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Daughter going to 2ndry school - advice if you can...

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by howie1000, Jul 15, 2012.

  1. howie1000

    howie1000 New commenter

    Hi, I'm an ICT teacher looking for advice.



    My daughter has just left primary school and is going to the local 2ndry school which is quite a nice school, I think (it's hard to get a good idea from outside, even as a teacher, I reckon) but it has an outstanding Ofsted (whatever that's worth) and 75%+ 5 A-C inc English and Maths.



    She left primary school with a Maths level 4 - her teacher says right in the middle of 4.



    Now, in 2ndry school she will be assessed towards Xmas and setted for Maths - I would prefer this to be in a higher group (to avoid the denizens in the lower groups).



    Now, could you help me?



    What set do you think she is likely to go into in an above average comp?



    What strategies / books / other resources would be best to allow me and the missis, her parents to help her raise her game over the next few months?



    I'm not a pushy parent but she did languish in the bottom set for maths at primary school and we live in an Asian area where tutoring is ubiquitous and distorts the outcomes and settings throughout the local school systems.



    Sorry for butting into your forum...
     
  2. howie1000

    howie1000 New commenter

    Hi, I'm an ICT teacher looking for advice.



    My daughter has just left primary school and is going to the local 2ndry school which is quite a nice school, I think (it's hard to get a good idea from outside, even as a teacher, I reckon) but it has an outstanding Ofsted (whatever that's worth) and 75%+ 5 A-C inc English and Maths.



    She left primary school with a Maths level 4 - her teacher says right in the middle of 4.



    Now, in 2ndry school she will be assessed towards Xmas and setted for Maths - I would prefer this to be in a higher group (to avoid the denizens in the lower groups).



    Now, could you help me?



    What set do you think she is likely to go into in an above average comp?



    What strategies / books / other resources would be best to allow me and the missis, her parents to help her raise her game over the next few months?



    I'm not a pushy parent but she did languish in the bottom set for maths at primary school and we live in an Asian area where tutoring is ubiquitous and distorts the outcomes and settings throughout the local school systems.



    Sorry for butting into your forum...
     
  3. You're not butting in at all. In my experience, at an above average comp. a level 4 would be in the middle of the intake (or lower middle if there aren't too many L2s and below). Also in my opinion, you are setting yourself quite an onerous task to raise your daughter's level in such a short time (it's taken 6 years of schooling to get her to where she is). The best you can do for her is to encourage a positive attitude to problem-solving, expose her to enjoyable applications of maths (in cooking, shopping, crafts, puzzles, games etc) and make sure her understanding of fractions and times tables don't slip during the summer holidays. The only part of your post I take exception to is how living in an "Asian area" has held your daughter back. If she has a 'L4' understanding of maths she will have a 'L4' understanding whatever set she's in or whatever sets her friends are in.
     
  4. howie1000

    howie1000 New commenter

    Hi,


    Thanks.


    I think you got the wrong end of the stick - being in an Asian area hasn't held her back - its just that the culture of tutoring in the community is very embedded - statistic: children in her school get an average of 6-7 hours(!) a week private tutoring. Some, many more.


    This means that the other kids got twice(?) as much Maths teaching as her - it's POSSIBLE that this distorted things and she could have been in a higher Maths group if tutored; my experience in a poor school is that lower groups have more behaviour problems and impaired progress. We put some pretty uninformed effort in and raised her from a 3a to the middle of 4 in about 6 months so that she became the best in the bottom group.


    We put our effort into broadening her in other ways: music, tennis, swimming, etc all of which she does well but I guess we feel we might have let her down by not getting her some of the external support that the other kids got and would like to see if we could help a little to save her a little from the denizens of the lower groups.


    Sorry to go on!
     
  5. adamcreen

    adamcreen Occasional commenter

    I'll be blunt, because you're a teacher, and I deal with lots of concerned parents as a Head of Maths, and we need to put right some of your prejudices.

    Firstly, you've got your daughter into an outstanding school, that obviously enables each child to make a good rate of progress. So why wouldn't you trust the school to put your daughter into the correct group?

    Secondly, what do you mean by the "denizens" of the lower groups? Are you saying that the lower groups are somehow filled with lazy or disruptive children? Why do you want her in a higher group where she will struggle rather than a lower group where the teacher will help her to make the right progress?

    My school is similar to the one you describe. 50% of our intake is at Level 5 on entry, and we got 90% A*-C at GCSE. So your daughter would go into set 3 of 4. This is a group that covers 4b and 4c students. She would struggle in set 2 because they all have 5c already and are working on Level 6 work in the main. Set 3 is a great group, consolidating level 4, and pushing on to level 5 (with some level 6 as extension).

