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How to convey to parents that level fours are FINE?

(87 Posts)
JonSnowKnowsNothing Mon 27-Jan-14 18:58:24

Obviously can't be specific although I'd like to. I'm just so frustrated by the parents of lovely kids with level four targets who are unhappy with progress and don't see why their children aren't getting fives.

Why do they not get that not all children can score level five on these bloody tests? Why do they not see that their children are thoughtful, honest, motivated, happy, hard working young people?? Why do they assume we are failing their children if they do not leave school with sodding level fives?? One child is on track for a four but came to juniors on a one. Still not happy!!!

Sorry for the rant, just dreading a meeting tomorrow where I'm going to have to either bite my tongue or be very blunt.

noblegiraffe Mon 27-Jan-14 23:34:34

The majority of children aren't simply aiming for C grades. They are aiming for C or higher.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Mon 27-Jan-14 23:46:44

If level 4 at Y6 indicates that they should be aiming for only a C at GCSE then no wonder there is panic.

In a secondary where there is streaming, kids with a 4 aren't going to be anywhere near the top set initially, and then it gets hard to catch up.

You should be happy that you've got children in your class with parents who are ambitious for them, rather than being happy to achieve the bare minimum.

HarrietSchulenberg Mon 27-Jan-14 23:52:44

It depends on whether you know your child is capable of achieving higher than a level 4 but is slipping under the radar because his teachers think that a level 4 is acceptable.

I have a level 5/6 child in Yr8 and if he was to pay attention in lessons, do his homework properly instead of scribbling any rubbish just to fill up the page ("I just made the answers up, it doesn't matter if it's wrong, I'm not doing it again") and listen in lessons rather than look out of the window, he would be level 6 or above. He is not being challenged because his teachers are happy with his middling grades and he's not causing trouble in classes. School is on track to get the desired Grade C or above out of him and he's not causing them trouble in lessons - result! Meanwhile I have a bright but lazy child who thinks his mother is a nagging harridan because I want him to apply himself to achieve what he is capable of.

I also have a level 6 child in Yr6, who achieves those grades with virtually no effort, and his teacher is not prepared to stretch him because she's home and dry with her results for the year. TBH I'm not that bothered at the moment, he's only got 6 months to go at primary so he might as well enjoy them (too be fair, it's possible that his teacher might think that too), but he's going to have to start stretching himself when he hits Yr7 next year.

Ds3 is working at 1a/2c in Yr2, which, whilst being slightly below expected attainment, is what I know to be an accurate reflection of his ability. It therefore doesn't worry me as I know that it's accurate.

anothernumberone Tue 28-Jan-14 00:00:21

I think OP all you can do is focus in trying to constantly improve your practice. I am like you I sleep easy knowing that I am all the time looking for ways to improve and hell I was good to begin with smile that is enough. The parents have different considerations though I understand that too.

Gunznroses Tue 28-Jan-14 00:10:46

OP instead of patronising parents by saying 'but 'Johnny' is kind and thoughtful' blablabla just reinforce the point that the school continues to stretch Johnny to reach his full academic potential and stop glossing over weaknesses, parents aren't stupid. When parents express concerns about their child's low attainement stop coming back with but they are reaching the national targets! to be honest for a child not be reaching national targets there is possibly some unidentified SpLD. National targets levels alone is not going to get them very far education wise. Another poster above has already said this would predicatably be a C at GCSE! Parents are thinking long term not just the year you spend with them in school.

What worries me most is not what strategies you would use to help improve grades but your refusal to acknowledge that perhaps more can even be done, its like you've accepted for each child, this is what you are capable of and there's no need to go any further.

Dromedary Tue 28-Jan-14 00:41:58

I agree with Gunz. If the parent is frustrated that their DC is only predicted level 4 when they would have expected higher, then explain why that is the case (what the child's areas of difficulty are), and if there is anything the parent could do to help the child you could point them in the right direction. Eg IME spending a little bit of one to one time with a DC going over work with them can make a big difference. Or perhaps it would help for them to use one of the online sites to help with maths or literacy. I agree that there are only so many school hours in the day, and 30 children in a class, but if a parent feels strongly about wanting their DC to do better then they can get involved themselves to provide some extra support, but might need some guidance over how to do this.
But you may well already be doing this?
Why say so firmly that not all children can get level 5s? There's no rule about the percentage of children who can get level 5.

