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Year Group Placement

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by MisterMaker, Feb 28, 2011.

  1. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    I've always been a bit of a stickler for keeping kiddies in their correct Year Group according to their age. No matter the reasoning put by parents I've tended to be consistent (often: Sid was born on 1st Sept, can't he go to Year 7 instead of Year 6 - no he can't) . I will always consider the rare exception - high CAT scores for example - but generally I don't see the benefits of allowing students to skip years, only negatives.
    However, I recently attended an open day at a supposed 'quality school' and the two highest ranks both suggested to a parent there could be some flexibility.
    I was rather astonished, but it had me thinking, how many other schools out there, especially ones that regard themselves at the top of the pile (at least charging higher fees than most competitors), would consider flexibility in Year Group Placement? I don't mean advanced classes for true boffins, but simply because a parent wanted / asked for a change in Year Group.
  2. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    I'm generally against it, but it is sometimes the right choice.
    My school allows it rarely, and only on consideration of the whole child, academics and social.
    There are many benefits to being the among the oldest children in the class, and for most kids being younger means being smaller and less cognitively ready for academic and social challenges.
    So never say never, but it should be far from common, imho.
  3. momentofclarity

    momentofclarity New commenter

    <font size="3">My current school certainly does not consider itself to be top of the pile so my input might not be terribly valid but I felt like stirring the pot a bit. We have rather fluid entry requirements due to a huge assortment of issues. This has resulted in some interesting age ranges within certain year groups. There are negatives and positives associated with this of course, but I doubt it is uncommon in middle of the road international schools.</font><font size="3"> MM - why the desire to keep students in their "correct" year groups? Isn't the idea of grouping students first and foremost on their age a slightly antiquated way to approach student development? I know it&rsquo;s not feasible within our own bubbles to overhaul the system entirely, but what negatives do you see that far out weigh the positives when it comes to a few months over/under an arbitrary cut off date for a year group?</font><font size="3"> Cheers</font>
  4. cityfree

    cityfree New commenter

    I am currently teaching in a mixed year class, the second year that I have done so. This year it is not just me, the all three LKS2 classes, which are mixed year. Last year I was on my lonesome.
    I know this is a little different from the OP, but in an area which is quite deprived (again, different from the school I shall soon be teacing in) there is a huge range of ability levels in the class. P scales to high level 3 at the start of the year. Very tricky when teaching some areas of maths. We decided to go down the 'stage not age' route and this has held true with ability groups in maths and literacy arranged by ability and targets, not year group.
    I guess what I am saying is that there is an argument for grouping children by ability (the mixed year concept would have worked better if there had been some vague streaming). The problem is the social issues, which often don't tally with ability. I give my very top children some year 5 work, as it has the level they need to be working at, but I don't think that they would do well in a year 5 class.
    Good topic MM.
  5. So what is the academically sound model?
  6. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    There isn't one.
    In theory, each student should be working at exactly the level they need in each area, say year 3 for maths, year 1 for literacy and year 4 for sciences. They should change moment to moment to exactly match their needs.
    But, especially in younger years, they need the stability of a single teacher and a set of classmates that doesn't change every 5 minutes. The social impact of constant movement is beyond frightening. Meeting social needs and academic needs perfectly gives us 2 sets of conflicting requirements.
    And the level of assessment needed to place everyone where they need to be would preclude effective teaching. Not to mention time lost to constant movement.
    So we do the best we can, placing students in age groups and accepting that we will have a range of academic readiness.
    On the plus side, there has been some exciting work in the youngest years, with combined classes (more ages in the same room, with more teachers) in some cases and stricter age limits in others (children between 3yrs0months and 3yrs3months in this room, between 3.4 and 3.6 in another room). Both methods have shown promise.
  7. Yep - back in the late 70s. Didn't work then.[​IMG]
  8. yasimum

    yasimum New commenter

    I do think there has to be flexibility which I found out to my dismay. One of the worst decisions I have made in my career was not allowing an Indian student to accelerate a class. We had a strict cut off policy according to year and month of birth and I have always believed that children start formal schooling too young.
    A father pleaded, bribed, argued and generally harangued me as he said that when they returned to India, his son would have to go to a younger class and would be disadvantaged. In my experience, allowing a policy change for one usually opens the floodgates for many such requests.
    After his final attempt to change my mind, I subsequently found that he had sent his wife and children back to India and would be working his three year contract alone, cut off from his family.
    I felt absolutely sick when I discovered they had all gone back and that my bloody mindedness was responsible for splitting up the family and I definitely would allow for a degree of flexibility if I had my time again.
  9. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    If I was in your shoes I wouldn't feel any guilt. The family had an option and they took one that split the family. That's their choice. Their claim about consequences on return to India are nonsense.
    Only if you tested the student and he proved to be suitable for accelerated learning would it be acceptable. As you say, once you do it for one the flood gates are open.
    Some of the posters seem confused. Vertical streaming is not the same as allowing students to skip years.
  10. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    I'll admit to 'confused'. Or at least... less hard-line than I have been over a long career of bloody-mindedly standing astride a line in the sand labelled '1st September' (or March)
    The following glib but persuasive clip has been doing the rounds here, not least among parents and ToK students:
    We should remember that playing fast and loose with age groups isn't always about thrusting the bright child upwards. It's also about keeping the slower bunnies back, as many state systems still do. Thus, in a situation evoked by Flaubert, Dickens and no doubt others, a hulking lad of 13 may sit awkwardly among the bright sparks of Year 4, miserably attempting to master his 3 rs for the fifth year in a row.
    In South America, the number two in the Hungarian embassy did persuade me to amke an exception and 'jump' her bright daughter so that she could finish the IB, age 16, in the same year Mummy would be sent back to Europe. The puir wee lass found her older and in some cases highly 'experienced' classmates heavy going, and when it came to the last lap of IB she simply didn't have the physical stamina or the intellectual sophistication, bagging 30 points when she'd have been a safe bet for 40 if she'd been the right age.
    30 isn't a disaster I hear you say (unless you're at Sevenoaks or some such) but when our Magyar Maiden returned home the local Universities were apparently sniffy about it. By fax and e-mail, Mummy blamed the school. Naturally.

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