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PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:48 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 2:07 pm
Posts: 111
Location: Essex
My eldest child is in year 12 at an academy school. For his GCSE's he gained a mixture of A & B with his lowest grade a C in maths, despite being in the top set throughout his 5 years there.

He is in year 12 studying law, biology, physics and ICT, all subjects of his choice. He has struggled with the physics course from the beginning and this is the subject he intends to drop for A2. He has always been a boy who did quite well with little effort, has always had to be pushed to revise at all, and this has now been his downfall for these As mock exams. He sat these after christmas and just had the results back. Physics = D, law and biology = U and for ICT they only sat half a paper of 30 mins and apparently no result given. We're pretty cross with him but said he has the results he "deserves" since he clearly didn't revise much, if at all, despite him assuring us he was, as he would rather spend all his free time online. Our son has said he "knows where I went wrong" ie not using key words, messing up a 10 mark question and he will "put it right". But we think he is just kidding himself and us. We've told him unless he improves dramatically the school may ask him to leave at the end of year 12 or possibly we will because if his effort and results are going to be that poor what really is the point of staying for year 13 and what uni would take him with results of C or lower, because even a C grade seems unachievable from where he is currently.

Having not gone through this before, neither myself or my husband have experience of the whole A level/uni route so we are quite lost. There will be a year 12 parents evening within the next week so we will have an opportunity to talk to his tutors. But what should we be asking? We don't even know what exam boards they use so that we can buy revision guide books in the hope this may help, but will ask this week. Any advice on how to support our son through this and help him improve? I don't think the school offer much in the way of careers advice, and our son seems unsure of what he wants to do post 18, whether to go to uni or take up an apprenticeship (which I don't want him to do) or even which course or direction to aim for. Is this usual for 16 yr olds? Sorry, but I have no extended family or friends who have been through this yet, and my husband's work colleagues most helpful comment was there should be "consequences" for such poor results, resulting in my husband intending to buy a separate laptop for our son to use for homework and study away from his own bedroom and computer.

Advice and comments gratefully received.

PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 7:06 pm 

Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:45 pm
Posts: 4846
I feel for you Clarabelle, and posted something similar this time last year. I think at this stage all you can do is have a serious talk to your son about how important his time in the 6th form is, if he wishes to go on to university. You cannot force him to work - it has to come from him. It may help if there aren't distractions around him, like Twitter, you tube etc etc, although these days now that they need a computer to do their homework it is very hard to police. The school will be able to tell you which boards, and which syllabus he is studying and may well recommend some revision guides. You cannot make him do the work, though, or indeed do it for him. Good luck.

PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 7:13 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:21 pm
Posts: 12639
He won't be the only one and at least he did not sit 'real' modules this month as they did in the past.

There is time to put it right but he needs to decide to put in the work. School can support and once you find which syllabus then there are past papers on line and lots of free revision resources.

Examiners reports are also useful as they often give examples of 'real' answers and what they scored.

Last edited by Guest55 on Sun Jan 26, 2014 7:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 7:23 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:41 am
Posts: 5245
Location: Essex
Have you had any feedback at all from the school about your DS's progress to date, or are the results of the mocks (apart from the Physics) and the coming parents' evening the first contact? DS1 is also in year 12 and has just done mocks (mercifully the results he has told us about so far have been good, as he is also pretty skilled in not doing much in the way of revision), but we had already had one report and parent consultation, so knew what he should be getting.

If your DS's marks to date have not given any indication of what he has just (not) achieved, then one hopes at least he has the potential to do well enough to carry on into year 13, albeit with a lot of hard work.

All the schools we looked at for 6th form stated which boards they were using for each subject in their prospectus, so I must say it seems odd that yours doesn't, but as scary mum and Guest55 have said, the school will be able to tell you if you ask.

