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?

I think that if you cannot help her yourself then YANBU to get a tutor, providing you can afford to do so. I know you say that she gets an hour maths a week now, is that Kumon. My friends swear by it. I think it's appalling that you should have to pay for it tbh, it's not fair as many people can't afford to and I am in that bracket but fortunately I can help them myself, so swings and roundabouts. If you want to try to help herself I would recommend the Usborne Dictionary of Maths and also the Usborne Dictionary of Science. They are really simply explained and cover everything children meet from Junior school to GCSE level.

Amy106 Fri 23-Aug-13 20:50:59

You are not being unreasonable. You are trying support your daughter in the best way you know how. I think it's a sensible choice given the circumstances. Not your FIL's decision to make. Good luck and best wishes to your dd.

SaucyJack Fri 23-Aug-13 20:51:29

I wouldn't agree tbh. I've never found anyone other than the woman processing my application for sixth form had the slightest interest in what my GCSE results were. Sorry.

seensomuch Fri 23-Aug-13 20:51:33

dont worry too much my dd just got a c in maths , she got an e in the first attempt in nov, some schools give them extra tuition,she came out of pe and re and studied maths and english instead , so in 6 months she went up 2 grades,i wouldnt spend the money until you have asked for more help at school .

trinity0097 Fri 23-Aug-13 20:54:03

Does the school subscribe to MyMaths, get your daughter on that ASAP if they do, I think that they have booster packs that she should work through in addition to tuition, CGP workbooks and past papers are good.

Did she have and actually use a calculator in the calculator paper? Did she do foundation tier or higher? Lowest grade you can get n higher I think is D before a U kicks in.

NomDeOrdinateur Fri 23-Aug-13 20:54:24

YANBU - a good tutor will have a confident grasp of the subject, syllabus, exam rubric, and teaching methods, all of which will make a huge difference to your DD's progress and enjoyment of the subjects. Your responsibility as a parent here isn't to slog through the courses with her - it's to vet tutors for suitability and provide them with all of the information they need (e.g. exam spec, homework timetable, exam dates etc) to do a good job, and to support them by monitoring/facilitating the consolidation work that they set your DD outside of sessions.

wonderingsoul Fri 23-Aug-13 20:55:29

saucy-- but you need goodish gradesto get into sixth form though/ collage.. so they are important to the road of further education.

well you used to when i was in school.

i would request a meeting with the teachers in thouse subjects, find out where she is going wrong/having trouble with.

i would maybe bumb up the tutoring an hour a week.. and sit down and help, so you know personally whats she good at and help build confideance with it.

wonderingsoul Fri 23-Aug-13 20:56:50

also past papers will be great help.

mysteryfairy Fri 23-Aug-13 20:56:54

The school are likely to target her heavily if she is not achieving a c with extra lessons after school etc so perhaps find out what they will be offering before you jump into anything or you might just duplicate/overload her. My DS2 was shaky academically going into Y11 and has had loads of support and tutoring from my parents. This is partly because DH and I both work full time and also because with the best will in the world even if you have the academic knowledge its extremely hard to tell your own 15 year old anything! DS was more willing to listen to Grandpa and Grandma plus its pretty boring at their house with no siblings or electronic distractions. Do you have anyone like this who could step in?

noblegiraffe Fri 23-Aug-13 21:00:10

Don't teach her maths yourself if it is not your strong point, you could well end up confusing her and make things worse.

Disagree with whoever said that no one will be interested in GCSE results, getting a C in Maths and English would open so many doors for her. Science isn't so important, so don't put lots of money/effort into that if it would detract from the maths.
If she sat maths with Edexcel, get the maths teacher to print off her exam analysis from ResultsPlus so you can see exactly what she got right and wrong, this would be a good starting point for any tutor. Other exam boards might have a similar service but I'm not familiar with them.

Mymaths is a good suggestion, but I find that with students of very low ability they struggle to even access the explanations and need things broken down further than it goes.

Dawndonnaagain Fri 23-Aug-13 21:00:37

I don't think it's unreasonable but a tutor will cost you around £25-30 per hour, depending on where you are.

Dominodonkey Fri 23-Aug-13 21:03:34

I agree with mystery - If she has a c in english the school wil give her loads of extra help with her maths in particular.