Hiddlesnake Tue 28-Jan-14 00:53:21

Average is not seen as good enough now. Even in relation to whole school attainment, now OFSTED don't recognise "Satisfactory" and instead a school that was/is average "Requires Improvement".

JonSnowKnowsNothing Tue 28-Jan-14 09:14:09

How rude, Gunz. I don't "patronise" parents by listing their non-academic achievements alongside their academic ones. How very sad that you seem to place no worth on these qualities.

As I've clearly said, the people I am frustrated with are parents of children who work damned hard but Are not CAPABLE of achieving higher than level fours. For some children it's just not possible. Equally, for some children, a C at gcse is a damn good achievement.

JonSnowKnowsNothing Tue 28-Jan-14 09:15:51

Average is not seen as good enough now. Even in relation to whole school attainment, now OFSTED don't recognise "Satisfactory" and instead a school that was/is average "Requires Improvement".
Depends on the context, hiddle
If a child enters juniors on a level 1 but achieves that "average" level four some people on here have such a problem with, their achievement is better than average and something to celebrate - not complain because it's "not a five."

DaffodilShoots Tue 28-Jan-14 09:16:48

Parents usually want the best for their children.

Preciousbane Tue 28-Jan-14 09:19:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Badvoc Tue 28-Jan-14 09:24:49

Exactly jon ds works very hard and yet is still "only" a level 4 - all his teachers say he gives 100%. His effort scores are always "excellent".
Why is his achievement not seen as good as a child who is more able and coasts to a level 5!?
Something very wrong there....

HowYaLikeThemApples Tue 28-Jan-14 09:25:06

I wish my DCs had a teacher like you. They are all average and as long as they are trying their very best, listening, putting their hands up if they don't understand and not mucking about in class I'm more than happy. I always tell them "you don't have to be the best in the class, just do YOUR best". All the other competitive parents I have learned to ignore, ignore, ignore. Yet every parents evening I come away feeling like my children aren't good enough. I could honestly cry. It's parents evening in a few weeks and it's the first time in 5 years where I'm not sure I can actually face another academic assassination of my children.

Livvylongpants Tue 28-Jan-14 09:25:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Badvoc Tue 28-Jan-14 09:32:19

....and it amuses that many of the most successful business people in the uk left school with no qualifications at all!
(Richard Branson, Jamie Oliver, Alan sugar....)
Education is about so much more than qualifications IMO.
Or at least it should be.
But never mind.
Soon the Tories and Gove will have all our children sitting in seried ranks being talked at for 6 hours a day and being expected to regurgitate boring facts about irrelevant crap.
But as long as they get a level 6, eh? sad

Gunznroses Tue 28-Jan-14 09:35:19

I state again, you ARE patronising parents by saying this

Why do they not see that their children are thoughtful, honest, motivated, happy, hard working young people?? Why do they assume we are failing their children if they do not leave school with sodding level fives??

What makes you bloody think they don't know their children have those qualities and don't celebrate them? They are coming to see you about ACADEMIC progress!! Why are you so hellbent on compartmentalising these children? Just be honest with the parents, keep stressing their academic strengths, ways in which parents can reinforce teaching at home, you are coming cross in your post as if there is absolutely no room for further improvement, but don't even realise it.

The reason for the parents assuming you are failing their children is because you are coming across a bit lack lustre about expectation levels for their precious children. I totally agree with you on the point about the child came in on a level 1 and is now a 4 is good prgress but there are lots of children aiming much higher but struggling for whatever reason, their parents are dissapointed and most likely the children too.

