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What would a child have to do to move into a higher phonics group?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by mystery10, Jan 23, 2011.

  1. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I am being as succinct as possible here as I really would like an answer.
    My DCs' school does Read Write Inc - the reading scheme with writing books that go up to Set 7, colour grey.
    Please don't give me any scary answers suggesting that it is wrong of me to want to know this, but I would really like to know how to find out what a child would have to do to be moved up into a different group. The school is not likely to tell me so asking the school is one helpful suggestion ruled out.
    In general how do schools test or assess that a child has satisfactorily completed a particular level in that scheme?
    How as a teacher would you notice if a quiet child had been placed in the wrong group?
  2. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I am being as succinct as possible here as I really would like an answer.
    My DCs' school does Read Write Inc - the reading scheme with writing books that go up to Set 7, colour grey.
    Please don't give me any scary answers suggesting that it is wrong of me to want to know this, but I would really like to know how to find out what a child would have to do to be moved up into a different group. The school is not likely to tell me so asking the school is one helpful suggestion ruled out.
    In general how do schools test or assess that a child has satisfactorily completed a particular level in that scheme?
    How as a teacher would you notice if a quiet child had been placed in the wrong group?
  3. Fur

    Fur New commenter

    There is a phonics assessment which is carried out with every child, several times a year, the chn are then grouped by their phonic knowledge. Some schools also ask the chn to read a short passage and answer questions to assess comprehension.
    I am constantly moving very quietly around my classroom during reading lessons so would be able to hear each child read. I would also target questions at them in a guided group.

    Hope that helps.
  4. Gloriousness

    Gloriousness New commenter

    I don't use the scheme, but in my class you would need to show consistently high/full marks over a half term. Then I would consider it.
    It varies from teacher to teacher. One teacher in my school only moves children at the end of each term - another never moves them at all.
    The school may well tell you. I've had parents ask me how their child can move up, and I've told them the exact thing I wrote up there. How are you so sure they won't?
    Hopefully this advice is worthless and the scheme you mention clearly outlines when children should move - but I'm not sure it will do that.
  5. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Thank you both. Fur, what is the phonics assessment to which you refer? Is it one set out somewhere in the Read Write Inc scheme?
    Rathen .... I know they won't as I have already asked in a roundabout kind of way as this school does not like parents to know there are groups for anything, or what they are doing or such-like. The classteacher referred me to the headteacher.
    The headteacher gave me different explanations on different occasions. First time she said to me it was a test where the children have to read phonic sounds out loud.
    I didn't ask again, but one time she phoned me about another matter - I had asked if there was anything I could do to support my child with phonics at home - and during that conversation she referred to the Read Write Inc groupings being about spelling, not reading.
    I asked the classteacher again at much later time if there was anything I could do to help my child at home with phonics and the head called me in. She told me she could tell me how they determined which groups children went into but she wasn't going to as I would go home and teach it to my child and I shouldn't be doing anything at home that related to school.
    So I am puzzled!!

  6. NQT1986

    NQT1986 Occasional commenter

    We don't do Read, Write, Inc at our school, but we have split our phonics groups by ability. If a child was consistently working at a higher level than the others in their group, they would be moved up ASAP.

