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Working outside of year groups.

(22 Posts)
CrypticDipstick Wed 01-Mar-17 17:44:22

I don't really want to go into too many details, but my question is - Would you keep an able child with their year group at all times, or would you be open to allowing them to spend significant time with an older year group?

I am hoping that wondering if the general view is the same as my instinct on this. Thank you.

mrz Wed 01-Mar-17 17:46:26

I'd keep them with their year group

CrypticDipstick Wed 01-Mar-17 18:03:40

Thanks mrz. Is there an overriding reason for that? I'm just trying to get my thinking straight on this and trying to articulate what I think.

mrz Wed 01-Mar-17 18:10:20

I don't think there's anything to be gained. Evidence is that ability streaming is ineffective for the majority of children and shouldn't be necessary.

Boiled7Up Wed 01-Mar-17 18:21:54

Absolutely no reason for moving 'up' a group.

The only time I've ever ok'ed it was when we had a native French speaker come and do a lot of work with an older class. We had a French child in the class below who was bored out of their skull with my crappy French, so they went up for those lessons.

TrollTheRespawnJeremy Wed 01-Mar-17 18:25:54

I'd be OK with older year group. Presuming it is only 1 year up the ladder

CrypticDipstick Wed 01-Mar-17 18:39:39

Thanks *boiled", it's good to get a class teacher's (I presume?) view.

Yes Troll, one year. Although it's slightly complicated as it's not a straight forward class set up in this school.

ThermoScan Wed 01-Mar-17 19:39:22

I'd be open to them working with an older group for certain subjects but to remain with peers in the normal year for everything else.

cantkeepawayforever Wed 01-Mar-17 20:45:22

With normal year except in really exceptional cases (university Maths at 12, that kind of thing).

Apart from anything else, a genuinely able child will probably still be limited by a rigid '1 year ahead' curriculum, but the school may think 'we've done the 1 year ahead thing, we don't need to do anything else'.

Good differentiation within their own year group (and good differentiation may involve using materials or approaches or ideas from many year groups ahead, or open-ended 'non curriculum' resources such as e.g. nrich) is a much better solution.

I say this both as an able year-accelerated child (made no difference, i was still uncomfortably prominently 'able' within the year above, with the additional handicap of being young) and as a class teacher of some exceptionally able children.

Mehfruittea Wed 01-Mar-17 23:08:42

My DS is RY but spending some time in Y1 classes, especially for reading. We were not really told about it or asked for opinion either. It's up to the school I suppose, to decide how best to deliver the curriculum. At least they are looking at each child as an individual.

AllPizzasGreatAndSmall Wed 01-Mar-17 23:14:12

Keep within year group.

Bluebird23 Wed 01-Mar-17 23:38:04

Many years ago in the 80's, I was moved up year groups so in current terms I did Y3, Y5, Y6 x 2.
Looking back, I think it was detrimental to my overall development because as a summer born I was almost two years younger than a fair share of my class mates and struggled to develop real friendships / be fully accepted in to their existing groups, being moved away from my peer group meant I lost the bond I had developed with them in the lower years. Unfortunately, Primary School became quite a lonely place for me.
Also, during my 2nd Y6, I spent an awful lot of time being kept occupied by copying out of text books, working alone etc. I don't believe moving up year groups resulting in me starting high school at a higher academic level than my peer group.
Hopefully, your situation would be managed more effectively than my own experience but I would keep a very close eye on the social aspects and general happiness of your little one.

CrypticDipstick Thu 02-Mar-17 07:15:17

Thanks all for confirming and putting words to my initial instinct on this - that there are few advantages to separating a child from their peers. flowers

Arkadia Thu 02-Mar-17 09:13:39

In my view (and after talking here about it and with my DD's teacher and headteacher) this is a very complex situation that cannot be boxed in a "one size fits all" kind of solution. Even more, probably this is a lose-lose scenario because whatever you do there are BIG downsides.

- You keep your child with children same age: the child will end up bored no end, especially if he has to sit through class after class of boring, banal, easy stuff. Also he may grow supercilious and look with disdain at people his own age ("WHY can't they get it????"). Try and imagine yourself a Y5 child having to sit through Y3 classes EVERY-SINGLE-DAY.
On top of that, there is the aspect of working alone: if the child is given different work to do he will end up doing it alone, so even if he stays with children his own age, he will end up doing things on his own anyway. This is probably the worst aspect of all, along with the assumption that in order to get top marks at school all you have to do is turn up.
- you move your child ahead: the problem is very likely to present itself again after a short while, so this is not a long term solution, with in addition the fact that the child is (considerably) younger and probably smaller than the rest of the class.

In either case, the child will end up being singled out - which to me is never really a good idea, but what can you do?

This is a situation that, I have come to understand, is very difficult to manage effectively because whatever you end up doing, it is probably the wrong thing.
One has to hope that the school will get external help in order to manage it in a sensible fashion.

These is a very interesting thread (interesting to me at least) in the G&T forum called "praise result or criticize lack of effort?" or wording to that effect.

LtGreggs Thu 02-Mar-17 09:27:03

My 8yo P4 DS is (very) able in maths and they've recently arranged for him to do one maths lesson a week with a (very) able 11yo P7 (Scottish year groups). This works well for both of them, as they are outliers within the class/school and creates a peer group for them in this subject that just isn't available within their classroom - in some ways they are more singled out, but in some ways it's more inclusive for them. It's only one session a week though - can't think I'd be happy with a large amount of time spend with a much older yeargroup.

cantkeepawayforever Thu 02-Mar-17 09:30:17

I think the thing that you have to bear in mind is that every class, even if it contains children born within a specific 12 months, will contain a range of abilities spanning at least 4-5 years, and often much larger. So In a Year 3 class I have simultaneously taught children working at about the level of a 24 month old (or rather less - some words, partially toilet-trained etc) and children working at the level expected of a 10 year old or more.