I am not trying to be rude but I have genuinely never heard of someone getting a U overall in any GCSE unless they didn't turn up/submit any coursework. One of my students got a G in English despite achieving no marks whatsoever for coursework and writing about 1/2 a page in a 2 hour exam. I would recall her paper if I were you as I suspect she left a large amount out or completely misread most of it.

A tutor may not be a bad idea but 4 hours a week sounds very excessive.

EdieSedgwick Fri 23-Aug-13 21:04:36

I'm a tutor, but 4 hours a week will cost about £5,000 per year for a good tutor at £25.00 per hour. Good luck though smile

madmomma Fri 23-Aug-13 21:06:04

Thanks for the replies they're all really helpful.

justforlaughs she's got the usborne maths dictionary but thanks for the science tip off - I didn't know they did a science dictionary too. We're not using kumon - my friend is a teacher and she's doing it to support herself through a doctorate. She's brilliant, but an hour a week isn't much. And if I let myself think about how disgraceful it is to have to pay, I'd go mad. We only have the savings because my Dad died last year and left us some money - it makes me so angry to think that in better/poss private schools my dd might have been at more of an advantage.

amy thank you

saucy that's actually really helpful. Half of me thinks that, but then the other half thinks 'what if she can't do what she wants work-wise because we didn't put the effort/money in now? I totally agree that loads of people are really successful without a set of GCSE passes though.

seen that's encouraging, thanks.

trinity she's doing foundation (was diagnosed with dyscalculia [hmm} in primary) She does mymaths sometimes, but thanks for the workbook reccs.

My friend (who does her tuition) reckons her understanding of the abstract concepts is fine, but she has very weak recall of number facts - like basically she doesn't know her times tables. God knows what's going on with the science <worry>

Jan49 Fri 23-Aug-13 21:06:48

Why did she take those subjects a year early? I'd expect that to be because she was extra good at them and expected to achieve high grades, otherwise why do them early?

What does your dd think about having extra tuition? If she is keen and willing to do it then I think that would help. As she already has a maths tutor, perhaps you could speak to him/her about why she got a low grade and what help she needs. But workbooks with answers might also be good if she is keen and good at working independently. As your h thinks one of you should be doing one-to-one work with her, perhaps you should see how he gets on at doing work with her.

Beastofburden Fri 23-Aug-13 21:19:58

I am very against taking subjects a year early. Your DD would be better served by spending the time learning the course as it was designed to be learned, over two years, and doing the exam at 16. She may do much better next time just by being older,

But your DH is talking nonsense I am afraid. You are not farming her out to a tutor, any more than you are farming her out to a school, or to the gP when she is ill. Tutors know how to teach, it's not a question of just understanding the maths/science yourself.

Getting a C in maths and science is important for all kinds of jobs. £1000 is nothing compared to what it will cost you to have her sitting around with no job then she is older. Go for it.

marriedinwhiteisback Fri 23-Aug-13 21:21:06

I think it's too late. What were her levels at the end of Y9. Presumably much under 6. If so you should have addressed it then. If not, you need to talk to the school about what could have gone so wrong in a year.

What were her levels in Y7. Surely such low grades haven't come completely out of the blue. How does a child get to 15 and still not know their times tables?

utreas Fri 23-Aug-13 21:23:22

YANBU A grade C is maths and english is essential for doing pretty much anything so GCSEs are very important.

kim147 Fri 23-Aug-13 21:25:00

4 hours a week is a hell of a lot. Nice business for the tutor but intense for your DD.

I'd find it hard motivating someone for that long every week.

It's strange she was put in for the exams early. I know that some Universities used to ask for the 1st result achieved, to prevent people endlessly taking modules until they got the desired grade.

madmomma Fri 23-Aug-13 21:43:18

Wow thanks married that's so encouraging hmm. I've addressed her maths since primary thanks, she went to special needs maths classes but hated the teacher and so was moved back into mainstream. She has always been very low ability. We have been through times tables over and over again but she doesn't retain them. Hence (as I mentioned upthread) the diagnosis of dyscalculia.

cantspel Fri 23-Aug-13 21:47:15

My son is in the same position as your daughter. Fine in most subjects but struggles with maths also took his mock this year and got a F. He has started with a tutor for 2 x 1 hour sessions a week . Plus his tutor sets him extra work to do over each weekend. So far he has had 6 sessions and is already making progress.

