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Being held back a year

(26 Posts)
WestWithTheSun Sun 16-Jul-17 00:31:02

DS is, like every other child in the country, due to move up a year at school. However we have been told he will remain in the same classroom for another year. The school is a small school with only 5 classes to accommodate the 7 year groups. Until recently each classroom except the Year 6 class had a maximum age range of 18 months in it as the class dividing line was based on age. All of the children would be at some point one of the older children in a class and then the following year one of the younger children in a class. Under a new headteacher the split of classes is now decided on ability. So a child who might previously have moved up a class based on age could now be held back in a classroom with children who would be mostly 1-2 years younger than them. This is what has happened to my child - he is the oldest in his year group and the rest of his friends will be moving classroom with only him left behind with a couple of the youngest ones and a couple who have very much greater individual support needs than DS has.

I cannot deny that he is slow to pick up reading and writing, but he had a couple of undiagnosed problems with his eyes which have now been resolved. As soon as we discovered he had these problems I asked the school to make sure he received support to ensure he did not trail behind, backed up with plenty of help with his reading and writing from us at home. But the teacher he has had this year has been unhelpful, refusing to offer him help when he asks for it if he is struggling with something, keeping him in over lunchtime and breaks because he is struggling, and telling him he is slow and stupid. His confidence has been knocked and he turned from a child who was keen to go to school and took pleasure in being there into one who would beg me to keep him at home and pretend to be ill. I've sent him in daily regardless of his pleas but have felt awful doing so.

The teacher in this classroom next year will be different to the one that was there this year, but I still feel extremely uncomfortable sending him back in there. She has said she is very keen to help him get back on track, but I feel he should not have been allowed to get so far off track to start with. I've been into school several times each term with my concerns, and have been brushed off each time. I believe that at primary level children should be taught within their age groups, not segregated at such an early age, and that DS is going to have little in common, either emotionally or physically, with children who are up to 2 years younger than him. He has been removed from his friendship groups and it will not go unnoticed that he is still with the younger kids.

I've had it suggested to me that I would not be unreasonable to remove him from this school and send him elsewhere where he will be taught with kids of his own age. But I've also been told by the school that I will be doing him a disservice by putting him in a class of his peers, as in their opinion he needs extra support (but when I point out I've been asking for the extra support for over a year they have no answers, and nor do they have any suggestions as to what support he will get in one classroom that the other is unable to provide.)

I'm burbling now, but I don't want my child to be the big kid in the little kid class. He is otherwise very bright, but his lateness to start reading has been used by the teacher as an excuse to beat him with at every step and he does not want to spend another year in the same class. Every part of me is telling me he should not be there. DC1 is thriving further up in the school, but DS needs to be either with his peers or somewhere else. I don't think the head is going to agree with me when I go in to speak to them next week, so how do I go about finding somewhere else to send him at such short notice? We only found this out this week, and it's the end of term next week. In spite of me going into school regularly with concerns, the school assured me they thought everything was going swimmingly and this is the first inkling we had that there was such a problem.

OP’s posts: |
mrz Sun 16-Jul-17 07:55:08

I think you need to think of it as him being the eldest in a mixed age class rather than being kept back a year which isn't the case. He's moving up a year but remaining in the same classroom it's good news that it will be a different teacher who recognises that he needs support to progress.
I can understand your concern and anger and only you can decide if you trust this teacher enough or are better looking for an alternative school.

Crumbs1 Sun 16-Jul-17 08:03:09

Odd to keep him in and punish him for not writing well. What reason is the teacher giving? When you say otherwise bright, what do you mean?
What was eye problem that resulted in slowness to develop reading and writing- has he since picked up?
Is he the only child remaining in the same class? How will they ensure he remains challenged by work apart from reading and writing?

I think your situation creates more questions than it answers. I'd have the discussion with the head with an open mind. Reading and writing are so fundamental, he does need those to access other learning as he gets older.

LIZS Sun 16-Jul-17 08:03:50

If he needs extra support there are other ways of giving it , while allowing him to move with his peer group. How old is he?

user789653241 Sun 16-Jul-17 08:14:32

You say this year's teacher didn't help, but you also say the teacher kept him during breaks and lunch time, which means teacher had to stay with him to supervise and help?
Did you make a complaint when he was called "stupid" by this teacher?

