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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 2:14 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 7:06 pm
Posts: 37
Location: kent
My child (Grammar school Year 9)has always been able and confident at school. Passed 11+ with flying colours (no tutor) and in year 7 worked fairly well. Achieved high marks with little effort.

And this seems to be the problem. There is now no culture of working hard and we have been advised by the school that GCSE options must be chosen next term and this is scaring me. GCSE grades at the school are extremely high and we cannot seem to come to any agreement about how much effort needs to be put into homework, school work in general, appearance of school work (covered in doodles, highlighter pen, no date, sometimes no title). Homework is done in minutes, and often correct but lacks depth.

Frinedship group considers it uncool to work hard and so a place on a gifted and talented science course was turned down as 'too nerdy' and sometimes homework that has been done is not handed in. I had a chat with the form tutor who more or less agreed with everything I said about lack of effort and not seeming to care any more.

What have we done wrong? We have encouraged plenty of extra curricular activity, music, county council youth member, trampolining and swimming. None of these take too much time so there is time available for school work. Journey to school is 5 minutes so every day there is at least an hour available for homework that other children spend on the train or bus.

Should we be considering carrot or stick? Both? Cash for passing GCSEs with good grades. Should this not come from a sense of self achievenemt rather than bribery? Suggestions please...


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 3:28 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 09, 2007 2:09 pm
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Location: Solihull, West Midlands
I'm sure you haven't done anything wrong - your child (boy or girl? ) sounds quite typical of many in the middle of year 9, especially I would imagine with the KS3 SATS having been removed as an end-of-year threat. It's quite natural for a dip between the excitement and newness of yrs 7 & 8 to the "Mid-term blues" of year 9, while GCSEs, A levels, career aspirations etc seem very distant. I certainly wouldn't panic yet about GCSE grades, and the school will presumably invest quite a lot of time in the options process. Often there is not a huge amount of choice anyway, and they can be a little overwhelmed by the prospect of having to make what everyone tells them are "vital" decisions and retreat into pretending not to care. I expect they are all discussing it among themselves at school, and although some will be very certain many will be unsure. Often there is a feeling in some lessons in year 9 of "I'm going to drop this anyway so it doesn't matter "

IMHO the best way would be to back off a little, maybe ask in a casual way what his/her thinking is about options, have any of his/her friends decided yet, make sure you understand how much choice the school allows them but don't be too firm in whqat you think he/she should choose. Can you talk to other parents at the school, especially perhaps those with older siblings he/she knows.

If he/she finds the work straightforward and can get away with a minimum effort at the moment it is tricky to insist on a lot more time being spent on homework - are there some subjects where the teacher is more demanding and he/she puts in more effort? Are there desirable school trips where the teacher has any say in who can participate, or where you could say "I'm not sure if we want to pay for that trip if you're only working at level ... whatever... in that subject." Can he/she get a weekly paper round or similar if only to start becoming aware of the value of money and the benefits of education!

Ultimately it will be up to him/her to put in the effort and to want to succeed - but if the school gets good results they will be geared up to getting them and I'm sure your child won't be the first they've had who eases off somewhat in yr 9 . It's a difficult age, they're having to grow up, find out who they are, often falling in and out of friendships (girls especially) but I'm sure in a couple of years time he/she will be working well towards GCSEs, thinking about A levels etc and be much more mature and self-motivated. Good luck!


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 3:37 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 7:06 pm
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Location: kent
Thanks so much for taking the time to provide a detailed reply. She (yes it is a teenage girl we are talking about here with all that it implies!) may very well respond to the school trip scenario. The thought of not being chosen (or not being paid for) to go on a trip may well prove a very valuable incentive. A problem shared does indeed seem to be a problem halved. Any further replies most welcome, maybe we can get this issue quartered or even decimated by bedtime :wink:


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 4:00 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2007 8:55 pm
Posts: 851
Location: Bexley
Alexandra6 - when you find a solution, please let me know! But I'm sure it's nothing you are doing. I have a year 10 boy who puts the minimum effort into everything. He came home on Wednesday and, in response to my enquiries, said he'd had a really good day at school. I perked up in the hope of some tales of academic prowess. But no, it was a good day because he'd forgotten his history homework (2 detentions so far this term for same offence) but the teacher was off sick; and he'd forgotten to revise for a science test, but the teacher decided to postpone it.... :roll:

I also have a year 8 boy who works his socks off and shows no sign of letting up (fingers crossed). He's naturally competitive and anxious to do his best in everything. He puts loads of effort into his homework and revision whether he likes the subject or not. In fact DH and I sometimes have to tell him to "chill"! So I'm presuming as they come from the same stock, it's not my fault!!

I do know parents who use the school trip bribe. Trouble is, with the really big trips, you have to start paying for them well in advance so if the child doesn't keep his side of the bargain, you either let them get away with it or stick to your guns and lose a hefty deposit.