I wouldn't go for 4 hours as it is a lot on top of other school work but find the 2 hours just about right.
My son wants to do double english at A level but still needs a c in maths to get a place on the english course.

littlewhitebag Fri 23-Aug-13 21:47:37

Seems strange they would let her sit subjects a year early if she has no aptitude for the subject. In my DD2's school only the top set sat maths a year early. They all got A* and A as they had some aptitude in the subject. DD1 was terrible at maths and we got her a tutor. She managed to get a B which was a miracle. I would hone in on the important subjects - maths and English if you want a tutor.

cantspel Fri 23-Aug-13 21:49:25

married gcse maths has very little to do with knowing your times tables. If it was just a matter of a bit of adding up and long division my son would be on straight A's.

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

A lot of schools enter pupils in year 10 - some to secure that grade C.
I think schools will stop that after Government pressure.

I tutor GCSE maths. TBH. an F now will make a C hard to get by next May. You can do past papers but the basics need to be there.

Even 4 hours will not guarantee it and will probably turn her off maths. But - there is still plenty of time afterwards to work on it post 16.

Dyscalculia is the issue. I have had students with this and they just find it so hard. Using their fingers to do subtractions within 10 and 20. You need a tutor who has a different way of teaching - very practical / visual / tactile.

School should be helping as well.

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

Isn't Gove planning to do "something" with students who don't get Grade C at maths?

It is true though - you have plenty of time to get that Grade C after year 11. But schools are still not very good at recognising people have real difficulties with numbers.

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.

cory Sat 24-Aug-13 10:46:47

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."

The point is, though, that most Sixth Form colleges won't let you onto their courses without certain GCSE results.

I went all the way up to a PhD without ever needing my maths results, but dd still had to have hers because otherwise they wouldn't let her do drama (which she is actually rather good at).

Dh did badly in his GCSE's, failed his A-levels and was still taken on by UCL (where he got a 2:1). That simply couldn't happen today, because the whole system has changed. My university (rather less prestigious RG) would never take on somebody like dh.

Those of us whose dc are teens now have to work with the current system. Things have changed. Our experience is no longer relevant.

jamdonut Sat 24-Aug-13 10:46:57

My daughter sat some exams last year...they were C's and B's. The school goes into overdrive in the 'proper' GCSE year and targets children that need extra help,and has so many after school revision lessons, and in school holidays too, that I rarely saw her home before 5 o'clock most evenings!

As a result she got mostly A's,so it paid off. I personally wouldn't pay for a tutor. I couldn't afford it anyway.

I'd speak to school first,to see what they have planned, if I were you.

marriedinwhiteisback Sat 24-Aug-13 11:21:35

Cory we do have to work with the current system. Have you seen the clearing ads in London for places like the London Business School? Do you know how far down many uni's are on numbers post clearing this year. From next year I reckon circumstances will be such that beyond the RG uni's if prospective students are willing to spend 27K we will be full circle to where year DH was. And then the market will correct and about 10PCT will be the maximum numbers at uni.

marriedinwhiteisback Sat 24-Aug-13 11:26:41

I would be prepared to lay money on our dd getting into a RG uni in 2016 - five years ago I thought that was a ludicrous assertion (although she has come on a bit in the last few years but still top average - not exceptional and I reckon will end up with 3-4 A*s, 3-4 A's and the remainder Bs). DD will be favoured I think.

badbride Sat 24-Aug-13 11:37:53

madmomma Does your daughter have any idea what she wants to do after sitting her GCSEs next year? The reason I ask is that it might be worth finding out what the GCSE entry requirements are for the next step (6th form college, vocational training, whatever).

That way, you can focus your resources on key areas. I think a lot can be done in a year, but you risk diluting your efforts/ overwhelming your daughter if you try to take on too much at once.

I agree with posters saying it's worth finding out WHY she got a U in science (is it combined science , or 3 seperate sciences?). IMO, getting a U at GCSE takes some doing: when I sat them all those years ago, if a fellow student got a U, it was often a sign that they were demotivated, or ran into a problem in the exam.

I couldn't disagree more with your FIL, by the way. A tutor who is an expert in the subject being taught is worth the money.

cory Sat 24-Aug-13 12:48:58

Fair enough, married, some unis are lowering their expectations during clearing.

However, Sixth Form colleges are not lowering their expectations of GCSE's. And no uni is going to take a student who couldn't get any A-levels because they couldn't get into college to take them.

cestlesautres Sat 24-Aug-13 13:08:21

I would get the tutor. But also find out about policies on dyscalculia - it sounds very wrong for the school to be dismissing it. Imagine if it were dyslexia - would they be doing the same?

