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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:54 pm 
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DS worked hard and did really well with his GSCE's and is now in Yr12 at the same school and is incredibly unhappy.

He has always been happy go lucky, organised, funny, clever, helpful and within a 6 week period of time is none of those and so miserable. He is finding the school work so difficult. He hates having to take the initiative with planning work, has done badly or quite badly in small tests to date and is not motivated. He starts his homework or revision and very quickly is watching tv, looking at sports equipment etc. and when he wanders downstairs says he finds the work so hard. He is refusing to go to the extra lessons at lunchtime kindly put on by teachers as he says they are too busy and crowded. We have offered to try and find him some tutors but he says he has never needed one before and doesn't now.

He wants to study law at some well-thought of uni's so knows he is looking at getting 3 x A's or thereabouts, I suggested he lower his aims, look for apprenticeships who take you on at 18, leave and go to college and take other subjects, all of which go down like a lead balloon. In other words my thinking is, if he has peaked at GCSE level, two years of A levels is a long time to feel confused and down.

Is this all just immaturity? Will he suddenly 'get it' or do some never really buckle down? I don't want to be on his case as he needs to make his own decisions and mistakes, out of the blue he even said yesterday 'this growing up business isn't much fun' - how sad is that.

Any advice would be fab as I don't really know what stance I should take. Fortunately, he is still talking to us all about the situation which I am pleased about. Parents evening is a month away.

Thank you


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 7:00 pm 
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Hi - the first term of Y12 is hard and, unfortunately, modular A levels make it worse as we can't 'let them in gently'.

My advice would be go into school and talk to his teachers. Did he get As and A*s? (pm me if you prefer) Which subjects is he doing?

Does he use his study periods at school? You could try to 'chunk' his work ie 30 mins work then a 15 minute break.

Hopefully he hasn't got too many modules in January and he will get 'up to speed' before it matters.

It does take time to get used to the different approach too.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 7:16 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 2:14 pm
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Location: essex
Hi,

It is very , very early days and I am sure lots of people will be along to give you some fantastic advice about how to help and encourage your son.
I would just like to say that my daughter went through exactly the same situation, and by Christmas was terribly unhappy. We were totally unaware of any other options but I did a lot of research and in the end she left school after AS levels ( having not done nearly as badly as expected ) and went to our local college to study for an Extended BTEC.
She was a changed girl, did extremely well in a completely different learning environment getting the equivalent UCAS points as 3A*s at A level. It was all course work , no exams and she is now at university. All universities, with the exception of Oxbridge, will consider BTEC qualifications, she got offers from three Russell Group ones.
I am saying this as there seems to be a huge stigma about non traditional qualifications but not every one is cut out for A levels and if your son turns out to be like my daughter, it is not in anyway the end of the world


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 8:17 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jun 16, 2012 12:36 pm
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Thanks for the replies.

He is taking Maths, Chemistry, History and Philosophy and for his GSCE's got A* in M/C/H and A in RE - so when he choose those subjects we agreed he had a good spread of subjects which he enjoyed (or so we thought!!).

He has a Maths and Chemistry module in January so needs to get a better grip quite soon.

I think he uses his study time at school to socialise :roll: not just him but there is no supervision during his study periods so all those as immature as him don't seem to buckle down at all.

I could suggest that he makes his study times at home shorter but he only does it in 40min chunks now.

Thanks Marigold for the BTEC info and great that your daughter found a good way to study and get to uni - I'll bear that in mind for future conversations!!

I think you are right, Guest55 we need to book an apt. with his teachers and see if they can give us any pointers to bring him along....and just when I thought we could sit back with DS and have more time with the other children!!!


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 8:29 pm 
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If he's doing C1 in January then that should be OK with an A* as much of the content is in the GCSE . There are masses of past papers online and mark schemes. I'm a maths teacher so if he does every past paper for the last seven years he should be fine!

Chemistry - again look for past papers on-line and go through them - my DC did Chemistry and the exam boards do look for key vocabulary but past papers will help with that. We just did every past paper going - they'll be a few more since my DC did it in Jan 2011.

There's no escape from practising, practising and ...yes, practising!


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:26 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:40 am
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The leap from GCSE to AS is huge, and this kind of wobble is really quite normal. I've taught students of similar stock who have been similarly shocked.

