Year 6 DD declining in maths, awful parents eve. How to address?

(45 Posts)
CBGBs Wed 20-Nov-19 12:44:23

We had parents eve recently for DD age 10, year 6. She usually has excellent parents evenings with nothing but praise, she is in top sets.

However this recent parents eve was pretty awful, she has scored very low on a maths test, I’m not sure if it’s a mock SATS test or not. 16 out of 30 when she apparently should be achieving 24 out of 30.

We asked the teacher if it was just the one test, is it possible she was having an off day, and he said yes but if she carries on like this she will be very disappointed in herself in her SATS. The whole appointment was very focussed on this poor result in maths which is fair enough, the teacher did mention in passing that some of her English work was best in the class but then went back to talking about the decline in maths, so the overall appointment felt pretty brutal and DD was in tears by the end. However the teacher did state that she will not be moved down from top maths set over one bad test.

My son had this teacher and he says that it’s his style of teaching, the ‘give them a kick up the bum’ type of approach.

She has been displaying anxiety since this parents evening and it’s manifesting itself in all sorts of things, e.g. crying when she came last at bowling on Sunday as she’s a failure etc. Panicking over homework. It’s a marked difference as she has always been confident in her school work before.

We are trying to address her anxiety at home and have asked school to let us know what she got wrong in the test so we can try and work through it with her. At this point I am more concerned about her wellbeing.

Many of her peers in the top set are tutored but we never really saw a need to do this at the primary stage as SATS are to be a measure of the school. However I am wondering about a tutor for her confidence/wellbeing? Has anyone else experienced similar?

OP’s posts: |
CBGBs Wed 20-Nov-19 12:46:50

Forgot to mention in my OP, my son (two years older) was very able at maths, this was also mentioned by the teacher in the parents evening to my DD. I think this is adding to her worries as she feels she will not achieve as highly as her brother.

OP’s posts: |
clutchingon Wed 20-Nov-19 12:59:16

Get some of the practice papers op and sit down and do them with her. I did this with my dd pre entrance exams last year. She had some basic stuff missing that she just didn't understand.

I was hopeless at maths at school but the papers are pretty straightforward and the answers show you the workings so I was able to do it with her easily.

She turned it around very quickly and got 118 in her sat paper. I honestly recommend doing this over a tutor (she had a tutor for other elements of the exams) as it gives you an opportunity to understand where they are going wrong.

Top set might just be too fast for her - it was for my daughter. She outperformed many from top set in middle set in the end.

BlueChampagne Wed 20-Nov-19 13:00:38

Sorry to hear this, and feel it was unprofessional of the teacher to compare your DD with your DS. If she were to go down a set, would she be taught by a different teacher? If so, it might be a blessing in disguise?

Definitely find out what she got wrong (and check the marking, just in case). It may be there is just one maths area she's weaker on.

Good luck!

BlueChampagne Wed 20-Nov-19 13:01:59

DS1 wasn't in top set for maths but still got GD in SATs. I did have to work through some tests with him.

BlackSwanGreen Wed 20-Nov-19 13:14:04

The teacher sounds awful - it was particularly unkind and unprofessional to compare your DD to her brother. That sort of thing can be really damaging to a child's confidence. I had the same issue with my DS and my DD at primary school, and I did end up specifically asking this teacher to STOP doing it.

I wouldn't get tutoring personally. Give her a bit of extra support in maths, and she'll probably do better in future tests. I would put this one behind you rather than dwelling on it, and tell her to do the same.

CareOfPunts Wed 20-Nov-19 13:17:19

Jesus she’s in primary school and it’s one test, give her a break!

My son is autistic and we are fretting about how he’s going to cope with high school at all, not whether he might end up a maths group down. Get it into perspective. As for your daughter, perhaps this won’t be the worst in helping teach her a bit of resilience and that she can’t always expect to be top, other people are working hard and catching up too.


Overdueanamechange Wed 20-Nov-19 13:17:37

I went in to see my daughter's teacher, to say that because of all the stress she was experiencing I was not going to allow her to do her SATs. Of course it didn't come to that, the teacher rethought their "enthusiasm" and DD sailed through with no pressure.

AuntImmortelle Wed 20-Nov-19 13:24:44

As a teacher my first thought was that this teacher's teaching style is wrong for your daughter. I would have been asking how come she had declined so much since he had been teaching her. Not what she was doing wrong. Her anxiety, if that's unusual for her, could be related to how he teaches/handles the class. I'm guessing he is piling the pressure on and it's making her panic. SATs pressure has a lot to answer for. Teachers get bollocked if results drop by senior management and this can translate into putting too much onto the kids.

