This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
I've just learned that my son's school does streaming for games/P.E., he is in year 2. It's bad enough that there is streaming for English and Maths but games as well? Furthermore it's colour coded, red for bottom, green for top. I think this is awful... what message does it send out at age 6? I'd like to hear opinions on streaming at primary school. I only encountered it myself at secondary. It makes me sad that there seems to be so much pressure to perform and do well at primary school.
Do you mean he's put in ability based groups within his class rather than streaming? I agree with you that it's a shame that children aren't taught in mixed ability groups at least at primary school. For sport, I can actually see the point of it - it's completely demoralising to be playing in a game of football with players who have fantastic ball skills when you can scarcely kick a ball yourself.
Some kids thrive on the pressure to perform, some kids don’t . I have had to take my dd age 8 out of a local state school with no streaming and put her in an independent for various reasons but one thing I have noticed is that she is loving the extra pressure. So much happier, relaxed and more energy even though the days are much longer. She is a different kid.
The red and green bit is a bit odd though.
Is it a private school?
My kids are streamed at secondary and it works great. Sporty kids aren't slowed down by the less sporty kids. The less sporty kids play with similar ability kids so don't suffer the embarrassment of not being as good as the sporty kids so enjoy PE more. Their peers are more likely to choose them for a team or pass the ball. If you know what playground football games are like you'd know what I mean. Some kids treat it like the World Cup and rage at the drop of a hat.
I think y2 is too young to stream but I know that from y3 onwards, after school sports like football become very competitive and moves away from the "everybody gets a turn" ethos of younger years.
Some kids thrive on the pressure to perform, some kids don’t . I have had to take my dd age 8 out of a local state school with no streaming and put her in an independent for various reasons but one thing I have noticed is that she is loving the extra pressure.
Is your daughter in the bottom stream, thriving on the pressure to improve so she can move up?
I thought streaming (which is different to setting and different to ability groups within a single class) was pretty much not used these days? It wouldn't have suited my DS who is very good at some subjects and fairly poor at others, as he'd likely have ended up in the wrong stream however they did it.
Thanks for your replies.
What is the difference between streaming and ability groups?
I totally get that this might be good at secondary. I was always in the last five to be picked and some of the PE teachers actually picked on me and never taught me how to play any sports - they'd totally give up on the ones that weren't going to win any medals at school tournaments. However at primary school level surely everyone can be given a chance. It's interesting to read that from year 3 it gets more competitive.
My understanding of different groupings:
Streaming is where the school decide they will put everyone into groups based on their general ability (or they might use some other criteria). The students are then taught solely in that group. This works well if you have a student who is (say) a great all rounder but not so well if you have a student who is brilliant at English but rubbish at maths - they might end up in a middle stream where they are not stretched in English but struggle in maths. The streams then tend to be very static, so it's hard to move up or down.
Sets are where students are put in classes according to their ability in a particular subject. So a student might be in different sets for different subjects (although schools often group subjects for the purposes or timetabling). This is better in terms of the student is more likely to be at an appropriate level in that subject, but again it can be hard for students to move up or down and students in lower sets can become demoralised.
Ability groups are where the class is taught as a whole but students are given different work according to their ability within the class. So there might be a "top table", "middle table", "bottom table". This again sets up a hierarchy of abilities but as students are still taught within the same class there is more possibility of regular movement or students can more easily work on harder/easier topics.
With mixed ability teaching you again teach the class as a whole but there is no concept of "groups" - there might be (say) three levels of work, but each student picks the level they want to work on.
The PE grouping is interesting. My DD has been put into the "top" PE group at secondary school. She's with lots of people that are very keen and very sporty. DD is not sure why she's in the group and suspects she might have just made the cut to keep numbers equal. She would much rather be in a lower group!
The difficulty with doing this at y2 is that the summer borns will on average be smaller and less coordinated and thus more likely to be in lower stream/set/ability group. If then they are not given the same opportunities (e.g. the school enters an under 8 tournament with only the 'top' children) then the gap widens rather than narrows.
