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RE: child started in secondary school

(35 Posts)
Shazy123 Fri 21-Sep-12 00:14:58

Hi, I would like some advice from someone, and see what they make of my situation. My child started secondary school at the beginning of September. After about a week she had a letter to say she needed extra reading lessons as her reading age was 8.5. She had a level 5 in language and knew she had scored really high at primary school. Of course I rang the school to be told by the receptionist that my child would benefit from these extra reading lessons(done by form 6 pupils). After several hours I did get a phone call from the deputy to say that it did not make sense that she was level 5, but was reading age 8.5. She advised me to ring the primary school to find out her actual reading age. I rang them, but the head was not there for several days so had to wait for an answer. In the meantime my daughter was really upset as she knew she had done well. Found out few days later that my daughter's reading age was 13.3. Rang the secondary school, who then telephoned me to apologise several days later.
My daughter had a level 4a in maths and scored above the national average in the tests she was given in Primary school. She has been set in maths this week in set 3, now doing work she was doing in year 4 in primary school. I contacted the school as I knew that mistakes did happen there! The maths teacher told me that they had given the children a test when they started and that my daughter had scored very low in that test. She explained that they added both the Primary test and secondary test marks together and gave her an average mark, which brought her average mark down considerably. She had a maths lesson today and she had to keep asking the teacher for more work as she was finishing the work before everybody else. Her primary teacher told me that she was the second best student he had in maths. Her friends obviously scored better than her in the secondary test has been put in the top set, despite them being not so good as her in primary school. I feel my child has been unfairly treated between everything. Do I sit back and hope for the best or do I do something about it??

ShobGiteTheKnid Fri 21-Sep-12 00:20:58

Not sure I understand the problem regarding maths - she clearly performed poorly in their test.

When pupils enter secondary school, they have to treat primary data with suspicion as very often it does not match with other primaries. There are certain primaries that I have dealt with whose students always were given higher levels that was deemed to be the truth. The secondary giving its own test paper makes sense. So therefore, I don't think your child has been unfairly treated.

That said, if she is in the wrong set the teacher will soon realise, but it is fair to point it out. There will usually be a number of adjustments, so don't panic.

The reading age thing isn't good, a lot of trouble could have been save by the school being more organised, but I gather that has been resolved now?

PitOfVipers Fri 21-Sep-12 00:27:39

You are obviously thinking that if they can make one mistake, they could make another.

Get them to contact the primary school personally, they will back up what you say.

IMO they may talk down to you whereas coming from another teacher the same thing may well be listened to and acted upon.

Good luck

PitOfVipers Fri 21-Sep-12 00:28:15

That said, if she is in the wrong set the teacher will soon realise, but it is fair to point it out. There will usually be a number of adjustments, so don't panic.

And this smile

bruffin Fri 21-Sep-12 08:30:36

What do you mean by Set 3? is that the 3rd class from the top?

tiggytape Fri 21-Sep-12 09:39:51

I wouldn't worry too much as long as there is the opportunity for adjustments to be made in the coming months. I would be pushing to find out how this works. A new child in a new school may or may not show their true ability in one test set on one day. If the secondary school insist upon relying on that and not the word of the primary school then that's fine initially but not if they aren't going to retest and move children between groups again quite soon.

Some schools seem very hot on this - always tinkering with the sets to make sure everyone is where they should be but some schools have timetabling or other issues that mean they seem reluctant to move children. I'd be on to the to find out how their continual assessment feeds into movement between the sets and when this happens.

titchy Fri 21-Sep-12 09:51:59

To repeat what others have said - if she does well in her current class she will be moved up to the next set. Most secondaries see sets as fairly fluid, particularly in year 7. The school my dcs are at review sets every half term. It might be worth confirming this with the head ofyear, but give them a chance - she's only been there a few weeks!