If he was put in the other class, another child had to be in this class. So, it's not really kept back a year, more like just trying to manage 7 year groups in 5 class rooms. He can still keep his friendship during breaks.

Even you move him, he will still be one of the oldest child who is struggling.

GplanAddict Sun 16-Jul-17 08:27:20

We've been there too unfortunately, so I feel for you.

The issue with this is not him staying in a class with children much younger than him (although if your ds is anything like my dd it did knock her confidence and affect friendship groups) but the fact that the school are being unsupportive of his needs. If he is behind then there should be interventions to support him, you should be having structured conversations with the teacher. The teacher absolutely should never be calling a child stupid!

What is the head like? Have you raised concerns to them?

We ended staying with the school for 2 additional years before moving our dd. For us, it would have been much much better to move her when we first became concerned. We had no idea how badly the school were letting her down until she started at a different school. On her second day at the new school they put in place a confidence boosting intervention, and precision teaching. After a term of assessing her progress they put in place an extra 2 interventions, 1 for snappy maths and 1 for reading comprehension.
After 2 sessions of reading comprehension interventions I got called into the school as they realised her reading comprehension is in fact outstanding, and they wanted to discuss this as they believe there is something 'blocking her learning' in the classroom. We've long suspected ADD and we know she has a poor working memory and v slow processing.

My point is the new school a. Support our child, and b. Communicate with us.

My concern for you is if the leadership are allowing teachers to operate in a way which does not support your son, there's no guarantee that the new teacher will do so, no matter how enthusiastic to start with. You need to have faith in the head and the ethos of the school.

Hugs OP, your post has brought back sad memories.

hippyhippyshake Sun 16-Jul-17 08:35:27

I would be concerned about what happens when his original cohort finish year 6. Does that mean he will move up to secondary school not having done the year 6 curriculum? Apologies if I have misunderstood.

mrz Sun 16-Jul-17 08:37:34

Why won't he have done the Y6 curriculum? He's remaining in the same classroom not being moved down a year

ChangingStates Sun 16-Jul-17 08:42:34

Suggest the headteacher looks at Sutton trust and education endowment foundation- there is a good amount of research that clearly shows ability grouping does not improve education outcomes except for the highest attainers and that holding children back a year actually has negative impact on children's learning. You can google it to see what the research says- these are well respected educational research organisations so should be taken seriously. Go to the governors of you don't get a good response from the head.

user789653241 Sun 16-Jul-17 08:49:37

I think title is misleading. It's not held back a year, more like taught in mixed year group class, and OP's ds is in class with children from lower year group, right?

Spottytop1 Sun 16-Jul-17 08:52:58

I would be looking at moving him schools.
If he needed additional support then he should receive it in the appropriate way - keeping in at breaks and lunchtimes for this support is not appropriate. I also hope you did complain about the teacher calling him 'stupid'.

What will the curriculum coverage that he will taught be? Considering he is being held back for another year but with other children up to 2 years younger than him?

SavoyCabbage Sun 16-Jul-17 08:54:18

How many actual children from his year group are going to be in this class with him?

My school is like this with split classes. Every year there are unhappy parents but the school is absolutely doing what they think is best for the children. More than one person is involved doing the class splits. They aren't sitting there going 'oh, I don't like John so let's put him in class two rather than class three'

He isn't being kept back. He's just in the same physical classroom. Some of the children will be the same ones and some will be different and the teacher will be different. If he is in year two now for example, and the teacher next year says 'year three children sit with me on the blue table' he will be in year three sitting on the blue table.

The keeping him in was presumably to help him rather than him and if he was called stupid at school then that is completely unacceptable and warrants a formal complaint.

Is your school loosing any support staff? Ours is so some of our classes won't have a TA to give any extra support so a child who is struggling would find it hard as there is only going to be one adult.

Vagndidit Sun 16-Jul-17 09:00:08

I wouldn't consider not moving ahead in a multi year group equal to being held back.

I honestly wish holding back was an option. Ds has been a late bloomer academically and is now only starting to make progress now that he's off to Y5 in September. But it was years of tears, feelings of inadequacy, bullying while his skills developed at a slower pace than his peers. I always wonder how much better he would have fared if he could have spent an extra year in Infants along the way. It's a shame it isn't an option.

user789653241 Sun 16-Jul-17 09:09:44

My ds was kept in during breaks to finish his writing few times. In his pov, he's been punished for being slow writer. From my pov, I just feel grateful that teacher cut her breaks short to help him.

