Struggling Pupils don’t catch up according to Department of Education

In a report published by the Department of Education in England, just one in 15 (6.5%) pupils starting secondary school in England “behind” for their age goes on to get five good GCSEs including English and maths, official data shows.  Read more details of the report as reported on bbc.co.uk here.

Obviously this report applies to the English education system.  Scotland has a completely different curriculum.  However the statement that “struggling pupils don’t catch up” is not only true for England. It applies anywhere.

The number of children our qualified teachers at Kip McGrath assess who are struggling with basic literacy and numeracy skills is a concern, especially in those pupils making the transition from Primary seven to S1.

This is one of the main reasons students come to Kip McGrath (or any tutor for that matter).

At what level is your child really performing academically?

Early intervention with a structured consistent approach is necessary.  Reading problems must be tackled early since it affects maths and how the wider curriculum is embraced.

Parents must ask teachers specific questions to establish exactly how their child is performing within the class.  I hear many parents mentioning a common phrase used by teachers at parents’ night “your child is performing well at his/her level” without actually revealing which level the child is on compared to his/her classmates.  If your child is coping well but is in the bottom group for maths or English, is this acceptable to you? How can you help your child move to be “performing well” in the top group?

Is your Child Actually being Assessed?

Under the old 5-14 assessment guidelines, every student was assessed regularly and parents could see from certificates which level their child had reached and from the guidelines assess if their child was on target for their age group.  As part of Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland, this is no longer the case and I wonder if this is why we at Kip McGrath are receiving many more calls from concerned parents requesting an educational assessment by our qualified teachers.

Expectations and Aspiration

Another issue is expectation. If teachers set low expectations for children this will become a self fulfilling prophecy.  Some students have been discouraged to sit exams at certain levels as the teacher believed they would struggle.  Many parents refuse to accept this and enrol the services of a tutor.  At Kip McGrath we have heard many variations of this. This was a comment from a very happy father at our Kip Edinburgh South Centre in 2011.
OMG.  Graham got a credit 2 and Craig got an A! Thanks,thanks,thanks!  I can’t begin to tell you what you have done for my sons who both hated English.  Craig was told he was going to fail Higher English by the school and thanks to you he got an A!  Graham got a Credit 2 and now English is his favourite subject.  I have no qualms about recommending your services to the school.”
To read more examples of these testimonials please click here.

How can Parents Help Children?

Our children deserve the best education possible and in Scotland many of our schools and teachers are performing exceptionally well with excellent student exam results. Sadly, this is not always the case and many students are ‘slipping through the cracks’. Longer working hours for teachers and large class sizes contribute. Some teachers are exceptional and can motivate struggling students whilst others struggle. I would urge parents who have concerns that their child is under-performing to talk to the teacher and discuss options that you can put in place to help your child reach their full academic potential.  Don’t settle for “performing well at his/her level”. It is not too late to help your child get back on track and aspire to achieving the best education they can.

10 Questions to ask at Parents’ Evening

My colleague at Kip McGrath Luton has published a blog entitled “10 questions to ask at parents’ evening” and we would like to list the questions we feel parents should be asking of teachers:
  1. Is my child happy at school?  This means on an emotional and social basis.
  2. What is my child’s attitude to learning?
  3. Can he/she make friends easily?
  4. Does he/she contribute to class discussions?
  5. What does my child enjoy doing? Does my child prefer practical subjects (eg P.E, art, Design Tech), sciences (eg maths, science, geography) or humanities (history, English)?
  6. What are my child’s strengths and weaknesses?
  7. How can I help at home?
  8. Is he/she at the right/expected level for his/her age group? Don’t accept “performing at his/her level”.  Ask which group he/she is in and how you can help your child reach the top group.   If you are worried about your child having learning difficulties then bring this up as well.  If your child is getting extra support at school then ask for details so that you know exactly what is being done to help your child.
  9. For older children ask about any outstanding work and when school exams are.
  10.  How much homework should my child be getting?

What Next?

If after having talked to the school you remain unsatisfied, you may wish to consider extra tuition for your child.  At Kip McGrath, our fully qualified teachers will provide a full FREE educational assessment and will advise you exactly how your child is performing.  If you wish to enrol your child, an individual learning programme will be created to concentrate on specific areas of weakness. To read our full learning programmes and further information please visit our main website at www.kipmcgrath.co.uk.

You may also wish to consider other tutoring agencies or a private tutor.  These options are discussed in our article “Does your child need an English or Maths Tutor?” and may help you make the right choice for your child.

Author

Margaret Carmichael is a former Deputy Head Teacher of Paisley Grammar and Master Franchisee of Kip McGrath Education Centres Scotland since 1999 and has over 40 years teaching experience in Scotland.

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