Shazy123 Fri 21-Sep-12 10:52:57

I asked the head of Mathematics to contact the primary school for a true chat on her ability and she said that it would not change anything. The primary school teacher told me today that they should see from one lesson that her ability is above where she is now and she should not wait a whole month to be moved. I have asked the primary school today for a copy of her maths book as it was a credit to her and the school - the work in there was of high standard for a year 6 pupil. I think I will leave sleeping dogs lie for a few weeks as my daughter told me last night that her maths teacher(not head of maths) can see that she is performing well. I will contact school again in about 2-3 weeks for an up-date of the situation. I will let you know what happens!!!
I think what annoys me most is that I KNOw as a mum that she shouldn't be doing maths such as 3 plus 3.
thanks for your replies

titchy Fri 21-Sep-12 10:54:36

Problem is Shazy there are problem a hundred other mums who also think their pfb shouldn't be doing 3+3 either!

bruffin Fri 21-Sep-12 12:14:39

Wouldn't 4a maths be middle of the school though, wouldnt it?A 5a doesnt guarantee you a maths top set place at dcs comp. (By top set, i mean top class in the school)
I am slightly confused if OP is talking about sets or bands.

tiggytape Fri 21-Sep-12 12:26:11

I don't think it is pfb to think that a child should not be doing work that they could easily have completed 2 years ago (or in this case possibly 8 years ago!)

And I don't think any Year 7 child should be doing 3+3 at all (unless they have very specific needs that are being targetted or unless that 3+3 sum was derived at by completing a much longer maths problem).

We have noticed the same about maths too and I am sitting on my hands at the moment to give them a chance to get everything in place by half term else I too am probably going to be having this conversation.

DS scored nearly full marks on the Year 6 SATS paper and was in an advanced set that completed the Year 7 curriculum in year 6. However he is currently revisiting the 7 times table which he has known since the end of Year 2! He thinks it is fantastic and can complete the 30 minutes homework in literally 5 minutes flat. He is delighted that his teacher has such low expectations of them. I however am not!

Science on the other hand seems to being taught at a far, far higher level - they've been tested on molecular structures, atomic mass and changes of state in relation to mass and energy

The maths is what you'd give to a year 2 child and the science is what I remember doing for GCSE!

amck5700 Fri 21-Sep-12 13:54:43

Given the two mistakes (or at least 1), I'd be asking if there was another child with the sameor similar name and are they getting the two confused?

ByTheWay1 Fri 21-Sep-12 14:02:50

mmmmmm - I am also a bit bothered about the repetition of lower grade maths stuff - I thought secondary were going to "hit the ground running" as we were told - but apparently, they are "consolidating and building firm foundations" - so despite being in the top maths set, revisiting x10, x100, x1000.

It is frustrating, but I do understand - if everyone knows it thoroughly, the foundations become firm enough to build on (to borrow the metaphor)

Shazy123 Fri 21-Sep-12 15:22:44

You are correct about the same named child. The two are in the same class, which is a bit of a coincidence! I'm waiting first as I feel this head of maths likes to have her own way, and I don't want to rock the boat, however, if my child is moved up a set soon I'm going to ask for a copy of that test paper she did, and if it was the wrong mark for her I will be frantic!

Shazy123 Fri 21-Sep-12 15:26:24

I know my child was doing algebra in year 6 and mathematics to a high level, but honestly she is back doing easy (I would say year 3-4) maths. I don't think she's done this type of maths for years.

cornzy Fri 21-Sep-12 15:27:37

do you know what reading test was used in primary to score her reading age?

noblegiraffe Fri 21-Sep-12 15:28:48

A level 4a wouldn't make top maths set in my school, we have loads of kids coming in with level 5s and now several with level 6. So set 3 doesn't seem completely unreasonable, especially if she performed poorly on the school's own assessment.

Maths is also a spiral curriculum so you do do the same topics each year, just at a higher level each time. The teacher needs to make sure that the foundations are solid too by revisiting easier stuff before tackling the harder topics.