Spottytop1 Sun 16-Jul-17 09:35:19

Kept back a few times is perfectly ok but being kept back regularly in place of suitable additional support is not.

WestWithTheSun Sun 16-Jul-17 09:45:49

GplanAddict, your experience is what we are fearing and anticipating. Thanks for sharing it, it's made a few things clearer for me.

ChangingStates, I've had a quick Google, and found it very quickly. Thank you! It has given me some awesome ammunition to go in with this week. (And it has confirmed a few other things I have a belief in too that often go against the school grain!)

To those saying he will receive the extra support if he stays in the same classroom, my concerns are that I have been asking for the extra support all year and not getting it. On the occasions where he was kept in (daily at one point, until DS admitted it to me - he had been too ashamed to tell me until I grilled him on why he wasn't eating his lunch, and he told me he did not have enough time to eat it once he had been allowed out of class) he was not given support, he was being kept in solely because he had not completed work in spite of asking for help. I've complained about the teacher on a termly basis, and the head always backs his teacher.

OP’s posts: |
SavoyCabbage Sun 16-Jul-17 10:58:40

Is there a TA in the class at the moment to give extra support (not a 1 to 1 TA for another child)?

And again, how many children who are in the same years as your ds will be in the new class?

WestWithTheSun Sun 16-Jul-17 11:14:44

8 out of the 26 in the classroom will be DS's year group, the remainder will be the year below. Without being specific, several of the children remaining have very considerable issues that require one to one time, and at least one of them ought to have their own TA. My child is just behind in reading and has not been given any one to one time this year as there are not the resources for it. DS is older than all of the children remaining, and he is older than all of the children moving up too. There is a TA in the classroom he is trying in in the mornings. The other classroom has a full time TA.

OP’s posts: |
mrz Sun 16-Jul-17 11:58:47

So I assume a similar number or his year group moving to a different classroom?

Where will the teacher he's had this year be working?

Bluerose27 Sun 16-Jul-17 12:08:21

Is his teacher actually saying the words "you are slow and stupid" to him????

mrz Sun 16-Jul-17 12:27:06

Totally unacceptable if that's true.

Naty1 Sun 16-Jul-17 20:29:22

Although you may be concerned. It would be more concerning for a dc august born to be exceeding and placed in with the younger ones.
Almost 30% will be your dc year group. It's almost like saying you want him on the top table because he is oldest.
However you are not wrong that they should be supporting him more if he is capable.
I cant see the kids caring about him being the oldest (as they will understand there has to be a split.)
I do agree though that there is a likelihood he will slip further behind.
Which would be my concern in any situation where they split in 2 classrooms.

BubblesBuddy Sun 16-Jul-17 21:46:13

This is yet another problem where a school has unequal numbers and has to make very difficult decisions on teaching groups. Your DS should be taught the appropriate curriculum for his age and that may not be what the school has in mind. I also agree that separating the less able sends a terrible message to them and they have no higher achieving children, the same age as them, to aspire to. They will feel demoted.

However separating the youngest is also
wrong. I would just avoid schools this size, but that is easier said than done! The truth is, that in order to work within the budget, the school has to make these decisions. I would want to know what extra help these children are getting, how the classroom will be arranged and how will the appropriate curriculum be taught. I would want assurances they are not repeating a year to make life easy for the teacher.

BubblesBuddy Sun 16-Jul-17 21:51:26

I would also want to know what other arrangements will be in place for DC to do sport, music, art, trips, assemblies etc with his cohort so he is given every chance to develop in other ways and have the full range of opportunities offered to the year group to which he belongs. Not being with his cohort for non academic work reinforces the feeling of being demoted and having fewer opportunities would not be fair.

ginsparkles Sun 16-Jul-17 21:52:47

My daughters school does split years. She will remain in the reception class room, but will be taught the year 1 curriculum. They teach the children in small groups, so the small group that are staying in the reception class will be taught the same year 1 curriculum as those that move up. The only difference is that she will have the less formal reception setting instead of the more intense formal setting.

Her friends are almost all moving up, but we have talked it through at length and she knows and is ok with it, they will be together at breaks and lunch, they will have some lessons together and all class outings including forest school.

We see this as a really good thing for our daughter.

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