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Education is a crucial issue and it is good to see proposals to tackle underachievement and educational disadvantage.

This is all very well, but the problem is that primary schools are no good. It might be better to shove them onto a better school with higher expectations than leave children to sit feeling useless at worthless schools. An idea like this can only work if primary school education is improved.

Perhaps the idea is to move them to another primary school for the year of resitting IRJMilne? Let's wait and see! I like the idea. It will of course work best insofar as it forces primary school teachers to avoid the stigma of failing their pupils in this way.

It is vital that children of 11/12 areable to cope with the step up from primary school. I feel that an extra year would definately help where academic performance is falling behind. I should also like an extra year apply for children who lag behind in maturity and behaviour. A child entering secondary school must be ready in terms of ability and possess the emotional maturity needed to cope with the step up.

What problem is this proposal trying to solve? and is it the best way to solve that problem?

Having had the benefit of a British Empire primary education I was able to jump straight into Form 2 of a UK secondary school despite only being two thirds of my way through final year of primary, and, except in French, was not behind in any subject.

Zambian primary school was much more intensive and stretching than the English version. As secondary education was not legally imposed if you failed your final standard 5 exams school stopped there.

We had as normal practice pupils staying to re-do years if they hadn't progressed, possibly due to the very varied social backgrounds of pupils, many with English as a second language, some from very rural African villages. It was recognised that re-doing years was a basic part of remedial education.

The problem was that it does affect the individual. Children held back lost contact with their friends who were no longer classmates, they had to face failure at a very young age and parents were often embarrassed that their child was a slow learner. By end of primary there could be children two years older (or more) in the final year than the majority and a thirteen year old pubescent child is very different from a 10/11 year old. Many still didn't "catch up" and were often disruptive. Having seen friends and classmates suffer, the proposal doesn't exactly inspire me as one I could "sell" a potential voter.

Early remedial intervention rather than end of school retention.

I am very worried that we are not giving children a real opportunity to do well at school before secondary school. Discipline is lax in the extreme, teaching methods (dictated by government - content and style of primary teaching is heavily centrally dictated) are poor, it is unfair to stigmatize pupils as useless and unable to leave "baby school" just because we've let leftists wreck the education system.

I admit there's a bit to be said for this idea but it angers me that our education system is so disastrous, and I want the Tories back in to see the Marxists booted out of primary education more than anything else I think.

Your title should read: "underperforming JUNIOR school pupils".

Primary Schools cater for 5 - 11 year olds.
Seperate Infant Schools cater for 5 -7s.
Seperate Junior Schools cater for 7 -11s.

Thank you John. I've amended the post.

Learning and behaviour are inextricably linked. It is not a coincidence that the most disruptive pupils are also ones who struggle academically. Behaviour is linked to emotional maturity. A child may have potential but if their behaviour means they are unable to focus they do not learn. I would like to see more attention given to the question of emotional maturity and its effect on learning.

Ted is a wise man. We need to make sure that the pupils are well taught first time round - if that fails, for whatever reason, move the kid on to secondary with an intensive maths/english programme in Y7.

Keeping a pupil back has too many pitfalls -not least that the Primary school has run out of ideas about what to do with a kid by 11 and it is probably a good idea to give someone else a chance to make a go of it. I also fear that Primary heads will do "anything" to make it seem that a student has met the required level just to get rid of them!

Yet again, more state interference. Leave it up to schools and parents to decide.

How about abolishing compulsory education...

What happens if they don't make "performance thresholds" after their extra year, do they stay back again. This seems very new Labour.

Surely it makes more sense to give extra support to the pupils that need help in primary, so all leave at least at a basic level, rather than holding kids back.

There are a complex of problems here, and DC's proposal may be part of the answer.

Best thing I've seen is the West Dunbartonshire project, which showed that about 95% of children capable of reaching level 4 (i.e. all but severe SEN) could be helped to do so. The key is close monitoring of performance and early action within a school.

There's also an argument for dropping some summer-born children back a year, early on in their school careers - on average, the disadvantage of being born in August lasts for life, and latest research shows 20% fewer reaching university. Those suffering worst from this disadvantage should be easy to spot.

