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?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 03-Sep-13 13:58:30

Oh and my dd's doing Maths and French A level: it's not that unusual!

However, her school's sixth form is relatively new and they do languages at another 6th across town - would something like that be an option, OP?

Not too late to look at other sixth forms.
Her school are not going to deliver so don't hang about. With her grades I bet she would be offered a place at another sixth form with no trouble. Do it now before they start.
Our 6th don't start until later this week.

noblegiraffe Tue 03-Sep-13 13:59:07

I did maths with a year in Germany (so studying maths at a German university). It wasn't a joint honours, it was MMath/Eur. French was also available. That's another possibility at degree level, lots of universities offer it.

I'm afraid I think your DD needs to find another sixth form. Sixth form funding has been cut to the bone so even if they want to keep a high flying student, they won't be able to afford to run a course on low numbers.

cakesaregood Tue 03-Sep-13 14:00:32

Why don't you get in touch with a couple of unis? Back in the dark ages, you didn't always need an A-level to study a language, especially if you did we'll in your other subjects.

TeacakeEater Tue 03-Sep-13 14:01:22

I would be enquiring with other sixth forms / colleges that are within striking distance. They may have places and be a better choice. Phoning up and asking can't harm.

summertimeandthelivingiseasy Tue 03-Sep-13 14:03:54

I would be ringing every school within travellable distance, English, Welsh and do not rule out private, they sometimes have bursaries to help with fees. See if it is possible to do the combination elsewhere and if they have places (they have to take pupils up to 17 now). Find out all possible options, then see where you can go. The open days are not necessary - you can have a quick look around if you are interested and it may be more informative.

SarahBumBarer Tue 03-Sep-13 14:05:28

I don't really think it is their duty to be honest. Yes it would be nice, even reasonable for them to help you but I think it is naive to EXPECT it and I think it probably is a bit every man for themselves post 16 - certainly funding wise. As for community ideals - well that is about resources being allocated for the good of the community not diverted to your daughter I would presume. I do feel sorry for her but there are solutions and I don't see it as the school's responsibility.

ooievaar Tue 03-Sep-13 14:05:52

I'm an Admissions tutor for a university that offers Maths plus languages in various combinations. She really would need an A Level in French - it's possible to start languages from scratch (in some places, but not everywhere, and my own institution don't offer French ab initio in any combination), but she would be starting again as a beginner (frustrating if she is already performing well at GCSE) and in any case, many places such as my own institution do need you to have an A Level in a language to demonstrate language learning ability before you can take another language from scratch.

emsiewill Tue 03-Sep-13 14:10:45

So do people think it would be better to go somewhere else altogether rather than just do 3 A levels within school and do the 4th (which would have to be Maths) elsewhere (ie HE college)? That would be the least disruptive option for dd.

CaterpillarCara Tue 03-Sep-13 14:13:22

Well, it depends where "elsewhere" is! You need to research very quickly all your options and then decide. Moving elsewhere would be a shift (but one people often make at 6th form) but once done things would be easier than being in several places.

Sirzy Tue 03-Sep-13 14:15:38

Unfortunately colleges can't cover allowing every possible combination, I couldn't study the selection I wanted at my chosen college (which was much bigger than most 6th forms)

She needs to either find another college which does allow her chosen combination or rethink which courses she does. Not ideal but the only options realistically.

FobblyWoof Tue 03-Sep-13 14:16:25

Thanks for all the replies! You learn something new every day smile Almost wish I'd have done something similar instead of my bog standard degree ( that has got me nowhere ) but then I remembered I'm shit at maths and languages grin

LIZS Tue 03-Sep-13 14:19:45

Would the school allow her to take one at another school, 6th form or FE college during the day if timetabling permitted? What else is she doing ?

ooievaar Tue 03-Sep-13 14:22:38

From a university perspective at least it wouldn't matter where she studied what - what counts for uni applications is predicted grades and personal statement, in that order. Doing Maths at an HE college while carrying on with the other A Levels at school might stand out as unusual (if anyone even notices), but if your DD can address this in her personal statement it might even work in her favour, demonstrating her determination and motivation to study the subject even when it wasn't possible within the school setting.

So I'd say go with whatever will suit her best - staying put and doing the Maths separately sounds like her preferred option, so long as she will actually have the commitment to see it through when it means a longer day studying/new college/not studying with friends.

emsiewill Tue 03-Sep-13 14:23:23

LIZS that is the kind of thing I was hoping the school would be informing us about / pointing us towards, but they don't seem to have any ideas.

I fear that it's because there are no other local Welsh medium schools, and therefore they don't "partner" with any of them for anything at all. So where we have gone wrong is getting dd educated in her mother (well, father actually) tongue.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 03-Sep-13 14:24:41

OP, personally the first option I would look into would be doing just French at another 6th, if that is practical and you can organise transport etc. If your dd has strong and convincing reasons to want to stay at this school, anyway.

If she doesn't, or that doesn't work, then move for the lot, I guess.

emsiewill Tue 03-Sep-13 14:28:03

Oh, she's doing Physics and Chemistry as well as the Maths & French. Chemistry is her "4th" choice, she had a number of "4th" options that she wanted to do and could have done if she had chosen (Biology or History most likely).

She is lucky that she got such good results she was able to make a "free" choice.

badguider Tue 03-Sep-13 14:31:47

In sixth year (Scotland) I studied two different types of maths and physics at three different schools in my area. Transported by taxi. All sorted out by my school. Another girl did the same to do French, Italian and German.

I think it's really awful that a young person with a very reasonable and achievable ambition is being told to change to fit in with the school or go away and sort it herself rather than helped sad

emsiewill Tue 03-Sep-13 14:34:14

It was flagged up to me that the school was perhaps lacking in the ability to help students with ambition when dd told her careers teacher she wants to go to Uni in America.

"ooh, I've never heard of that before" was the response. And that was the end of the conversation.

Dd is very focussed, driven and ambitious, and it's a shame the school can't / won't support that.

MortifiedAdams Tue 03-Sep-13 14:42:30

I am astounded that French and MAths were in the same.column!

It's a big step up from GCSE to AS levels, there are many threads on here about this. Trying to juggle 3 subjects at one school and one at another sounds like a nightmare.
It's also not a bad thing to move for sixth form. Sixth form colleges are a bit like a half way house between school and university. It doesn't sound as though her own school are very ambitious for their pupils?

Mumsyblouse Tue 03-Sep-13 14:48:18

It's been said before, but of course you can do Maths and French at university, lots of students do this either by doing joint honors (any subject plus a language) or just doing a language proficiency qualification. This is a very popular option, doing say Psychology with Mandarin, or History with Spanish, and linguists are always in demand, especially in the type of fields suitable for Maths (City, accountancy, actuary, management consultant).

emsiewill Tue 03-Sep-13 14:49:33

I do agree that it wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing to go to a sixth form college, but there isn't much choice round here - most of the sixth forms are attached to schools, so that would be joining somewhere where friendship groups are established etc.

If she has to do it, she will just have to suck it up I guess. I'm just so annoyed that I put my faith in the school and believed them when they insinuated it would "all be OK" in September.

Sirzy Tue 03-Sep-13 14:53:06

I am astounded that French and MAths were in the same.column!

if only one student wanted to do both then that made sense to do.

They will never find a combination which suits all unfortunatly.

Squooodle Tue 03-Sep-13 15:02:27

It doesn't sound from your OP as though they said all would be okay - it sounds as if they repeatedly told you that it wasn't going to work and got a bit irritated with your persistence ... but that you believed an exception would be made regardless. In the end they don't care that much.

I would switch to another college and accept the disruption to friendship groups.

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