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Is such a lack of movement between ability tables normal in Y1?

(76 Posts)
averywoomummy Sun 08-Dec-13 19:08:06


I have written before about ability groups and my views as DC had entered Y1 on a lower table. Anyway she and I have worked very hard over the past term and she has improved massively but still no movement up for her.

The thing is there has been no movement at all amongst the class over the Autumn term which is nearly at an end now. They all started off on tables (which were apparently given by the reception teacher) then there was a bit of a shuffle round in the first couple of weeks and since then nothing (I know this because I go in to help).

I would have thought that even if the groupings were correct at first that there would be quite a lot of movement as children don't all learn in a linear fashion and that some children would suddenly grasp things whilst others might plateau etc. It would seem strange that they had all progressed in an equal fashion.

I am a bit concerned by this lack of movement especially as in DCs class there are a fixed number of children on each table so for someone to move up or down a corresponding child has to be moved too. I am wondering if this creates extra work for the teacher (and maybe unhappy parents coming in) and so they just haven't bothered to do it? Or would changing groups be something that would be done once at the start of each term?

OPeaches Sun 08-Dec-13 19:51:16

Are you sure they're sat by ability? I'm a primary teacher and would consider that bad practice.

scarlettsmummy2 Sun 08-Dec-13 19:58:07

I am interested in it being bad practice, is it no longer common to have children seated by ability? I had guessed my daughter was at the middle table but curious now that this may not be the case.

Talkinpeace Sun 08-Dec-13 20:00:09

for my dcs the shuffle was done at the start of each term
give them a chance
as you know nothing about the abilities of the other children in the class

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 20:02:04

It's not bad practice to have them sat in ability for certain subjects and activities

Talkinpeace Sun 08-Dec-13 20:04:49

I'm a primary teacher and would consider that bad practice.
glad you did not teach my DCs
differentiated learning is essential in non selective schools
"every child matters"
each table gets different support, targets, hoework etc
its a no brainer

averywoomummy Sun 08-Dec-13 20:08:12

Yes -it's definitely by ability - have confirmed with the teacher it is common practice at our school! Also they sit on their tables all the time in this class - it's not just moving to specific numeracy or literacy groups at certain times of the day.

My main worry is that it means DCs learning is effectively "capped" by the school as the bottom 2 groups do the same work and the top 3 groups do the same work so being in the bottom 2 means she is not allowed access to the same curriculum as the higher groups (i.e. they get fewer spellings each week/learn different phonics phases). As she is in group 4 I am really keen to get her into group 3 so she can learn more and achieve what she is capable of.

At the start of term I hoped that they would move quite frequently but I'm beinging to worry she will never get moved up!

ARealPickle Sun 08-Dec-13 20:09:27

Mrz is very anti set ability tables and prefers differentiating for each task I think.

cazzybabs Sun 08-Dec-13 20:11:33

I used to sit my class in ability tables so I could sit and work with a group and so could my TA. I can't comment on your child's teacher but just remember just because your child has made progress so will have everyone else ... just because you have put work into helping your child so might others...

in my class, it was no bother to move children but it didn't happen very often because children were all making progress.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 20:12:13

Children can sit in mixed ability groups and work can still be differentiated by needs Talkinpeace.

My class rarely sit in the same seat for two lessons in a row.

cazzybabs Sun 08-Dec-13 20:12:41

differentiating for each task - I would do this but they are still sat in tables

simpson Sun 08-Dec-13 20:12:54

I guess the question is do you think your DD could cope with the harder work? There is no point if its going to be too much for her atm.

DD is in yr1 and they are set in groups according to ability. No sure if there is any movement in the groups as nobody has moved yet (according to DD).

cazzybabs Sun 08-Dec-13 20:14:41

No MRZ mine don't either but they are still in groups ..I do not plan a different lesson for each child ... I probably have at least 3 different activities and more like 5

WipsGlitter Sun 08-Dec-13 20:15:31

My child's teacher sits them in ability groups. I'm not sure how I feel,about it to be honest. I feel she's decided what he's capable of and no matter how hard he worked he'd still be in the lowest group. I'll be interested to see if there any movement in the new year.

OldRoan Sun 08-Dec-13 20:16:12

I have ability tables, but will sometimes give different work to a child who I think can be stretched in a certain area.

It is perfectly possible that children are ready to move up a table, but there isn't any space for them. I have 8 children who could be in my middle group, but no space for more than 6. Rather than constantly shuffle them round every few days depending on who is having a good/bad week, I put the generally lower ones on the lower table and give them the harder work if appropriate. If a child asks why it is different, I generally say "oh I didn't print enough of your work" or something similar.

