Thursday, 27 August 2015

Moving Our Child Up a Year - Starting Primary 5

Z and Miss C returned to school last week; Primary 5 for Z and Primary 2 for Miss C.

Miss C was super excited to go to her new class as her teacher is really lovely and all the parents of children who have had her as their teacher before, rave about her. I'm really happy that she is also staying with the rest of her classmates from Primary 1. I would have loved for her to be in the same class as her best friend but they will still see each other at break times and for play dates.

If you've read my previous posts about Z, which you can read from this page if you haven't, you'll know that Z has been moved up a year. He should have started Primary 4 last week but instead, he started Primary 5. He's back in a composite class, his third one now, which is a Primary 4/5. 

At first, when I found out he was going to be in a composite class, I wasn't happy. Z has come on leaps and bounds over the last school year and I felt he would be better in a straight Primary 5 class. However he has been placed in the class with the rest of his friends and the school told me this was to really push the group because they are performing top of the year group. In a smaller composite class, the teacher will have more time to spend with them and really challenge them. Z was delighted that he was going to be with all his friends so I didn't want to change his class and upset him. 

At the beginning and at the end of each academic year, the children complete assessments in school. This allows the school to see how much the children have learnt and it gives them an indication of the level at which the children are learning so they can work out classes and sets. In Scotland there are 5 levels which are similar to the Key Stages; Early, First, Second, Third and Fourth. A child can be Developing, Consolidating and Secure in each level. A bit like a driving test; Developing is your first few lessons, Consolidating is being comfortable enough to drive and possibly take your test and Secure is you have passed your test and can drive yourself. Early level covers nursery to the end of Primary 1, First covers to the end of Primary 4 and Second covers to the end of Primary 7. Third and Fourth level apply to high school. 

All children are different and have strengths and weaknesses which is why I don't really believe in stages and levels being achieved by a certain age. Normative development suggests things children should be doing by a certain point in their life but there isn't a set in stone rule for how children develop or learn. My goal is to ensure Z is achieving his full potential and is being challenged in school. In the same breath, I want Z to be happy. 

I asked to see Z's assessments for the end of year so I could see how he was getting on. We had already seen his report card which was excellent and his teacher spoke so fondly of him. I was curious to see what level he had achieved in his assessments. If we were to go on these stages and levels and them being achieved by a certain age then Z, who would have been in Primary 3 if he hadn't moved up a year, would be a First level Consolidating. At the end of Primary 4, Z achieved a Second level Secure. This would be the level expected at the end of Primary 7. It was clear that he could possibly achieve a Third level in Math and English. 

What all this tells me is that Z is still progressing at an advanced level even with skipping a year of school. It hasn't affected him in the slightest it seems. Even the Deputy Head agreed that Z didn't appear to be levelling out, which was a huge concern for the school, nor had he suffered social or emotionally from the move.  

This year is going to be an interesting one. I'm still unsure about the composite class and worry that Z and the rest of his group will be left to get on with their work because they all work so well together. I hope they will be challenged and enjoy Primary 5. 

I'm proud of Z; I'm proud of both of my children. Miss C had an excellent report, just like her brother and she finished her assessments at her "expected" level. They both love school and really, that's all that matters to us as parents. Of course we want them to do well and reach their full potential but we also want them to enjoy their time in school, making friends and gaining life experiences. 

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