    Your daughter has worked incredibly hard to do well in her SATs and she deserves a rest over the 6 weeks of summer. She will be pushed and challenged by the school in September, and while nobody wants her to fall behind, she does not have to "raise her game". She needs to maintain her level.

    You ARE a pushy parent. You want to pressure your child to artificially increase her attainment so that you fool the school into thinking she has more potential than she does, so she will struggle in later years.

    And I won't even try to expand on how offensive your racist comment is at the end.

    If your daughter is picking up on any of the nonsense you're spouting, she is going to be really worried about secondary school and that is a hateful thing to do to her.


    If your question had been about how to keep her thinking about Maths over the summer, and practice skills, and have some fun, then I would recommend:

    http://www.mangahigh.com

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks2/maths/

    http://uk.ixl.com/math/year-6 - be warned, pushy parent! do not give her Year 7 or 8 because she will not have been taught all the skills - do not instil in her a fear (that may already be there) that she "can't do Maths"
     
  6. howie1000

    howie1000 New commenter

    Ok.


    She did suffer a lot of disruption in that bottom set and my somewhat warped experience in a less than great school is of massive disruption and stressed, and frustrated teachers. It might be completely different in a better school.


    One detail I haven't mentioned is that her mom is Asian and we have worked hard to avoid the obsessive academic drive which exists in the community - my wife suffered that. The phenomenon of hard- pushing immigrant parents is well-documented.



    'Racist'? Give me strength.


    I wish I hadn't posted and invited lectures.
     
  7. adamcreen

    adamcreen Occasional commenter

    I'm not a troll. Adam Creen is my real name. You asked for opinions and like you, I have your daughter's best interests at heart. That's why I replied at length.

    On a discussion board, to generalise about a group of parents as being "Asian" is to invite accusations of prejudice. I applaud you and your wife's avoidance of obsessive academic drive up to now, which makes the difficult move to a new school even less of a good time to try and push up your daughter's ability.

    As I said, you've got her into a good school and you can be very happy about that - teachers may still be stressed but there won't be as much frustration. Keep giving her positive messages and whatever happens in the setting, don't give her the impression that the school is wrong, or that she should have done "better".

    I'm sure she'll have a great time.
     
  8. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    However, that obsessive drive does give some advantages....

    If you look through this board you'll see that time and time again, we Secondary teachers make the same plea (of policy makers, not of our colleagues in Primary - their hands are tied), that all we want from kids coming up from Primary is rock solid, secure knowledge of "four function arithmetic".

    A child who knows their times tables.. knows how to add up, subtract, multiply and divide (by whatever method works for them.. we often grumble that kids don't know long multiplication or long division but those don't really matter) is a child that can progress in Secondary.

    One that can half-remember the names of shapes, isn't quite sure which average is the mode, forgets to put data in order when finding the median because they've been driven into "high level" topics is much more effort for us than one who really, really knows their tables.

    So, IMHO, if those Asian parents have been paying for Kumon maths and their kids are solidly drilled in four function maths, I think that was probably money well spent.

    And if they've some real world experience of weights and measures (perhaps because they weight out rice/pasta or do any other form of cooking where quantities are actually measured (instead of "thrown in by the cup", then that's a real bonus.

    So, (again), IMHO, (again), if you want to give your child a boost by September - have him/her help with the cooking. Have them walk round an athletics track so they know what 100m (200m, 400m) actually feels like (topical over the next few weeks!) and quiz them on their times tables morning noon and night.
     
  9. Colleen_Young

    Colleen_Young Occasional commenter

    On the subject of practice over the summer, I'd agree with the BBC Bitesize KS2 recommendation so she can be secure at KS2; IXL offer limited daily practice before you have to pay and I think there is enough good free stuff around without you needing to pay! Some links here.
    Be secure in the basic skills and play some games! Manga High has already been mentioned by Adam - I'd add Sumdog (can be used entirely free for fun practice). Nrich have some good games.
    My favourite games here.
     
  10. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    i certainly agree that in some schools, the lower sets can be nests of disruption and abuse. But then if the bottom sets are like that in those schools, often the lower middle and middle sets can be just as bad but with many more individuals causing problems. As schools with strong behaviour management in place hold that thorughout the school.
    having said that, my last school set the tutor groups as well, effectively streaming the whole school. As a result some pupils experienced only top set work and behaviour and were kept well clear of the worst pupils. Wheras otheres spent their entire school life with the dross, and having taught them, I use that word deliberately as it reflected their and their parents attitude to school manners and any form of work. . Interestingly the member of SMT in my dept was allowed to refuse to teach at KS3 and ONLY taught top sets at KS4!
     
