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What do you think of this approach to teaching maths - changing yr groups

(15 Posts)
FrayedHem Sat 21-Jan-17 14:11:31

This may be long and I will try to condense to the relevant information.

DS1 is in YR6, DS2 YR5. DS1 has ASD and is statemented.

At October half-term there were some major changes in the school following a dreadful Ofsted inspection. The Yr6 teacher left and a temporary teacher was employed. A lot of assessments were done.

As a result of the assessments, DS1 was moved along with 7 others into Yr5 for Maths and DS2 and 7 of his classmates went into Yr6. I was told DS1 was lacking confidence in maths (had previously been told he was a the more able end but there are issues about him producing work). The temporary teacher had a lot of problems controlling the class, and the Yr5 teacher has boosted DS2 up in maths so I had no real concerns, although found it a little odd. I was more concerned DS2 may be missing out things by leaping a year.

Since the new term in January the Yr6 class now has a permanent teacher. Because of all the upheaval, it was decided the Yr5 teacher would teach Yr6 maths and the majority of the Yr6 class now goes into his class for maths (a few stay in for a targetted TA group) and the majority of Yr5 go into Yr6, apart from the original 8 who were previously going into Yr6, which includes DS2.

DS1 has not been reacting well as DS2 is very quick to grasp maths concepts and apparently is nearly always first to have his hand up when he has completed his work. DS1's TA noticed that as soon as DS2 does that, DS1 stops what he is doing and it all goes terribly wrong from there, refusing help, tearful and angry.

It is has now been decided that DS1 will go in with the Yr5 children to be taught maths by his class teacher. DS1 is also unhappy about this, but is is a very recent change so I don't know whether he will settle down.

I just find the whole thing over-complicated and confusing. My relationship with the school is a bit tense, and I don't find the new Yr6 class teacher to be particularly understanding of DS1's difficulties, as he seems to think DS1 is choosing to behave awkwardly and has threatened to have him permanently taught outside the classroom by a TA if he doesn't stop being rude. (I have spoken to DS1 about this and reiterated he mustn't be rude so I am not excusing it, but he is very stressed and struggles to manage his emotions when he feels people are "getting in his space").

The most obvious solution to me would be for the Yr6 teacher to teach the Yr6 maths and the Yr5 to teach Yr5, and all the children to stay within their actual year groups but perhaps I am missing something? No other subjects are taught out of year groups, it is just maths.

if you have got to the end of this, thank you very much! Any comments or advice would be very welcomed.

TeenAndTween Sat 21-Jan-17 15:14:37

I think it is fine to effectively 'set' the y5&y6s for maths, rather than both teachers having to teach a wider ability range. My DD's primary has done it occasionally when the range of ability is very wide.

However I can see there is an issue for you whereby your DS2 is more able at maths than your DS1, and I don't know what the solution should be for that.

FrayedHem Sat 21-Jan-17 16:23:40

Thanks for your reply. My main issue is they aren't really setting as such as 20ish children move from the Yr5 class to Yr6 and 20ish from Yr6 to Yr5. The exceptions being the top 8 ability for Yr5 staying in for Yr 6 maths with their class teacher and then the Yr6 group who have maths with the TA. DS1 will be the only Yr6 taught in with the Yr5s, or that is how I understand it anyway.

DS2 is very confident in maths whereas DS1 is able but his ASD is a barrier.

I think I'll just have to see how it goes, but I don't suppose the school will change things again just to make things better for DS1. School is just so miserable for him at the moment and it's hard to watch the little confidence he has go through the floor.

mrz Sat 21-Jan-17 16:28:01

My school works a similar system. The Y6 teacher (a maths specialist) teaches Y5 and Y6 maths and the Y5 teacher (an English specialist) teaches them English. The difference being that they are taught in their win year group not mixed as in the OPs school.

FrayedHem Sat 21-Jan-17 16:48:00

But in my DC school the Yr6 teacher is teaching Yr5 maths and the Yr5 teacher is teaching Yr6 maths so it's not really the same?

I would say the Yr5 Teacher is definitely strong in maths, but I'm not sure he his categorized as a specialist. The Yr6 teacher is new so I have no idea. And in mrz school's system all the children get taught by the specialist, not 1 just one year group.

OutwiththeOutCrowd Sat 21-Jan-17 18:18:37

FrayedHem I'm sorry to read about the troubles you are having with DS1 and his confidence in maths.

I was always in the same class as my twin DB at school and he, being something of a maths prodigy, did better than me in every single maths exam we ever sat. So I think I might have a bit of an inkling how DS1 is feeling - and surely it must feel even worse with a seemingly more able younger DB in the mix.

That the school has had a teaching arrangement enabling poor DS1 to compare himself so directly with DS2 is such rotten luck. On the other hand, maths is one of those subjects that is difficult to teach in a mixed ability group and I can understand why the school might have decided to go with the setting option. (My DS’s secondary school only sets for maths.)

Apart from reminding me of my own experiences, your post has also brought to mind a story, a true story, about two brothers called Oliver and Roger.

