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Yr7 maths - ds wants to go down a set

(23 Posts)
bumpertobumper Sun 08-Dec-19 22:54:45

DS is in year 7 top set maths. He has always found maths easy and got high scores in his sats.
He is currently doing end of term tests, which school will use to adjust sets, and he told me yesterday that he wants to do badly on purpose because he doesn't like the teacher and set 2 have more fun and easy activities (!?).

His teacher is apparently hard to understand (has a strong accent) and only explains things once, briefly, and he doesn't feel able to ask questions. I take this with a bit of a pinch of salt and am of course doing all I can to get him to ask questions in class.
But he does have another teacher for a few of the classes and he finds their teaching much more accessible.
Of course I will be supporting and doing what I can to encourage him to try harder, ask questions and do his best... growth mindset and all that.

But there is also part of me that is questioning whether it would be better for his confidence and happiness to drop down a set.

My question is is it possible to get a top grade at gcse if not in the top set class? How much does it matter which set you are in?
This is all new to me - would appreciate thoughts and insights please.

OP’s posts: |
Lonecatwithkitten Sun 08-Dec-19 22:59:34

There will be no one answer for every school. And may even vary between cohorts in an individual school.
At DD's school the answer is yes top set are targeting grades 7-9 and further maths. Set two targeting grades 7-9, but no further maths. Very bright cohort.

Heartyhooker Mon 09-Dec-19 06:21:09

It would depend how many sets there are. My DS in year 7 is in set 1 of 3 and his friend at the top of set 2 is very bored with the repetition, if however there are 6 sets ( as later in the school) I am Not sure the outcomes for set 1 and 2 would be that different. We are finding the last few weeks of term a real slog here, beset with coughs, colds, Christmas socialising and general tiredness, could it be that?

Also if they are doing topics in same order as ds1 I can see fractions and decimals being tricky with a strong accent- numerator and denominator and all that

sashh Mon 09-Dec-19 06:51:33

Talk to head of year 7 and ask if he can move. It's possible to move sets based not on results but on how well the child works with a particular teacher.

ElluesPichulobu Mon 09-Dec-19 06:54:38

it completely depends on the school.

my eldest is y6 so I was doing the rounds of secondary school open days a few weeks ago. some schools, the top set are the only ones doing the parts of the syllabus needed for grade 7+. the rest of the sets are all mixed-abiity and aiming for 6 but expecting a fair few to end up with <5. other schools, all the sets do the 7+ material except the very lowest.

but this isn't the main issue. the issue is that your ds is asking 'is it ok to not do my best in order to get an easier ride' and what happens with this now will affect his work ethic attitude for the rest of his life.

dootball Mon 09-Dec-19 07:06:59

It seems to me every set 2 I teach has 4/5 boys similar to this, who are happy to coast along in set 2 rather than having worked really hard to do well in set 1. What happens if he gets moved to set 2 , and then next year the teachers swap? He will most likely find getting moved up a whole lot more difficult that it was to get moved down.

TreeSwayer Mon 09-Dec-19 07:18:49

I think I would be concerned with his overall attitude to wanting to coast and make life easy rather than applying himself.

I am assuming that his knowledge of what goes on in set 2 maths is anecdotal and comes from his friends. I wouldn't want my child dropping down a set. Ds1 is in year 12 having achieved grade 9 for maths and Ds2 is year 9 and in top set maths.

Your son has to learn he is not there to be entertained, he is there to learn, he may not like a teacher but turn that around, they may not like him but they still have to teach him. wink

Johnathonripples Mon 09-Dec-19 07:24:02

Depends on school. Dc ( now year 12) was in set 1 . Set 2 were not kids who were aiming for grades 7-9 and they were not taught the very high level maths. It was a small school though ( 4 sets of maths) .

I’m sure he will get used to the teacher. He needs to get used to having teachers who sound different and teach different and he also will need to be come more responsible for his own learning. Year 7 is a great opportunity to learn this lesson now so that it does not phase him in later years. I would support him in this rather than supporting him to try to move classes. He will probably get a different teacher next year anyway.. or if he moves he could get this one again .. who knows?

RhymingRabbit3 Mon 09-Dec-19 07:27:53

My question is is it possible to get a top grade at gcse if not in the top set class? How much does it matter which set you are in?
Yes it is possible. Sets don't matter that much in year 7 - some schools still have mixed ability groups in year 7. Sets will probably be changed twice a year throigh KS3 so by the time he is in GCSE he could well be in set 1 again anyway.

I would be talking to him about his attitude though. Encourage him to see the "not fun" activities as a good way to improve and challenge him. Explain that we can't always get on with every teacher and the grass isnt always greener

Oblomov19 Mon 09-Dec-19 07:35:05

Depends on your school. Please talk to Head of maths, and do it now, rather than after Christmas. Tell him the truth, exactly what you've written here.

I too find it very hard to understand people with strong accents but this is just one teacher, for one year - he'll probably have different teachers throughout his whole schooling and this is really a very silly reason to try and do badly in tests.

I certainly wouldn't recommend it, from my experience of Ds1. He was struggling and they threatened to put him down into set two and he really pulled his socks up and worked hard to get back into the middle of the top set. he said the difference between set one and set two is absolutely amazing - how quickly they go through things how much further maths they do consciously and subconsciously, all in preparation for GCSEs which he is about to sit. I certainly wouldn't recommend it myself.

