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Seating arrangements in class (yr2)

(43 Posts)
lottysmum Wed 03-Jun-09 09:05:15

Just wondered whether children are grouped together on tables in terms of ability?

My dd has gone back to school after half term and is now sat on a table full of boys for numeracy (50/50 sex mix in class)...which seems bit odd.

I haven't noticed this before...she's fairly bright and I know 3/4 of the boys are extremely bright all rounders.

willali Wed 03-Jun-09 09:13:42

IME children are moved about a fair bit during the term depending on various factors but mostly to do with splitting up noisy / chatty / disruptive children! For lessons where they may differentiate to ability (esp maths) they move into different groups again (or even in our school different classrooms sometimes). I wouldn't assume anything about where your daughter sits actually - but why don't you ask the teacher if it is nagging at you!!

sagacious Wed 03-Jun-09 09:13:59

ds's year 2 set up

They sit on tables seating 8

General work he sits at one table
Seperate groups for maths and reading

Groups are reviewed ad hoc. Parents arn't usually told but at the end of year parents evening are told what group they're in/

I think most classes are streamed in some way (dd is in reception and has moved twice since January already)

charliejess22 Wed 03-Jun-09 09:33:22

It's completely up to the individual teacher but I would say most Y2 children would be sitting in ability groups although as a teacher myself I would always make sure that they are with some 'friends' too. They would usually have different groups for literacy and numeracy so would be worth finding out if she sits in the same place all of the time. I would talk to the teacher if you have any worries, concerns or questions Jess x

dancingbear Wed 03-Jun-09 09:56:39

Maybe the teacher has been convinced by a growing body of evidence which suggests that all children (low ability & high ability) do better in mixed ability groups esp for Maths.

FranSanDisco Wed 03-Jun-09 11:10:11

Dd's school seem to set them for Maths and Literacy but mixed ability for Topic work. The school never say where your child is but you sort of guess by the names and what you dc says.

CrouchingTigger Wed 03-Jun-09 13:50:35

Dancing bear - my observations as a parent helper over the last 5 years is that children who sit in ability groups in maths feel happier. On the odd occasion when say a student teacher has differentiated work, but let the children sit in their non ability groups, the children have all been comparing work. The lower ability have got upset and intimidated by what the higher ability children have been given, and the higher ability children have laughed at the lower ability. This is Yr 1 and 2 btw. Grouping them according to ability helps children feel secure in their ability by having comparable peers, plus it means teachers/ta's can focus support appropriately when they work with that table.

I am interested in what you say though dancing bear - can you elaborate? Is it across all subjects?

Hulababy Wed 03-Jun-09 13:52:53

Depends onn the school and the teacher and the curriculum areas IME. Can also depend on the particular topic being covered in that lesson that day too.

Many schools do have ability based groupings within classes, esp for literacy and numeracy, though so it is possible that is the case.

Hulababy Wed 03-Jun-09 13:55:27

Interested to reading crouchingtiger's view on it. Have been helping in DD's school for over a year now, and also been a TA since January. I have not noticed this type of behaviour with the children in the infant classes at all, from either group. True it did occur in the secondary schools I taught at at times, but fortunately never experienced it in primary as yet.

CrouchingTigger Wed 03-Jun-09 14:07:08

The classes I have helped in (all at the same school), include a big proportion of high achievers. SATS reports for example are way above national levels. There is about 40% high ability, 40% middle and 20% lower ability. The difference between low and high ability is very great and obvious to the children (for example sheets with 5 questions for la children, 20 for ha children. Working with numbers 1-10 for la children, working with two and three digit numbers for ha children). The ha children are very well aware of how the classroom works. They are happy enough working in their ability groups and friendships are across abilities. However, when doing work, they do seem to be very aware of who is doing what, who finds it easy and who struggles, even within their groups.
A lot of children are free readers by the end of year R, and notice that others are 'still' on red or pink ORT ('but I did those ages ago....').
The school does nothing I have seen to overtly encourage this awareness, but it is defintely there.

Hulababy Wed 03-Jun-09 14:13:06

How sad for all of them HT. The school I work in also has a bg variation in the children, again free readers to those still on pink and red books in Y1. DD's school is a private school which is high achieving, but with the odd child with some learning needs. Fortunately I have never observed such comments from the children in either school.

I feel sad that it does happen at such a young age. Think the schools where it is seen occuring should be doing something more about tackling this issue. TBH the high achievers commenting negatively to lower achievers are being mean and it is low level bullying IMO and should be addressed by the teacher. Similarly the lower ahcievers sound like they need more work on developing self esteem. Simply ignoring it can't be right.

Obviously the school you are at may already be doing such things, hope so.

CrouchingTigger Wed 03-Jun-09 14:22:38

Well, maybe this is why they do sit tham in ability groups for some work - to make the differences less obvious.
As I said, it has only happened occasionally. The school does have a strong ethos on caring for one another, so it doesn't feel like a big issue tbh. Children have friendships across abilities, classes and year groups, and are good at being positive with one another. I think the occasions where a problem has arisen is because the children have been genuinely surprised at the different levels their classmates were working at.