For dyslexics, there are all sorts of practical things that can help. Try to get that sort of thing in place for your dd.

If Gove is insisting on basic maths for all, then there will have to be rapid progress on understanding dyscalculia.

marriedinwhiteisback Sat 24-Aug-13 14:50:08

You make an interesting point about the 6th form Colleges Cory. But when I worked in FE A'Level students needed decent grades at GCSE in the subjects they were taking at A'Level and the funding pressure to get 16-18s in was such that no student with otherwise decent grades would have been turned away for not having GCSE maths.
Likewise I think the situation in clearing is such at present that arts/humanities students would not be turned away if they didn't have GCSE maths.

Edendance Sat 24-Aug-13 15:01:13

If you can afford to then it's worth it. I had a tutor for 1 hour per week for 4 years of secondary school for Maths and steadily rose up through the setsfrom the bottom- set 6 up to be one of the top in set 3 gaining a B at GCSE, I also had help for about a year (by the same tutor) for Science and got two Cs (if I remember rightly!!) It made the world of difference to me- I was able to get things fully explained personally to me, in a way I understood rather than simply 'managing' or 'getting by'.

cory Sat 24-Aug-13 15:53:52

marriedinwhiteisback Sat 24-Aug-13 14:50:08
"You make an interesting point about the 6th form Colleges Cory. But when I worked in FE A'Level students needed decent grades at GCSE in the subjects they were taking at A'Level and the funding pressure to get 16-18s in was such that no student with otherwise decent grades would have been turned away for not having GCSE maths."

Dd was told she had to have a C in maths to do drama and English lit, even though she was predicted A's in English and English lit. This was the same for all three colleges she had applied to and they said it was directives from above. Her preferred college offered her a chance to do her maths there, but there was no option of not doing it at all.

(Incidentally, not all university departments are desperate; we are expanding our intake this year.)

CaptainSweatPants Sat 24-Aug-13 16:03:17

I agree with Doris
I recently got an admin job ata university

Had to have C in English & maths & had to provide my original gcse certificates to prove it

Coconutty Sat 24-Aug-13 16:08:55

I couldn't get into nursing because I failed maths.

marriedinwhiteisback Sat 24-Aug-13 16:09:13

That's interesting cory but the LSC funding from the centre (diff name now) was lagged and linnked to the previous year's admissions.

Are you outside London perhaps where there are more students than places - where we are there are more places than students. Esher college and the best 6th forms can call the shots but many others are scratching for students. This is because nearly all the schools now have 6th forms including schools who get a poor percentage through with 5 passes including eng and maths.

I agree some courses remain oversubscribed at degree level but I'd like to know how many drama/performing arts degrees are fully subscribed this year and who has vacancies.

ImperialBlether Sat 24-Aug-13 16:10:33

Just as an aside... If I had inherited some money from my parents and my daughter needed help with a core subject, I would use that money and wouldn't think much of a partner who tried to tell me I shouldn't.

marriedinwhiteisback Sat 24-Aug-13 16:13:12

I think maths would be essential for nuirsing coconutty. Although when I was a lass the hospitals were taking 17 year olds onto sRN training with 3 O'Levels including english and one science and as recently as thee late 90s I knew someone who had a handful of o's and did o'level biology at night schoool to enrol on a nursing course conveying full qualification.

madmomma Sat 24-Aug-13 16:28:36

Erm I'm not sure what else to say really. married I don't believe that your posts are coming from a place of concern: Rather I think you're congratulating yourself about your own parenting, which you clearly believe is far superior to mine. dd wasn't statemented so I don't have a piece of paper to show the school. Naturally I have spoken with the head of maths and those discussions are outgoing. I've done all the maths games I can find with her over the years thanks, and she can learn number facts but she cannot retain them. So the games, tapes etc make not a jot of difference.

imperial I agree. The initial conversation I'd had with DH was snatched over the heads of our screaming toddlers, and when we revisited the topic later last night he clarified that it was nothing to do with money - just that he felt guilty that it should be him helping her (he's an accountant). I think he feels bad that I should have to pay out of my inheritance cash for something he feels he can provide. Anyway we're going ahead with the tuition whatever it costs so I don't loathe him anymore smile

kim147 Sat 24-Aug-13 16:40:33

"she can learn number facts but she cannot retain them. So the games, tapes etc make not a jot of difference. "

I have tutees like that. It's very frustrating for them - and requires a lot of patience.

