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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.

Lizziegeorge Sat 22-Feb-14 09:07:59

Unless a child is extremely one way or another ie high or low level in Year 6 their SATS have no bearing on their GCSE results- children are often late or early developers. Knowing how to learn and wanting to learn as much as possible is far more important. IMHO.

Quinteszilla Sat 22-Feb-14 00:05:24

Op, you asked further down "I'd love to know what strategies you'd like teachers to use to push average and below average children towards the highest levels, which they have no chance of reaching, at this stage. "

Well, maybe not the highest levels, but higher?

In my sons Y6 class there was a big focus on putting children forward for the L6, my son included, he achieved an L6 for maths.

I was not keen, because I think it is rather pointless for the children (although I understand many schools like to say they had so and so many L6 kids) to teach to three different levels, 4, 5 and 6 in class. Why start so late? And why teach to 3 different levels, rather than just try to ensure more children achieve their very best, at L4 and L5?

I did not like the pressure the kids were put under.

ReallyTired Fri 21-Feb-14 23:55:09

"It's the parents whose kids will never be academic high flyers, but who work their arses off, who are most awful."

I think that the parents understand that their little ones are growing up in a dog eat dog world. It is tougher than ever to get a job in the UK as our children will be competing with immigrants for a job. Even apprenticeships are getting harder to get. Just look at the massive levels of youth unemployment in the UK. If a child has not got good literacy and maths skills then it closes a lot of doors for them.

I pushed my son quite hard in year 6 as I was not content with him scraping a 4c in English. I was utterly ballistic with the suggestion that 4c was OK, as he was a hard working child who had got level 3s in keystage 1 SATs. OFSTEd have subsequently rated the school as inadequate as they don't think its OK for a child who got level 3 in keystage 1 SATs to only get a 4c in year 6.

I wanted ds to have the literacy skills to cope with secondary so I sent ds to a tutor. He has absolutely flown at secondary where he has teachers with reasonable expectations. Secondary schools in my town ignore SATs and use CATS instead.

I feel the really awful parents are those who don't care about their children's education in the basic ways. Ie. they don't read to their children or get their children to school on time. Save your wrath for the parents of the child whose reading diary is empty and wears dirty clothes.

midnightmoomoo Sun 16-Feb-14 20:24:03

I have a year 6 son who is on course for a level six in his SATs, a ear 4 DD who is already 4a across the board and a well-above average year one son.

In my honest opinion......there's a part of me who thinks they will be better off in a trade later on.....hairdressing, building, carpentry....because they will always have a skill which will enable to work/earn, and going on to achieve fab grades/degrees etc may not do that (as my unemployed scientist husband can testify!!) I want them do be happy in the life choices they make, and getting hung up on levels/grades is a waste of time. What I have drummed into them is that it's not the results they get which matter but the choices these results will give them in life which is important.

To me as a parent, teacher, and governor it's just a hoop for schools to jump through. I'm lucky that our school is 'good' and all three kids love it, enjoy school, have nice friendship groups and approachable teachers.....they do well academically but it's only one piece of the puzzle. I just think it's unfair the amount of pressure it all puts on teachers who are already dedicated enough.

HelpTheSnailsAreComingToGetMe Tue 04-Feb-14 00:55:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

gleegeek Fri 31-Jan-14 11:56:52

If a level 4 is a real achievement for the child than it's great. If a level 4 is the minimum they should get and there is a possibility/probability they could achieve higher grades with some hard work, then I wouldn't be happy with a level 4. It's all relative.

But I do despair about the low expectations of one of our year 6 teachers, whose class aren't expected to do as well as the other two classes angry He thinks if children are self motivated, they will be fine. I think some of them just need a rocket behind them!

Gunznroses Fri 31-Jan-14 11:22:14

Tictac You put it all extremely well!

TicTacTastic Fri 31-Jan-14 08:31:12

I think parents will easily do the convincing themselves that a level four is fine, but only after they are 100% sure that their child is a level four because that's his or her real ceiling level. If they've got even a whisper of a feeling that the teacher is happy with their child's level four just because "that's generally fine for most kids so there's no need to try for anything more", then they're going to be unsatisfied and worried that their child might be being affected by lower expectations than her ability deserves. You might interpret this as them not being happy with a level four in principle, but it's just as likely to be them being worried about your attitude to level fours in relation to their particular child. Being ever more reassuring about level fours being "fine" might actually be counterproductive if you want them to back off a bit and stop worrying!

Badvoc Fri 31-Jan-14 07:32:13

Couthy...I did the same! Moved ds1 from an "outstanding" school where he was left with clinical depression aged 6 sad to a satisfactory one.
I wasn't - and probably never would - by happy with the sen provison at either school but at least at the latter he was happy and not bullied.
And you can teach your child yourself.
For me, school is a socialisation tool.

