to think we should pay for a personal tutor for dd in her GCSE year?

(95 Posts)
madmomma Fri 23-Aug-13 20:44:05

So dd is 15 and has just sat some of her GCSEs a year early, as seems to be the fashion these days. She's passed her English but has got an F in her maths and a U in her science. Obviously she will sit them again next year, but I am alarmed by the F and the U and I feel it warrants us getting her some personal tuition. I couldn't help her much with either of these subjects as I am more of an english-y persuasion. Her Dad is not able to either (not academic enough). We've had lots of discussions with her maths and science teachers and school seem to be doing what they can, but I think by this point if she is to get Cs next year she would need to be working at at least a E or D now. She already has an hour's maths tuition per week, which costs £20 and she really enjoys it + finds it helpful.

The aibu is because my husband (dd's stepdad) feels that we should be helping her/teaching her ourselves and we are letting her down if we don't. He is adamant that I or he should be spending time doing maths and science practice with her, rather than 'farming her out' to a tutor hmm

I want her to have 4hrs tuition per week for the rest of her school career, which should hopefully help her to hit those Cs next year. I think the total cost would be well over 1k but to my mind it's what money is for and it's totally worth it. We have about 10k saved for insurance against redundancy so it would mean dipping into it, which I think is what concerns dh. Dd's Dad is broke so he can't really contribute.

AIBU to think that this is a vitally important and worthwhile expense for our hardworking but struggling daughter?

uselessinformation Fri 23-Aug-13 21:49:33

Marriedinwhite, she got to age 15 without knowing her times tables because she had dyscalculia as the op said. OP, you need a tutor that knows how to teach students with dyscalculia and this often means going back to basics as many steps will have been missed put due to the confusion and schools having to cover too much in a short time and therefore moving on too quickly. Alternatively teach her how to answer the questions she can manage a some people with convolvulus can easily do more complex sums but can't remember what some would think of as easy like ordering numbers. I do wonder why the school put her in for am early exam when she has dyscalculia and why you didn't complain about that at the time.

Greythorne Fri 23-Aug-13 21:50:08


Do you think the OP should just give up then?

wanders away shaking head at the thought that it's too late to help a 15 yo learn some maths

uselessinformation Fri 23-Aug-13 21:51:09

Ha, silly phone corrected dyscalculia to convulvulus!

seensomuch Fri 23-Aug-13 21:53:16

madmomma was also going to say my dd didnt get on with her maths teacher they clashed and he never explained in a way she could understand,from nov to may she had a different teacher who she could relate to and that made a massive difference (she actually started to like maths)as well as the extra lessons in dd doesnt know her timestable either smile

noblegiraffe Fri 23-Aug-13 21:54:28

Schools often put low sets in for exams early in the hope that they might bag a C and can then concentrate on other stuff. Or to give them something to work towards as a motivator - this is why modules were good. It's very hard to motivate certain pupils to work hard for two years with no external exams to prepare for.
Certain students even get a better grade in Y10 than Y11, they go completely off the rails, but at least they've already got something under their belt.

cantspel Fri 23-Aug-13 21:55:29

Are you sure they were the actual exams and not just mocks?

kim147 Fri 23-Aug-13 21:56:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

madmomma Fri 23-Aug-13 22:19:24

Thanks for replies. The school 'don't believe' in dyscalculia. They just think it's the primary's fault for not teaching the basics properly.

It took her til she was 13 to grasp her number bonds to ten sad It's just such a bloody struggle for her.

I've just had a chat with her and with dh and we've decided the way forward is going to be 2hrs maths tuition per week (which she's asked for, and enjoys). Intensive 'times table camp' at home every morning and evening (recitation, writing them out and tablet-games). Meanwhile I will go into school and try and get school to keep her with the maths teacher she feels understands her and to move science class to a clearer teacher (put diplomatically, obvs) Thanks for the support and advice everyone. I'll keep checking the thread in case anyone thinks of anything else.

cantspel Fri 23-Aug-13 22:24:33

Have you got the maths revision guide? It is really good and might be of help as she can do extra to reinforce what the tutor is doing with her.

Dayshiftdoris Fri 23-Aug-13 22:45:35

What Saucy said is absolute nonsense...

I have recently had to find my GCSE certificates from the loft for a job (at the age of 34!) to prove I have Maths & English despite having a masters qualification! A couple of people in my team couldn't find them and are being made to sit them!

My friend can't even get an interview for a TA post because she only has a D grade Maths even though she has a level 2 TA qualification.

Most employers, in any decent post are asking for level 2 / GCSE Maths & English.

