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PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2014 7:24 pm 
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Went for DS2's parents evening last week.

Some background first -
Ds2 Yr 4 had a school change this year (sept 2013). Old primary was consistently graded Outstanding by ofstead and was a wonderful school (almost at par with independent schools). I was very sad to leave it….but some things in life we can't take for granted. New primary is the least sought after school in a run down area. Only school in the borough that had vacancy(always has vacancies). End of Yr3 DS2 was 3a across board (reading,writing,maths).

New teacher says DS2 has made a huge progress, much more than they expected. Did the old school not expect him to progress so much. Then he went on to tell us DS2s levels. He said DS2 is working on levels 3C/3B currently and was on target for 3A at the end of Year 4. He knows DS2s elder sister is preparing for grammar and he asked if DS2 would follow his sister. We said yes. He was then saying make sure you see the local comps as well. Grammars are very selective and they do not suit everyone. Ds2 works hard but is not a gifted child. It will not suit him. I particularly asked him which grammars to see if he was thinking of the supers electives and he said all of them. Then he told us how his niece is a very bright girl but goes to a comp and the comp is very good. We spoke about how exams have changed to CEM and few more things about grammars. He had no knowledge at all about grammar let alone CEM. I found his advice unsolicited, mean and confusing. At the end of the meeting I said Mr.X earlier you mentioned that DS has done a lot of progress(more than your expectations) but I am bit confused, DS was 3A last year and if he is going to 3A end of this year then to me it means he hasn't progressed at all. He was bit shocked with my question and he said oh i need to check what the old school have sent us. I was like what ???????? With 6 months count down to GS exams I really didn't want this additional stress.

Honestly, I am worried about letting DS continue to study in the given school and even if we move back DS can't go back to his old school. It is heavily oversubscribed. Dp thought I was unnecessarily stressing myself and I thought DP is super laid back. Am I right to feel the way I felt ?

Sorry for the long post. I really needed to get this off my chest.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2014 9:43 pm 
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Is your daughter at the same school in year 5?

How is she getting on?


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2014 9:46 pm 
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Mmmm. That is a pain. At least you have time to get this sorted. Our parents' evenings are always held directly before a holiday.

What did your son get at the end of year 2?

Do you know how his end of year 3 grades were measured?

How has this teacher worked out progress - what grade did he give your son at the start of the year and why?

What were you told in the autumn term?

How will they measure his end year 4 levels?

If they use the old qca optional year 4 papers google them and see if you think your son knows the stuff for the higher level papers and if he does not, teach him.

How do you think he is compared with sister at this same point?

Do you think he might have got his facts muddled?


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 8:45 am 
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southbucks3 wrote:
Is your daughter at the same school in year 5?

How is she getting on?


DD goes to a different school. She is doing very well, apart from writing but this was a problem in the old school as well. She is left handed and dp suspects there is a possibility of a very mild dyslexia. Some members in his family do have dyslexia.

DS2's teacher knows about DDs grammar prep because when we moved into the area I asked DDs teacher about any tutor/tuition centre but DDs teacher had no knowledge so I asked DS2's teacher and he suggested fleet tutors but then I made friends with another lady (on the school run) and she kindly told me about some other tuition.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 8:58 am 
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mystery wrote:
Mmmm. That is a pain. At least you have time to get this sorted. Our parents' evenings are always held directly before a holiday.

Yes I can understand.
Quote:
What did your son get at the end of year 2?

We were not given sub levels so my guess is he was 3C.
Quote:
Do you know how his end of year 3 grades were measured?

No idea at all. Never bothered to ask.
Quote:
How has this teacher worked out progress - what grade did he give your son at the start of the year and why?

Don't know how the teacher works out. Am i allowed to ask that ? My thought was the new school would honour the old school's grade and carry on from there didn't know that schools do not respect each others levels.
Quote:
What were you told in the autumn term?

Autumn term he said they haven't worked enough time with DS to give any feedback about grading.
Quote:
How will they measure his end year 4 levels?

Don't know.
Quote:
If they use the old qca optional year 4 papers google them and see if you think your son knows the stuff for the higher level papers and if he does not, teach him.