Badvoc Tue 28-Jan-14 09:51:20 you really believe kids give a tiny toss about their levels? Really?
The schools and parents seem to be the only ones getting their knickers In a twist!
Anyway...we are quite happy with ds1s "average" level 4. It's a huge achievement for him.

lljkk Tue 28-Jan-14 09:53:41

@ OP: I don't think you can change culture.

of course the parents of the L6 kids are relaxed! They are confident in the knowledge that their children are very bright and capable, in top sets, the best schools (if looking for selective) are within realistic reach.

The parents of the children on lower grades are naturally worried, more agitated and panic about their children's progress and perhaps what their options will be in the next yr depending on what their local options are.

Isn't that an indictment of selective schooling? (don't have around here).

I've got both kinds of kid, DD who sailed thru L6 tests & another DS who is probably below avg. In y6, I was tense with DD, I had to campaign & connive to allow her to take the L6 tests (long story). And she was very het up about what mark she would get (very competitive). With DS I'm very pleased that he's a naturally hard worker. And we will barely talk about the SAT results at all.

Friend's y10 14yo is probably L4-5 in most things. He's one of the nicest lads I know. I wouldn't be at all unhappy if he were mine. Yes, maybe he'll "only" be a bricky or Plasterer. Is that supposed to be shameful?! Plumbers make darn good money ime.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 28-Jan-14 09:55:20

Badvoc of course children care. My DS1 is only in Y1 but they all know who is on what reading level, who is on the top table for maths, etc etc.

Some children are motivated by having peers around them who are also doing well, it pushes them on because they want to keep up.

Dromedary Tue 28-Jan-14 09:55:51

I imagine that there are children who are only capable of Level 4, and who would struggle if pushed to aim for Level 5. But are you really sure that all of those who get Level 4 and below (I think roughly 3/4 of children?) are not capable of doing better? If a parent just spends half an hour a day doing maths or literacy with their child on a one to one basis, this can make a big difference to how well they do at school, and doing well at school IME makes a child more confident and happier. I'm not suggesting sending them to tutors till 10pm every night, as per South Korea.
I had the experience of having a young child who I was basically told, by a newly qualified teacher in Reception, was thick and I shouldn't expect them to learn to read anytime soon. So I taught my DC to read myself over the summer hols, she shot up to the top ability table and has never looked back. I had previously taken the view that it was up to the school to teach the child, and I should take a back-seat, but I learned my lesson with that experience. Teachers don't always know best, and they don't always have the time or willingness to put in the work that a child needs to help them overcome a difficulty.

lljkk Tue 28-Jan-14 09:59:46

Is it really a teacher's job to push push push?
I can see it's a teacher's job to provide opportunities and encourage.
The actual push has to come from within or perhaps parents can provide incentives or punishments (Amy Chua, £50 for every A, etc.)

But I am not sure that's a teacher's job to push push push, or that it even works if teachers try. Some have charisma to lead/push/demand, perhaps, but for those kids who don't want to be pushed or are already trying their hardest, that could make the teacher into an ugly ball-breaker they don't want to spend time with. Talk about a learning turn-off.

Can't believe that pushy charisma is an essential attribute in all y6 teachers.

Badvoc Tue 28-Jan-14 10:06:50

Ali...oh...that's so sad sad
If the child does not want to achieve for achievements sake, then pushing them will not help.
Or bribery shock

Gunznroses Tue 28-Jan-14 10:11:06

Badvoc Oh yes! Every single one of the kids i know do, as did i and my contemporaries at that age. If a child at age 10 does not give a tiny toss about their attainment levels then its time to sit down and explain it to them.

lljkk Wether its an indictment of selective schooling isn't really the point, the point is the higher the levels the more doors open for you academically, i'm speaking broadly regardless of wether its a grammar area, what about university? More children want to go to university now than ever, even if you don't go on to further education, you can at least aim for a good set of GCSEs.

Badvoc Tue 28-Jan-14 10:18:12

My son doesn't care what levels his friends are on...and neither do I.

Gunznroses Tue 28-Jan-14 10:19:48

Badvoc Wonderful! Each to their own.

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