Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Are your kids bored at school?

I had a long chat with two of my daughters over the weekend.  They aren't as happy at school as they usually are and have been frustrated and at times angry.  Of course I wanted to get to the bottom of why they were unhappy and thought it may have been friendship issues or that they were struggling with the workload at school.  Instead it was the complete opposite, they are bored.

Both of my girls are making progress far over their age related expectations, they always have done.  They are frustrated that the work is too easy, they aren't being challenged and they are bored.  They school they go to is great at helping those children who are struggling and need extra help but once they hit the average expected it seems as if they are not actively encouraged to progress further.  

I've had a chat to quite a few other parents who have children throughout the school and they feel the same, I am a school governor which makes me take an even keener interest.  We were recently inspected by OFSTED who were rather scathing to say the least.

I have chatted to the teachers of both classes that my girls are in, and will also be bringing up the matter  at our Curriculum and Standards Committee meeting on Friday.  There appears to be not enough provision for Gifted and Talented pupils and kids are not encouraged to reach their potential, whatever their talent may be.  I am certainly not suggesting that kids are hothoused or badgered to progress but if they are keen and have potential then there should be a way for them to be challenged and keep them motivated to learn.  I think the problem is that the number of children working above age related expectations is relatively small.  It would probably be a much larger number of children if they were given the opportunity to progress further.

My youngest loves maths and reading and is currently doing Yr 2/3 work despite only starting in Yr 1 in September.  She can't get enough maths and reading time and we have to encourage her to do other things at home sometimes or she would do maths, read and nothing else.  We have been told that she cannot be constantly given more difficult maths work as she will progress too far for them to cope with.  I am annoyed that the school are basically stifling her progress because it is inconvenient for them.  We are quite willing and able to source resources for her to use at home but feel the school should encourage her too.  

My middle daughter is pretty much in the same boat, she is doing Yr 6/7 work but is in Yr 5.  We are being told that the school are reluctant to source Yr 7 resources as that is basically first year of high school level work.  Surely there are other kids that need these resources too, I wonder how other schools in the area cope.  It is frustrating for all of us.  It should be an interesting Curriculum and Standards Committee meeting.

Am I being unreasonable, should the school be doing more?


6 comments:

  1. I think it's a fairly common problem, but that doesn't make it right. Of course, they should be allowing all children to perform to their full potential even if that means spending on new materials and having to rethink how they organise lessons, etc. I'm a school governor at a school rated as outstanding that gets teachers in from local high school to teach higher performers and has the deputy head teach secondary school level maths to the more gifted. Good luck!

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    1. Thanks Erica. I'll suggest that as an idea, the local high schools would probably be up for that :)

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  2. Well, I had very similar concerns about my daughter who is the same age as your younger one, and again had finished the Y1 targets half way through reception. I was feeling really bothered by her lack of what I saw as progress and she also complained that a lot of what she was doing was boring. I went to see the head and just asked what I could expect over the coming years, whether there was an expectation that she would kind of level out with some of the other kids and he said he'd look into what she was doing for me. It turned out that she was doing quite advanced literacy and numeracy work (was working on the 8x table for instance) and he introduced an advanced readers group for the 4 or 5 kids in her year group that are particularly good at reading. I came away thinking that actually it wasn't as bleak as I though. Apparently when she gets higher up the school they have mentors that come in from secondary school to work with the more able children, and that challenges should be based on extensions of the curriculum of the year they are in rather than doing the year above's work (because then what happens in Yr6?). I felt a lot happier for having had the chat.

    I also think that it's is a learning experience for her to realise that not everyone has the same ability, and that telling other people how to do things compounds her learning too.

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    1. I'll have a good chat to the Head, good idea to extend the learning using the year they are in. Thanks :)

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  3. I teach at an academy and our current school focus is pushing the more able. In my experience Gifted and Talented is a bit hit and miss in terms of provision but teachers need to plan work every day that is pitched higher than their ability. In our school we are looking at 2 sublevels above their current level. Lessons should follow a pattern of letting them have a go, assess understanding, teach misconceptions. They don't get bored cos you're only teaching them things they don't know already.

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    1. Good point and great to hear views from a teacher. You are right that the Gifted & Talented provision is hit and miss. Thanks :)

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