He did mention something about QCA. What are QCA's ? What is higher lever papers ? I thought higher level papers are only for yr 6 SATS and they do the same level 3 to 5 paper.
Quote:
How do you think he is compared with sister at this same point?

This may be a bit opposite but DS is more all rounder and DD is more into maths,reasoning, reading. She was a very reluctant writer unto Yr3. She is getting slightly better but not there yet. We did an experiment last week to see if typing is better and we found it took her 50% of the time as compared to hand writing. But i don't want to conclude anything with just one session. I will make her do it a few more times so I have more concrete evidence.
Quote:
Do you think he might have got his facts muddled?

Possible but how do I know/verify it.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:47 am 
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Well assuming you cannot get your ds into your dd' s school you definitely need a strategy to work out where your ds it at progress wise. Like you say though it is hard when you are concentrating on dd 11+ at the moment.

I think maybe you should ignore, Ill informed teachers assessment of ds and instead look at a.his homework progress, and how much help he needs. b. Spellings and spelling tests c. The way he is reading to you, and his understanding of that reading. d. Your ds' s own perspective of how he is doing.

Once armed with your own analysis you can return to teacher, see him at a pre-booked afternoon slot after lessons, and ask him to clarify areas of weakness and areas of high progress, and see if it tallies with your thoughts.

I hate non productive parent evenings that are just based on levels and scores of tests. Much better to be told your son needs more reading practice, or he is getting in a pickle with times tables. Something that you can actually help with, rather than broad and frankly useless levels, with no indication of what he excells at and what he struggles with.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 12:58 pm 
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Google QCA optional tests year 4 - you will find there are two years' worth which are in circulation and this is what a lot of schools use to teacher assess levels one or more times during the school year. There are two different maths papers with a different spread of NC levels possible. e.g. my daughter got a 4a at the end of year 4 from the optional QCA paper - I think I am right in saying that the harder paper only goes up to 4a.

If you set up another thread on here you might get some teachers answering about these optional papers.

Some newer optional papers have been developed for used in years 3, 4 and 5 but I don't think many schools shell out the money for them.

You should be able to ask the school if they use the optional papers --- maybe be a bit surreptitious in the way you ask. They may say they just do all their assessments using Assessing Pupil Progress (APP) - they should be able to show you where he is on a big grid for each subject using APP.

What the teacher says doesn't quite hang together --- he says your son has made more progress than he thought he would, but he didn't tell you in the Autumn term what he thought he could do / couldn't do --- so how does he know that your son has moved on this year?

You are not going to change the teacher. Best thing is to have your own plan at home to raise standards and then beat the teacher at his own game in the summer term with a good grade in the tests they use. Thing is --- he needs to give your son the right QCA paper otherwise he doesn't have a chance (certainly in the maths) to get above a certain level.

Just to complicate things, NC levels are on their way out soon, and the new national curriculum is on the way in. Is your year 4 child being taught the new national curriculum (early) or still doing the old one until the end of year 4? Schools have the optionof adopting the new one this school year for years 3 and 4.

Try using CGP books in maths. Buy the books for each level - so do the level 3 book and the tests at the end, and the same for level 4. Aim to have covered a lot of the level 4 stuff by the end of year 4 if you can if you are wanting to go superselective. Buy a SPAG book too and work through that.

What is his reading and writing like?


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 10:09 am 
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southbucks3 wrote:
Well assuming you cannot get your ds into your dd' s school you definitely need a strategy to work out where your ds it at progress wise. Like you say though it is hard when you are concentrating on dd 11+ at the moment.

I think maybe you should ignore, Ill informed teachers assessment of ds and instead look at a.his homework progress, and how much help he needs. b. Spellings and spelling tests c. The way he is reading to you, and his understanding of that reading. d. Your ds' s own perspective of how he is doing.

Once armed with your own analysis you can return to teacher, see him at a pre-booked afternoon slot after lessons, and ask him to clarify areas of weakness and areas of high progress, and see if it tallies with your thoughts.

I hate non productive parent evenings that are just based on levels and scores of tests. Much better to be told your son needs more reading practice, or he is getting in a pickle with times tables. Something that you can actually help with, rather than broad and frankly useless levels, with no indication of what he excells at and what he struggles with.


