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Gifted Year 5 Student

Discussion in 'Primary' started by Galois123, Mar 28, 2012.

  1. Although, as a private tutor, I usually only teach GCSE and A Level maths, a few years ago I agreed to take on a Year 2 girl who was showing exceptional promise in maths. I taught her for half an hour a week during term times only, with a small amount of homework, so I did not consider that she was being pushed too hard. By the end of Year 2, it was clear she was very gifted, and I expected her to be ready for GCSE Modules in Year 4/5.
    Her parents went to see the headteacher of her new Junior School at the beginning of Year 3, but she just didn't want to know - especially about very early GCSE. I have continued to teach the girl for half an hour a week. She is now in Year 5 and is working at Level 8/8+ with me, but being set work at Level 4/5 at school. Her teacher is actually extremely good, and knows she is fantastic at maths, but obviously doesn't know the girl can solve quadratics, solve triangles using trigonometry etc. The parents haven't mentioned it because the headteacher was so hostile.
    The parents and I took the decision to enter my student for Linear GCSE Maths at Foundation Tier, and she took the exam at the beginning of March. If I had entered her at Higher Tier, I am sure she would have achieved at least a B, but I wanted to keep things as relaxed as possible. My student found the exam very easy and I am certain she will get a C, which will put her 'officially' at about Level 7.
    The plan is to take IGCSE at the end of year 6 if I am sure she will get an A*.
    The problem is, the school does not know that she has taken GCSE maths. They will have to be told when the results are known. I will suggest that I send in work at an appropriate level. I assume the school will have to act then. If not, maybe Ofsted should be informed of the situation?
    Any thoughts would be appreciated!

  2. I really don't understand why you haven't given the teacher the opportunity to provide a more appropriate level of work for her? It seems the teacher is providing high level primary work for her, but you state she hasn't been told anything more than that about the child's abilities beyond school so in what way are the school acting against her interests, given that they simply aren't aware of the things she has been trained to do?
    I am assuming you recognise in her more ability than simply being able to rote learn GCSE methods? I am not sure how demanding a maths GCSE is these days?
    I am not sure of the benefits of taking GCSE early - what are they?

  3. s1oux

    s1oux New commenter

    Unfortunately, I think children achieving in the top 5% (let alone genuine GandT like you describe) are the most neglected chidren in primary school. They are capable of so much and yet are usually not really 'stretched' at all by virtue of being put in the 'top' group in class and being given work suitable for the top 25%.Most classes have 1,2 or 3 children capable of working at a level 2 years ahead if they were consistently given work at their own level. Instead, schools think of them as 'guaranteed level 5s' and leave them to it.

    Hopefully Level 6 papers will do something to motivate schools more - perhaps directing more resources towards these children.

    With regards to this case however, like the above poster has said - why hasn't there been greater dialogue with the teacher? I imagine her own subject knowledge might be creaking at those levels but you are in the ideal position to support the teacher and, by proxy, the child.
  4. I have a similar girl in my Y6 class. She is highly gifted across the curriculum, particularly in mathematics. I also am fortunate(within my very large set) to have 9 other pupils working at high Level 6 but she is simply way, way ahead of any of them.
    We are very fortunate to have a TA with an excellent degree in maths and she works with my pupil three times a week on enrichment activities e.g. looking at the beauty of mathematics or simply enjoying the opportunity to tackle challenging problems which stretch her laterally rather than simply accelerating her skills. Thank God for Nrich!!! She is about to begin a project on Pythagoras.
    We all know that she could easily achieve a GCSE but her parents are happy with our provision (we have worked closely with them all the way through since entry) - she has been given the time to explore and discuss a subject in which she is so obviously excels. During those times during the week when she is working within my HA set, I give her the choice to either continue working on problems and puzzles provided by the TA or to join in with class activities and she often chooses to do so, especially when the pupils are undertaking practical investigations or group work.
    She also loves tests! I gave her a recent GCSE Foundation Tier paper a couple of weeks ago, as her peers were having a go at a previous SATs test. She had only 50 minutes for each paper and scored 9!% and 94%. Last week she worked on the 2006 KS3 6-8 paper and she strolled through, achieving L8. However - we often chat about her future and I am at pains to explain that there is still much for her to learn in KS3/4/5.
    Her parents are fantastic. They just want her to enjoy her learning and have no interest in pushing her through GCSE hurdles at this point.
    I can't wait to teach her sibling, who will be in my set next year - aged 9!
  5. Just wanted to say well done, and what a great job you're doing. This sounds a very healthy approach to nurturing this child's gift.
  6. It's her parents who should be praised. They know they have two exceptional children (the sibling appears even more gifted). Although they have, over the years, insisted that additional provision should be made in order to enthuse and motivate their kids - quite rightly so - they can see the bigger picture, i.e. enrichment rather than endless acceleration of skills.
  7. Thank you for all your thoughts!
    My pupil scored 97-100% in foundation past papers GCSE. She is certainly working now at level 8+. I am sure she will easily get an A* in IGCSE at the end of Year 6. She is also gifted across the curriculum (she is bilingual and is teaching herself Russian for fun), her short stories are worthy of publication and she is taking Grade 5 piano in June, I think.
    But my concern is for her maths development. I am not sure where this is going to lead. I am concerned that the school is thinking of league tables, and a level 5 in maths would be great for them, just as the best teachers in secondary schools are teaching low sets to get grade D students up to C for the sake of league tables! I think that the headteacher's attitude is that a highly-gifted pupil would just cause them problems. She was apparently very hostile to the prospect of an early GCSE pass, and that is why there has been very little communication between parents and school. Surely gifts such as these should be nurtured? I have been teaching maths for 20+ years, and I have never come across a student such as this!
    Does anyone know what the legal implications are regarding a GCSE pass at primary school in as far as the level of work that should be set by the school is concerned?
  8. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    level 6.7 or 8 would be better.