CareOfPunts Wed 20-Nov-19 13:31:48

Why was she there anyway? I’ve had 2 through primary school now and never once has my child been there for a parent teacher interview at parents’ night. It’s an opportunity to have a private discussion about my children’s progress and any issues without little ears waggling. If I don’t have childcare they sit in the corridor.

AChickenCalledDaal Wed 20-Nov-19 13:42:38

It's one test result and her teacher should not be comparing her to a sibling.

I've been through the situation where a year 6 teacher is letting their own anxiety manifest as excessive pressure on a basically able child. What we did was focus on helping our child feel as calm and confident as possible and standing between her and unhelpful messages from school. By all means keep an eye on how homework etc is going, but don't be panicked into thinking there's a major issue on the basis of one test.

CBGBs Wed 20-Nov-19 13:50:45

Thanks all, I don’t mind at all if she gets moved down a group, I asked if that might be better and teacher said they wouldn’t do it at the moment. We are extremely relaxed, maybe we have been too relaxed. It’s her downturn in mood which has made us sit up sharp.

At our school all junior children have to attend the parents eve alongside their parents. No idea why.

DD agrees that she understood her year 5 teachers way of explaining things a lot better than this one.

OP’s posts: |
Milicentbystander72 Wed 20-Nov-19 14:01:06

Gah bloody SATS.

My dd always struggled a bit at Maths (well had anxiety about it). I did nothing extra at home with her. Just told her not to worry.

In the end she got great SATS results. Do you know what? I wish she hadn't. Our secondary school uses SATS scores to set benchmarks. Her benchmarks (these are set now as they're worked out from SATS) are all 9's and 8's in ALL subjects. Bloody ridiculous. Dd is doing her GCSE's now. She doing ok, managing. I'll be over the moon if she gets a 6 in Maths and so will she. No matter what she does she's always 'below her benchmark' unless it's in the few subjects where she's doing great on 8's etc. It's very demoralising for her.

My ds didn't do quite as well in his SATS, his benchmarks are very achievable at 5,6's etc, consequently his reports always look brilliant because he's above. It's a crap system.

To cut a long strong short - don't stress out this one test. Tell her to put it passed her. The teacher was well out of order and should have reassured her. I might think of having another word (on my own!) with teacher. Ask fir help in building her confidence again.

Oh and I agree with a pp. never once in Primary did my dcs sit in at parents evening. Only now at Secondary do they come as well and the teacher really likes to talk to them.

Batqueen Wed 20-Nov-19 14:02:00

It sounds like this teachers approach has made your DD question her overall capability when the intention was to get her to work harder because she IS capable.

She is now doubting herself and questioning whether she can do maths as well as her brother and whether it’s worth trying if she just isn’t ‘smart’ at maths.

If you can reinforce the message that you learn to be smart at things by studying them not by innately knowing them she might get her confidence back. If you can support her yourselves great, if not a couple sessions with a tutor to get her back on track (reminding her that this is because there is something she can learn and challenge herself).

Milicentbystander72 Wed 20-Nov-19 14:03:43

Oh and just to add, my niece is currently studying Aerospace Engineering at a top uni - she was always in Set 2 for Maths and always struggled slightly. It never came naturally to her and she just put huge effort into it as she saw Maths as a means to an end.

Don't worry about 1 test honestly. My dcs bomb tests at times in all subjects and they're doing fine.

Wildorchidz Wed 20-Nov-19 14:07:04

Did he compare her to her brother?

egontoste Wed 20-Nov-19 14:08:06

Ask for a copy of her test paper so that you can see exactly which answers she gave.

My dd scored particularly badly on one, but that was because the teacher didn't explain clearly enough that she had to hurry up a bit and attempt all the questions. She had gone slowly and accurately and answered the earlier questions right, but hadn't attempted the later questions which brought her mark right down.

Pinkblueberry Wed 20-Nov-19 14:10:05

That seems quite an OTT reaction from the teacher. At this point children do mock sats not only to test knowledge but also to get used to the structure of tests and just the general test atmosphere. She may have scored low because she was nervous, struggled to make sense of the questions or perhaps just wasn’t applying herself. I agree you’re daughter might need to put more effort in - but again that’s another reason why practice tests are done, the children need to learn that day dreaming, not concentrating will mean that they may get questions wrong - but then I still don’t think there’s any need for the teacher to be so negative. Maybe he’s feeling the sats pressure himself, but he shouldn’t be letting it out on the kids and parents.

HunkyDory69 Wed 20-Nov-19 14:15:52

What Millicent said.⬆️.

Teacher didn't use the right approach for your DD & not a great idea to be comparing siblings at all.

