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To feel really let down by dd's school

(120 Posts)
emsiewill Tue 03-Sep-13 13:33:30

Dd had to put in her potential A Level options back in July. Obviously the school can't finalise the timetable until after GCSE results, but they try and get an idea and start thinking about possible clashes etc.

Dd wants to do French & Maths (as well as 2 others). They were put in the same "column" and therefore can't both be taken. As far as we knew in July when the options columns came out, she was the only student wanting to do these 2 subjects.

I contacted the school at the time, as they advised parents to do if there were any problems. I have said all along that I understand that they cannot change the whole timetable to accommodate one student, and I don't expect them to do that. What I hoped they would do would be make some suggestions as to how we could work round this - would distance learning work for one of the subjects? Can she do one of them in another local school? Would they be able to fit her in outside the curriculum? I am not an expert in education, and don't know what is possible or doable.

Dd is quite sure that she wants to study both subjects at Uni, so really doesn't want to have to choose between them.

The first person I spoke to (head of upper school) was basically clueless and the conversation ended with him saying "I don't really know what to suggest".

I therefore emailed the head teacher, went through the whole explanation again and said I was disappointed that the school didn't seem able to help us deal with this issue. He emailed back saying he was sorry I was upset about the options, and that they can't always cater to every student. He thought there may be some "slack" in the French department for dd to do it outside normal lesson times, but they couldn't say for sure until the results came out, and he would get one of the deputy head teachers to call me in the meantime. No phone call was forthcoming.

GCSE results day comes round, as expected dd does very well, including A* in Maths & French (amongst others). I try to talk to the deputy head about the subject clash, but she basically brushed me off, telling me that we should focus on what dd wants to do in 2 years, it's not just about A level choices. I tried to explain that dd wants to do these 2 subjects in 2 years' time, but she just would not engage. I didn't want to spoil dd's day of celebration by getting into an argument so didn't take it further.

Dd went back to school yesterday. They said they may be able to accommodate Maths & French for her if there was only one overlapping lesson (ie she could go to all 4 Maths lessons a week, and 3 out of 4 of the French ones). They said we would have to get a tutor as well though to ensure she kept up with the French. They pressed dd quite hard to say which of the 2 subjects she would choose if she had to, but she was clear that she wants to do both.

Today, she has been told that actually, it's not going to be possible and therefore we will have to find out about her doing one of them outside school. No offer of assistance with this, no pointers, nothing. DH has called the school (I'm in work -supposedly!- he's got a day off) and is awaiting a call back from the head of sixth form.

There is a part-time A level maths course (1 evening per week) starting tonight at a local HE college. I am trying to get through to them as I type.

I feel very angry that the school wouldn't take us seriously back in July and have now put us in the position where we have no time to get something else sorted. I think they thought we would just give up on the idea.

Dd is one of the star pupils in the school - never given them a moment's trouble, won prizes every year, but they don't seem to want to help her achieve her potential.

As I say, I know they can't move everything around just for her. But surely they should give us more help in trying to find some alternative solutions?

NotYoMomma Tue 03-Sep-13 13:40:07

but you had other options too surely? did you contact other sixth forms or schools or colleges?

the school were quote clear in that they couldnt accomodate every single pupils wishes early on and then when GCSEs came out tried to see what they could do but have now said they can't...

I had friends who studied at different sixthforms for their preferences and it was sorted by them as they were the ones who had decided what they wanted / what was right for them

iyswim

diddl Germany Tue 03-Sep-13 13:42:12

But you've known since July that it more than likely wouldn't happen-so nothing has changed?

You chose to wait until today before trying to put something into place.

Wibblypiglikesbananas Tue 03-Sep-13 13:42:33

Couldn't she switch to another college or sixth form that does permit these options?

Pilgit Tue 03-Sep-13 13:44:02

No helpful suggestions here. But this us quite a common pairing - my sister also did it. I remember one of my contemporaries doing economics at a different school because of clashes with other subjects and we took people from other schools for the same reason. They seemed to bend over backwards to help sort out clashes. Frustrating and annoying for her.

FobblyWoof Tue 03-Sep-13 13:45:15

I can understand why you're annoyed and I really think it would've helped if they'd just made it clear from the beginning that it wasn't an option so you could've looked for alternatives yourselves (like this night school).

However, I'm a little confused. In my experience you can only take one degree at a time so I'm not really understanding how she expects to study both maths and French at uni confused

I knew exactly what course I wanted to take so I never really looked at other options but from what I could see the other degrees were stand alone subjects like maths, psychology, biology etc

FobblyWoof Tue 03-Sep-13 13:48:04

Should have said- I'm asking because I genuinely don't know- not trying to say she's wrong. I wasn't very clear!

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 03-Sep-13 13:48:25

Joint honours, I imagine?

OP that is annoying: if they weren't going to sort it they should have said so very clearly early on. And missing one lesson of each a week is no sort of solution.

I also appreciate that it's not much of an answer to say that you could now look elsewhere - presumably she chose that 6th form for all sorts of reasons, and now at the 11th hour is probably not willing to change?

I think I'd have one last meeting with the school where you stress her potential and results and how much you hoped this could work, and then look at doing one of them at a local college. But I recognize that's not ideal either ...

emsiewill Tue 03-Sep-13 13:49:49

The feeling I got all along from the school was that it could be sorted somehow. I was told "we definitely don't want to lose dd as a pupil". So it wasn't "more than likely" it wouldn't happen as far as I was concerned - & if it was, I thought they would help me be more proactive which is what I repeatedly asked for, not for them to change their plans, but to help us change ours.

To add complications, it is a Welsh medium school, so a bit "outside" the rest of the local schools, about whom I know nothing. I thought they would want to encourage pupils to stay within Welsh medium education.