  9. brighton56

    brighton56 Occasional commenter

    My advice would be to keep up the tutoring and keep the student engaged and passionate for Maths.
    I would strongly urge for you not to 'push' the child into early GCSE's or Alevels. I fail to see any positives in completing GCSE Maths at KS2.
    There have been a few articles over the past few years of parents trying to push their children into university at a younger age of 15/16/17. This is absurd and ridiculous and i'm glad universities have put their foot down and said no! Life should not be judged by how many qualifications you have.
    We do need to keep stretching 'gifted' students but this does not mean pushing them through more and more qualifications.
    And I know I shouldn't be saying this but how worthwhile are GCSE and Alevel qualifications in a young person's future? The only time I needed them was to get into university...
    I hope this does not sound pessimistic. I think you, the parents and especially the child should be very proud.
  10. The aim is not to get her into university early. Just to nurture her gifts!
  11. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I agree ... what benefit will the child get from obtaining a GCSE in maths in primary? Yes she should be challenged but that doesn't always mean moving onto the next level sometimes it's more useful to look at how to broaden skills and knowledge rather than stretch them narrowly.
  12. I think everyone here is assuming she is 'normal'. Yes, she plays, she goes to ballet lessons, she watches TV, she rides her bike, but she is AMAZING academically, particularly at maths. She is not being pushed (half an hour a week tuition!) I assume the school will say the same as teachers are saying here. What are people afraid of? That she is better at maths than her teachers?
  13. I haven't seen anyone here suggesting she should not be stretched. Rather, we are asking why she should sit exams.
    Where is the benefit in sitting a GCSE several years earlier than her peers? Why not just allow her teachers the opportunity to stretch her and provide her with an enriched learning experience, as somebody further up this thread is already doing with a gifted child?
    I rather think the GCSE may not be challenging in the right way, given that it can be passed well without any particularly spectacular maths skills at all. There are far better ways to develop her thinking and understanding of maths, than by pushing her through early exams.

  14. Because the teachers at her school are not capable of stretching her! They probably have no more than a GCSE Grade C themselves. I take my hat off to primary teachers who have an A Level in maths, or a degree in maths. But they are rarer than hen's teeth! Don't you understand the problem?
  15. Everyone is talking about how she should be stretched. But primary teachers are really not qualified to teach beyond Level 5/6. Unless the teacher is a maths 'specialist' with at least A Level, then some contributing to this thread here are just talking the type of Labour Party **** that has produced the society we live in where 50% of the workforce have maths skills of a primary student themselves. If GCSE is so easy, than a primary school pupil who achieves a C grade should be proof that most primary teachers are not qualified to teach!!
    Sorry. My student is very gifted, and I think primary teachers will be intimidated by her. Why should she be held back?
  16. I'd suggest you have no understanding at all of how qualified or otherwise the teaching staff at her primary school are to teach higher level maths because you haven't talked to them and nor have her parents. We have two maths graduates on our teaching staff, and one of my prior schools had a maths graduate out of only four teaching staff!
    You assume far too much. Do you think this child is unique? Gifted children can and should be catered for by their schools. There are often other means at schools' disposals that enable them to enrich primary children's learning. Often they will have links to local secondary schools etc.
    You and her parents simply haven't bothered to explore any of that with the school though.
    Your attitude is patronising and ill-informed about primary educators.
    At the moment, you are stretching her no more than any of those 'C grade GCSE' primary teachers could do.
  17. I am not sure I understand the bit I underlined. Why would the child achieving a grade C prove anything at all about the fitness to teach of primary school teachers?
    A gifted in maths child should be achieving better than a grade C in a modern maths GCSE, which frankly, can be passed well simply by rote learning and little depth of mathematical understanding.

  18. No, I have very detailed knowledge of the capabilities of the so-called maths teachers at the local secondary schools! One of my students, in Year9 , took a mock GCSE paper. The head of maths also took the paper, to encourage the students. My student achieved a higher score than the head of department. My student subsequently achieved a B grade (we have since improved that to A*). No, the secondary school teachers in my area have very poor subject knowledge (and I shudder to think about the primary school teachers!) What are your qualifications as a primary school teacher? Maybe you are unique, as is my student (and I bet you didn't pass GCSE at the age of 9 years!!!)
  19. A grade C was just a warm up! Do you really not understand?
  20. Obviously most of primary teachers have passed GCSE by rote learning with little understanding! That explains a lot, including your attitude!

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