For those who fall below level 4 at 11, doing well at standard secondary school is seriously hard. A spell in a remedial school - like that used by Ruth Kelly - could make all the difference (and why not let the private sector run them?). But it has to be a different school - to be held back a year in the same school is a social horror, and why should a school which has failed you in 7 years do better in an eighth?

This is one of the most sensible proposals that I have seen from Team Cameron.

Let's hope that it is extended to every year group so those who do not achieve the median score, have to take that year again.

Ability not age should be the reason to progress.

This policy will adversely impact upon SEN children and children in care. We need to be very careful about this policy. I would feel awkward trying to explain this to a parent with a struggling child.

Suppose you have high rates of house-price inflation (it is hypothetical after all !) and salaries for primary school teachers don't stretch to being anything but a single young woman house-sharing.........getting married and having a family means a move out of the city and probably less interest in a long commute.

Then think of Australians and other "tourists" passing through London doing a bit of teaching on an agency basis until moving on to the next stage of the Grand Tour......what happens if schools find they have no permanent teachers but simply a series of short-term contract employees from agencies ?

How does that affect teaching ? Is that ever likely to be a problem in places like London and other areas where house price inflation might (hypothetically) occur were it not for the wise and prudent Gordon keeping inflation under control ?

This is the funniest thing i've heard in...well, the last 5 minutes! Dear God, leaving 'naturally thick' kids to languish in Primary school is NOT a good idea. Better off they go into the comprehensives with the rest of them. How can you really determine if a kid is 'underachieving'? For f's sake, if i had to pass mathematics before getting into comprehensive school- i sure as heck would have remained in primary! Face facts, some kids are NOT INTERESTED in school (like i was), hate it, and making 'em stay on in primary is just ASKING for trouble.

Good point simon re. being good at particular subjects in primary school. Maths didnt click with me until I was well into secondary school. Im pretty good now with numbers but back then Im was rubbish and just couldnt get it. If I was held back I would feel extremely hard done by and my confidence would collapse.

In areas where selective education exists this would mean them having to go through the 11+ again. Talk about stress...

The more I think about this idea, the less I like it.

I went to a council school with a mix of ability pupils, including boys from the local "care home".

There were 40 in my class and everyone left at 11 able to read, write and add up.
The difference with todays set up was we all faced the blackboard, with the teacher in front instead of sitting around tables with our friends and the teacher scurrying around like a headless chicken.

Keeping under-achievers an extra year won't work. They will always be a year behind their peers. After school coaching is probably the best answer.

In areas where selective education exists this would mean them having to go through the 11+ again. Talk about stress...

No it wouldn't because they would have already failed the Continuous Assessment so there would be little point in them sitting the exam anyway

I think it's an excellent idea. It has been tried and works well in other countries .
Children are hugely influenced by their peer group and many will work much harder if they feel that they are likely to 'flunk' a year and cannot progress with their friends.

James@10:50- Maths is a no-go area for me! Grade E at GCSE at comp exams! Sat it again at Witney Tech and got a bloody F! Didn't stop me getting an upper second in history and politics though! I absolutely detested school-and only could be bothered learning at college OUT of a bonkers, badly run, inane state schhol system. Success in school exams is no indicator of actual intelligence or common sense. As proven by the record A grade passes just published.

Fair point TomTom. Thanks for the clarification.

Since the 11+ was pretty well abolished primary schools had little to aim at.

This idea is fundamentally good, not least because it will give parents some measure of how good a primary is, eg how many % get kept down each year, part of the league table.

BUT it is important, as some have suggested above, that the extra year is spent at a different primary school. In rural areas where this is not possible, then a special unit needs to be set up in the primary, with special remedial teachers, to bring these children on.

Any child who doesn't make the grade by the end of the extra year is clearly in need of special education, with specialist teachers,and is not suitable for mainstream secondary. Specialist schools need to exist for those.

What is absolutely essential is that these pupils don't go to ordinary Comprehensives. They do not benefit because they don't understand, probably can't read/write properly, and thereby become a seriously disruptive influence holding back and disturbing the others, and preventing everyone from getting a proper education.

The large class sizes in Comprehensive schools make them completely unsuitable for students of this kind.

This proposal feels wrong.

Central to all education should be the fact that we develop at different times and speeds and with different interests and aptitudes. This sort of extra support should be available in all years and for all abilities. It's wrong to single out low achievers in year 6 -- just because this is the year they change school.