Having said that, you need to find an approach that reduces your DD's anxiety , not ramps it up. Maybe use some of the experiences from this thread to devise your own approach & see if your DD can decide what is best for her, when stripped back to basics eg she doesn't understand thos teacher so well - maybe it would be best for her to move down, as long as she buys into it for herself, not seeking to please you.

There was an article in The Times, I think, last week, suggesting that the sweet spot for learning is 85% correct - any more & students can get bored; much less and their learning isn't so great/ they may be dragged a bit too fast. 24/30 is close to 85% so maybe that test is a pointer.

Overall, though, important not to fixate on a single test. Look at the trend - and in the case of primary especially, your DD's feelings. If her anxiety magnifies, it may seep into other subjects in the future.

Majorcollywobble Wed 20-Nov-19 14:16:07

Why is it that there seems to be a sadistic streak in many Maths teachers ?
Going back yoncks I decided to take a GCSE in Maths at the age of 40 as I’d failed miserably at school . The teacher who was brilliant and encouraging to all confided that she’d been told she was rubbish at Maths - she was now teaching it !
This teacher needs a kick up the backside themself . To compare the performance of your DD with DS is truly odious and damaging . I’d be tempted to complain . The last thing DD needs is to internalize this - life’s difficult enough at school these

ChicCroissant Wed 20-Nov-19 14:22:49

You can get practice books for the SATs test, the CGP ones are only 10 min tests and my DD found them helpful. It may be easier to do it at home with less time pressure (you don't have to time her at all) and see if there is a particular area of maths that she is finding tricky.

VignetteStonemoss Wed 20-Nov-19 14:28:15

Well presumably as it's only November and they're practicing something that's to be tested next May then there is still stuff that needs to be taught, knowledge to be obtained and a lot to revise before the SATs results come into line with the children's actual ability.

In addition, if she is "deteriorating" in maths and it's never been an issue before then that's on the teacher and his style of teaching. Him being all "cruel to be kind" isn't working for your dd and he needs to adjust this style when dealing with your dd.

Children do best when they're feeling confident, and unfortunately he's destroyed her confidence (and scored an own goal) based on one test result and a ten minute parents' meeting.

Peacenquiet2 Wed 20-Nov-19 14:29:33

Wow, no wonder your dd is declining in her maths with this amount of pressure on her. She's in primary, no University, and from my own experience SAT results really don't count for much at all. My DD left 2 years ago and was a high achiever like your dd, however didn't fare as well in her says as forecast. We didn't give two hoots, she did her best, and secondary retested her anyway and she is in all top sets in year 8. Take some pressure off your dd and let her know that no matter what she achives you will be proud of her. The teachers have to meet certain criteria and scores themselves which means they put pressure on the kids, it's pretty awful imo, SATs are just statistics. My ds1 is due to take SATs next year and Ile be telling him to not worry about them and take them with a pinch of salt.

PaintDiagram Wed 20-Nov-19 14:35:36

As PP have said above could you get a copy of the test she did and find out what she was struggling on? If you worked on what she was struggling on, and then resit the same test (without her knowing it’s the same test) and hopefully a better score would boost her confidence.

Could you afford a maths tutor even for a few weeks and hopefully that tutor could be a bit more positive with her. We all struggle with things and primary age kids think that maths and English is the only things that matter. Not sure if she already does some extra-curricular clubs but something else to take her mind of academia for a while and boost her confidence - she could be a great sixer at brownies for example.

AlexaShutUp Wed 20-Nov-19 14:41:17

It makes me so cross that we are putting primary school children under this kind of pressure. It's absurd and it's wrong.

By all means, ask for your dd's paper and help her to work through the things that she didn't understand, and try to build up her confidence again, but more importantly, help her get some perspective on what's happened.

She dropped marks on one unimportant test in one subject. It means ^nothing^. And even if it does mean something, and she gets moved down, it ^still^ doesn't matter. She might be able to move back up again. Or she might not. Again, it doesn't matter.

My friend's teenage daughter is suicidal. She has attempted to take her own life twice. Believe me, nobody gives a toss about her maths results any more. Same goes for my dd's friend whose severe anxiety actually prevents her from sitting down and finishing an exam, along with a whole lot of other stuff that she can no longer do. We owe it to our children to prioritise their health and well-being above all of these stupid tests. We need to teach them that a minor blip is just that. We need them to understand that they are worth more than the sum of their exam scores. That what really matters is whether they're kind to themselves and other people.

I have taught my daughter that her results are not important. All that matters is the effort that she puts in. I expect her to do her best, but I am not attached to the outcome.

I'm not criticising you, by the way, OP. You have said that your primary concern is her well-being, and that's as it should be. I just get so angry with the system that puts so much pressure on our children at such a young age. Please don't buy into it, and don't let your dd buy into it either. She cannot possibly be a failure at the age of ten or eleven.

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