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Anxiety over son's education

(18 Posts)
Mamonaku Fri 16-Oct-09 23:45:57

At the beginning of each school year I become horribly anxious. I mainly worry whether my son has been placed in the right ability group, and whether the school is enabling my son to reach his full potential.

Does anyone who has been through the primary system have any wise words to help me let go of my anxiety?

My son has just started in Y3. Last year he was in the top ability group for maths and literacy. This year none of the boys have been placed in the top literacy group. My son's reading ability and comprehension skills are very good but his writing ability is slightly lower. Judging by the grouping of the boys in the class I think they were grouped on the basis of their writing ability (content not handwriting) more than their reading ability.

I also worry that a fair proportion of the class are performing below the national average. Will this affect my son's ability to reach his full potential? I wonder whether he'd receive more attention in a primary school where a higher proportion of the children are average or above average.

He's only in year 3 and I'm already worried about whether he'll get into a selective school (I went to Grammar School and would like him to apply when he's older but don't want to set him up for failure). It's ridiculous but I don't know how to let go and relax about his education. Other mums seem to be a lot more relaxed about the whole thing than I am.

*and breathe*

Any wise words to help me let go of the anxiety would be much appreciated.

seeker Fri 16-Oct-09 23:51:00

Wold iknowingt he facts and figures help? What are the school's KS1 SATS like? What did your son get?

Mamonaku Sat 17-Oct-09 00:10:38

He scored above the national average for Maths Literacy and Science but his scores weren't exceptional.

The SATS weren't externally marked and the school decided to mark cautiously, to give room for children to improve.

The school's KS2 SATS results for maths are pretty underwhelming. I think roughly 70% of children achieve the national average or above.

However a fair few high achieving parents (Oxbridge graduates) have placed their children in this school and it has an 'outstanding' Ofsted report.

I think I need to allow my son to find his own level. My Mum didn't interfere in my education and I did well without the parental intrusion.

He is very settled at his school and he might be really unhappy if I move him out of the area to school with better SATs results.

Thanks - your reply helped me answer my own question!

seeker Sat 17-Oct-09 00:14:10

I'm probably teaching my grandmother to suck eggs, but you do know that the national average at ks1 is 2b, don't you? So if your ds scored 3s, then he is doing very well, and well on trach for a selective secondary. And if the school is outstanding according to OFSTED then its SATS and QVA must be fine.

Mamonaku Sat 17-Oct-09 00:31:58

He got 2As. Cue major anxiety on my part that I'll be setting him up for failure if I put him forward for selective school tests.

His teacher and head teacher said he was close to 3s but they decided to be cautious with the internal marking so there is room for children to move up at least two levels per year, rather than seeming to plateau.

I worry too much. I feel a huge burden of responsibility to help him make the right secondary school choice in year 6. I'll be a wreck when the time comes!

snorkie Sat 17-Oct-09 01:19:17

the national average isn't 2b seeker that's what it was when it was first set up, but standards have slipped children have improved since then. These days 2b is the 'expected level of achievement' rather than the average one. As more than half children achieve 2b or above, the national average is higher.

In 2008, percentages of children achieving 2b or above were: 71% reading, 58% writing and 74% maths (a bit higher for girls & lower for boys).

percentages of children achieving 3 or above at ks1 were: 21% speaking & listening, 25% reading, 12% writing, 21% maths, 22% science.

Sorry, mamonaku, that's probably not reassuring to you, but if as you say the school have assessed stingily, or your ds was having a bad day, his results may not be representative. Also, if he only just missed 3s then he's probably still on track for a selective school if you are somewhere where the grammars are not hugely selective (like Kent for example).

seeker Sat 17-Oct-09 01:24:42

"selective school if you are somewhere where the grammars are not hugely selective (like Kent for example).

Eh? Tell that to the good burghers of Tonbridge Wells!

snorkie Sat 17-Oct-09 01:28:20

Is Tonbridge Wells different to Kent generally then seeker? I understood they took top 25-30% ability range into Kent grammars (compared to eg top 1% into some London super selectives). I know nothing about specific Kent locations though.

kickassangel Sat 17-Oct-09 01:42:45

i used to teach KS3 english (in fact, was in charge of it) and tbh, sats scores are rubbish. if the schools have 'marked cutiously' that's so that in a few years, they can give that same group of kids more 'optimistic' grades, athen go Wow, look how much they improved. We're so great!!!

over & over again studies show that the biggest single factor influencing child outcome is parental influence.

even where 'mc' kids have been sent to 'rough' schools, the kids do well, better than the other kids sitting next to them.

yes, sometimes teachers can inspire or demoralise a kid, but your support & enthusiasm is more important. and, of course, the effort of the kid is also hugely importatn.

so, unless the teacher is REALLY making a mess of it, your son is likely to improve at a reasonable rate.

unless you live in the tunbridge wells/tonbridge area, don't even start about the 11+, there was a huge thread about it recently, if you want to know more.