If children have special requirements, they should be met in years 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.

Totally agree Mark.

It's proof of how far Cameron has lurched to the right in just a few days.

The party has been hi-jacked by the hard-faced men.

Tony Makara @ 23.45:

"Learning and behaviour are inextricably linked. It is not a coincidence that the most disruptive pupils are also ones who struggle academically".

I agree with others that (i) education is a crucial issue and (ii) that if a child has not got hold of the basics at 12+, that child will struggle.

Tony makes a very valid point above that suggests another solution (other than a remedial year at primary). That is to assess all poor performers at 11+ to decide whether they are remedial (in which case they go to a comprehensive and receive remedial teaching) or whether they have neither the ability nor inclination to take advantage of normal secondary education.

Just as I would like the tories to concentrate on the least well off in society where tax reform is concerned, so, too, where education is concerned I would like the tories to concentrate first on devising a separate form of schooling for those destined to inflate our existing very large underclass still further.

The well-off and intelligent will prosper in any event but to allow those who are potential members of the underclass into comprehensives is not fair on dedicated teachers or the majority of pupils who want to learn.

This is not to cast the others onto the scrapheap; there must be another system where such children can receive a meaningful education. Can the tories devise it?

The party has been hi-jacked by the hard-faced men.

Posted by: Alistair | September 02, 2007 at 12:29

Do I detect a frisson of sexual excitement Alistair, or have you been reading up on Stanley Baldwin ?

I have been noting "Alistair's" posts on the various threads. I am now convinced that he is a paid up member of the Labour party. Forsooth--- a Troll.

Well Annabelle Ive made no secret of my support for our effective Labour government so your "discovery" is very unimpressive.

Does supporting our excellent Prime Minister against intellectual dwarfs make me a troll or them?

Meanwhile it's good to see that Britain's committment to European co-operation has struck the tories dumb.

Thanks to Labour Britain is regaining its world status.

Totally agree Mark.

So why is it, Alistair, that your government has totally failed to deliver?

My daughter is about to go to a junior school that takes children with above-average achievement and churns out children below-average. And what choice do I have except to sell the house to finance private education?

I cannot see how people could criticise a process that enables kids to progress in their own time, rather than be forced into a higher pressured environment before they are ready, simply based on their age.

Over here in France we have kids who 'redouble' all the time. It's a normal part of the process to ensure they have reached the standard to progress.

Well done to Cameron for this one, and many here will know that I haven't been one to heap praise on him recently.

You're luck you have a house Mark.

Under Thatcher thousands were evicted from their homes because of the blundering of her failed regime.

Alistair - I know Mrs Thatcher is the bogey-woman of the left but it was when she was over-thrown and John Major decided to join the consensus that the ERM was the only solution to economic ills, during a worldwide recession, that repossessions took place. Mrs Thatchers chief economic advisor said well over a year before Black/White Wedneasday that we should leave; had she been PM I've no doubt we would have done so earlier and that negative equity would have been avoided.

Had we been unfortunate to have had Mr Smith as Chancellor with Gordon Brown as Chief Secretary we would have remained in ERM, joined the Euro when it started and the 15 years of economic growth that Kenneth Clarke delivered and Gordon has so squandered would never have happened.

Alastair, that's not answer is it? I know plenty of people that haven't been able to get a foot on the housing ladder at all in the past five years, and a young couple who can't get married because the female believes they'll get a house faster by her remaining single and at home in an overcrowded house with her mum.

The question was "So why is it, Alistair, that your government has totally failed to deliver?"

These children have been in school the entire period your guys have been in charge and after pumping in thousands of pounds of our money. My son got 5's at KS2 in all subjects but writing, where he got a 3, his spelling is spot on because I revise his weekly spelling tests with him, his handwriting is lovely to quote his Year 5 teacher "always beautiful" because I encourage him to write to relatives and friends, to quote his year 5 teacher again "his creative writing is becoming increasingly descriptive and expressive - so what's gone wrong that his test says he isn't prepared for high school writing "level 3 and below represent achievement below the nationally expected standard for most 11 year olds"?

woops - missing out the 'an' should be an answer.

By the way I should point out that his older brother is a real maths/science bod and devised some home made tests to improve his mental maths because his teacher wrote that "he needed to work with more speed and avoid silly mistakes" so we did quite a bit of extra work at home.