Badvoc Fri 31-Jan-14 07:30:36

Tarte....I hear you! My ds1 had obvious issues right from pre shcool tbh but the teachers had to deal with the more disruptive/chair growing kids so ds1 just fell through the net.
We have done loads with him though and it's paid real dividends so don't despair!
Agree with morethan too...don't compare. That way madness lies!

noblegiraffe Fri 31-Jan-14 07:23:15

Level 4 at end of ks2 would suggest level 6 at end of ks3 which would actually put them on B grade trajectory.

Not in maths, a level 6 at KS3 is more likely to map to a C.

CouthyMow Fri 31-Jan-14 00:02:01

(DS3 is likely to be a 'late bloomer' like DS2, given his current development)

DS2 has made 6 sub levels progress in Maths in just 13 weeks. Though that IS mostly down to moving out of a school deemed 'Outstanding' to one deemed 'Satisfactory' (Due Ofsted soon.)

Give me the 'Satisfactory' school any day...

Again, it's all just pointless hoops for teachers and schools to jump through, and bears no real meaning to how real life children (rather than some textbook 'average' child) actually progress.

CouthyMow Thu 30-Jan-14 23:58:27

Level four is where the student in the MIDDLE of the class is 'expected' to be. Nothing wrong with that.

When you get a child who is still on p-scales at the end of Y6, and in Y11 is on course for an F in Maths and a D in English, which is a MASSIVE achievement for this DC, you start to ignore the school gate chatter about SATS...

I have another who was lvl 3 above the board in Y2, lvl 5/6 in Y6 (and he missed half a term of Y6 recovering from illness). In Y7 now, working on lvl 7/8...

And yet another, who at Y2 SATS was lvl 1c in Maths, p-scales in reading and writing. Currently in Y5, working on lvl 4b Maths, lvl 3a English apart from his handwriting which is around lvl 2c but he's physically disabled.

Progress is not linear.

It's all pretty much bollocks if you ask me. Based on my DD's grades, she would get U in every GCSE. Based on DS1's grades, fuck knows, but he can do GCSE Maths now in Y7. And does. Often. He finds it fun. ugh

Based on my DS2's end of KS1, he has already exceeded his 2 level progress across KS2 and he's not yet halfway through Y5.

I fully intend to just nod and smile when faced with levels with DS3... grin

morethanpotatoprints Thu 30-Jan-14 23:42:57

I think the most important thing parents need to do is not listen to other parents.
I'm serious, this is where it can go horribly wrong.
We live in a culture of competitiveness academically and that is fine, for those who thrive, are bright. They should be encouraged 100% to go for A*, but at the other end of the spectrum are those who struggle, or those who aren't very ambitious for an academic career and many in between. Some dc need the extra support, but may not benefit from a competitive environment.
I don't think there is anything wrong with tests at 7, 11, Y9. It is exactly what we have always had, well my 70's education had them.
Now it is the pressure to perform well and it is so unfair on our children. We really didn't know we were being tested and certainly were under no stress. Well I was under much more stress, but different circumstances.

You could tell them that typically dc who leave y6 with level 5's get straight Cs at GCSE grin and then see the shock on their faces.

TicTacTastic Thu 30-Jan-14 23:26:32

The way you'll convey it to them is not by saying "not all kids can get level 5s" or "your child is lovely and hardworking", but by getting across to them that you know their specific child very well indeed, have a good detailed knowledge of her strengths and weaknesses, and that you don't think a level 4 is "fine" but rather a sign of her working very well and achieving or exceeding her potential as indicated by earlier learning.

Parents don't want something that's "fine", something that will "do" - they want their child to get the best she personally can (happily) do, not something that's OK as the generalised target for the particular quartile of the cohort into which you have decided (for your own, possibly opaque, and possibly mistaken, reasons) their child fits.

Rather than reassuring them about the value of a level 4, you'd probably do better to sound rather as though you think a level 4 isn't good enough! Let them walk away reassured that there's no way you'd be happy with a child getting a level 4 if they had even the slightest chance of a level 5, that you're not closing any doors to level 5s and that right up until the last minute if there's anything you can do to help a child get up a further level then you'll do it. That's probably all they need to know to be reassured.

The more you try to persuade them that a level 4 is fine, the more they'll worry that you won't think it's worth their child trying for a higher level even if she could get it, so the more they'll think they need to push you to have higher expectations.