All the other sixth forms etc had their open days / deadline for application way before the last week of the summer term, which is when all of this came up. I never for a moment thought there would be a problem with French & Maths, so we didn't consider anywhere else back in Feb/March time.

If the school had given me more help to negotiate the local sixth form maze (local to us, which is not the same LEA that dd is in now) I might have known where to start.

But yes, I feel terrible and that I have let dd down big time.

BalloonSlayer Tue 03-Sep-13 13:50:04

Get on the blower and start ringing other schools and 6th form colleges to see if there is anywhere she can do all the A levels she wants to do.

Some schools have languages as a speciality - one of those might be a good one to try.

And make sure you let the school know you are looking for somewhere that can accommodate all her A levels, not just the ones that they don't want to teach her. If she is a star pupil then they may have a change of heart if they imagine four a* sailing away into the sunset.

Sirzy Tue 03-Sep-13 13:50:48

Can she not go to a different sixth form?

Do any Unis actually offer a course with Maths and french?

LIZS Tue 03-Sep-13 13:51:04

French and Maths is quite an unusual combination , if more so beyond A level. Given that you knew the potential issue back in July had you not previously investigated alternatives ? The difficulty for the school is that maybe others had that choice potentially but may not have met grades or moved on elsewhere, thus rendering the timetabling impossible.

Liskey Tue 03-Sep-13 13:51:17

Degress are modular FobblyWoof (or they were, cough, 20 years ago when I did mine) so you can take a Joint Maths/French Degree or Major/Minor chosing modules from both.

emsiewill Tue 03-Sep-13 13:51:53

I did Maths & French A levels, as did all of the people on my Uni course (European Business Studies, first 2 years spent studying at a business school in France) 25 years ago. So it's really not that uncommon.

The course she wants to do is Maths with modern languages at UCL.

SarahBumBarer Tue 03-Sep-13 13:52:22

Most subjects can be studied with a language as a joint honours degree Fobbly.

It does seem odd that they clash and there is no way around it - one would assume the teachers are different. Also my (limited to a couple) experience of schools is that they try not to clash core A level subjects so this seems a bit slack.

In terms of being more up front with you YANBU - they should have been clearer but I don't think you can expect them to help you now to be honest and sadly it is not in their interests presumably.

emsiewill Tue 03-Sep-13 13:52:51

And she is also seriously considering going to Uni in the US where modular degrees are the norm (she tells me).

SilverApples Tue 03-Sep-13 13:52:59

What is the quality of teaching like in both subjects in her school?
Does she like and engage with the staff that will be teaching the subjects?
My DD did both as A levels, and found the maths a huge jump on what she had covered at A level, the French less so as there were a lot of resources and possibilities for her to practise her oral skills. Maths was considered one of her strongest subjects.
So I'd be looking at doing the Maths in school and French elsewhere. Yes, it's infuriating, I ended up changing options in my second year because the timetables clashed. Now that did piss me off!

CaterpillarCara Tue 03-Sep-13 13:53:42

Fobbly, I did this pairing. I also studied both at university. Cardiff, Leeds, Southampton, Heriot Watt, etc, all offer "Maths and French".

I am astonished that Maths is not in more than one column.

emsiewill Tue 03-Sep-13 13:54:36

Why on earth shouldn't I expect them to help me? Surely it's their duty? Or is it every man for himself post-16? Even when you've been in a school trumpeting its "caring" and "community based" ideals since year 7?

DinoSnores Tue 03-Sep-13 13:55:30

fobbly, you can study Mathematics with French at a number of universities, including Sheffield, Swansea, Southampton, Heriot-Watt, Liverpool, London, Hertfordshire, Lancaster, Cardiff, Birmingham, and Aberdeen. That help your apparent confusion?

DinoSnores Tue 03-Sep-13 13:56:01

Cross-posted with lots of people as I did all those links!

emsiewill Tue 03-Sep-13 13:56:44

There are no part time French courses available locally, and I can't see that distance learning of French is viable. Of course, I can do some oral work with her, but my French is rusty to say the least.

I have heard a lot recently about the "leap" from GCSE to A level Maths, but I think Maths is a subject that would lend itself more easily to independent / outside school study, with the help of a tutor if necessary, of course.

SmiteYouWithThunderbolts Tue 03-Sep-13 13:57:05

Lots of degree courses are joint honours these days. French and Maths seems a perfectly logical combination if she intends to work in international business of some description.

Anyway, WRT the school I can see why you're annoyed but you probably should have been more proactive about coming up with a back-up plan in July when you realised they weren't taking your concerns seriously. I suggest you get ringing round local colleges and Sixth Forms to find if she can transfer to study there. At the very least, the threat of losing your dd to another school may prompt her existing one to come up with a workaround for her A level options.

ooievaar Tue 03-Sep-13 13:57:17

For those asking, it is possible to study Maths plus a language at Uni, though it may have to be through 'Combined Honours' courses rather than a named programme in some institutions - but it has its own UCAS code (RG11) and everything, so it's perfectly kosher!

OP: I had a similar issue with my own A Levels twenty some years ago, school promised to accommodate my perverse wish to study Maths with Mechanics alongside languages, then completely failed to timetable it. (All the more irritating as the Maths teacher in question actually did the timetabling!). I did Maths on 2 periods (out of 4) a week in Lower 6th year 12 and on 1 period plus a special lunchtime session in Upper 6th year 13. It's possible, hard work, but it can be done, even if school throws a spanner in the works.

As a linguist now though I would say it's much easier to catch up on Maths than on a language where the exposure to French can't really be replicated outside the classroom easily, whereas with a bit of good will and the ability your DD seems to have, Maths is something you can work through on your own. Good luck to your DD!

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