It's quite obvious that a tracy is a brainwashed Thatcherite. Theres no point whatsoever in wasting time replying to such nonsense.

Meanwhile I'm looking forward to the months to come as the Tory challenge falls to pieces.

It's a fate they richly deserve.

Congratulations Richard. How many of ConservativeHome's 100 policy ideas have been adopted Editor?

People already sometimes get held back a year or even more if they are thought to have missed something or to be rather dim.

What happens though with the children who then go on to fail again, at some point they have to move on to something else - unless there are going to be loads of chavs in baseball caps and trainers hanging about in first year Primary School.

Another point is that policies such as this go against the principle of localism, in hospitals and schools talk of having particular types of treatment or teaching means possibly over riding decisions taken locally by the school or hospital.

I cannot believe the Conservatives would propose such a thing.
One of our twins a female, could not spell properly, she still cannot. I sat with her for hours on end and some of her spelling errors made me cringe, she could not even get the basics right such as bread, which was either bred-breed-brede and just occasionally bread.
Now she would have failed outright with Cameron's new brainchild and held back for a year.
How stupid can any leader of a party become if he adopts this?
Not only did our daughter have a natural aptitude for maths, she was positively brilliant at them taking after her father. She sailed through most other subjects.
She is now a Chartered Accountant and Auditor, she is in partnership with one of her siblings, the small company they have formed is giving both a good standard of living.
She is very independent, having her own home, car etc on top of that she also speaks French fluently, has a decent command of German and the latest hobby is Mandarin. Being poor at spelling did not stop her from learning both of these languages
Her twin is in the USA, he is now an Oncology Surgeon, he struggled a bit as an infant but came on in leaps and bounds at primary school eventually gaining a grammar school place, then on to University for 7 years.
However I do wonder just how this would have affected both of them if this ill thought out idea had come to fruition in the late 1970's-1980's.
Parents have to become involved with their children's education. It cannot and should not be left solely down to the State. It is not all down to the governments of the day.
How many parents these days check their children's homework?
How many become involved in their children's activities?
How many keep a careful check on the company children keep?
How many allow children to spend hours in front of either a games station or computer?
How many ban these things from their children's bedrooms?
This is where the problems start especially when parents expect the teachers, not only to educate their children, but be Mother and Father also.
It is time some people took their resposibilities more serious instead of abandoning everything to the state.
Parents do not need to sell anything, just keep up with their children's progress and query everything and anything with the schools if their children are not performing to their full potential.
That is what we done.
If it works for us it should work for everybody else. Commitment to one's children is what is required not abandoning parental responsibility to the state.

"It's quite obvious that a tracy is a brainwashed Thatcherite. Theres no point whatsoever in wasting time replying to such nonsense."

Or to put it another way, you can't answer with reason or evidence so you resort to abuse.

Alex Swanson @ 17.58:

"Or to put it another way, you can't answer with reason or evidence so you resort to abuse".

Just the right introduction, Alex, for a quotation from that eminent educationalist Ed Balls, who is reported in the Sunday Telegraph as saying:

"Our investment and reform is driving up standards after the neglect of the Tory years...David Cameron would put all this at risk with the cuts in public services he has pledged to pay for the tax cuts his policy commissions are demanding".

Can the tories afford to leave such drivel unanswered? Given his name, there is an obvious and vulgar comment one could make but surely a better answer would be to promise to maintain Gordon Brown's spending pledges on schools and the NHS for the first three years of a tory government.

I would like to add about the NHS - 75% of which seemed to close for three months this year to await the new financial year and now the latest cuts in A & E - that with Nulabour you get actual cuts in services but your taxes go up!

Perhaps the number of underperforming children staying behind at primary school should be offset by the number of overperforming children being allowed to start secondary school early?

Effie, are you wilfully trying to misrepresent this idea? How would 'she have failed outright' by being asked to resit couldn't it have ultimately benefitted your child?
Quite agree with you though about the stupidity of parents who abrogate their responsibilities to the state,I rather think your view will be shared by most Conservatives.
It is testament to the utter banruptcy of Government thinking on education that this idea should be dismissed out of hand by Ed Balls as it 'tells a child they have failed'.
Er, no it gives them another chance to improve,a chance which if the experience of other countries is any guide many children grab with both hands.

