Holding back a year has advantages

14th September 2007 at 01:00
Professor Colin Richards describes the proposal to allow children to repeat their last year at primary school as "retrograde" (Letters, TES, September 7). Does he know that we have one of the few education systems that forbids this?

Where this possibility exists, children move on to the next year when they are ready. Pupils and parents alike are motivated by their desire to be promoted and therefore learning has a high priority.

Children repeat classes for a variety of reasons and I have positive examples from my personal experience. Two of my sons were "held back" last year. My youngest repeated Year 6 (in a different school), despite getting levels 5, 5, 4 in his Sats.

He was a very young member of the class (late July birthday) and young for his age. He spent a gruesome Year 6 being teased by his classmates calling him "dumb". He now has friends in his new class and feels much more confident.

I know that my son is not the only one in that situation. As a teacher, I have seen immature pupils (especially boys) suffer year after year. In my opinion, allowing some children to stay in primary school for a year would give them time to breathe and enjoy their learning.

My eldest son repeated Year 11. He is also bright but only when he received poor grades at GCSE level did he realise his mistake in thinking "I'll do that later".

Second time around, a year older and wiser, he got eight As, a solid grounding for A-levels and a determination to do four subjects to A2.

I hope that Professor Richards would agree that the education of our children should not be guided by how well they would fit into Ofsted inspections and performance tables.

Paul Scales

a teacher of modern languages at

Langley Grammar,

Berkshire

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