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Advice about primary education for parent

Discussion in 'Primary' started by tortuman, Aug 24, 2011.

    Hello there, I work in secondary and I must admit I don't know a lot about primary. I have a little one who will be reaching that age in a couple of years and as millions in the country I've started worrying now.
    Firstly, I come from a different country and used to a "pass the exam" or "re-do-year system" and still don't understand the primary system here, I know there are levels the same as in secondary, but what happens if you have a student who is falling behind and can't reach the reading, writing or maths milestones by the end of the year, and this student consequently keeps falling behind year after year until Y6. Would you give this student extra help, extra homework for parents to do with kid at home? Is it common to have settings in primary? I thought it was just something we did in secondary, but an acquaintance says that her daughter will be likely to go into the bottom set in her school in Y3, which I think it's a bit harsh for a little boy/girl. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Also, call me square-head, but how could I really find out what they learn every year? In other countries, yes, I know it's a bit strict, there are text books for each year and parents and students know exactly what they will have to study. I have visited the curriculum online which is a rough guide, but as I understand it each school interprets it and translates it into termly project work, or at least that's what I've been told. So, as a parent how would I be able to support my kid at home without a physical guide "textbook" that I can have a look at and say, "okay" this term they are learning about consonants or division or whatever?----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I know most people won't agree, but I have been considering alternatives as home-ed, also looking at prospects of some day going back to my country and considering that university may be still cheaper abroad, my home country offers free online education from primary all the way to the university access exams (of course, you still have to go to the embassy to do the end of year exams). The social aspect as well as the English side of things would be covered through attendance to many of the lessons organized by homeedders in my area. However this is just one of the possibilities. I can't really look at my local primaries because we will be moving next year but we don't know where in our city to yet.
  2. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    All children are assessed and if they are falling behind they will get support long before Y6. If they are significantly behind they will usually get an Individual Education Plan which sets out targets and exactly how the support will be given.
    and talk to the school
  3. Hi Msz, thanks for your reply. I will try the link later as the site seems to be unresponsive at the minute.
    When you say the student will get help before Y6, what type of help? What would you typically do in your school?
    I know from my secondary setting that the tutor would ask the SENCO for support and an LSA would be placed with the kid, but in secondary (at least in my school) this means quite often that the LSA really does a lot of the work for the kid. We do withdraw kids from lessons for Literacy, although most of them really hate it.
    What type of help would they get in primary? More homework to practice at home? Something sent home for the parent to work through?
  4. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Are you expecting that your child will need extra help? The vast majority of children do not, so if you have a couple of years or so until they start school you really don't need to be worrying yet.

    Do lots of work at home to help your child develop a good vocabulary. So lots of talking and playing chatter games, singing songs, reading stories that sort of thing. Especially stories that have a repeating rhyme that your child can effectively 'learn'. Play number games as well and learn rhymes with counting back and forwards.

    Then let your child do lots of craft and art activities, especially cutting and sticking. This will help them when they come to write later.

    Then send them off happily to a good primary school and they will likely be absolutely fine. Primary schools tend to be a far more positive and happy places with enthusiastic learners than secondary ones. (Well in my experience of teaching in both, though not a huge number of each, they do.)
  5. Hi, well I am not expecting that she will need extra help at the minute, she's too young to tell, you never know. In the city where I am a "good" school is hard to come by. I am just really trying to assess different options for her education, and trying to understand how primary schools work. I come from a very prescriptive background and I am still not quite convinced of the primary system over here.

    I suppose you could say "go back to Spain then" which would be a fair comment. But I suppose I am looking for a clear image of what a typical kids would do in a typical year in a typical school. I just get the impression that there is not really a shared scheme, and each primary school interprets the curriculum and develops its own schemes of work. Which to me, coming from a more prescriptive and clear cut system, just doesn't really compute. I suppose from the "skills" point of view it's fantastic as it will develop children's abilities, imagination, etc and of course Literacy and Numeracy, but after all, I suppose for me it all boils down to where is the "academic" knowledge. How do I know what periods of history are studied each year, what mathematical operations, what grammar points, at each stage... maybe I'm sounding too prescriptive but that's exactly what I could just find out in Spain or France by taking a look at the index of the textbooks in the bookshop.

    Regarding the extra help, as it's the case in secondary up to Y9 , there are no exams that are used to "make them" repeat or say that "yeah, they are ready to go on". So, in Spain or France, if the kid is just not "studying", as a parent you would know what to do, just get them motivated to study or sitting with them and make sure they do the work by using their texbooks etc. However, what would I do if she goes to a primary school where all the work is kept in the school and I don't really know what she's doing?
  6. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I am afulltime class teacher and the SENCO so if a child was having difficulties the teacher would inform me and together we would discuss the nature of the problem and plan how best to support the child. We would invite the parents into school and tell them the problem, how we aim to tackle it and offer suggestions as to what can be done at home (if appropriate) Usually with very young children the first thing is to rule out physical difficulties - hearing and vision before putting interventions in place.
    In my school we prefer children with problems to work with a teacher in the class rather than being removed from the class, so LSA support is usually in the class, unless there is a specific programme for that child which means they may be withdrawn for a short time.
    We also offer extra sessions before and after school and at lunch time for those children who need it.
  7. littlerussell