Thanks SB3, your advice is very helpful.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 10:26 am 
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mystery wrote:
Google QCA optional tests year 4 - you will find there are two years' worth which are in circulation and this is what a lot of schools use to teacher assess levels one or more times during the school year. There are two different maths papers with a different spread of NC levels possible. e.g. my daughter got a 4a at the end of year 4 from the optional QCA paper - I think I am right in saying that the harder paper only goes up to 4a. If you set up another thread on here you might get some teachers answering about these optional papers.

Thanks Mystery ! I will open a new thread to ask about QCA test.
Quote:
Some newer optional papers have been developed for used in years 3, 4 and 5 but I don't think many schools shell out the money for them.
You should be able to ask the school if they use the optional papers --- maybe be a bit surreptitious in the way you ask. They may say they just do all their assessments using Assessing Pupil Progress (APP) - they should be able to show you where he is on a big grid for each subject using APP.

Are there any links to APP. Think I should do my homework before asking about it to the teacher. Never heard of it before.
Quote:
What the teacher says doesn't quite hang together --- he says your son has made more progress than he thought he would, but he didn't tell you in the Autumn term what he thought he could do / couldn't do --- so how does he know that your son has moved on this year?

I did feel very confused.
Quote:
You are not going to change the teacher. Best thing is to have your own plan at home to raise standards and then beat the teacher at his own game in the summer term with a good grade in the tests they use. Thing is --- he needs to give your son the right QCA paper otherwise he doesn't have a chance (certainly in the maths) to get above a certain level.

I don't know what 'right QCA' paper / level means ?
Quote:
Just to complicate things, NC levels are on their way out soon, and the new national curriculum is on the way in. Is your year 4 child being taught the new national curriculum (early) or still doing the old one until the end of year 4? Schools have the optionof adopting the new one this school year for years 3 and 4.

What is the new change ? it is already so difficult to understand the current system. (All these levels and papers). Would be nice if they just do a simple percentage/raw score based system for each year and then report it at the end (preferably with some ranking).
Quote:
Try using CGP books in maths. Buy the books for each level - so do the level 3 book and the tests at the end, and the same for level 4. Aim to have covered a lot of the level 4 stuff by the end of year 4 if you can if you are wanting to go superselective. Buy a SPAG book too and work through that.

Just went on CGP website - https://www.cgpbooks.co.uk/Parent/books_ks2_maths
There are 6 types of books - which one/ones to choose ?

Quote:
What is his reading and writing like?

Avid reader refuses to read loudly with us though. Handwriting is not as pretty as his sister but quite neat and easily readable.Reading and writing same levels as Maths.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 10:55 am 
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Will answer more comprehensively later - in the meantime try and track down the CGP books called "Key Stage 2 maths - targeted question book - level 3" - or level 4, or level 5 etc. To give you an idea my year 5 DD has just finished the level 5 one. They don't take long to do - they are not necessarily the best books but I'm just thinking that if you buy levels 3, 4 and 5 and skim through them you'll get a feel for where he really is level-wise, and if school is setting him appropriate work in class and for homework.

Hope they still print the books. The ISBN number for the level 5 book is 978 1 84762 199 3


If you like those books try and get the equivalent for each other subject you are concerned about. What does your 11plus consist of? You also need to see how the maths your 11plus paper requires tallies up with NC maths or not.

Assessing pupil progress (APP) - - you might be able to find an electronic version that your local authority has prepared for primary schools in the past.

APP is used by a lot of schools as well as old tests to do teacher assessments during the years. The only externally marked tests now are at the end of year 6. At the moment schools are supposed to give you NC levels at some point (not sure what the minimum is but it's not much at all anyhow). But in the future there is no requirement for schools to assess using NC levels at all - there will be no level descriptors in the new national curriculum which comes in this September and which can be used now with some year groups if schools choose to.

What prep are you planning for your 11plus? You should find that school problems will come out in the wash if you do some logical preparation at home using some good books.

What is he doing in maths at school at the moment? Do you get to see his classwork and homework or is it all a mystery (like ours!)? Is he in the top group? What NC level would the school have expected him to get under the old system?

If he is coming out as predicted level 3s at the end of year 4 and level 4s at the end of year 6 this is why the teacher will be telling you not grammar material as these are nationally expected levels for everyone.


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