This is why in many sports professionals are not spread averagely across all months of the year (as one might expect by adulthood) but are biased towards months just after the cutoff and against months just before (ie biased towards old in years). See Malcolm Gladwell's 'Outliers' for more info.
Thank you last two posters. My original post should have been about 'sets' not streaming then.
Even so - to have sets in games I think is overkill in year 2.
I will look at the Outliers book again. I do have that book. It's a good time to read again perhaps.
I'm actually in favour of ability sets for PE (well at secondary level anyway, not sure about Y2!!) because exercise should be enjoyed by all, but not everybody is "sporty" so setting enables the sporty, competitive kids to go off and play matches and the like, whilst the less able kids can learn that exercise can be fun even if you're not "good at it" my niece was in a bottom set for PE and loved it as they got to do cool stuff like trampolining and orienteering.
I'm very much in favour of PE sets at secondary for just the reasons you describe rainbows , but definitely not in infants!
Having a sporty child who happens to be a small summer born, I'm thinking that perhaps there might be some value in 'ability grouping' (or maybe 'size grouping') of some sort even at primary. Despite being sporty, DS quickly learned that he could never keep up, never win any races, never get picked for a team. Because the sporty kids who were nearly a year older just had longer legs!
So his self-image is that sports is fun but there is no point trying to be competitive at it, as he will never be good enough. That happened in mixed-ability (and mixed-age) teaching. The summer-born effect did not derive from streaming/setting/ability grouping, it happened even when there wasn't any of that.
So I wonder if there is anything to be done at Infants/primary age, perhaps splitting by age or size, that would allow all children to grow up thinking they can be 'good at sports' (because by the time they've grown up, the age difference won't matter anymore). Rather than just accepting that the young-in-year will learn that they are not good at sports, and providing them with opportunities to do 'fun sports' instead. (Which is better than putting them off sports altogether, of course - but might we not aim for more?)
There is only 5cm height difference a year.
But within a year group a child say 91st centile might be 6m to a year biggers. So 2.5-5cm.
My dc2 is tall but youngest and there are many many kids taller in that year group.
But i think it is not just height it is behaviour, attitude, sharing etc. The oldest are more reliable.
It is all quite stupid as a country and with independent teams because we are certainly losing some amazing sportspeople. Who may turn out tallish and built for the sport but they are superceded by okish sept born classmates.
Maybe when selecting they should do timed races showing all age groups.
However imo some of the difference is created preschool where sept have 5y to learn to swim, kick, run, jump, play football, do gymnastics, rugbytots etc. Vs the 4y of an aug born. Who may have only recently stopped napping. Couldnt follow instructions as well.
Ime my dc1 learnt to cycle at 5.5yo for various reasons but contributing was tiredness from school and busy weekends with reception parties. Then also in yr r couldnt have coped with doing an afterschool club at all. So no learning to swim then etc.
So then needed to spend time on these skills while other kids were doing other things.
With the very tall kids included in the heights the 5cm shorter was actually more like 20+cm smaller than some kids.
I have seen littler kids win at sportsday races as it was leg speed (but dont think they were both youngest and small as they would have had a year less skill and strength). Ive seen summer kids cry at the end of sports day because they were actually trying hard.
Also i think parents now can be really pushing their kids with activities.And some will have been doing them for years.
But if you have a very competitive child they could push to do clubs and practise at home.
I dont see the point in setting though unless there are lots of classes or they want to help those struggling more. But if school sport is anything like the swimming we get 2yrs of 6 lessons!! Then without doing stuff outside of school kids would have very little chance of achieving much
Setting happens in lots of subjects-PE is no different.
Streaming is obviously very different.
Not trying to be a git- but do you mean streaming or setting? They are very different things.
Oops- sorry, I should have RTFT
PE is just like any other subject. If you’re ok with different groups in English and Maths, then why not PE? If anything, it probably means the school actually wants to teach them something rather than just tick the PE box.
However, I do take a massive issue with red/amber/green. Just as I’d think it’s a horrible way of labelling kids in any other subject. I’d raise that with the school.