    littlerussell New commenter

    Try not to worry, there are many positives in the English system as well!
    * Most schools I know send home a termly letter or leaflet stating which aspects are being covered that term.
    * The Primary National Strategy will you get an idea of what is taught in each year group. Although it is not 'compulsory' almost every school is covering the objectives in here, if not the teaching methods.
    * Because children can't be kept behind, there is a (rather silly) emphasis on the idea that every child achieves ''average' standards, and there is a lot of support to help children who fall behind. There is a huge spend nationally on support within school. This is classed as 'Wave 2' - children who just need a bit of extra help, e.g. a few group sessions with a teaching assistant, and 'Wave 3' which is more individualised. Even children with SEN tend to be taught nearly all the time in class, with withdrawal being timed to minimise disruption. In short, the school is much more likely to take on the extra burden rather than send it home as homework.
    * Your child's work is repeatedly assessed and grids etc. filled in showing strengths and weaknesses, so when you meet the teacher at parents evening, usually termly, they should be able to give you really detailed areas for development.
    * Your daughter may also receive support from a specialist EAL (English Additional Language) teacher depending on her level of English.

  8. Most primary schools will actively be in contact with parents regarding what is being covered that term. It may be in the form of newsletters or letters home but more schools are now using something like Merlin to be in very active contact on a day to day or weekly basis with homework being set on it and information being put up. I would guess this isn't so forthcoming in secondary, so you may well not have seen evidence of this kind of contact.
  9. It is not hard to talk to the teacher every so often, ask what the objectives for that week are, and what you can be doing at home to support. We send newsletters out each half term highlighting what we will be focussing on that term.
    You may be from a background that teaches prescriptively - but imagine how much more inspiring and fun learning is when it is put into a context that is fun for the child. Also do you think all children are exactly the same and learn the same things in the same way, or do you agree that all children are different and therefore teaching should be adapted to suit the children in our classes?
    I know it takes you out of your comfort zone and you are not able to know exactly what is happening day in and day out in the classroom, but if you can put your own insecurities aside and trust the school your child will have a much richer education.
    In my school children that fall behind are taught interventions where they are taken out for 10/15 minutes a day to focus on a specific area for development, either 1:1 or in small groups. At primary they tend to enjoy this and feel special.
    If you hunt for the Primary Frameworks, they have been archived but still outline the objectives that children should be working on in Y1, Y2 etc and it will give you some idea of what to work on at home. The WAY we teach things is different and the point in the year that we teach things is not prescriptive, but we still have to teach children certain objectives during certain year groups, and it is fairly easy to find this information online with a bit of hunting.
  10. HI
    You are clearly a parent who cares and has knowledge skills and abilities yourself. You will have prepared your child before s/he starts school and you will have ensured that s/he has a good grasp of the language and basic social and personal skills. You will also be in regular contact with the child's teacher - esp in foundation parents/carers meet the children from school and are usually welcome to have a brief chat. It will become clear quite quickly if there is a problem. Your chd will be given all the help s/he needs to good progress for his/her ability. As long as there is strong support from home there is no need to worry.
    No - not all chn make the same progress - whichever system - whether in your native country or here. But all schools work to ensure that all chn make the most progress they are capable of and that can be enhanced or detracted from by the level of support given by significant adults at hom.
    I would say - don't worry just make sure your child is well prepared for school and that you are in regular contact with the class teacher and ask if there is anything you don't understand.
    Have faith - you expect parents to trust you to teach their children - now it's time to trust others with your child.
  11. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    Most if not all primary schools send home half termly or termly newsletters about what they are doing. All will get reading spelling and maths homework to some degree depending on age..I cant speak for secondary but primary is a fun and exciting environment and children are taught according to their abilities and needs.
    Speaking from the experience of having relatives that moved to france with children in both nursery secondary and primary phase, I think the english system is better. They moved back to england because of their dissatisfaction with the french education system. They had text books but they were very boring old fashioned grammar etc type text books. The further through the system they got the narrower the curriculum, very few of the fun creative activities. Children that failed to make the grade were kept back and repeated the same text book with younger children, there was a child that had been kept down 2 years in one class. All children did exactly the same thing on exactly the same day. Everything was aimed at the average child. If your child was bright as my nieces were, it was tough and they were bored. Behaviour was a huge issue and their teacher asked if all english children were so well behaved. I think behaviour was so poor because a) the children were bored and disaffected and b) poor behaviour was less likely to be tackled. ie at secondary school children openly smoked.
    I've also had french teachers on a visit who have been amazed at the individual way we teach reading and the levels that some of our children achieve, in france they all moved at the same pace even if they were capable of more. They did fewer days teaching a year but made up for it by giving out a horrendous amount of homework, which although meant parents were involved, placed the onous on parents whether they were willing or able or not.
    I also have 2 french friends married to english husbands and who have chosen to bring up their children in england. They intend to go back to france but wont do it until their children leave school as they prefer the english system having experienced both.
    The main issue for you is probably the difference in starting age as children start at age 4. I do feel that we teach children to read and write too early in england and this is were other EU countries definately get it right.
    As other have said there are frameworks we work from in terms of what english and maths is taught each year and for certain things such as phonics, a set progression. However there is generally more flexibility to do things in any order or length of time according to the needs of the children. For example what is the point in doing 5 lessons on persuasive writing if they get it after 2 and they need 7 rather than 5 lessons on letter writing for example. The writing will be linked to a topic so that they are writing for a real purpose rather than following a format dictated by a text book.
    At the end of the day although I prefer the english system to the french and possibly the spanish if you say they are the same, though I have no expereince of spain, it is very much an individual choice and cultural issues will also come into it. If you intend to stay in england and for your children to continue to stay and work in the uk after leaving school, then I think the english system is best, but if you are going back to spain in a few years any way, then you have to make the decision based on your cultural needs and ability to move back into the spanish system. My oldest neice had to have expensive maths tuition to bring her back into line with the british system before moving back to the uk because they were much further behind in the french system and there were certain things they just didnt cover.
  12. Yes, of course, I agree that it's better to cater for different learning styles. However, I don't think one thing must necessarily exclude the other, you can have clear contents that everybody needs to learn for each level, reflected in guides or textbooks, then it's up to the teacher to convert that into interesting lessons. If I am teaching the present tense in Spanish all the students would have to learn the present tense, however I may want to change the activities, way to approach it. Why do you think that having a strict list of topics to learn must exclude imagination? In Spain they have the "asignaturas transversales", which means that although they learn the facts and the theory then they also do projects and work to put that in context and get kids thinking.