    As a Year 2 teacher, I have noticed several posts by you over the last couple of months worrying about your child/your friend's child in Year 2 being in the wrong group/set or expressing some concern about how to move them up. Have you spoken to the class teacher about your concerns? What makes you think that your child is in the wrong group?
  7. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Thanks for asking. This forum scares me as I seem to attract critical posts, and also the last thing I would want is to be spotted by a forum member from my children's school.
    As I mentioned higher up the thread, I do not get anywhere with conversations with the classteacher, the classteacher refers up to the head.
    In a nutshell, the school has decided my child is average at what seems to be an early stage for deciding such things. I have reason for believing (which I will not go into on public forum) that this is probably not the case.
    My concern is that this particular school seems to decide at a very early stage what the future achievement of a child at KS1 and KS2 is likely to be, and then work is differentiated accordingly from a very early age. So the predictions become a self-fulfilling prophecy as there would be too many gaps to bridge at a later stage if the child's full potential were to be achieved.
    I am hopefully wrong, but my gut instinct, and experiences of some other children at this school, lead me to feel this way. If your child gets picked out early on as one of the superstars things work out great. A younger child of mine will I think fall into this category, so hopefully I do not have a double problem. But I know as parent of both children that there isn't a great deal of difference in ability between them (though they are different in some ways the effects cancel out in overall terms if you see what I mean) but the second is a more outgoing, confident to speak child, and has been exposed to some things sooner through being my second (we also have other children in the family, but not mine).
    I have always tried very hard when communicating with the school not to sound as though I am complaining, which I am not, merely to try and find out a bit more so that I can support my child at home in the right way.
  8. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    So would you rather work wasn't differentiated?
    I think you need to discuss these issues with the school. Make an appointment to speak with the class teacher.
    They will have been assessing your child since entry to fs and will be able to reassure you about the judgements they have made. I would be surprised to find a school deliberately holding a child back. Schools want the best fir their pupils ( and their statistics!!!)
    Bear in mind that sometimes your interpretation of a bright able child may be different to the school's. This varies from school to school depending on catchment.
    Also if your child isn't ready, moving them at speed through the groups will be detrimental to long term progress. Foundations have to be firm otherwise it can fall apart layer
    Of course this is all speculation on my part. You need to talk to the school, otherwise you won't resolvebit.
  9. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    Fat fingers strike again. Apologies.
  10. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    1. re the bit in italics: have you not read or heard any of the passionate criticism of having to predict Yr6 levels at the end of KS1? Thisa affects all schools, not just the one your child attends.
    As for the work being differentiated from a very early age, I can't help being sceptical. Yes, the same amount or quality of work won't be expected from all children but there surely won't be a rigidy 'You do this,you do that' system in place in KS1?
  11. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Don't blame the school. Blame the local educational authority with their targets. The schools are as much victims as your daughter.
    I'm sorry - I meant to say that in my first post.
  12. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    What you advise is what I would normally do. But the class teacher refers me to the headteacher, and wants me to go direct to the headteacher, so it can't work the way that you describe. The headteacher doesn't really tell me anything so it's a bit of a waste of time all round.
    Differentiation ------- yes I want it if it's done in a way that facilitates children achieving the best they possibly can. But I fear that for practical reasons it has to be done in a rather simplistic way quite often - give the top group this task, give the middle group the same task simplified, give the bottom group an even easier version of it. There's no way of knowing if any of the children could have gone beyond the limitations of the task, whichever version of it they were given. And one's SATS level predictions become self-fulfilling prophecies.
  13. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Oops, post above was responding to Curlygirly, and Inky replied in the meantime. Thanks Inky. Glad I'm not completely barking mad worrying about the KS2 targets so early.
    But just because there is a bureaucratic setting of targets required at a local, regional or national level, is that still any reason to work to the targets?
    Yes, there is a you do this, you do that at KS1, at least part of the time. e.g. a different worksheet for each of the three groups, different homework etc.
  14. Hi mystery 10. I'm also a parent who has had problems with the target system. I have a daughter classified as 'gifted and talented' and a son on SA+ (second level of special needs support). At the beginning of Yr6, even if my daughter had bunked off school every day she would have got level 5's in her KS2 SATs. But she still had to do the intense revision required by her target-focussed school for those tests. She was bored. At first, just bored. Then bored to tears. Then bored and angry and upset and eventually felt sick all day at school and couldn't get to sleep till the small hours at night. Her class teacher couldn't understand her problem; she felt my daughter ought to think herself lucky that unlike some children she didn't have to work hard to get a level 4.
    I talked to the deputy head. She explained the target system. I said; "You mean because there's a correlation between KS2 SATs results and GCSE results, KS2 SATs results are seen as a factor that determines GCSE results?" She nodded.
    My son's situation was very different. He was still working at P levels in Y3, so was highly unlikely to get anywhere near a level 4 at KS2. So wasn't going to make a contribution to the school's performance indicator, which was presumably why he got none of the support recommended by specialists following assessments. At 12 - at home temporarily - physics and maths are now his best subjects and he's planning a career as an astrophysicist.
    His experience at junior school was very different to infant school, where work was differentiated but children were also given considerable one-to-one support and parents were involved in education at every level.
    I'd go and have a look round other schools if I were you - just to see what else is out there.

  15. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Thank you, it is very interesting to hear your personal experience. And so good to hear that your son has way exceeded those early expectations a million-fold. I hope your daughter went on to a more fulfilling secondary education.
    It sounds as though the first school was rather narrow-minded, and the second school not. Looking back, was there anything that was key to the second school realising that there was more to your son than met the eye ? I presume your son would have gone with records of what the first school thought of him, so to get beyond this, cover the huge gaps, and get to the point where you are now must have been a huge mountain to climb for you, your son, and the second school.
    I have considered shifting schools, but I am so unlikely from where I live to get a place for more than one child off a waiting list at a better school (even one child is unlikely). We are a bit out in the sticks, it's a reasonable drive to the small number of schools reasonably close by, and I think in some ways they all have similar approaches to parents and targets. I think there might be some differing mindsets in a good size town or city, but not round here.

  16. Just
    to clarify, daughter attended excellent lower school, we moved to
    another area, son attended excellent infant school, daughter then son
    went to junior school nearby and that's when everything fell apart.
    There were tell-tale signs that I picked up when we first visited but
    wasn't aware of their significance at the time; pre-occupation with
    smart uniforms, haircuts (!) and homework, vague answers to
    questions....but the HT had 'turned the school around' - everybody
    said so - so we assumed it was on the right track. By the time I
    realised what the school's ethos was really like it was too late.
    a former teacher and trained as a psychologist so I had a head start
    with my son, but it's been hard work and I'll be watching his next
    school like a hawk!
    We're in a small isolated
    market town, so there wasn't much choice here either. Interestingly,
    two local schools that have made an effort to be what one HT called 'a
    kids' school' have been seen as swimming against the tide - or more
    accurately, just being awkward - and both HTs have taken early
    retirement. I suspect you're right, that there might not be a
    sufficient critical mass of different mindsets in a rural area.
    hindsight, I regret to say that if I had my time again, I would have
    been a 'stroppy' parent, or at least one that asked lots of questions, rather than the helpfully meek one I actually
    was. The school has had a lasting negative impact, not only on my
    children, but on others, and I think I was simply too trusting.
    law is clear that education should be suitable to a child's age,
    ability, aptitude and any special needs they might have - that is
    suitable to the individual child - and that parents are legally responsible for ensuring that their child gets such an education. Your child's class teacher probably keeps referring you to the HT because she isn't in control of policy, but she should be able to explain the strategy she's using, and should be trying to get you on board rather than witholding information from you in case you mess up the plan.
    If you don't get any joy it might be worth talking this over with a parent-governor; it's important that parents do understand what the school is doing and why and that they support the school. Hope you can get this sorted out.

  17. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    So without prying too much, how did you or whoever achieve the massive progress there must have been between Year 3 and now?

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