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  • Writer's pictureBeth Morrant

My Children Are Below Age-Related Expectations

"I teach year 4 and have pupils who are struggling to follow instructions and retain anything."

Sarah is an experienced teacher who approached me for some help and advice about a few children in her class who she had concerns about.

She has a small number of children who are working below age-related expectations across all areas of the curriculum and she’s feeling pressure from school leadership to garner some huge post-pandemic progress from these children that just isn’t there.

She’s been monitoring their work and investigating where their difficulties might be, looking into their maths and English books to find clues as to what’s going on, but she’s stuck.

I gave Sarah my SLCN Checklist [you can download one from my shop here] which she completed for three children, with results indicating difficulties with Comprehension and Memory:

✔ Has trouble following spoken instructions and written directions

✔ Unable to understand or explain what they have just read

✔ Has trouble remembering instructions

✔ Struggles to remember details

✔ Loses trail of thought easily

✔ Not much written in their books for long tasks i.e. hot writes

Sarah was interested in the results and we chatted about how memory, retention and processing difficulties are at the core of academic achievement. [You can read more in my article here].

The children in her class need a little help in the form of strategies and interventions. They don’t really need a SALT assessment just yet as the teacher has been able to identify specific areas to focus on and provide extra support. I advised Sarah that if after 1 term there has been no progress despite the suggested strategies and interventions, then I would see the children for assessment.

Strategies and interventions

I’m a huge fan of strategies as they are a simple but effective way of raising quality teaching without too much effort but the impact can be hugely positive on the child or young person with difficulties.

You'll find strategies for staff to use with children in every single one of my courses because they are so important in helping children and raising the quality of teaching and learning in education settings.

I told Sarah that she and her colleagues, not just the teachers but also learning support, administrators and even catering and lunch time staff can use a range of simple strategies, focusing on one or two per week to help the children in multiple situations and locations, not just in the classroom during learning time but also in the dinner hall, the playground, and so on.

The children also need to learn strategies to help themselves.

Sarah’s year 4 class are aged 9 and 10 and will need to draw upon a range of tips and strategies to help themselves when they get a little stuck, instead of relying on staff to notice and wait for offers of help.

With regard to interventions, these can be in the form of simple games and activities either 1:1 or in a small group with a Teaching Assistant. Regular activity sessions with these games will help the children to boost their ability to retain and remember information, skills that can be transferred to their learning.

The sessions only need to be 10 minutes long and can be squeezed in to the school day or cleverly woven into the classroom activity.

Where to learn the Strategies and Interventions

I directed Sarah to my Supporting Children with Memory and Processing Difficulties course which contains plenty of information to help her understand the theory behind the difficulties her pupils were having, a selection of strategies she could try, and a range of super fun activities she could do in class.

As Sarah’s school had signed up to the whole school training package which contains the Memory & Processing course, the Year 4 Learning Support Assistants could also complete the course (which is around 75 minutes long) and then have a handy selection of games that they could implement in weekly sessions, recording the intervention sessions on the downloaded bonus sheet, in order to monitor and track progress to show the Senior Leadership Team.

I was really pleased to be able to help Sarah support her pupils and give a boost to their skills. Sarah enjoyed the memory & processing course (which she completed in one evening because it's only 75 mins long) and has contacted me to say that they have been doing some of the games in different ways in her class which has been fun.

If you are in a similar situation to Sarah and have some concerns about a child in your class, check out the course above and feel free to contact me via the contact page on my website for further help.

Beth xx

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