    I think there is certain flexibility, but at the end of the day if you want to read and write correctly in English whatever method you use, the end has to be the same "reading and writing with correct spelling, etc" That's really what seems to be missing for me so far, a clear cut idea of what is expected.
  13. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    We have that in the National Curriculum and in EYFS. It sets out exactlywhat children need to be taught and the expectations of what the average child will know at the end of each school year.
    Maths & English year by year
    at the moment there are plans for a new curriculum so when your little one starts school there will be a new curriculum in place
  14. Hi marymoocow,
    Yeah, I suppose different people's experiences vary. However, I am surprised as I have messages totally opposite to yours from other sources. I don't really want to get into what system is better or not better, I suppose they all have their faults and if you talk to home-educators they would get rid of schools all together. But after all we live in a free country.

    Leaving aside which system is better or not, I think teaching and learning styles are one thing, and having clear targets is another thing altogether. My daughter's teacher could be teaching her sitting on one leg holding an umbrella with the other hand for all I care, as long as the teacher knows what s/he is doing and I do too. I agree that having the old style lessons when you just wrote down on paper and memorize is no good, but having all fun and no work does not really make much sense either if you are not actually learning what you are supposed to.

    I think it's great that there is so much interesting stuff in British schools, I don't doubt that. I just want to understand why it is so difficult to get a simple answer to what is the "syllabus" and why couldn't I, as the parent, or my child as a "student" have some clear resources at home we can use as a guide for independent learning.
  15. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    tortuman there are clear targets and expectations for each year group and for each child the difference is they are not delivered by every child working on the same page of the same text book on the same day at the same time but by the end of the year children will have been taught the same skills and knowledge.
  16. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Lead commenter

    With the attitude you are displaying to this country's education system that might be the best option
  17. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I am beginning to think so as well.
  18. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Lots the rest of my post, sorry.

    I am beginning to think so as well.

    A English Education is still seen as 'the thing to have' in a great many countries. Ex-pats still send their children to boarding school in England in order for them to have a good education. Immigrants here, in my experience, are full of praise for the behaviour, standards and curriculum their child experiences.

    If you talk to home educators, they will obviously not think schools are better. If they did they would send their child to school. If you want to have total control over what your child learns and when then you need to educate them yourself.

    Follow the NC links that Msz (I think) gave you earlier and you will know what your child will be able to do at each lesson. An 'average' child will be a level 2 in year 2 and a level 4 in year 6.
  19. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    Who said it was all fun and no work? As other have said there are very clear guidelines about what is taught each year. I dont think any english teacher would claim that all their learning is fun, there are some aspects that can not be learnt in a fun way and more formal methods have to be used. Also children have to learn that somethings are just boring and that is life. However I was comparing it to the text books I saw my nieces using, which were of a style that quite frankly have not been used since the 1950s and 60s in the UK.
  20. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    By the way,many home educators tend to home educate in this country because they feel the curriculum is too restrictive and perscriptive and doesnt meet the individual needs of their children. As I feel the UK system is less restrictive and perscriptive than the french system I can only assume they would throw their hands up in horror at it.

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