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Ability tables in Year 1

(17 Posts)
treblejeff Thu 17-Nov-16 09:20:42

Class of 30 with 5 tables grouped by ability. Would you expect that to be 5 tables each with different abilities including a distinct top table, or arranged more loosely, eg. 2 top tables, a middle, 2 lower?

DD started Y1 on what I assume was the "top table". The children were all reading at the highest levels in the class, and her teacher told us at parents evening that she was "ahead of the game".

They've just had a shuffle and she's been moved onto a different table along with a couple of others from her old table. It seems that there are 2 children in the class who are reading at quite a high level, one of whom has stayed on her old table and one of whom is on her new. The best reader in the class has stayed on the old table.

I know that I am probably going to sound a little bit mad, but this is less about a need for her to be on the top table (well, ok, I do want her to be on the top table) and more about whether she is sliding down and if I should be doing more with her at home. Her reading, phonics and spelling are fantastic but her maths is average and her handwriting not great.

In the absence of regular reports from the school it really seems that book bands and ability tables are the only way to know how they're getting on. So is it likely that a class would have 2 top tables?

Whynotnowbaby Thu 17-Nov-16 09:25:21

Yes I think many schools will have two top tables, it really depends on the ability mix in the year and the teacher is probably working out the dynamics to ensure everyone works as hard as they can. If you are worried though you can always approach the teacher and ask if dd is still progressing well and if she needs to focus on anything in particular. As you say it's about ensuring she is doing the best she can do and not being at the top.

golfbuggy Thu 17-Nov-16 09:41:23

Teachers organise tables in many different ways. Also, it's really pointless to compare your DD to others in her class - just because they are doing better than her, it doesn't mean she is doing badly, it just means they may be progressing more quickly at this point in time. Bear in mind as well, that in Year 1 some of the children who were perhaps younger or slower starters will overtake some of the children who had previously been "better" than them!

DS spent his Year 1 on table 2. DD spent her Year 1 on table 1. Guess who was the significantly better reader? That's right - you can't - actually it was DS but his class happened to contain a much higher proportion of better readers at the Year 1 stage!

tiggytape Thu 17-Nov-16 10:48:28

I don't think you need to worry about your child sliding backwards or not progressing (the teacher has recently indicated this is not the case). You just have to consider that she might move tables if other children suddenly forge ahead.

It would be perfectly possible for a child in the top group to be moved to a lower group even if they were making exactly the right amount of progress due to other children suddenly made epic progress over a term or two and forging far ahead.

In fact this is a really good sign that the teacher is constantly reviewing groupings. You don't want a child to be stuck in the middle group forever just because that's where they were placed on day one. There needs to be system to move them up if they start progressing much faster.
And you don't want a child to be stuck on the top table forever if a slightly different pace or differing levels of support in some areas would benefit them and they risk losing confidence being in a group that has far overtaken them.

As for the initial groupings, it is perfectly possible for there to be two top tables. If they have a high number of good readers this year, they cannot all squash on one table together.

catsarenice Thu 17-Nov-16 10:52:20

A child who is a really good reader is not necessarily good at discussing the text or answering comprehension questions. IME sometimes they read without understanding what has been read and this becomes clearer as the books get more challenging.

eyebrowsonfleek Thu 17-Nov-16 11:03:12

There's often two top tables. I think that teachers are forced to shuffle regularly because of personality issues like certain people being more chatty when sitting together, people not getting on, shy people being "bullied" by the more vocal etc.

Ginmummy1 Thu 17-Nov-16 11:46:47

Reading with interest as I’m becoming aware that ability tables is becoming quite a ‘thing’ in my DD’s class. DD is also in Y1 and they clearly have ability tables. Teacher talked at parents’ evening about how she expects a lot from ‘top table’ etc. DD knows she is on top table. I’m sure kids everywhere work out roughly where they live in the class in terms of ability anyway, but I’m not too comfortable with the idea that there is a known ‘top table’ and that there are precisely six seats at this table.

The other day DD came home saying that one child had been moved from top table because he was not trying hard enough with his writing, and he has swapped tables with another child. The fact that she (and no doubt all the other children) knew this seems very harsh on the poor boy who has been ‘demoted’.

While I am grateful that the children in the class are being given a level of work and expectation that matches their abilities, I can’t imagine that it’s healthy for children to have a ‘position’ in the class, and to feel pressured into maintaining that position. As a PP said, they might make progress in fits and starts as something ‘clicks’.

Regarding your DD’s class, maybe the reason for the split tables is to reflect ability in maths? Ideally, there would be different ability groupings for different subjects.

Generally, I think you should feel fortunate that it seems to be handled just a little bit more flexibly at your DD’s school!

louisejxxx Thu 17-Nov-16 12:02:36

I would expect the teacher to make as many "top" "middle" and "bottom" tables as is required....depending on how many children fit each bracket. If that means having two top tables because there are enough children for two then so be it.

treblejeff Thu 17-Nov-16 12:35:12

Thanks for the replies. I know the important thing is that the teacher reviews it regularly and she's where she needs to be, top table or otherwise.

sirfredfredgeorge Thu 17-Nov-16 13:05:58

Is a year 1 kid a good judge of reading ability?

Are the tables really grouped for all work rather than by subject, that seems odd - the differentiated work in maths and english are quite likely to be different (particularly with ESL kids who may not have the English language skills for the English)

Our YR1 splits into groups for various things, and whilst that's obviously ability grouping for a lot of it - it's split on what they need to work on. And anything where ability grouping is not needed the discussion group etc. is across all abilities. That certainly sounds much better than any fixed ability group!

treblejeff Thu 17-Nov-16 13:14:28

For phonics/English they have different groupings and it's done across the whole year (2 classes). So for that she actually goes into the other year 1 class. The table in her own class I gather is for everything else including maths.

She knows the other children's reading levels as she seems to have memorised what book band each is on!

ihearttc Thu 17-Nov-16 15:52:39

DS2 is one of the better readers in his class purely however he isn't on the top table...he is on the next one down which is actually table 3 as they have done it backwards. He is exactly where he needs to be because although his reading his good his actual phonic knowledge and handwriting aren't as good.

TeacherBob Thu 17-Nov-16 18:40:43

In year 1 I do things differently depending on the time of year and the cohort.

This year at the moment I have five groups but I only work with one group at a time and the rest of the children are doing independent learning so I let them sit at any table, or anywhere they want including the patio outside or the book corner, carpet etc. I then sit on the same table and the children come to me.

Later in the year I may well have a table or each group. It depends on how the class is progressing.

And at the latter part of the year, I may well remove groups altogether as I did that for the last two terms last year and it worked brilliantly.

mrz Thu 17-Nov-16 18:52:09

Every school is different (I don't have any groups in my Y1 class) so the best advice is to talk to the teacher.

TeacherBob Thu 17-Nov-16 18:56:29

mrz are you on an FS style still?

mrz Thu 17-Nov-16 19:34:01

No, we just don't have groups

TeacherBob Thu 17-Nov-16 19:36:11

I was gonna ask an unrelated group question :p

I will head over to the staff room

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