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Maths confidence and ability - is my year 7 DD in the right set?

(9 Posts)
grumpyskater Tue 20-Oct-09 09:21:24

I'd find it really helpful to get some opinions on this. Bit long sorry - I'm probably getting my thoughts in order before talking to school. My DD has been put into 2nd ability set (out of about 6 or 7). She just squeezed a 5B for SATs, so ability wise she is above average. BUT her confidence is low and maths doesn't click easily for her.

I'm wondering whether she would be better in a lower ability group rather than feeling out of her depth. The class seeme to me to be whizzing thro' - let's see - multiples, factors and primes, HCF and LCM, roots, long multiplication and division, etc etc. Tho my DD can get there with these, she sits with a friend who 'helps' her, she struggled with understanding long multiplication she had for homework. They had a test yesterday which she was frightened about for a week beforehand 'in case she gets moved down'.

There's some background. In year 3 and 4 she was in top maths group with v high ability kids. Suddenly with no warning to DD she was moved down a set. Turns out she had been struggling for some time in top set, and had been laughed at, both by children and unfortunately the teacher, eg for not knowing basic times tables. Years 5 and 6 were good years, in 2nd set. She relaxed and even enjoyed in year 6.

I am concerned that she may fall behind and turn off maths again. We spent 20 mins together every day last week revising what she'd done already; she was keen to do this. The test yesterday tho was more challenging than she expected; eg re laps of a track. Needed to be able to interpret the q into a common factors q (or something?!). She'll find out how she did tomorrow.

Teacher has said no-one will move sets because of this test. She has also said if they all do badly then they'll have a test again after half term! very encouraging... hmm. DD does NOT want me to talk to school. I think it would be helpful to have a chat sooner rather than later. Or am I overreacting and should let her settle? Would appreciate any views, perhaps especially teachers.

IloveJudgeJudy Tue 20-Oct-09 12:20:24

I think you have two options here-

1. Contact the school and get her moved down a set (which might be no bad thing, especially if the teachers are good). It can't be any fun for her if she's struggling all the time.

2. You get a coaching book from e g Smiths. There are loads of different ones. You could sit down with her and go over the things she doesn't quite get which will give her much more confidence. The books give you all different ways of using the same kind of maths topics.

I see that you write that she does not want you to contact the school. I have to ask, what is your gut feeling? You are the adult, the parent. Contacting the school is for you to decide, not her. She is only 11.

I wish you, and her, luck.

GhostlyPixieOnaPumpkin Tue 20-Oct-09 18:51:31

Although I was OK at maths at school (above average, but I didn't enjoy it and had zero confidence), I hated being in the top set, and still don't know why I was put there. I often wished I was in the lower set, but never had the confidence to ask.
If I were you, I would give the school a ring, and have a chat with the teacher and tell her my concerns, and see what she makes of it.
It could be that your DD isn't the weakest in the set, and therefore should stay in there, and the teacher will give her extra support when she needs it.
Or she could move your DD to second set, where she'll be at the top end of the class.
If she was really ambitious about maths, I would say that she should stay in the top set, but as she's shy, it might boost her cofidence to move down, and be good at it, IYSWIM?
Definitely give the teacher a ring, though!

grumpyskater Tue 20-Oct-09 20:55:04

Thanks to both of you, very helpful to get some more perspective. ILoveJJ - you're quite right about taking charge. I'm pussy footing around in case I 'embarrass' DD (inevitable anyway). Of course I should talk to the teacher and simply be upfront about my concerns, and DDs, and take it from there.

sunshinecity Wed 21-Oct-09 00:39:12

Am following this with interest, please do post a follow up
To let us know how it all worked out!

isgrassgreener Wed 21-Oct-09 14:18:09

In my experience my dc has always done better when he was in the top end of the lower set, rather than the bottom end of the one above.
But, I do think it depends on the child, mine has suffered from self esteem issues and has had some learning issues and when in the higher set and mixed ability classes has always compared himself to the top of the class and then felt like he wasn't doing very well.
I do feel that some pressure can come from parents for children to remain in the top set (not saying for a moment that you are doing this, just mean generally) when in fact some of the lower sets have just as good teaching.
I think it is more important for a child to feel good about themselves and that can be hard to do if you are at the bottom of the top set.
I agree that you should talk to the teacher and see what they think.
Good luck

grumpyskater Wed 21-Oct-09 16:19:40

Again thanks for feedback - sunshine, I will update after half term as they haven't got their test results yet. Better to speak to the teacher once she has these I reckon.

Completely agree with you greenergrass - top set most definitely not always best place to be.

madamearcati Wed 21-Oct-09 17:21:22

As they have only just started at school there will be a lot of kids moving between sets to begin with.
It is mostly likely they will be set on teachers overall assessment of the child's ability eg how they manage classwork ,answer questions as well as test scores.

Cortina Wed 28-Oct-09 13:02:48

Out of interest do schools generally give the best teachers to the top sets? This has been certainly true in our state school. It's very dispiriting.

The lower the set the less qualified the teacher it seems. The teacher that is 'really' the computer studies teacher on so on

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