At the end of the day, you can lead a horse to water etc - it really has to come from them I think. If the motivation/desire to achieve isn't there then no amount of bribery/threats will work. Hopefully, at some point, the penny will drop and they will see what the benefits of working hard are. I do try to point out really boring/mundane/poorly paid jobs and mutter about lack of qualifications etc whenever I can, but I don't know if it goes in!


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 4:01 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 10:30 am
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Location: Warwickshire
Don't know if it helps, but I was talking to a secondary school teacher last week and she gave an interesting description of the different years at her girls' grammar. I can't remember most of the year groups, but she definitely said the girls in Year 9 'tended to get a bit feral'!

She was much more positive about Years 10 and 11, saying they seemed to come back after Year 9 almost as 'different people'. She wondered whether the threat of GCSEs did the trick!

Of course, only you know your own daughter, but perhaps she will also follow this route and be transformed next year when there's apparently more reason to work.

All the best in the meantime!


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 4:08 pm 
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Hi Alexandra,
We had an issue with this in Year 8, but it has got a bit better again in Year 9 after DS found himself in some bottom sets (they don’t set for Years 7 & 8 ) and realised he was capable of more.

I think they all go through this sort of blip at some stage, and better now than when they’re in the middle of GCSEs!

I’m sure you’re not doing anything wrong, and it sounds like your DD has a nice mix of outside interests, so I’d feel inclined to roll with it to a certain extent – a bit of carrot and a bit of stick, but I agree with those who say that ultimately it has to come from the DCs themselves.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 6:10 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 7:06 pm
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Location: kent
thanks for all your replies - it's good to know I'm not the only one experiencing this. I do have another child but unlike you, BM2, he seems to be out of the same mould as DC1 and I can imagine going through this again in a few years.

Must confess DH and I were no better when we were at school and some of my anxiety stems from not wanting to let her make the same mistakes we did. Very little work still got us both to uni in 1982 but things might be different now!

Her form tutor was impressed with her commitment to the Youth County Counil meetings and suggested a career in politics! Seems you needn't be too well educated to achieve in this field anyway :shock:


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 9:43 am 
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Agreee with all comments above & would just add that absolutely disagree with offering payment for GCSE results. The children need to realise that the results are for their own future not to please parents or teachers.
That is not the same as saying I don't believe in celebrating effort & achievement after the event but even then care is needed as the children need to know they are loved & valued for who they are not just for what they can do. However able the child they may hit problems & nobody wants their children to feel 'failures' as people just because they haven't excelled academically (or in whatever their field is).

If you are generally happy with the school then maybe it would be best to get their perspective on how serious the attitude problem is & whether it is best to apply pressure or wait until year 10. If they think action is needed now then if they are prepared to take it on it would save you from potentially damaging your relationship with DD over it.

The problem is that while a good work ethic is going to be valuable in years to come, if your DD is bright then Year 9 probably doesn't matter that much and she probably knows it!

A bit controversial maybe, & I've not had to deal with this problem(yet!) but given the pressure my older two have been under from year 11 onwards I wonder if a laid back approach in year 9 is such a bad idea. Obviously not advocating forgetting homework etc! but maybe a happy medium somewhere? Accepting that 100% effort may not be necessary this year but there is still a minimum rerquirement, and with an understanding that socks will need to be pulled up for GCSE?

Dont mean to appear to not be taking your concerns seriously - can see ourselves heading that way with no.3! - just some thoughts to throw in for your consideration!


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 3:03 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2008 1:46 pm
Posts: 270
I rather agree with KB - they can't work at full pitch all the time. my elder one was full on for the first three years, (partly dealing with transition from very relaxed primary school at first, partly ethos of school) but has, slightly to my surprise, had a relatively relaxed time for much of the four terms with GCSEs so far (now year 11), broken by intense activity near exams but mostly filled with a lot of extra curricular stuff.
The focus is just shifting in these last few weeks of term but it's interesting to see her taking the lead and saying now I need to get down to it. I'm hoping that the fact the pressure has been down a notch means she is more up for it now - though you never can tell. :? I was heartened that she sat down and got on with revision work last weekend of her own volition.

Judging from her friends at other schools, each school has its own moments of push. Maybe where you are they don't regard year 9 as a time to crack the whip - and as many have said, when they are bright, they often do sail through. Year 9 was when dd 1 really learnt to get work done on the bus home and take short cuts - which is a good trick to learn in life and one I keep hoping dd2 will get!
We've never offered financial reward for passing - I agree it is to do with them wanting to do if for themselves. Hot chocolate and increasingly the odd mum funded shopping treat have been the reward!


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2009 1:38 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 7:06 pm
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Location: kent
Thanks again for all replies. We have decided to pick just 4 subjects to put a bit of extra 'push' into (out of 18 listed on her most recent report) and have had a long chat about school matters which she seemed to take seriously! No rewards offered yet. I'll let you know how we get on :|


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