BlouseAndSkirt Mon 09-Dec-19 07:36:08

He has two terms left this year.
Next year the teachers will probably be different and he may find that the teacher he doesn’t like teaches the lower set in Yr8, and he’ll be stuck with it!

Oblomov19 Mon 09-Dec-19 07:37:11

His reasoning is actually silly and babyish and you need to talk to him in a serious way about his attitude.

RedskyToNight Mon 09-Dec-19 07:40:24

In Year 7 it won't (or shouldn't) make any difference at all.

DS was moved to Set 3 (from Set 1) in Year 9 - it was the making of him as he shone at the top of a lower set, rather than being at the bottom of a higher set and his confidence improved no end (previously he was convinced he couldn't do maths). At DC's average range of ability comp all the top 4 (of 9) sets sit the higher paper so can get top grades.

(DS was moved to Set 2 in Year 10, and now in Year 11 is aiming for 7+ in maths GCSE, planning to take it for A Level and has been told he should also consider Further Maths A Level.)

00100001 Mon 09-Dec-19 07:40:58

Surely they won't be setting based online solitary test??

They'll look at his attainment overall and if it's usually high and the test goes badly, they'll look at it in context and go "hmmm, something is amiss here"

Go in and talk to the school.

Don't mention the accent.... Just mention that he feels he can't ask questions etc.

Also if he's bright he should be able to some independent learning ?

00100001 Mon 09-Dec-19 07:41:22

On one solitary*

ThreeLittleDuckies Mon 09-Dec-19 07:42:22

What if he does too badly on purpose and goes down to bottom set?
He should do his best and you should talk to the head of year about moving class.

Chocolatecake12 Mon 09-Dec-19 07:43:48

This:
but this isn't the main issue. the issue is that your ds is asking 'is it ok to not do my best in order to get an easier ride' and what happens with this now will affect his work ethic attitude for the rest of his life.

ASqueakingInTheShrubbery Mon 09-Dec-19 07:53:06

This is 20+ years ago, but I declined the chance to go up to set 1 from 2 (out of 8) at GCSE and still got an A. I found Maths hard and didn't think I'd handle the higher speed and complexity, and I knew I could follow and understand the set 2 teacher.

I can't read between the lines without knowing your son whether he's being a bit lazy and is fine where he is, or whether he's finding it a struggle and covering it up with a bit of bravado.

TeenPlusTwenties Mon 09-Dec-19 08:07:41

Surely if he isn't understanding the teacher he'll do badly by not having understood anyway?
And if he does fine then it shows there's no problem?

noblegiraffe Mon 09-Dec-19 08:17:44

If your DS was genuinely struggling with the maths then there’s an argument for being near the top of a slower group than at the bottom of a stronger one.

But this isn’t the case. Your DS can’t be arsed to do well when it requires effort, wants to move to a lower set because his mates are there and he will have more ‘fun’ (meaning less work) and he is willing to deliberately fail a test in order to achieve his goal of being able to slack off. Why he told you this without the expectation of a complete bollocking and you are considering condoning it is beyond me.

DontMakeMeShushYou Mon 09-Dec-19 08:59:19

First of all, he's in Y7. He isn't sitting his GCSEs for another 4 and a half years. A lot can change in that time.

Getting high scores in his SATs is only part of the story. He is presumably now at a larger school with children from other primaries who also scored well in SATs. He's gone from being a large fish in a small pond to a small fish in a large pond.

Of course he can still get a good GCSE result from being in a lower set. Apart from anything else, it is likely that KS4 (GCSE) sets will be completely different to those in KS3. And I would imagine there is plenty of scope for moving between sets.

I agree with 00100001. The results of one assessment shouldn't automatically trigger a set move (If it does, you've got much bigger problems with the school than a teacher with a strong accent because they ought to have a more holistic view of pupil ability). Talk to your DS and see if you can get to the bottom of what the problem is. And then arrange to meet with the teacher and, preferably, also the head of maths to discuss what might be best for your DS. Being at the top of a lower set, rather than the bottom of the top set might be just the confidence boost he needs.

Purpledragon40 Mon 09-Dec-19 09:50:29

Being in second set in Year 7 doesn't mean in Year 11 he can't get top grades. He shouldn't do badly on purpose because that probably won't work but possibly do ask if he can move classes. I don't know how much of it is he wants to be with his friends but yes I can confirm schools can hire some truly dreadful teachers whose spoken English is awful and they frequently get given Year 7 top set as a way of avoiding them being near GCSE students.

bumpertobumper Mon 09-Dec-19 12:12:17

Thanks for all the comments, very helpful to hear all your thoughts.
I have of course talked to him about how doing badly on purpose is not ok in so many ways etc.
I haven't been in touch with the school at all so far but it is encouraging to hear that I wouldn't be unreasonable to get in touch about this.
And reassuring that yr7 sets don't determine future attainment.
The most important thing that will is his ability to be resilient when the work gets hard which is what i will be focussing on, regardless of which set he ends up in.
Thanks again, appreciate all the feedback

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