  11. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

    OK.
    My goodness, they must be good at paperwork and ticking boxes to outstanding from OFSTED!
    To be honest if it is hard to get into why is the rate only 75%?
    Which is fine and good.
    In that case I would have her memorise her tables, have tuition until Dec.
    Other may say nay...but consider will other students have tuition courtesy of their "pushy" parents.
    I say level the playing field.
    A little bit of fun math every week can help too.
    There are limits to what a child retains. Don't go too wild.
    Have her practice the easier tier SAT papers.
    As long as she makes progress, it won't matter what set she gets in...
    But don't shy away from saying that maths is important, because it is.
    As a parent myself, when it comes to my own child
    I feel that you are dammed if you do try to encourage them [pushy parents]
    and dammed if you don't [don't care etc.]
    Good luck.
     
  12. That's an interesting point, and I apologise for hijacking the thread, but it made me think, and what I thunk is this: I've worked with Y6 children who were uncertain about long division/multiplication, but were probably at a point where they could start trying it, and gain some proficiency in it by the end of the year. BUT...here come the SATs! And nobody wants to confuse a child by trying to shift them up a gear, when they can practise the horrible chunking method, for example, which someone has told them is 'easier', and maybe hang on to another mark or two in their tests. And then after the SATs it's all 'fun' stuff - because, after all, the SATs are finished, and why would anyone want to learn anything if not for summative assessment? :(

     
  13. howie1000

    howie1000 New commenter

    Thanks to those of you who have helped - I had a go on the manga thing yesterday and was aware of the BBC Bitesize site.
    iXL I found a bit bewldering with a massive array of activities available. I can see the merit in the argument that getting the basics is the key but iXL seemed to cover, well, absolutely everything to the point of confusion for me. I will persevere though. Thanks for the game sites, too.
    I do still think it's worth working with my daughter because:
    1. So many kids here get tutoring
    2. This means that the grades kids get are not a real reflection of underlying ability (someone mentioned the phrase 'level the playing field'). My daughter is no mini-Gauss but her grade doesn't reflect her place in the talent pool and the kids who have had the tutoring are effectively over-performing for their underlying ability.
    3. I haven't played the game and as I said above, have left my daughter in a position where her results reflect a lot less exposure to maths teaching and practice of skills as much as her underlying ability.
    4. Lower sets, even in what is going to be a decent school are not great places to be (in my poorly managed inner city school, they are literally scary and at worst, staff and students are sometimes assaulted)
    5. Lower sets cover different and less work as someone above described.That could lead to a deficit that is never made up - in my daughters primary school bottom set, they didn't get to cover topics in the SAT papers because with the slowest and most disruptive kids, they didn't get the chance - yes, I know they should have done so.
    I could well be unduly concerned - this is a good school - (75% 5 A-C is good in this area because so many kids are EAL - (90% Asian, if I can use the word without being branded a racist) and discipline may well be sorted there. At the risk of being branded racist again I can say that the hindu community from which most of the kids originate, provides almost universally well-behaved kids.
    For the record, I have enjoyed every minute I've spent working with my daughter and I just couldn't sit her down in front of kumon for hours on end - I pity the poor little kids I see out and about round here stuck in front of those books for hours on end and we will have fun from here not draining, dull work.
     
  14. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    bear in mind that at present long multiplication and long division will hardly (if at all) be tested at either the end of KS3 or GCSE.
    I teach pupils to write down the appropriate timetable down the side of the page, then just do short bus stop division, as long as they spread out their work, they generally find this less confusing than the full long division method.
    I do teach long multiplication, but actually find the grid method more useful as it can be extended to multiplying out algebraic brackets. It can also be simply extended to the lattice method for multiplying decimals.
    but each to their own.
    If you thoroughly understand the long methods, teach them to your daughter. alongside loits and lots of full timestable practice. She needs to know the appropriate divisions from her timestables before dividing (short or long) becomes a reliable operation!
     
  15. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    It's not tested at all.

    It's one of a series of efficient strategies of hand-calculation that is arguably redundant because of the development of the electronic calculator. So it's no longer taught in Primary.

    Thing is, what went with that bathwater was the baby of "lots of practice.

    Grid method is great - but it's very inefficient (recently I was tutoring a child and I did a 4 digit x 4 digit multiplication using long multiplication before he'd even managed to write down the top line of his grid - and he's not a slow child!).

    With that loss of efficiency, the number of examples that can be attempted in a normal lesson is much reduced. With that loss of practice, well...
     

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