Facts are "ok" but what is important is trying to understand the numeracy required. When to add up, subtract etc.

Seeing maths in context is so useful and making it hands on and applied. As a teacher, I don't really mind if a child needs fingers to work out a sum as long as they know what to do for the calculation. I know some children struggle with recalling facts but they do understand what they need to do.

There is also a qualification called Functional Skills - which is useful for children who struggle with GCSE type maths.

It's so depressing to have to battle against time and to be forced to retain facts when you do know what to do but struggle with recalling the facts.

There is a dyscalcula organisation which might help.

marriedinwhiteisback Sat 24-Aug-13 17:13:17

Madmomma, and I shall forget the defensiveness of your post. If your dd has discalculia, how did you come by this diagnosis. If it is a formal diagnosis then you must have or be able to get the documentation for the school. If it is an informal diagnosis then in your shoes I would spend some of the money, about £500, on a full assessment at an organisation such as dyslexia action which is a charity supportin dyslexia and related disabilities. They will carry out a full assessent of your daughter with a fully qualified psychologist (educational/occupatonal) who wil assess the extent and type of the problems your dd is having. A detailed document stting out diagnosis, self and external help available, and recommended adjustments for disability.

If such a report is affirmative and indicates diagnosed problems your dd's school will be obliged to comply with recommended adjustments. I imagine it would also be very informative for any tutor you might engage.

I don't think you are being unreasonable - but then I am a tutor. The advantages of employing a tutor over parents helping/teaching ( though this works well in some cases) can be:

Parenting a teenager is stressful and there are many causes for clashes/arguments etc. Students are often at the stage where they believe their parents are totally unreasonable, don't know anything etc. They may take direction better from another adult.

It IS unreasonable IMO to expect a parent who has not studied a particular subject for many years to be able to understand and then teach every aspect of a GCSE syllabus.

There are skills involved in teaching that a parent may not have - for example - how to aid understanding by presenting info in a style that plays to student strengths, how to break down concepts into small enough pieces to aid comprehension ( different for different students), teaching a variety of learning/revision methods in order to find best one for student etc. Ideally, as it is one-to-one it should not be a repeat of what a student gets in school but much more closely matched to his/her individual needs.

One of my students has been telling me all year how he doesn't understand science, it all goes over his head in class etc. I've spent all year telling him I think he can do it. He did foundation level science this year and got absolutely full marks in all his papers!

Dyscalculia is very difficult to overcome. I like your idea of times tables camp. You sound very committed and your DD sound lovely to be willing to put in all the extra work!

cory Sat 24-Aug-13 18:45:36

Yes, we're outside London, married. Plenty of Sixth Form colleges here, all seemingly doing a brisk trade.

ffsx2 Sat 24-Aug-13 19:16:37

Basic good numeracy is an invaluable life skill, I might very well want her tutored for that reason. But NOT because of the need for a piece of paper (GCSE in math).
OP's Dd sounds lovely but she may not be academic & I suspect will find another good path thru life.
2 of the 3 local colleges have many courses & qualifications (including some in the caring professions) that she could get onto without needing math or science GCSE.

Dayshiftdoris Sat 24-Aug-13 19:35:31

For the OP.

Married if SEN support was that simple I wouldn't be going grey and would look 10yrs younger smile

marriedinwhiteisback Sat 24-Aug-13 19:46:00

I'm not saying the school will provide additional teaching but with a report they will at least put the OP in touch with LA specialist tutors and arrange for op's dd to have more time in some exams. I still don't understand how, given the dd's history, she was put forward to do maths early in the first place and why the OP gave consent for it. We had to agree to the early entries for both our children and pay the entry fees and I simply would not have done if either of the children were forecast less than a C (actually I wouldn't have agreed for less than an A on early entry).

kim147 Sat 24-Aug-13 19:49:53


It's very common for schools to put pupils early for maths. Parents are not asked - just told - and they don't have to pay fees.

Schools are a law to themselves when it comes to exams. I do a lot of maths tutoring and what schools do astonishes me. I have seen so many weak pupils being taught stuff far beyond them and then they fail their exams.

"If such a report is affirmative and indicates diagnosed problems your dd's school will be obliged to comply with recommended adjustments."