If she is in the wrong set, then I imagine she will be moved up when she has proved this by coming top of the class in the next assessment.

Shazy123 Fri 21-Sep-12 15:31:29

I realize what you're saying about the level 4a, but her friends had a lower level than her and they are at the very top set. I think her primary school teacher is really annoyed about all this too, as he would be the one who taught her for the last 7 years. I can't believe someone has soooo much power that they can do this to my child.

bruffin Fri 21-Sep-12 15:34:31

Did they do CAT tests?

noblegiraffe Fri 21-Sep-12 15:39:33

1) check that they haven't muddled up the two students with the same name

2) ask for a copy of the test that your DD did at school 'so that you can go through her mistakes with her and do some extra work with her at home'. Then it doesn't look like you're checking their adding up, that you're willing to help and simply concerned and if your DD has messed up then you can see where they're coming from. Then sit tight and let her prove herself in the set she's in.
If there has been a mistake you should then also be able to pick up on it.

SomePeopleSayImBonkers Fri 21-Sep-12 16:04:57

This is an interesting thread and one that I hope the OP gets sorted out. My time is short at the moment (got to pop out in a min!) but just wanted to add this to many useful replies.

I feel that there will be a lot of 'juggling' about within the first few weeks of setting. Teachers know that tests are not the only way to assess a child.

It is far more beneficial (in terms of self-esteem) for a child to move 'up' a set, than to be struggling and be moved 'down'.

Teachers are humans and can make mistakes! However, they will also professionally assess the ability of a child.

At the end of the day, we all want the best for our children. Hope all goes well with this issue.

noblegiraffe Fri 21-Sep-12 16:15:17

Parents phone up all the time banging on about sets, by the way, and if one kid gets moved because their mum says that they're good at maths then that would really open the floodgates - this would hopefully explain why the head of department isn't interested in hearing what set other people reckon students should be in and is instead relying on the school's assessment. Not that mistakes don't happen (they are usually picked up on and rectified by the school), I'm just trying to explain her response.

doublemocha Fri 21-Sep-12 16:26:36

Yes, I hope it works out too.

I tend to agree with the last post. DS is currently in Year 8 and was a level 5a in his KS2 SATs (probably higher given his progress last year but not tested) he absolutely needed to be in the top set, having cruised at primary for more than a year. He is a natural at maths in a way I could never be!

DD (new Yr 7) achieved a 5b, a good mark but she is not the maths whizz that my DS is or ever will be, she's a hard worker though.

Had she been put into the top set I would have complained!! Seeing the work set last year, it would have knocked her confidence immensely. For me, the belief you can do something is key.

I am sure it will work out, it's early days. Better to move up a set. There's lots of fluency of movement in sets I think. The work wil progress I am sure. Although, our school ONLY sets the 5a's and above and the children who are really struggling (based on SATs and primary teacher assement) in Year 7. Is it possible that the set is mixed ability anyway?

teacherwith2kids Fri 21-Sep-12 18:21:18

From what DS has said about Maths sets (of which there are 7), set 1 is almost all children who got Level 6 at the end of Year 6. 2nd set and some of 3rd set got 5s, 4a would put a child firmly in 4th set, or possibly 3rd if they performed well (ie got a 5 or above) in the initial maths tests they did.

This is in a good comp / secondary modern (as in we have superselective grammars locally so the very top children are not in his school).

It's been made clear that there will be lots of shuffling, but i would say set 3 for 4a sounds about right.

GoldPlatedNineDoors Fri 21-Sep-12 18:31:05

I had the opposite problem OP when I started secondary. Put into set one, and struggled like mad for a couple of weeks til my DM asked why they put me in the top set when I clearly was struggling only to be told I got 100% on my entrance exam.

Needless to say I was soon moved down a couple of sets.

Im sure your dd will be moved around soon according to what she is acheiving now she is there.

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