Mamonaku Sat 17-Oct-09 01:50:09

As SATS in KS1 are now optional the tests my son took at his school were not officially marked or adjudicated in any way.

He was graded internally for his school report by the school so his results can't exactly be equated to officially marked SATS.

The school didn't give out many 3s - in my son's class only a couple of girls got a 3.

So I guess I won't know if my son will get into Grammar School (competitive or otherwise) until he sits the tests.

If he takes after me and is strong in VR and NVR he should be OK. It is the uncertainty that makes me anxious.

On the other hand I have Oxbridge straight A friends that went to the local inner city comprehensive. So why am I worrying?!

Mamonaku Sat 17-Oct-09 01:56:00

Thanks Kickassangel - I appreciate your opinion as a teacher.

Now I just need to perfect the art of showing interest in my son's education without interfering. shock

kickassangel Sat 17-Oct-09 01:56:57

kids all develop at different rates, so how he does now isn't really an indication of how he'll do in 5 years.

whereabouts are you? different areas of the country have different 'types' of grammar schools.

snorkie Sat 17-Oct-09 01:58:22

Even if he'd done brilliantly in the tests, 11+ is still a bit of a lottery imo. But as kickassangel says, if you provide a supportive home environment he will most likely do well anywhere, so best not to spend the next 3 years or so getting too anxious.

If you want some reassurance though, girls do tend to do better at boys, and it sounds as though your ds must have been one of the top boys. Assuming the grammars round your way take a roughly equal mix of boys and girls that must put him in a stronger position!

Mamonaku Sat 17-Oct-09 02:05:14

Well it's not so much a case of where I live as where I am prepared to move to when the time comes!

My son is in primary school in Hackney (that probably explains the anxiety). The local Mossbourne Academy is a popular choice but we aren't planning to live in Hackney forever.

Have been totally put off encouraging my son applying to Latymer (Edmonton) when the time comes after reading how hard it is to get in.

Mamonaku Sat 17-Oct-09 02:11:40

Thanks Snorkie.

He has always been the top of the boys in his class to date. He's a top reader too and doing well in maths but those pesky girls are outdoing the boys in writing.

One of the problems I have is separating myself from my son's academic record. I was a high achiever academically but unfortunately my self-esteem became dependent on having to achieve.

That's part of my anxiety about whether my son is on target for a selective school. I don't want to push him to selective school if it's more about me feeling like I've achieved something than him.

Who said parenting was easy?

kickassangel Sat 17-Oct-09 03:32:26

there's not much i can say to help you with your own mummy angst!

if you're able/willing to move then my personal opinion is to find a school/area with a good but accessible secondary. the REAL top schools that are oversubscribed by about 20 to 1 just sound like far too much angst for me. even though i was a teacerh for 12 years, i still realise that there's more to life than school.

do research on schools that are good, but not necessarily SO hard to get into. e.g. i lived near cambridge, and just outside, at Impington, theres a v good school which does Int Bac. IT has a v good reputation, seems to get more money than other schools in the LEA

Acinonyx Sat 17-Oct-09 20:13:07

''if you're able/willing to move then my personal opinion is to find a school/area with a good but accessible secondary. the REAL top schools that are oversubscribed by about 20 to 1 just sound like far too much angst for me.''

I think this is very wise advice - I'm a fairly high achieving oxbridge graduate and this is exactly what we have done. I feel I can chill out now that I don't have to think about selective schools. I think I have a fairly healthy attitude to dd's education - but if I were in the position of depending on a very competitive selection process down the line I would probably be just as anxious as you are and I don't want dd's life to be dominated by exam grades.

hocuspontas Sat 17-Oct-09 20:28:09

Move somewhere where there are NO grammar schools! An area that has good comprehensives is SO much better and less stressful and will cater for high flyers as well as those not academically minded. Bishop's Stortford for example, has single sex schools, an IB school, a catholic school and a community school. All achieve way above average because there is no creaming off to selective schools.

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