Good luck :)

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.Groucho Marx

PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 9:46 pm 

Joined: Thu May 10, 2012 8:30 am
Posts: 247
Clarabelle wrote:
what uni would take him with results of C or lower

What courses was he looking at? Law and ICT are very weak A Level choices, and a lot of universities will discount them as anything other than a third A Level. Doing both of them at A2 pretty much rules out all the selective universities, no matter how good the grades. So, without wishing to sound harsh, the sort of universities that will look at the subjects might not be too fussy about Cs.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:49 am 

Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:01 pm
Posts: 7195
Location: Herts
You need to step in pretty heavily or you will end up with a son with no school and no qualifications. A Levels are a big step up from GCSE's. It is possible to get a great clutch of GCSE's just having a good memory and doing a shed load of work just before the exams. This is not possible with A levels, he needs to be working every evening and every weekend. If he is not going to be responsible then you need to take over until he can be. I can't believe he does not know what board he is doing, it will have been written on all the mock papers that he sat. I would imagine that he is spending a lot of time on social media on his computer and not working. I would either take the computer out of the bedroom or disable all social media on it. I would also remove all social media from his phone until he can prove to you that he is going to work and get results. He is old enough to go and get a job at the local supermarket and I would not be financing him to sit in his room and play games or chat on the phone. By now he would have been getting regular feedback on his marks and he has clearly not told you and you have not asked. He would have known there was a problem a lot sooner than you did and must lack the maturity to understand that it needed to be fixed. Unfortunately he has chosen some A levels not recommended by the Russell Group or any of the top universities. Did you not get involved at all with his A level choices? Getting a C from the top set in Maths should have been a wake up call for you. It would be very hard to get a C in the top set in Maths in our school, students get A*'s from the sixth set! Bottom line is that the parents of his peer group are either involved with their dc's or their dc's have their own work ethos. With neither no student will succeed with A levels. You will not have got to second term of AS's without lots of feedback and marking from the school. I did an AS level last year at our local second rate college where students go who fail to get into sixth forms at their own school and they were on you the whole time, insisting on checking and signing off your written work, weekly mocks, letters sent home to parents with estimated grades, you had to sit and pass with a B an exam 30 days after starting the course or you were out. I would be very interested to hear how the school explains how he can be so far adrift with no warning from the school. Well done on seeking help and being prepared to step in and fix it. DG

PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:30 am 

Joined: Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:56 pm
Posts: 8319
It's a weird mix of A levels he's doing - none of it hangs together for any reasons I can see. Why not start again if that's possible? Choosing physics with such weak maths is pretty silly too. Did he get any advice from anyone when he made his choices? Where do his interests lie? What is he thinking of doing next --- in very broad terms?

PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:42 am 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 10:30 am
Posts: 516
Location: Warwickshire
I'm interested in why you're against him doing an apprenticeship? I think they have real advantages, not least the lack of debt at the end!

In accountancy, for example, I understand there's a move to going back to 'on the job' training. Those who start at 18 can gain their professional qualifications much more quickly that those who take a degree first and all have access to exactly the same jobs. If you know you'd like to be an accountant, why not take this route? (Not that I'm suggesting your son necessarily wants to be an accountant...!)

There's a similar move locally with Jaguar Land Rover. You can still become a Chartered Engineer through the old-fashioned route of apprenticeship and working your way through.

If he's really interested in law, for example, there could be options for a similar career progression through an apprenticeship-style route.

Contrary to popular (Govian?) belief, university isn't the best place for everyone and I think a lot more youngsters with good grades will begin to look at alternative routes in the current financial climate.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:56 am 

Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:00 am
Posts: 99
Have DMd you x

PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:25 am 

Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2008 2:28 pm
Posts: 2486
I am not convinced the parents' evening is the place to deal with this.
I would ask for an appointment to see a senior member of staff - probably Head of 6th form - and make sure they know in advance what you want to speak about so they can contact the subject teachers in advance.

It is possible to pull up the grades by the summer but it will require an organised programme of work supported by the school and with effort from your DS.

If he wants to continue and the school are on board then making him study outside of his bedroom seems sensible. He should be able to take responsibility by this stage but it sounds like he will need encouragement to get into good study habits.

It could be that he simply isn't suited to A level study and I agree with comments above that he doesn't seem to have had very good advice from the school so far given his choice of A levels and lack of a post -A level plan.
Presumably they have been doing unit tests since September - has he been doing well in these?
I would also question why you are against him doing an apprenticeship - it could be a very good option.

It is certainly worth investigating alternatives to A level courses - have you got a 6th form college that provides a broader range of options for example?

Taking a different route now doesn't rule out University later on if he gets the motivation at some point but doing something positive now that he will engage in must be better than wasting time doing A levels that end up being of no use anyway. Or scraping into an expensive University course that is of little benefit itself.

I really hope you get him sorted but please don't feel pressured into thinking he should go down a route that he isn't suited to at this stage for whatever reason.

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