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What does differentiation of work look like?

(69 Posts)
nat73 Fri 17-Feb-17 12:17:33

Our first child is at primary school. We understand the school has to cater to a range of abilities and ages and so 'differentiates' work. In practice what does this look like? The school doesn't explicity say what it is or how they do it. I understood they were in groups for e.g. maths and english and that the groups work on different levels depending on the ability of the kids in the group.

Our child has 18 in her year group. I thought they had 3 different ability groups but now it seems they have only 2. Our child is telling us its too easy for her and she gets bored (esp when the student teacher is teaching).

We went to look around another school the other day and the had 9 kids in the class split into 3 ability groups and they all had the same workbooks but the questions were graded for the 3 ability groups (e.g. red, green, purple) which seemed to make it easy to teach and easy for the kids to all be taught together.

How can I ask the class teacher whether our child is being sufficiently challenged without putting anyone's nose out of joint? She is rather fierce though we have a good relationship.

ToDuk Fri 17-Feb-17 12:20:42

It basically means they will do the same topic but at different levels. So if they were doing division some might be doing it on a really practical level, sharing out buttons in pots, some might be doing 9 divided by 3 and some might be doing something more complex on the same theme. If you do think your child is finding the work too easy then do talk to the teacher. However be prepared that this may not be the case in practice. I've had children say this but still not be really confident with what we were working on.

ToDuk Fri 17-Feb-17 12:21:53

Also you could word it better than I don't think my child is being sufficiently challenged by saying something like how is she finding the work in school? That would be a good opening gambit.

nat73 Fri 17-Feb-17 12:44:21

So would 18 kids in 2 ability groups seem ok? It sounds like not much 'differentiation'? Or will they be subdivided within these groups?

We are always told she is doing 'fine' if we ask. In her report last year she was ahead of target for about 50% and on target for 50%. To make it tangible but non confrontational should I couch it in those terms?

nat73 Fri 17-Feb-17 12:45:43

When I say range of abilities a couple of them are still on ORT L4 for reading and some are free readers.

Makingchanges Fri 17-Feb-17 12:52:49

I have very fluid groups in my class and sometimes I differentiate two ways, sometimes 3 and sometimes more. Sometimes they all work on the same thing but the work is differentiated by outcome (what the children produce). I also change these groups daily, depending on the work and the adults in class. Be aware of telling the teacher that your child finds the work easy though. I had this once with a parent and when I showed them the work their child was producing it was very evident that the work wasn't too easy at all. Maybe ask the teacher how they think your child is working?

nat73 Fri 17-Feb-17 12:55:04

Thank you Makingchanges . I am aware that children are sometimes 'economic' with the truth so I cant go in at top speed.

irvineoneohone Fri 17-Feb-17 13:04:34

18 in class means it's private school? Maybe the school isn't a match for her ability? I would expect more from fee paying school.

At our state school, they divide into 3/4/5 groups/tables. but it still doesn't really cater for highly able.

Tomorrowillbeachicken Fri 17-Feb-17 13:09:42

My reception age child spends some time 1/1 with a TA to stretch his ability. Or he goes and does something else while they are working like Lego.

Ginmummy1 Fri 17-Feb-17 13:10:07

What year is your child in?

Our DD (Y1) started coming home saying things like “in maths we were working on our ‘next steps’ but I didn’t have any, so I just helped person X and then person Y”, and “In literacy I finished the comprehension exercise so I just had to go and read my book” so we started to get a bit concerned. Then the teacher commented to me that she felt ‘sorry’ for my DD as she’s finding it all quite easy, and she needed to put a ‘learning plan’ in place but was trying to catch the other (part-time) teacher on their mutual day in school but hadn’t had chance…

Putting all this together, we realised there was a bit of a problem, so I made a point of ‘checking in’ with the teacher each week to see if there was a learning plan in place yet. We also encouraged DD to ask the teacher for more work when she’d finished, and luckily she was confident enough to ask for more, or harder, work.

The teacher called me a couple of weeks ago with an update, and they have now offered extension activities on all tasks, give her a few minutes 1:1 to go through spellings/comprehension with the teacher, reassessed her reading and purchased some more suitable books etc.

We’ve just had parents’ evening and they are now ‘on it’. They mentioned ‘differentiation by outcome’ and I know from DD’s comments and also by seeing her books that this is working and she is more challenged and inspired. It had just taken a while (a bit too long really!) for them to put the measures in place. No doubt my (gentle, polite but persistent) comments and DD’s proactive behaviour in class sped things up a bit.