Oliver, the elder brother, was obviously gifted at maths. He was always working a couple of years ahead of his peers. Roger, the younger brother, was, in his own words, ‘unbelievably slow at maths’ and one of his teachers was so unimpressed that he was put down a class. It can't have been a very comfortable feeling for Roger to have that experience, in the full knowledge that big bro was regarded as highly able.

The second name of those brothers is Penrose. Both brothers went on to become distinguished theoretical physicists - which of course requires a strong grasp of maths. And in fact, it has been Roger who, despite his slower start, has turned out to be the more influential of the two with his unconventional, highly geometric ideas. Even if you haven’t heard of either of them, you will probably be familiar with Roger’s famous co-worker Stephen Hawking - another under-achieving pupil who went on to do extraordinary scientific work.

Life is long with many twists and turns along the way. In the fullness of time, DS1 will find his own path - which may or may not involve maths!

For now, I would suggest you try to think of something that can be DS1’s thing, an interest that belongs to him alone to help him grow as a separate individual.

He shouldn’t think that the best he can hope for is being a sort of substandard DS2. Instead he should aim to shine as the very best version of himself.

(Whoops, written quite a lot there!)

TwoLeftSocks Sat 21-Jan-17 18:34:26

I never knew that about the Penrose brothers. I read that Einstein failed maths at school and look where he went with things.

It sounds a real muddle with the classes but if they've had a poor Ofsted then they'll want this year's yr6 to do better. Your ds2 sounds like he'll do fine wherever, I'd speak to school about some stability and confidence boosting for your ds1, and reinforce to him that the two of them will always have different things they're better at at different times and that's okay.

Our ds2 overtook ds1 on reading when they were in yr1 and yr5 and it's taken constant praise for the things ds1 is good at to keep him positive.

mrz Sat 21-Jan-17 18:41:22

I'm afraid it's a myth.

Einstein, throughout his childhood education, was an excellent math student - always the top in his class.  When a rabbi showed Einstein a newspaper article (in 1935) that said Einstein had been bad at math as a student, Einstein laughed and replied "I never failed in mathematics.  Before I was fifteen I had mastered differential and integral calculus."

GraceGrape Sat 21-Jan-17 18:46:46

Not sure how this approach fits in general with the new curriculum where children are supposed to master their own year group's objectives and not move onto the next year. I don't think it's too much of a problem.for your DS1 as it's his last year and he will not have covered all of the new curriculum in previous years, so this could be an opportunity to fill some gaps if he isn't going to cope with the year 6 objectives. Your DS2 shouldn't be working on year 6 maths though, but deepening his understanding of Year 5 objectives by working with them in different contexts.

irvineoneohone Sat 21-Jan-17 19:13:12

Seems like school in total mess just trying to get better result so that they don't fail Ofsted again....

FrayedHem Sat 21-Jan-17 19:36:20

OutwiththeOutCrowd that was a really lovely insightful reply - I really caught the feels as the yoof of today might say. In context of school, maths was DS1's thing but there has been a steady decline and now he very aware DS2 is racing ahead. It is really difficult to get him to talk about his emotions and he says school isn't for him and he is going to be a youtuber. Secondary school is a bit up in the air so I'm not entirely sure what the future holds. I just wanted his last few months in primary school to be as painless as possible and this has just served him a big smack in the face.

You're right though, there's a bigger picture to consider, I just need to try and get him through the next few months and then hopefully things will get a bit clearer.

TwoLeftSocks I think you're right the main focus is on a significant improvement. They are under Ofsted monitoring (was graded inadequate so they come in once or twice before reinspection) and I am getting a strong message that DS1 is just too much for them to deal with. DS1 hates praise and compliments so it makes things difficult as he becomes absolutely distraught so we can't boost him up easily.

GraceGrapes DS2 missing out is something that has been on my radar since the October change around. I've tried looking at the National Curriculum but it seems the topics are very similar for 5&6 so I don't know for sure he is missing out.

The Y6's teacher in Yr5 was a lovely man but I'm not sure what his teaching was like, and he has since left the school. I may see if I can try and find out what they actual difference is in terms of what they are covering in the yr6/yr5 maths as it may purely be using the more established teacher to push the Yr6's through the SATs. DS1's SATs results are something I am just not concerned with as he may even be Home Ed for secondary so I am worried about him missing out on SATs specific work.

irvineoneohone A mess sumarises it well! I think the first monitoring visit from Ofsted is due very soon so it will be interesting to find out what they have to say.

irvineoneohone Sat 21-Jan-17 20:00:07

This is maths mastery assessment materials for yr5 and yr6.

irvineoneohone Sat 21-Jan-17 20:01:51


TwoLeftSocks Sat 21-Jan-17 20:14:25

Would their threat of him working with aTA separately maybe actually help, even if it was just for a short term boost? How would he take to that.

FrayedHem Sun 22-Jan-17 17:29:35

Thanks for those links irvineoneohone, I'll see if I can get to the bottom of what is actually being taught.

TwoLeftSocks DS1 reacts badly to 1:1 - he thinks we are "trying to make him weird" and he wants to be treated exactly like his classmates. The problem is he doesn't really produce any work when left to his own devices. And around and around we go.....

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