I also had a parent request that her child not be on a table with child x, because of issues throughout the previous year. This means that, realistically, they have fixed tables, because they are similar in ability. They might appear to never move, but I don't really have any option.

averywoomummy Sun 08-Dec-13 20:17:09

simpson yes - I really do think she could cope with the harder work. I am not saying she should be on the top table but she could definitely go up from group 4 to group 3.

I know others will be progressing but surely not all children will be progressing at exactly the same rate? As DC is first child I wasn't sure how it worked in terms of movement. Some schools seem to have a lot but not sure how often is usual and how they asses it i.e is it by formal tests or just teachers intuition?

OPeaches Sun 08-Dec-13 20:21:01

Hmm, well, according to both Shirley Clarke and Dylan Wiliam, it IS bad practice. I'm in Scotland, and HMIe (like ofsted) would come down on us hard for sitting children by ability. Groups should be fluid, not set. My pupils sit with a different, randomly selected, talking partner each week. Sometimes they will be more able than their partner, sometimes not, but each child has experience of supporting other children - everyone is 'better' at something, right?

averywoomummy Sun 08-Dec-13 20:21:12

wipsglitter that is how I am feeling at the moment. DD has worked really hard and I have put a lot of time and effort into helping her. She has improved and matured so much over the term and it is a bit dispiriting not to see any movement for her (although luckily she is not really aware of this so she is not feeling demotivated!)

OPeaches Sun 08-Dec-13 20:22:26

Talkinpeace, how on earth did you gather from my first post that I set all children the same work?

lljkk Sun 08-Dec-13 20:23:21

To answer thread title:
it's not what our school do.
They are set for different subjects and the groups are quite fluid (DC have moved up & down). Plus kids get moved because of behaviour or personality conflicts. I should think the literacy & numeracy groups both change about once a term as in a big upheaval, and the odd 1-2 person change at least once a term, too.
They all get presented the same lesson but the worksheets handed out will vary by which group you're in. The groups all overlap in ability, although the very bottom & top groups maybe less so. Typically 5 groups in a class of 22-24.

Talkinpeace Sun 08-Dec-13 20:25:44

but you are taking her progress out of context
teachers like mrz look at the whole class - many of whom have mummies who have put in time and effort
so on a relative basis they will end up in the same order, just al of them at a higher level

unless your child makes progress relative to others they will stay "on the same table"
but that "table" will move forward - potentially quite fast

youarewinning Sun 08-Dec-13 20:28:33

Some groups gave a cross of ability/ levels. Eg a year 1 class this early on in term probably has children working in p level (working towards level 1) right up to those who are already a level 2. (Likely a 2c) so if there is 5 groups. Group 5 is those working towards and the 1c. Group 4 1c group 3 1c/1b group 2 1b/1a and group 1 1a/ level 2. As you would expect most of the pupils to be 1c/1b at this point that is groups 2-5. Although it would maybe have started as group 4/5 being those who had just achieved a 1c and group 3 being the solid 1c ready to start working on 1b targets it may now well be group 4 are solid 1c and group 3 solid 1c/1b. So no they won't tend to move groups because they are all working at a similar level and the work will be differentiated. Also you may think your dd is ready to work on more phonics because she 'knows' them but her teacher will need to see that within her class work when working unsupported.

My DS is year 5 and there's never been much movement over the year as most pupils make an equal amount of progress. They do however switch ability groups for numeracy/ literacy. He's top maths and bottom literacy - always has been!

averywoomummy Sun 08-Dec-13 20:29:08

talkinpeace I realise that lots of parents put in a lot of effort too but it's just that I would have thought that, especially at this young age, there would be lots of peaks and troughs in children's learning. That some would have rapid learning spurts, some might plateau, some might start to find work or a particular subject harder?

Otherwise surely it would mean that if they are all progressing at the same rate there would be no chance for any child to ever move up from their original group - or is that the case?

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 20:29:08

No Talkinpeace very few of my class have "mummies who put in time and effort"

diddlediddledumpling Sun 08-Dec-13 20:36:57

I think you need to let go a bit, tbh. She is making progress and she is not feeling demotivated. It's you that is dispirited by her not moving up a group. You've said up thread you are really keen to get her into the next group up, but everything is going fine for her where she is. Please be careful you don't pass these feelings on to her, and I mean that with the best will in the world. I often think we do things as parents that we think are the best thing for our children, but it can end up having unexpected consequences. I teach in a girls' grammar and I often see girls who feel they are a disappointment to their parents academically, and I know their parents only wanted them to fulfil their potential.

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