Get her support now - you are absolutely spot on in your OP about this being the right time plus she's keen to do the work. Think your plan is excellent smile

Dayshiftdoris Fri 23-Aug-13 22:52:48

I missed Married's post... Wow!

My friend I mentioned in on course for a B on her maths GCSE at 40yrs of age so I doubt very much that 15yrs is too late...

You sound a lovely supportive mum OP... My son struggles so much with maths at 9yrs old now and even with known issues (ASD) the testing for maths is just not as robust as it is with literacy.

Keep at it and reassure your daughter that us lovely people in FE can help her too if needs be... It's absolutely not the end of the world if next time next year she doesn't have an A-C smile

kim147 Fri 23-Aug-13 22:55:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

noblegiraffe Fri 23-Aug-13 22:59:30

I think Gove was planning on making them resit it in 6th form/college until they got their C.

Which is kind of hypocritical seeing as he abolished modules because he didn't like students resitting until they achieved their desired grade. hmm

primroseyellow Fri 23-Aug-13 23:21:13

YANBU. Private tuition may well help, but a lot depends on the tutor and whether they know the syllabus/exam board she is doing and how motivated she is. Early entry is controversial and demoralising for students like your DC (and school policies vary a lot so not really helpful to query why she was entered early). If you have suitable tutors (like your teacher friend) and your DC responds to them it may well improve her chances of better grades, and in any case improve her confidence in the subjects. Some exam boards put past papers and answers on website and lots of past paper practice helps some students....but check current syllabus requirements as they change so often. Extra 1 to 1 tuition can make a big difference and if in the end it doesn't at least you will know you tried. If DC is willing/cooperative it will almost certainly help.

Fairyegg Fri 23-Aug-13 23:30:30

I don't understand why so many students are taking their gcse's a year early, surely that just means they have a year less to learn the stuff and if they want to do the subject at a-level they have a year to forget stuff, or am I missing something? And if maths has never been your dd's strong point why was she allowed to do it early?
However Yanbu. If you have the money I would pay for the tuition. Maths and english are really important to get at least a c in at gcse, although I got an e in maths school, retook at 6th form and got a d, retook at tech and got a c, so it can be done later.

primroseyellow Sat 24-Aug-13 09:09:02

We used to have tapes of times tables set to music like songs, used to play them in the car on way to school etc. May be worth seeing if similar CDs etc available. It just helps with remembering and reinforcing, especially if DC can be persuaded to sing along. Practical activities sometimes help children with dyslexia and may also be worth trying instead of writing (eg numbers on cards to be matched up so child is moving cards around not writing, or magnetic numbers on board). But obviously only if DC is happy to do this as at 15 she might not.

Fairyegg Most schools put all students in for their GCSE at the end of year 10 now. This has been happening since the abolition of key stage 3 exams, so most schools will start gcse's in year 9. They still have 2 years to do the gcse and year 11 becomes either a retake year or a chance to study further, e.g. higher tier, statistics. All going to change now though, but it is the way the majority of schools work. So in essence, she is not being entered early, just at the natural end of her course.

OP, I am a private tutor and have just had a student go from a grade F to a C in two years. It can be done, however I would second trying to find a tutor willing to put the effort into researching methods that work with dyscalculic students. Basic maths is vital, particularly times tables which come into so many topics. When I was teacher training, a very experienced teacher said to me that if a student was strong in their tables, a grade C or above was almost a guarantee.

4 hours may be a bit of overkill, 2 hours would be useful though. And I would get her familiar with the exam papers as soon as you can, you can find past papers easily on the net.

marriedinwhiteisback Sat 24-Aug-13 10:00:40

Awfully sorry to have caused offence - I certainly didn't mean to but I do think intensive turoring at the start of Y11 is too late when the OP's dd got an f in her maths this year and the OP has referred to sustained difficulties with the subject since the primary years. If the school has advised in previous years that the dd has inadequate grasp f the basics then the basics nEeded to be addressed sooner. It isn't too late to start doing that now and a good foundation will serve your dd better than an intensely tutored for GCSE scraped C grade. I think it would be better to approach this as a three year plan if your daughter wants to keep open options than to ook for a quick fix.

What does concern me is that if your daughter has been diagnosed as suffering from discalculia the school claims this disability does not exist. Presumably you have taken in the assessment report which will have been produced by the appropriate specialist and organisation to seek SEN support and additional exam time for your daughter.

I have one naturally mathematical child and one who finds the subject more challenging. From the age of 5 or 6 quickly realising a state primary was not doing the basics we instilled number bonds and tables. Dominoes, dice, board games, a bit of singing and rote learning. As DS ook to translating The Lord of the Rings into Runes dd took to inntricate building and picking up a number pattern.

