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


diddl 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!

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.

Beastofburden Tue 03-Sep-13 15:10:08

I would look closely at where the best teaching will be found. Which is better in her school, the French teacher or the Maths teacher?

How certain is she of her choice? maths, Physics and Chemistry make a nice package and if she gets 3 A*s she will be welcome in many good Unis. If she changes her mind about the french, but has picked dodgy maths teaching, that could leave her a bit exposed.

Bear in mind it wont just be Maths A level, she will almost certainly have to take the STEPS paper for any Maths degree, so she will need teaching for that too. And if she wants to do a maths degree, why isnt she taking Further Maths A level? you can bet your ass the competition are.

emsiewill Tue 03-Sep-13 15:20:13

Further Maths is done outside the curriculum at her school, and from what I can tell, it's only for exceptional students who "need" it. We haven't even gone down that path yet. It's not offered as a "normal" A level option. We are also aware of STEP.

In no way did they "repeatedly" tell me it wasn't going to work, they kept telling me to wait til September. I repeatedly told them I didn't expect them to make an exception for dd, nor did I expect them to change their timetables to suit one pupil. That I have said in emails, over the telephone and in person. All I asked for was help with finding other options for her. And if that makes me annoying and too persistent, well tough. She's my dd, and I want her to have the best chance she can at achieving her ambitions.

Sirzy Tue 03-Sep-13 15:23:24

But how are they supposed to find other options? they have made it clear (since before the schools finished) what options they could provide. It isn't up to them to source alternatives that is up to you and your daughter.

I don't understand why you didn't contact other places as soon as the problem was identified if doing both is so important?

emsiewill Tue 03-Sep-13 15:28:33

As I have said, I just hoped they would come up with alternative solutions or suggestions that may not even involve the school, but related more to the wider education arena. I thought they were the experts in that, whereas I am not.

Foolishly I thought that as they weren't doing that it was because they were going to sort it out. They never once told me it wouldn't work. They said they really wanted to keep dd as a pupil.

Of course, I have learnt my lesson. I am an idiot. And dd will suffer for that. sad

Beastofburden Tue 03-Sep-13 15:29:07

emsie I seriously doubt this is a school that is qualified to get your DD into UCL to do maths, in that case. Seriously, a maths degree at that kind of Uni they are going to want to see that she is a natural at it- which means showing you can make the jump from bog standard A level maths (which loads of non-mathematical types do) to Further Maths- which is kind of unteachable and shows you can "think maths" IYSWIM. They really ought to know that and be advising you that. (can you tell I work at a Uni?)

Its a bit late, I know- but is there a school that specialises in maths and science locally?

French would be easier to do herself if she is gifted at it, and you can send her abroad for the holidays.

MortifiedAdams Tue 03-Sep-13 16:07:57

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

coco27 Tue 03-Sep-13 16:25:13

I am a bit surprised.At my DCs school ,maths is far and away the most popular AS level subject and is available in every column

WynkenBlynkenandNod Tue 03-Sep-13 16:36:51

Just been through this with a friend's DD who decided after her results she wanted to do two that were in the same block. School's proposal was to do half the lessons for one and half of the other each week. They looked at doing something out if school.

I encouraged them to ring around but it was difficult last week getting through apparently. However they spoke to who they needed to yesterday at one of the other schools. Interview today, she starts tomorrow and is delighted as had always wanted to go there and didn't get in a few years ago. Get on the phone and find out where else can take her.

JessieMcJessie Tue 03-Sep-13 16:58:55

From this it appears that she will need Further Maths, asbeastofburden suggests, but not necessarily an A level in French. Could she go to a Sixth form that will teach her Further Maths, and keep up the French on school holidays/ gap year?

For what it's worth, I did French at University as it was the language I was best at but in retrospect I wish I had been braver and done something like Mandarin (you could start from scratch). This course seems to allow that as long as you have a GCSE in a language.

emsiewill Tue 03-Sep-13 17:09:20

Well something's going to have to give, that's clear.

Dd and dh have been to the HE college to see about the Maths. They have to go back later to see the actual tutor. They don't know yet whether they are even offering the course, as it depends how many people turn up confused. But I guess that means she will get on it if they run it.

Hopefully even if she isn't doing Maths through school, they will still help her in school with Further Maths, although one will be in English and one in Welsh, which might prove challenging...

