being taught?

Tutors can be optimistic - I would ask the school. She may also be doing revison before they start a more complex topic. This may be why the homework is easier than you would expect. You do need to ask though.

WhattodoSue Fri 20-May-16 14:17:35

Although I think that mastery is good, I think that some children will find it more frustrating than others. You do need to talk to the school. Perhaps talk with your DD about why she doesn't want you to, tell her that you have to, but find out what it is that she is concerned about if you DO talk to the teacher. And then tell her you will word it in such a way that will be sensitive to her concerns. She may be worried the teacher thinks badly of her, and if you can reassure her of what ever is worrying her in that respect, then it may be best all round. But even if you can't bring her round to the idea of you talking to the teacher, I still would.

mrz Fri 20-May-16 19:00:54

These are the statutory requirements which don't match what your daughter seems to be taught

mrz Fri 20-May-16 19:12:57

These are the type of questions involving time expected in Y5

Feenie Fri 20-May-16 19:43:00

What's that page from, mrz?

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 20-May-16 19:44:56

White Rose Maths Hub materials I think.

The year 5 summer scheme of work.

amidawish Fri 20-May-16 19:53:14

you don't need algebra for the 11+......... ??

candlelight22 Sun 22-May-16 15:19:08

The entrance exam my daughter is sitting does include algebra.

Thank you all for your advice.
I will speak to the teacher. My daughter is getting bored and school should be stretching her to achieve her best. She doesn't want me to speak to her teacher because she doesn't want her teacher to think badly of her. But there is only a few weeks till the end of term so hey ho.

I work in a school so I know it's a difficult time for teachers. Yes, I should track her progress. Since the old levels have gone my school hasn't been able to give parents any help with this. It used to be 2 sub levels a year. What is is know and can it relate in anyway to the old levels? What should I be asking? Tricky question I guess!

AYD2MITalkTalk Sun 22-May-16 15:24:58

tunnel visioned maths geeks

Nice. Good to see anti-intellectualism alive and well in British society. Your kids are thickies, then? hmm

What, you don't like me calling them thickies? Funny, that.

HopeClearwater Sun 22-May-16 15:26:32

Try to have a look at this year's maths papers for year 6. They are much more challenging than ever before.
Also, telling the time is a funny thing. Many children do this extremely well while not necessarily being particularly good at maths. Telling the time is a life skill. It's not really maths.

HopeClearwater Sun 22-May-16 15:28:15

Oh yes, and what AYD2 said. Some parents simply can't cope with other children being cleverer than their own, can they?

howabout Sun 22-May-16 16:27:54

Ha AYD2 I see you didn't read my whole post where I went on to point out that despite the joint decision of the school, me and my DD not to compete with those bent on Maths supremacy in Y5 she is actually top of her secondary school intake in Y9.

Far from being anti-intellectual I was making the point that early pushing can in fact be counter productive in encouraging long term intellectual Maths development.

As a separate point I think there is a real danger in pushing Maths so strongly that some DC switch off from endeavours where the right answer is more subjective and thus potentially more challenging.

AYD2MITalkTalk Sun 22-May-16 16:33:03

Funnily enough, I did read the whole post, and noticed the smugness when your own DC do well, alongside the bitterness when others do. Deeply unattractive.

SpoonintheBin Sun 22-May-16 16:41:40

Is the school revising some concepts learned in previous years to make sure there are no gaps? DS in year 4 came home with some concept they'd learned in previous years, including some basic additions and subtractions, clock stuff, simple number bonds up to 20, etc, things learned in last four years. I was a bit confused but they are just consolidating the learning and making sure there are no gaps.

Is there such a massive difference between the sets at her school? In a class of 30 they normally have 6-7 in higher table, and the rest split in 4 tables according to ability. It's not just top tables and all others together.

mrz Sun 22-May-16 16:53:00

Candlelight your daughter will have been learning algebra since reception just not in a format you may be familiar with.

irvineoneohone Sun 22-May-16 17:02:38

I didn't find your post offensive, howabout, actually I think all the children are different, so some may thrive with less pressure. . But I did find OP's "tunnel visioned maths geeks" a bit offensive, since I have that type of ds. Some children just love maths, nothing wrong with that, or is there?

AYD2MITalkTalk Sun 22-May-16 17:13:32

Tunnel visioned maths geeks was howabout, not OP.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sun 22-May-16 17:24:03

It wasn't the majority of how's post that was the problem. It was the use of the term 'tunnel visioned maths geeks'. And it has nothing to do with any attempt to point out that early pushing in maths skills might not be the best thing. Most people manage to make that point without using that terminology.

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