Actually schools don't have to comply with any psychologist or other professional recommendations! Some schools will of course, but...

sometimes they don't have the resources, and sometimes they just think they know better, and sometimes they promise things but don't deliver, and sometimes ... you get the picture!

"I'm not saying the school will provide additional teaching but with a report they will at least put the OP in touch with LA specialist tutors and arrange for op's dd to have more time in some exams."

I'm not sure LA specialist tutors exist do they? And they wouldn't necessarily arrange for extra time either - see my comments above!

marriedinwhiteisback Sat 24-Aug-13 20:40:13

kim my parents had to pay my O'Level entry fees at grammar school ( a very long time ago but I remember taking the bill home). Both my children's schools wrote to us about early entry and we had to agree to pay.

Are you seriously telling me that state schools don't ask parents' permission? How is that working with parents in a constructive way??

marriedinwhiteisback Sat 24-Aug-13 20:41:26

Are you also telling me that parents' don't pay nowadays for public exam entries?

kim147 Sat 24-Aug-13 20:42:34

"Are you seriously telling me that state schools don't ask parents' permission? How is that working with parents in a constructive way??"

My parents never paid. None of my tutees pay.

Working with parents grin

It is absolutely not too late. I started seeing one tutee in the September of his Year 11-he was, at that point, predicted a G in his GCSE English (the combined paper). He got a C this summer, partly because the school stepped up efforts, partly because of me and partly because he started working his socks off. YANBU OP.

madmomma Sat 24-Aug-13 20:50:53

married I wasn't asked to give consent. I certainly wasn't asked for any money.

marriedinwhiteisback Sat 24-Aug-13 21:00:00

Well it's a frigging tRagedy that we have to pay £35k pa fo basic human rights and consultation about our children.

I don't usually swear on MNet but that's fucking disgraceful. Naïve emoticon please.

Retreats back into own world. FUCK ME!!!

kim147 Sat 24-Aug-13 21:03:25

That's what you get with a private school. You pay them and they'll ask you what you want. Then they charge you to enter for the exams.

Different worlds.

CubanoHabana Sat 24-Aug-13 21:09:37

I teach maths and also tutor.

1) it is possible to get up to a c by the end of year 11 from a grade F, but I won't lie, it will be difficult.

2) my maths is fantastic, look at the booster packs but start at the lower ones, there are home works that change each time you do it so can be repeated.

3) encourage the use of drawing a times table grid at the start of any exam - numbers 1 - 10 along the top, then same down the side. Most children can do their 2, 5 and 10 so can fill in the rows and columns for each one. Then encourage the use of adding to fill in the rest, eg 3's going across, add 3 each time, do the same going down. You end up only needing to do a few of the bigger numbers, as you start filling them in using the smaller ones. My lowest ability class usually manage this in about 10 mins max. You then have a full times table chart written out to keep referring back t, also can be used for dividing.

4) huge issue in calculator paper is that working out is not shown, encourage her to write down anything she puts into the calculator, you can get almost 50% more marks doing this and the number of kids who don't do this is astronomical (this includes by top sets).

5) make sure your tutor knows which exam board she is sitting, different ones have a different emphasis on what is important.

6) don't worry over much about her grade, as she will be given targeted intervention with getting a c in English, schools are paranoid about getting the elusive 5a*s to c including maths AND English.

7) find out her target grade as determined by school, or if they don't know it, let me know what she got for her SATS and I can let you know what the expected progress should be (although this does not take into account her dyscalculia). If her target is a c or higher, her school will more than likely put her on a hot list for even more intervention.

8) 2 hours is what I would recommend with view to increasing nearer the exam.

9) ou can access older exam papers online, get her to do them and I am sure her maths teacher would be willing to mark them (I do for all of my gcse classes who put the effort in to do them).

10) I second the request to teacher to get her results plus printout as this really helps target areas she needs to look at.

She may have exam in November but expect a low grade, as grade boundaries tend to be higher then but look at it as exam practice. Sorry for essay! Good luck to you both.

marriedinwhiteisback Sat 24-Aug-13 21:34:01

And this is a situation facilitated by schools and not challenged by parents???????

kim147 Sat 24-Aug-13 21:35:51

Schools come up with all sorts of reasons - but I've never heard a parent challenge it.

Entering early does not mean that's it. You can still do the exam again next year.

Some schools have good reason for it.

CubanoHabana Sat 24-Aug-13 21:41:50


Unfortunately it's due to the school league tables - a lot of schools deem it more achievable to give the children lots of chances to get the grades rather than a one off...