She is adamant that she doesn't want to change schools altogether. I have told her something will have to give...but there's no point forcing her.

smokinaces Tue 03-Sep-13 17:11:14

I only studied maths to gcse, and have spent the last year doing year one maths degree level through the ou, more or less self taught. I would say if she is bright and able, the maths a level at an evening class is more than achieveable. It IS a leap from gcse to a level, but entirely possible. So she could do three a levels at school and one at evening class. In fact, my nephew was in same position as this last year.

nennypops Tue 03-Sep-13 17:14:57

Whether she wants to change schools or not, I must say I'd be looking seriously at telling the current school that that is what you're thinking of. It could make them decide to try a bit harder to keep her.

lljkk Tue 03-Sep-13 17:16:56

So sorry to read all this.
It's part of why I think UK schools narrow options too early, too.

JessieMcJessie Tue 03-Sep-13 17:19:26

If she's bilingual but will be challenged by doing Further Maths in Welsh, she might want to rethink the whole Maths and Modern languages idea...

Merrow Tue 03-Sep-13 17:24:57

My Maths and English clashed at school, and I ended up doing Maths largely self-taught with once a fortnight tutoring. Since the books I had all included answers it worked out pretty well as the tutoring could just focus on the areas I was having trouble with, and let me get on with the rest. Is there a maths teacher she likes at the school? You could contact them and see if they are available for tutoring.

whois Tue 03-Sep-13 17:27:20

The situation, and the school sound shit.

I would really recommend moving to a different sixth form. She really does need to do further maths if she wants to study it at uni!

JessieMcJessie Tue 03-Sep-13 17:35:53

whois according to Wikipedia the only Universities that insist on Further Maths are Warwick, Cambridge and UCL (the OP's DD's chosen university.) There appears to be an understanding that not all schools can teach it. However I imagine that having done it might give an applicant an edge in applying to a uni that doesn't consider it compulsory.

noblegiraffe Tue 03-Sep-13 18:04:02

Yes, most universities don't include further maths on their requirements, because it's not offered everywhere at sixth form. However, it would be massively advantageous, not just when applying for Uni, but for actually coping with the first year courses.

Definitely find another sixth form, one that offers maths and further maths and French. I'd ditch the Chemistry and keep the Physics as that goes well with the maths.

Osmiornica Tue 03-Sep-13 20:04:48

I had the exact same problem when I was in school. I ended up trying to fit French into extra lessons which the teacher kindly agreed to but it didn't work out but I still did it at degree level with maths.

I guess it depends on how much she wants to do both at that level - at my uni the emphasis in French was how to communicate should we be working out there so grammar etc wasn't so important.

Beastofburden Tue 03-Sep-13 20:07:54

Not everyone insists on further maths, but if you are applying to a competitive Uni like UCL it's not about getting the minimum. All the competition will do further maths.

And as other posters have said, as it happens UCL do require it anyway.

Beastofburden Tue 03-Sep-13 20:16:51

Poor you, emsie. Hugs. This is very difficult for you. If she is determined to stay at that school then I think she will end up on a different course at a different Uni. That might not be so bad.

Take a llok at the course requirements. For maths with modern languages at UCL the three year course requires A* in both maths and further maths plus another A grade; or, you can just do maths if you do STEP and get a 1.

You don't actually need A level in the language. You only need grade C at GCSE. Looking at the course, it is a pretty basic level in the modern language, and it is essentially about maths. S she should definitely not do French a level.

But I would question whether she really understands this course if she thinks she has to get an a level in French. She may be disappointed when she gets there, as it is clearly pretty basic on the language side.

IwishIwasmoreorganised Tue 03-Sep-13 20:17:18

Where abouts are you OP? What options do you have in the way of FE colleges?

Is French taught through the medium of Wlesh? Which would be easier to switch at the moment, French or maths to be taught in English?

Beastofburden Tue 03-Sep-13 20:18:26

Here is the link

noblegiraffe Tue 03-Sep-13 20:21:09

I read it as you need A*s in both maths and further maths, or an A* in one of them and an A in the other if you offer the STEP paper. You must have further maths.

Beastofburden Tue 03-Sep-13 20:28:50

it says

Mathematics and Further Mathematics required at A*, or one of Mathematics or Further Mathematics at A* if STEP or AEA offered.

Which I read as meaning there is the option to substitute step for further maths. But a phone call to UCL admissions would clarify. Clearly, though, a good competitive entry will include further maths. To not enough just to do the minimum kit.

Bt I can't find any option to do just maths and French, this degree is maths plus two or more other languages at a fairly basic level.. The is nothing under French, or modern languages...

