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What to do with academically under-achieving students?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by mature_maths_trainee, Mar 22, 2017.

  1. mature_maths_trainee

    mature_maths_trainee New commenter

    I'm a secondary teacher currently doing a considerable amount of voluntary work in a local Primary school, and am really CURIOUS as to what Primary schools generally 'do' with KS1/KS2 students who are thought to be under-achieving.
    [I'm not at all sure that what my local school does is typical of schools generally. It's reasonably 'interventionist'].

    I'm sure what schools do depends on why individual students have under-achieved, and for how long they've under-achieved, and the realistic prospects of affecting a change, etc etc. so here's a few hypothetical but more detailed cases to consider:

    Case 1: A year 2 student who (subjectively, from the teacher's perspective) appears quite bright and is a keen academic learner, but has clearly never been given any help at all from home in learning to count, or to read, or to write. They are already 'behind' their peers in routine tests and it's clear that unless they somehow (magically?) 'catch-up' on these core skills they will be behind their intellectual peers for very many years to come. Their parents might be 'supportive', or even 'demanding' of their child's academic development, but take the view that it's entirely the school's job to teach their kids, and essentially refuse to help them at home.
    Q: Should such a student be given *more* curriculum time to read, write, and learn basic number skills than their peers, in an effort to actually help them 'catch up', or it just accepted that they're 'behind' and that so long as they show good 'progress' from term-to-term, and year-to-year, then that's acceptable? If they were actually to be given more curriculum time on the essentials, then what other lessons do they miss? [assemblies, music & dance, P.E.,??? a mixture of all?]. Does it help to have them registered as SEN? What if the parents *resist* such a classification?

    Case 2: As Case 1, but say there's many such students in that position. The school's future KS2 SAT results for that year are likely to be particularly poor unless there is genuine, sustained 'accelerated progress' for this class of (current) Year 2 students. [*Sustained* accelerated academic progress, over a period of 2 or 3 years, is surely likely to have a significant adverse effect on other aspects of the children's education?]

    Case 3: An intelligent Year 5 student who is falling behind their peers because of repeated absenteeism from school (for seemingly very minor illnesses). The teachers' and school's best efforts may have been made to explain to the parents the importance or regular attendance, and yet the absenteeism has persisted for many months. The EWO and even social services may now be involved, but the student has significantly *fallen behind* (they may have missed key lessons on English grammar, regularly missed Fri AM spelling tests, and missed one or two maths lessons on almost every topic taught (thus having an incomplete and disjointed understanding of many Year 5 maths topics).
    Without explicit *extra* help, this student is very unlikely to make their normally-expected degree of progress in KS2, which is bad for the student and appears poor for the school.
    Q. Should such a student be given explicit, extra English and Maths learning time, or just catch up 'as best they can'? If they were to be given explicit, extra time (e.g. learning grammar on an ICT-based program for 30 mins each afternoon), then what would they be expected to miss? (time working on an extended art project, or science / history lessons?). Again, is the SEN mechanism useful / appropriate here?

    I know that in most Secondary schools there's minimal serious intervention given to such students (they might be expected to miss one tutor registration a week, or an assembly, in order to do some catch-up work, but certainly nothing that would impact upon the teaching and time-tabling of other subjects).
    To what extent are Primary schools different? Is it down to individual class teachers, or do Primary's really adopt different informal policies, or ???

  2. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    I would say, yes, intervention is different in Primary.
    Yes it definitely helps to identify any pupil as early as possible and set up intervention programmes. Sometimes these are TA led if there is a group of children needing the same input.

    Most children such as you describe would have an IEP, updated on a half-termly basis. Certainly any Yr 2 child would be receiving regular daily intervention inputs- much easier to do in Primary with the flow of one subject to another. There is a host of computer programmes which pupils could access for 10 mins a day for example.
  3. Wotton

    Wotton Lead commenter

    We do interventions in the afternoon for children who are behind. We have had success with our maths as all the children have made significant progress, though they are still not at age related expectations.
  4. RuthTom

    RuthTom Occasional commenter

    Cases 1and 2 would need daily intervention - using perhaps assembly time over a sustained period of time. Case 3 would need to catch up, but hopefully not need anything for a lengthy period of time. Getting their skills up to a level where they can access work in class with a fair amount of independence is very important.
  5. lattedrinker

    lattedrinker New commenter

    Lara mfl 05 likes this.

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