Personally I disagree to a large extent, as a lot of children either don't take it seriously, as they know they have more chances, or get disillusioned and switch off, or reach a C (even though target is higher) and give up as they are 'happy with a C'.

Then again, I have had children who have reached a C early (which was their target grade) and decided that they wanted to continue working and ended up with an A/A* at year 11 which they would have been unlikely to get if they had just done the one exam.

There has been significant research done on the benefits / disadvantages of early entry - although current government thinking is that it is a bad idea as children are being entered before they are ready or that children are making the expected 3 levels progress from primary but are not being pushed to make 4 or more (which is expected of MAT / G&T children).

marriedinwhiteisback Sat 24-Aug-13 21:48:07

And who pays for all these speculative entries?

Don't you think that independent schools publish league tables. They do and seem to achieve without these multiple entries. We have plenty of money but I wouldn't expect to have to spend it unnecessarily and would be asking difficult questions if a school expected one of mine to take the same exam three times if they didn't pass in accordance with earkier indocators/expectations because they weren't ready to take it.

It's inefficient. It's wasteful. It's absurd.

kim147 Sat 24-Aug-13 21:51:06

The taxpayer grin

CubanoHabana Sat 24-Aug-13 22:05:37

Pupil premium.

Yes but with most independent schools you need to pass an entrance exam to attend...

You mentioned that your daughter got an 8a at at the end of year 9... You would be lucky to find a handful of children in the school I am in with a level 8 in year 9... Unfortunately, my school wants to give them as many bites of the cherry as possible (as I previously this is not something I agree in, unless a child is ready for it).

The school has been in a position recently to justify this to ofsted and although they do favour the government agenda, they have also agreed that they can see that in most cases, we are justified in our actions by a large majority of our results.

Anyway though, this has become somewhat off topic and away from the op! madmomma I think you are doing the right thing getting a tutor and practising basic number bonds / tables with dd yourself.

marriedinwhiteisback Sat 24-Aug-13 22:36:20

My dd goes to an indy that generally takes the girls who do not pass the entrance exams for the very selective schools locally, ie, the girls who were level 4/5 at year 6; not level 6 plus. The school has nurtured dd.

As you say - back to the thread and I'm not so sure I would be tutoring at this stage. But I would be asking questions of the school.

candycoatedwaterdrops Sat 24-Aug-13 22:47:22

Married Given the fees you are paying, I'm not surprised they are nurturing your DD. Most children are not that fortunate.

marriedinwhiteisback Sat 24-Aug-13 23:08:19

candycoated I wouldn't say the high schools in this part of the world nurture tbf; they drive. DS's school was tough and somewhat "dog eat dog" on occasion but it was right for him. Just relieved we had choices dd did two yrs in a top 100, very sought after comp and it was a disgrace - mostly due to out of control behaviour and lack of appetite or moral compass to deal with it - could not criticise the majority of the academic staff who did their best in a state of near anarchy

alimac87 Sun 25-Aug-13 11:40:55

Reading this thread with interest as DD (12) has dyscalculia. The best thing for us has been specialist teaching in school (from maths teacher with a special needs background), plus tutoring from a specialist teacher. Needs to be a specialist teacher as dyscalculics think very, very differently and need a lot of alternative approaches. DD has been assessed by an ed psych and we have school action plus. We are also using a book called Power of 2 to do daily practice on number bonds (really, really useful).

The thing us that we couldn't do the same as a tutor/teacher - we do support but it really needs good teaching. DH and I are good at maths but this is totally different. A good tutor will definitely make a difference but it needs to be someone who knows what they are doing in maths. Right now I am not sure if DD will get a C at GCSE, it will be a massive stretch for her. But we'll see - I went from F to A at GCSE myself, so you never know.

cushtie335 Sun 25-Aug-13 12:44:49

My DD was struggling in maths which was impacting her biology and physics as well. We got a tutor to come in for 1 hour a week for roughly a whole school session and a bit more towards the exams. It made a massive difference and she passed all of them.

cushtie335 Sun 25-Aug-13 12:46:57

Posted too soon. Meant to say that the DH was dead against it and felt we were copping out or something. I couldn't understand his logic at all. I admit I totally ignored his misgivings and got the tutor in, once he realised the improvement in DDs maths he came round to the idea and admitted he was being an arse about it.

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