I’m expecting to need to do the same each year, but I think a decent teacher and a reasonable parent can find a way to keep a bright child stimulated. Perhaps your DD is brave enough to ask for harder work to start with, and if this is not successful you could explain to the teacher that your DD is finding she has a lot of time left at the end of a task, and would it be possible to offer some additional work…

It’s easy to have your head turned by another school, but I would recommend trying to work with your daughter and the teacher to improve the situation in her current school first. Hopefully you will find the teacher to be receptive and things will improve.

nat73 Fri 17-Feb-17 13:10:16

No its state school. 18 in the year group.

So you have a class of 30 divided into 3/4/5 groups so 6-10 in a group?

I'm not suggesting my child is gifted but she is smart and unless you push / encourage that I am concerned she will just be spinning her wheels

Tomorrowillbeachicken Fri 17-Feb-17 13:13:21

Have also spoke to TA at parents evening and she has revealed our school will also let the child work with year above if needed. I have also been told what he needs to know next and been given the next phonemes he needs to know in our case.

anxious2017 Fri 17-Feb-17 13:14:55

Sometimes it could be differentiation by task, sometimes by outcome, usually three ways. Every group should have extension tasks for consolidation or to push further, so a child should never find work too easy or be bored. Often this is a child's interpretation of something.

Can you ask how the teavjer differentiates? I've noticed in my time as a teacher that some teachers are quite lazy with this and just give higher groups more work of the same level, or differentiate by assistance.

Saying that, it's quite hard and time consuming as a teacher to differentiate every lesson, three ways. Not so bad coming into it now as that's how you're taught but for the teachers that have been teaching for years and are used to everyone doing the same work, I'd imagine it's a ball ache. That isn't an excuse, just giving a reason as to why maybe some are lazy about doing it properly.

anxious2017 Fri 17-Feb-17 13:15:36

Oh also if a child is more able at something, there should be intervention groups where they will go out for extra maths etc.

nat73 Fri 17-Feb-17 13:19:33

I'll ask after half term and see how we go... I have to confess I'm starting to get weary of asking. We are in Year2 now. After the phonics test in Year 1 when they told us the result we said how does that compare nationally and the teacher just said 'dont know'. So we were none the wiser..

irvineoneohone Fri 17-Feb-17 13:33:21

I think it gets worse as years go up. In ks1, my ds's school simply tried to send him to higher year groups.
But in ks2, all the other works become more important, so he can't simply miss some of it to go to higher year group class(time tabling issue, which they don't want to sort it out for just one child), and have to stay in his year group, but with not particularly catered differentiation.
I think 18 in year group is an advantage, teacher has more time to spend on each child.

Ginmummy1 Fri 17-Feb-17 13:50:45

I don’t think an individual’s score the Y1 phonics check is much of an indicator. 40/40 simply means that the child has understood what they have been taught and can apply it. It is not designed to stretch the bright children. It is more about providing evidence that the school is teaching phonics effectively and that no child is falling through the cracks.

Ginmummy1 Fri 17-Feb-17 13:52:15

In terms of splitting the class into groups, DD’s class (30 children) is grouped into five groups of six children, as this fits the shape of the tables. They are grouped in terms of ability for the ‘formal’ learning but are allowed to move tables for the other stuff. Clearly forcing them into sixes is not necessarily the most accurate way of differentiating by ability, but I can see that it’s a practical solution for a classroom.

I gather that ability groupings are no longer the recommended approach, but DD definitely benefits from the collective sense of challenge when the teacher says that her table only have 20 minutes to finish a task, for example.

OliviaBonas Fri 17-Feb-17 13:53:47

Differentiation has now made way for mastery.

anxious2017 Fri 17-Feb-17 14:19:01

Not here. We don't do mastery at all.

yeOldeTrout Fri 17-Feb-17 18:05:23

ime, a class of 22 would be split into 4-5 ability groups. They all hear a lesson on the same topic, but get rather different worksheets that implement the ideas at different levels. The lowest ability kids are more likely to be sent for separate lessons of just 3-4 kids.

PamBagnallsGotACollage Fri 17-Feb-17 18:22:18

Have would always had 4-5 different ability groups with classes ranging from 19-30 children. Differentiation would be by level of work, practical tasks (resources to support learning) and adult support.

PamBagnallsGotACollage Fri 17-Feb-17 18:22:43

*I have always had

ShoeEatingMonster Fri 17-Feb-17 19:48:46

ime, a class of 22 would be split into 4-5 ability groups. They all hear a lesson on the same topic, but get rather different worksheets that implement the ideas at different levels. The lowest ability kids are more likely to be sent for separate lessons of just 3-4 kids

That is far too broad of a statement. It depends completely on the class! This year I have a class of a similar size and of a broadly similar ability. There are a group working at greater depth in each subject but in reading and maths there are none working below expected standard.
That doesn't mean I don't differentiate but things are done differently depending on what we're doing. Ultimately in a couple of months time they all need to try to reach the same expected standard so that's where it's pitched

mrz Fri 17-Feb-17 20:27:49

We don't have any ability groups one high expectation for all

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