Repeating a school year – a big decision!

Sunday, 30 November 2008 at 2:33 pm

Deciding whether to repeat a child at school is often difficult for administrators, teachers and parents. A range of social, emotional and learning issues must be addressed as adults endeavour to make the best decision possible for the child concerned. Repeating offers no guarantees, so when is it the best decision?

In some cases, a decision is clear cut. And for many children, repeating a year stands them in good stead as they continue the journey of school life. The second year establishes, builds or consolidates the concepts, skills or knowledges not acquired the first time around.

For other students, the decision is fraught with difficulty. What are the particular skills/knowledges/concepts the child has not acquired? What provision will there be for the child to acquire these over subsequent years, should repeating not be an option? If the child does repeat, are they likely to acquire the skills and knowledge on their second attempt? Will they maintain progress over time? How will the child cope socially and emotionally? What is the best long term strategy for this particular child? If repeating is not an option, what other strategies will be in place to support this child’s individual needs?

Unfortunately, there is no definitive way of knowing how successful the second year will be. However, if intervention programs like Reading Recovery or other powerful models of support are unavailable, educators must consider the appropriateness of options that are available. If the remaining options are to be implemented by ancillary staff, schools need to consider how effective these programs are likely to be, given that the harder to teach students will be supported by personnel with the least amount of (teacher) training?

With this in mind, should schools have a ‘no repeat’ policy or should each child’s case be considered on its own merit? Repeating does not assure success, but it is one of the strategies for intervention and should be considered for review along with the other accessible options when determining the best course of action for a particular student.

What experiences have you witnessed with child repeating a school year? On balance were these experiences positive?

by Angela Ehmer

1 comment on: “Repeating a school year – a big decision!”

  1. My daughter (now 25)began went through preschool, Year 1 & Year 2 & coped quite well and although quiet, quite confident. In Year 3 (a 1/2/3 class with 2 wonderful teachers) she realised and, because she was a conscientous student even then, began worrying about having difficulties with a few areas of maths and some literacy activities.The teacher approached me about applying for additional support in Year 4 but I said we had already begun talking about her repeating Year 3. After lots of talking with her during the last term she did repeat the following year (with the same teacher) and everything fell into place. She still had to work consistently hard in some KLAs but finished Year 12 with an OP of 4. If she had not repeated I believe she would have ‘stressed out’ and lost confidence in herself and her academic abilities. I also believe that having been in a 1/2/3 class made it easier for her to repeat because 2/3 of the class were students she already knew and the teacher made her feel important because she was already familiar with many of the routines in the classroom.