TarteAuxRiz Thu 30-Jan-14 23:19:19

Thanks Dromedary. I think she's capable of getting a level 5...and I think doing so would afford her more choices later. At the same time I want her to enjoy learning, feel positive about it and to have a childhood. She does read. I raid the charity shops and she gets new books nearly every week, plus has loads of my old books and gets tons for Xmas shortage of reading material for her and she does like reading...though not as much as some of her peers. She loves art too, and I'd love her to develop that as something just for her...
What I want is for her to have grown up when we did...without all this pressure and expectation!! :/

Dromedary Thu 30-Jan-14 23:14:15

Tarte - I think the government expect 4b or above in Year 6 SATS? So your DD must be ahead of her current government set target. And from what you say only just below halfway point for her year group (and it may be a good year or a better than average school). Personally I wouldn't panic (and have no idea what level my own primary school child is at - also Y4). There are some good books you can get which go through the methods and then give some sums to try? I think that with maths doing lots of practice really helps. With much of the rest of it reading a lot is key, if you can find books which enthuse her.

TarteAuxRiz Thu 30-Jan-14 23:03:58

She's y4 btw. And 3a across the board at the moment. More than half of her year group are 4c/4b

TarteAuxRiz Thu 30-Jan-14 23:00:43

We do quite a but already dromedary, reading every night, tables practice several times a week...unfortunately I have NO idea the methods they are using to teach her certain things (maths) and I don't want to confuse her further by using the wrong methods. As it is she is very anti us trying to teach her anything she is doing at school. If I try and help she switches off and gets moody. I've checked with her teacher who says she is very receptive and gives her all in class, so it's just is she's like this with. Right now I'm seriously considering a tutor, which is honestly the last thing I want for her, but at the same time I'm worried that if we let her start to slip behind at this stage the gap will be too wide later.

It's ridiculous really. We had no homework at primary school when I was a kid, I didn't ever hear of a school friend having a tutor in my entire school career until gcse's. Now I have several friends who have their children tutored because of similar concerns to ours. If dd was amenable I'd homeschool....but she loves school!!

Maria33 Thu 30-Jan-14 22:56:38

Level 4 at end of ks2 would suggest level 6 at end of ks3 which would actually put them on B grade trajectory.

I'm a teacher and think that there often is a culture of low expectation. I think the point is about levels or exam grades is that kids can be trained to pass them. It's not indicative of some innate intelligence, it's just a test.

Being a good person has nothing to do with grades but parents want good opportunities for their kids. Level 4 is fine but level 5 is better. I'm not saying there's anymore that you can do but why shouldn't parents be ambitious for their children? God knows schools aren't.

I'm sure they know their kids are great. That's not why they've sent them to school. They need school for education and qualifications. I too find your attitude patronizing.

Dromedary Thu 30-Jan-14 22:52:40

I've heard a lot about schools concentrating on getting lower ability children to Level 4, while not bothering about higher ability children who will get to Level 4 without help, but could do better with more attention from the teachers. So it can work both ways. As parents I think you have to accept that you may have to do something yourself to help your child progress. At primary school it is quite do-able, but much less so at secondary unfortunately.

TarteAuxRiz Thu 30-Jan-14 22:44:00

Sorry, week BEFOREl sat she struggled with homework...

TarteAuxRiz Thu 30-Jan-14 22:43:31

An example of what I mean. Last week dd struggled with homework. She let her teacher know. The teacher promised to go through it with her...that was two weeks ago and nadda....bright boy meanwhile has had TWO one on one half hour sessions to complete his advanced work. Where is the fairness in that??!! Why should hebe trained to achieve his level 6 and dd have to make do with C's at on earth can she know at this age WHAT she wants to do? Only by encouraging her to get he highest possible grades can we ensure she gets choices later on. It's not what I want to do. I want her to have a childhood and not WORRy about any of this stuff...but I'm scared of letting her down if I DONT push her because of all the competition she is facing.

TarteAuxRiz Thu 30-Jan-14 22:37:29

I think its easy to state what you have in your OP from the basis of knowledge that you area. Teacher who is willing to take each child as far as they can in academic achievement terms. As a parents. Have NO idea whether my child is where she is in the class because she is less capable than her peers (which i struggle to accept as she is very capable at home) or whether she slips under the radar because she is kind, helpful and just gets on with it.
The disruptive, rude, arrogant child in her year gets extra help because he is so bright that he's a year ahead of the others. My summer born, below average for her class child gets no extra help, because she is well behaved.
It fucks me off to be honest, because I believe with some one on one time like the high achiever gets she'd fly...but of course never as high as he does, which won't boost the schools results in the same way...

None of this would bother me a single bit if she herself didn't come home upset because she feels she's not as Clever as the other kids. She's 8 FFS, and she's already being taught to write herself off..

Dromedary Tue 28-Jan-14 21:20:29

A lovely idea, but easier said than done.

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