I would be interested in reading the research dancing bear has found, esp if it relates to self estemm in lower achieving boys.

plimple Wed 03-Jun-09 14:25:40

Ask the teacher. Some classes are arranged in groups of ability, some aren't.

lottysmum Wed 03-Jun-09 14:36:20

Thanks for replies...the reason I was surpised was due to the fact dd only started at the school in january...I moved her from a small school where the mix was awful (1 girl 10 boys), her best friend at the old school was a boy and both of them got bored and messed around quite a bit (new school were aware of this).

Since she's been at the new school she has been alot more focussed loves school work finds learning fun and seems to be hitting her full potential ... will therefore ask the question....

I;ve also come across the what stage are you on in the classroom...but not in a negative bullying scenario..infact I know my dd was encouraging one of her classmates to read more at home so she could be on the same level...which is positive

Feenie Wed 03-Jun-09 15:57:58

Dancingbear "Maybe the teacher has been convinced by a growing body of evidence which suggests that all children (low ability & high ability) do better in mixed ability groups esp for Maths."

I think the evidence you speak of points towards streaming in secondary schools, not ability groups within primary classes. Teaching work which is precisely matched to a child's educational needs is good practice.

lljkk Wed 03-Jun-09 18:24:10

I think sorting by ability is right thing to do at this age.
DS was stuck on a table of all girls for literacy for Yr3. He learnt WAY too much about High School Musical for his liking.

mrz Wed 03-Jun-09 18:33:48

Actually Dancingbear is correct research published on the Standards site (Effective Classroom Organisation in Primary Schools: Mathematics) from the Oxford Review of Education says
"The pupils who were taught in mixed ability classes showed an average gain in test scores (of up to 7%) over those taught in 'set' classes. They continued to show an improvement in their average attainment score relative to set classes by about 3% over two years. However, the range of attainment within the classes narrowed, meaning that the 'tail of underachievement' decreased. The ensuing cohorts in the main project both showed similar, though less marked results."

Feenie Wed 03-Jun-09 19:27:33

But mrz, the op IS talking about a mixed ability class - the research you quote refers to 'set' classes (streamed).

charliejess22 Wed 03-Jun-09 19:47:57

I have taught both Y1 and Y2 in a relatively high acheieving school but with its fair share of less able children. I would say nearly all children of this age are, sadly, aware of the ability of everyone on the class. I generally did sit children in ability groups for literacy and numeracy but not for other things. On the occasion that I have had a mix around I did have parents asking why their child was sitting on a table with 'x' and questioning ability levels which is very sad. On the other hand when I have mixed up groups and put a lower ability child on a table with higher ability children it has really boosted their confidence as they think they must be clever because they are sitting on the same table as 'x'. Not exactly related to this subject really but I trialled something where I set three pieces of work (numeracy) and explained them all to the class (Y2) and said this is a hard one, this is an ok one and this is an easier one if you are not sure what you are doing (obviously explained it better to them) and all of the higher ability children chose the easy one and all of the children with SEN chose the hard one - again it was a real delight for them to tackle something which I had said was 'hard'. It was a really rewarding lesson
I would also be really aware of comparing children of this age as so many havent really reached their full potential yet and are slower to develop, where as others who appear to be high achieving at this age then kind of plateau out so everything changes.

mrz Wed 03-Jun-09 20:18:25

From the report

"Over the last decade ability grouping in at least one subject has again become common in primary schools because it is perceived as a means of raising standards.

There are two common forms of grouping primary school pupils between classes:

streaming -separating children into groups by global ability and teaching them in the same class for all subjects;
setting – separating children into different groups by ability for individual subjects.

Within class grouping where the teacher makes ability groups within the class is the most common type of grouping.

Other findings emphasised by the authors were that:

for those children who preferred mixed ability teaching their main reasons had to do with the ways pupils could help, inspire and motivate each other, while avoiding stigmatising those in lower sets;
the children whose self-estimation reflected most accurately their teachers’ perception of their abilities were the pupils at the school which had the greatest degree of streaming and setting. Contrary to popular belief, children were not always accurate judges of their own ability. Of the pupils who overestimated their own ability, 64% were boys; of those underestimating their ability, 55% were girls;
grouping by ability caused pupils’ status to be defined by their ability and the authors found a link between teasing and grouping practices. In schools that grouped by ability, children of lower ability were at greater risk of stigmatisation (or at least teasing). There was much less stigmatisation of lower ability children in the school that taught in mixed ability groups, but in this school there was a higher proportion of able children who were teased;
over 40% of pupils reported being teased or having witnessed teasing connected with levels of ability in the classroom.

Feenie Wed 03-Jun-09 20:25:52

Could we have the link please, mrz?

Feenie Wed 03-Jun-09 20:53:15

Found it - mrz, just read through that report on the Standards Site, and the author quite clearly makes a distinction between teaching in set classes ("for example, larger schools with parallel classes sometimes deal with a range of attainment by organising 'ability sets' for mathematics lessons") which she concludes is "adopted primarily to make a teacher's task more manageable", and mixed ability classes, which is what the op refers to.

The bit you quoted first apeaks in favour of mixed ability teaching (defined in the study as "where variation in attainment within a given span of one year, is managed by the class teacher either by within class grouping or differentiation according to ability").

mrz Wed 03-Jun-09 20:55:49

There are also lots of case studies on the TDA site

Feenie Wed 03-Jun-09 21:05:29 - again warns against setting, NOT grouping in a mixed ability class.

Feenie Wed 03-Jun-09 21:06:28

- link won't work

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