So even in the new curriculum, which is very 'year group' based, it is absolutely the norm for teachers to routinely cater for a wide range of needs. However, one shift, particularly in Maths, is for depth of understanding and problem solving rather than acceleration onto 'different content', and this has been proving tricky both for pupils and parents [and to an extent teachers] to get their heads round, as it can look as if a child is being 'held back / bored' because 'harder work' doesn't look quite the same as it used to.

Where it does become tricky is where the profile of needs within the class is very uneven - for example, where there is a single 'outlier' at one end or other of the ability spread. When looking for a second primary for my DS, who is at one end of the ability spectrum and was extremely isolated in his first school, I looked for one where there was a more even spread of abilities 9easier in a larger school) and so where he would have more people closer to him in ability, to avoid the problem of 'individual isolation' which a PP refers to.

In the second school, he was catered for brilliantly within his own year group, whereas the first school had discussed shifting him by 2 full school years.

CrypticDipstick Thu 02-Mar-17 09:43:58

This is definitely a 'single outlier' situation can't, academically speaking. Emotionally speaking there are some differences but I don't think that means more or less maturity, just different quirks and 'sideways' differences if that makes sense.

Thanks all for the insights, you've thrown up lots of things to think about regardless of what happens with the year groups.

cantkeepawayforever Thu 02-Mar-17 09:54:13


Thanks for the clarification. If it is an extreme single outlier - as I say, the only suggestion for DS was to move two year groups, which we moved schools to avoid - then moving 1 year group really won't help, unless it happens that the next year group has a group of children of similar high ability that your child can join, IYSWIM?

Discussing how they cater for your child within their own class, without exacerbating the 'outlier' status by making it constantly visible, is the way forward. It can be helpful, IME, to make a comparison with a hypothetical child who is an outlier in terms of low ability / SEN - would they move them down into the previous year? If not, what are the adaptations made for such a child (support, resources, modified tasks, use of technology etc etc) and how can those same ideas be used to make adaptations for a high ability outlier?

cantkeepawayforever Thu 02-Mar-17 10:18:56

I would also consider a 'broadening not accelerating' approach to your DC's education outside school, in terms of exploring areas of interest (whether that be historical monuments, sports events full of statstics [yes, DS, I AM referring to you, cricket and Wisden] or hands-on science), groups like Scouting / Guiding, as well as things like musical instrument tuition / sports / performing arts.

Activities that are not so stratified by age - and also those where there is measurable 'individual progress against one's previous best' - can be really good for able but perhaps slightly socially different children.

Both DS and DD have benefited hugely from extracurricular 'things' (football, then music, for DS; dance for DD) where the culture is of striving for individual excellence that contributes to a wider team or group success, and where there is a different kind of peer group.

CrypticDipstick Thu 02-Mar-17 10:25:15

Thank you so much can't <takes notes>

I'm much more secure in my decision now, and have lots of new things to think about, thanks all.

Arkadia Fri 03-Mar-17 17:33:26

However, one shift, particularly in Maths, is for depth of understanding and problem solving rather than acceleration onto 'different content'

I am not sure how much I buy this argument. I can understand if you move higher up (towards the end of secondary school, say), but how much more in depth can you go at primary level? I mean, there are only so many "shirts that you can buy at £24 each to sell them at £30", or there are only some many "sheets that the teacher can give equally to the class till she has run out of paper", to give you just a couple of examples.

Besides, the corollary is that it is assumed that a "normal" (if you pardon the discriminatory and belittling label) child would end up without the same amount of "depth of understanding", which seems rather odd to me.

And, even if the "able" child was given tons of material to gain a better insight on whatever topic, the bottom line is still the same... the normal lessons would simply not apply to him, so I don't see what the real advantage, as far as class management is concerned, is.

In addition, I can scarcely believe that normally in a class you would find children working at +-2 years (or more) with respect to their theoretical level. I can understand that there could be children with learning difficulties, but that doesn't mean that there is always continuum from -2 to +2 years (or more). If anything, the teacher would go demented. smile

cantkeepawayforever Fri 03-Mar-17 17:44:32


a) On your last point, yes that is absolutely normal. It's probably easiest to explain using the old 'levels' system. In Year 6, it used to be absolutely normal for some children to get a Level 3 (so the same as a high performing Y2 child), and a few children would be working below that level (so perhaps in line with an average Y2 child). 'Average' was muid Level 4. Level 5s (average for Y7-8) were common, Level 6s (expected fr end Y9) were exceptional but not unknown, particularly in maths. So that is a range from Y2 to Y9 levels right there in a single classroom.... in pretty much every Y6 classroom across the country, though obviously the Y2 and Y9 levels were rarer than the Level 3 (Y4) to level 5 (Y7-8) spread.

b) Probably the best way of looking at depth is to look at somewhere like nrich. So for example in a Y4 or Y5 class learning about time, some children might be learning to tell the time ion an analogue clock , the slightly more able might be doing Two clocks problem, and the most able might be looking at exact moment the hands overlap in a particular hour. It is a shift from 'harder numbers', I agree - a 'harder numbers' strategy for able children is very limited - but it definitely is more depth.

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