DS with some tutoring got GCSE maths in y11. DD got it this year in Y10. Her school entered her a year early because she got an 8a at the end of Y9 - the level 8 girls had an additional maths class each week to prepare them. 8 got an A*, one an A. We considered carefully whether she should take maths early and reviewed the schools arrangements before agreeing. I would have been extremely concerned if the school had suggested early entry had my dd been struggling as yours has and woud have required a meeting with the head of maths (and orobably science) before agreeing.

Also, not every child will get maths and english or five gcses however much this is presented as the holy grail. There is nothing wrong with focussing on a more voctional career which plays to your daughters strngths and which is realistic. If year dd is tutored to an inch of her life to scrape a grade C do you really think that she will cpe easily and find fulfilment in a future carEer that might require her to develop a weak area further and use it on a regular basis - thinking primary teaching/nursing here (drug doses, etc).

Wouldn't it be better to play to your daughters strengths and invest in those to support careers in things like: journalism, publishing, interior design, floristry, hospitality, cookery (look at Mary Berry), wedding planning, dress making/couture, etc, etc and a hundred. Other avenues she could go down to make a good career and living, do something she loves and be given the freedom to play to her strengths.

cory Sat 24-Aug-13 10:01:10

We took up a friend's offer to tutor dd in maths.

Her college (and I think most colleges) had a minimum requirement of a C in 5 subjects to include maths, English and science for doing A-levels. So yes, to that extent GCSE results do matter. And dd isn't going to do anything even vaguely maths related: this is for doing English literature and drama. Saying only A-levels matter is all very well, but unless you get the GCE's first, they won't let you onto the A-levels.

Dd was behind because she had missed classes due to illness. It wasn't too late: we have just heard that she has got her C and won't have to resit maths in college!

Ds (just finished Yr 8) has always been in bottom sets for all subjects but has suddenly taken a leap forward; he went up two sublevels in history in 6 weeks around Easter time. I am still hopeful that he may squeeze into A-levels.

Saying it's too late sounds defeatist to me. I regularly see undergraduates who have failed at school and then suddenly taken off when their SN has been addressed. Of course eventually you may get to the point where you have to accept that maybe A-levels (or whatever) isn't for me. But unless she has a real interest or a real strength in practical skills, it is still very early for that.

(Imo the difficulty with the vocational options is that people tend to assume that anyone who isn't good with academic subjects must have practical strengths to compensate. I don't know about your dd but that just isn't true for ds: if anything, he is worse with practical things. I think his best hope is to get better at maths and English because I wouldn't want to live in a house where he had done the plumbing.)

Crumbledwalnuts Sat 24-Aug-13 10:04:12

I suggest finding a sixth form A level science or maths student at the school at getting tutoring from them.

Tutoring might (might) be cheaper but there are lots of benefits with a talented 17-or 18 year old. They've only just recently done it, they know the tricks, they can understand why someone doesn't understand something.

marriedinwhiteisback Sat 24-Aug-13 10:10:11

My DC's schools have not routinely entered DC for GCSEs at the end of Y10. DS's school did maths, french and RS (DS didn't do maths early because he was regarded as needing an extra year to get an A or A*). DD's school does English, Maths and some languages early for students predicted the highest grades. DD's school also reviewed in accordance with SATs levels up to Y9.

Coconutty Sat 24-Aug-13 10:15:42

I have Dyscalcula and can't help DS with maths but luckily he is very good at it anyway.

Science though is quite an easy one to do at home. You need a copy of the CGP Science book and past papers. DS and I sat down for 20 minutes a day for the 6 weeks before his exam and basically he made notes on little cards and I tested him. Over and over until he actually understood it. Tbh it was boring for me but it was helping him. I was amazed at how much better he got by the end. He's in year 10 and found out on Thursday that he got an A. Before we did this he got a low C in the mock.

Spend the money on maths if you need to.

SaucyJack Sat 24-Aug-13 10:22:36


I was clearly talking about my own experiences, as seeing as you don't me from next door's dog, you're not in a position to say whether I'm talking nonsense or not.

Seriously, in the area of work I was in, noone appeared to give a monkey's about GCSE results.

bronya Sat 24-Aug-13 10:34:02

F/U to C in a year, would be pretty amazing for someone with NO issues. With dyscalculia? Not much of a chance tbh. You could make it to a D or an E more likely.

hardboiledpossum Sat 24-Aug-13 10:43:42

I would be getting a new tutor asap. She obviously hasn't learnt anything if she only got a u.

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