You're luck you have a house Mark.

Under Thatcher thousands were evicted from their homes because of the blundering of her failed regime.

What a strange perversion of history!

Under Thatcher millions became "lucky". Home ownership increased from 50% to 70%. Between '79 and '97, base rates halved from 14% to 6.5%. The repossession catastrophe came from a doubling of the cost of mortgages, between '88 and '90.

In 2003, under Labour, we saw rates of 3.5%. If they rise another % to 7%, the cost of mortgages will also have doubled under Labour. That will be combined with record levels of consumer debt. I wouldn’t feel too smug if I were you, Alistair.

Malcolm, I take it that there are no twins within your family. If and when you experience the wonder of having twins you will realise that sometimes (not always)what happens to one twin has an adverse effect on the other. Those two fought like cat and dog from being infants, but were extremely protective of each other from outside influence, they still are to this day.
To separate one from the other would have had a bad effect on both.
In spelling our daughter failed miserably, it was only other subjects that kept her marks above the failure mark.
Just look at what she did achieve then ask yourself the question....
"couldn't it have ultimately benefitted your child?"
If you think that keeping her in a school with leaking roofs, outside toilets, sharing books in a huge class for an extra year was going to benefit her more than getting her out of there and coaching her through until she too eventually gained a grammar school place, then you and I have a completely differet view of bringing up children. Bearing in mind she was educated during the Thatcher years.
She is never going to learn to spell right and what is more, we were reliably informed that there are quite a number of people just like her, who will never learn to spell properly.
Incidently when you can match our record of bringing 6 children up on one man's wages, two of them put through University, one for 6 years the other for 7 years. Two through college, one through an appenticeship and supported all the way until his business was up and running (he now employs 67 people) and last but not least one helped to gain qualifications for working within the social services, then you come back and lecture me on bringing up children but not until.
As a footnote, you completely missed the whole thrust of my post. I was trying to point out that good parenting and observation will produce good results even within the state sector, which in my opinion is much better now than it was a few decades ago. I take our grandchildren to school regular on the school run, I see it for myself. What are you comparing your experiences with?

Effie, I'm listening to what you're saying but what about all of those families who aren't able to finance or are not educationally capable themselves of "getting her out of there and coaching her through until she too eventually gained a grammar school place"?

I'm sure that one blip in say spelling in your example or writing in mine wouldn't hold a child back a full year but there is remedial work that needs doing and surely its right to provide ways for children from poorer educational homes to achieve their full potential with this help. As an aside my sons teacher assessment was 5 for reading - his external exam was 4 and 4 for writing - his external exam was 3. I would like to know that in his first few months of year 7 at High School the problem will be identified and extra work provided for him to catch up.

tracy | September 03, 2007 at 10:00
I wish I had an answer for you but I regret I do not.
I was just a Mother who was well educated herself thanks to a bursary I gained as my parents were not well off.
I was not content to leave everything down to the school, I was very much hands on, ambitious for my children and I would not allow anything or anybody to impede there progress.
My husband worked every hour that God sent and when not at work he spent most of his life in the garden or following our boys to Cricket and Rugby matches they were participating in as he himself did as a boy and young man.
We are very much a family, family if you get my drift.
Our whole life revolved around our children and although cash was alaways tight, we made sure they were well educated, well mended and well fed. I never missed a Sports day, Christmas Carols, Pantomine or Open day with the exception of being unable to attend once through an impending birth.
Report Cards were gone through with a fine tooth comb and some very searching questions asked.
Discipline was extremely tight although there was never any violence, it was never needed. Grounding was the order of the day for any misbehaviour and they knew what grounding meant.
Their father only ever needed to raise his eyebrows that was enough.
I seen to it that they went to Cubs-Boy-Scouts-Brownies and Girl Guides and they all attended the Band of Hope.
Watching the company they kept also helped.
Bringing children up is a full time job and a lifetimes commitment, it does not end when they leave home as one gains extra family not loose any.

I am dyslexic, there fore my english spelling is poor. My Maths and Science is execelent and my IQ in the top 5%. If I had been told that I had to re-do my last year at primary school would have been a disaster. I would have become uncontrollable and dropped out the school system one way or another. As I is, I am now a chartered software engineer and own my own company. If a child is falling behind provide extra educiation and summer schools.

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