I agree, getting an appointment with the school would be a wise move. But in preparation for it I'd do two things

i) take him to a milkshake bar/waffle house/somewhere he likes and ask him to be really specific with you about what he's struggling with. Not just "the work" but quite specific: the class work? Applying a theory/ rule he as been taught to a situation? The elevation to be independent? The more specific he can be, the more effectively he can be supported

ii) ask the school if it is possible to do a quick 'round robin' of his teachers before you meet. It may be that he's performing within their expectations for the stage in the course. Or that they can offer a subject specific suggestion that would support him.

Sorry if this is a bit 'grandmother to suck eggs', it's just that the meeting you secure will be a precious resource and the more focused you (or preferably he) can be about the nature of the struggle, the better the outcome is likely to be.

Wishing you luck, M


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 8:03 am 
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Sympathies. :( You sound very caring and supportive and that is great for him. I can only echo the sensible advice of others and maybe just add one thought, which is, does he actually want to be at this school, studying these subjects? How solid is his ambition to study law? I was at a talk for year 12 parents recently and the one overriding thing which struck me was when the teacher presenting said, "this is your child's application [to university] and they must own it." He stressed that children need to learn an awful lot about themselves and their interests and passions in order to get to a place where they are ready to apply to uni. He was very keen on gap years, partly for this reason - a lot of growing up to do.

Perhaps your son has doubts about the path he has selected (pre-GCSE)? Perhaps he isn't as interested in the subjects as he thought he would be? Maybe he is having doubts about Law? And maybe he doesn't really know what doesn't feel right, but something doesn't? I am sure this isn't the case with you, but it is clear to me as both a parent and teacher that sometimes a parent has plans and desires for their child which the child then kind of takes on, and maybe finds hard to challenge, even in their own mind. I heard some parents saying to a colleague 'but she has always wanted to study x at y university' and the teacher very sensibly pointing out not only that 'she' didn't actually have the necessary GCSE grades, but also that 'always wanted to' is quite a dangerous idea in Year 12. A friend's son had 'always wanted to' study Medicine, and his school wanted him to as well. One day he refused, point blank, to get out of bed and go to school. He didn't return (he was 16). Two years later he went to college and is now very successful in another career entirely, nothing remotely connected to Science, let alone Medicine. He now says that he felt he suddenly had no choices and his life was mapped out for him, based on little more than an idea he had when he was about 8.

I am not suggesting any or all of this applies to your son, but it is probably a conversation worth having, as it might reveal something of what is underlying his current unhappiness. I can see you already have broached it, but maybe he finds it hard to acknowledge that he isn't coping and to think seriously about the alternatives. Sometimes it's easier to try and plod on than risk everything by admitting it isn't going to plan.

You seem so sensible - not pressurising him and being willing to think outside the box, that I am sure you will find a way through this. Best wishes to you both.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 8:57 am 
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Great post, Amber :D

DS (Y12) doesn't have a clue what he wants to do post-school yet. Since I didn't know until I was in my 20s, I don't think this matters at all. And I think it matters even less to our children's generation where they are quite likely to have portmanteau careers. Some may be determined to follow a particular vocational path such as architecture or medicine (or professional footballer :lol: ), but a lot don't really know and are likely to change their minds a fair few times yet. Plus at 16/17 there are vast swathes of jobs/careers our DCs won't have considered, or even know about. It's a big world out there.

Moetmum, I do hope you get to the root cause of your DS's unhappiness and come up with a solution.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:06 am 
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Agree with all that Rob (especially the bit about my great post :) ) but, and it is a big 'but' - if a child/'young person' doesn't have a clue what they want to do, which is totally normal and fine, there is little point in putting themselves through a jolly expensive and hard university course, only to come out the other end just as clueless. While I am all in favour of learning for its own sake, I think a year out at the front end might be a valuable investment in such circumstances, helping to focus the mind and prevent an immature school leaver drifting in an ultimately unhelpful direction and cleaning their family out of money in the process.
As someone wiser than I said recently 'better a right decision late than a wrong one early'.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:10 am 
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Agreed Rob - I do wish schools (or a school in particular :roll: ) would stop trying to get 15 year old to state what there future career is going to be? I was still going to be prime minister at that time!!! they do need a break and a chill a bit....

Do hope the OP son feels better soon. I do think that the first term of year 12 can be very full on - no rest as modules in January, I knew quite a lot of lads who thought that they could have a break when the GCSEs were over and regretted when the results of the Jan modules came out in March. However that doesn't help OP whose son I suspect is unhappy for a variety of reasons and it may take some time to get to the bottom of things.


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