OP has your daughter even really checked out this course? You may be suffering for no reason here.

noblegiraffe Tue 03-Sep-13 20:38:14

No, you can't do one of maths or further maths, you can only do further maths if you do maths.

What it means is
You must do maths and further maths and get:

A*A*A with both stars in maths and further maths
A*AA with the star in maths or further maths, and you also offer the STEP.

whois Tue 03-Sep-13 20:40:40

whois according to Wikipedia the only Universities that insist on Further Maths are Warwick, Cambridge and UCL

Oh, ok. Though it was a requirement as everyone at my sixth firm who was thinking of maths or physics at uni did further maths. Quite surprised it isn't offered at all sixth firms really.

mumofweeboys Tue 03-Sep-13 20:41:14

Not sure if relevant

Beastofburden Tue 03-Sep-13 20:41:21

It's not well drafted, that's for sure.

But much more important for the OP is that the course appears not to be what her daughter is assuming it is. Unless I have found the wrong course, she doesn't need a level French, she will have to do two languages, not one, and the level will be much lower than she thinks.

So OP needs urgently to check if her daughter even knows what she is on about here. And if she does want that course, simples, she does maths at school and adds further maths and step however she can, and keeps French for fun.

But actually I think she hasn't checked this course out at all carefully.

ch1a Tue 03-Sep-13 20:43:00

I studied mathematics with modern languages at UCL. It was a wonderful course - 3/4 maths, 1/4 languages. You were able to choose which language you wanted to study each year and your current standard was assessed and then you were able to take the course at the appropriate level. I did As level french and A level German as well as maths and further maths and physics at A level. So in my first year I took business level German, in my second intermediate level french and in my final year beginners level Italian. You obtained the same credit for doing well at whichever level. If french is not available are there any other languages she could study for A level instead such as German or Spanish? She could then choose whatever combination she wants at UCL....depending I guess on whether she studied any others for GCSE?

noblegiraffe Tue 03-Sep-13 20:43:18

whois it is hard enough finding maths teachers who can teach A-level, let alone be confident enough to teach Further Maths.

Beastofburden Tue 03-Sep-13 20:45:16

Whois, the reason all the kids at your school did further maths is they got good advice. It's not enough just to scrape together the minimum that people insist on, if you are in competition. Just because Oxford might let you in without further maths doesn't mean it's a good idea. Almost everyone will have done it, and learned from it how to think mathematically. Oxford doesn't insist on further maths to avoid making it impossible for kids from certain schools, but that doesn't mean that it's a good idea not to do it.

ch1a Tue 03-Sep-13 20:46:05

I should add that further maths is absolutely essential to study maths at a red brick university like UCL. Absolutely a must that she does this. Also I should add that I graduated in 2004 so the exact requirements language-wise may have changed since I was there...

Beastofburden Tue 03-Sep-13 20:47:41

Ch1a that is very helpful, thanks. If the ops daughter has to choose, would you say do maths, or do French at a level at school? Ad would you say she ugly to try for further maths?

My sense is, she ought to focus on her maths as that's how she will be admitted, and enjoy her languages as they will be much more forgiving of those, so do finch at FE college but maths at school and STEP and further maths wherever they are best taught. Does that sound right to you?

Beastofburden Tue 03-Sep-13 20:51:16

Cross posted... The vote is for maths and further maths, OP, and let French take its chance.

ch1a Tue 03-Sep-13 20:58:05

Yes definitely maths and further maths. The maths part of the degree I.e. the main part is after the first term very intense and I couldn't imagine tackling it having not taken further maths even if it wasn't a requirement which it is at UCL. If you are of the level to be taking maths at UCL then really you would sail through maths a level and be challenged by further maths in that it opens your eyes to what maths is really all about! I loved the degree and was also able to take an elective option in my second and third year (from my hazy memories) and I took some very interesting psychology courses which were great. Given that I didn't have French or Italian a levels but was able to study those at the appropriate levels then languages should be the less important a level choice.

ch1a Tue 03-Sep-13 20:59:57

OP if you have any specific questions please free to PM me and I will help all I can. I think in my year at UCL there were around 10 of us doing this combination and everyone I am still in touch with is using the degree in very interesting and varied ways. It has stood us all in good stead career wise.

Oblomov Tue 03-Sep-13 21:08:48

I wonder what OP's dd is currently thinking?

Beastofburden Tue 03-Sep-13 21:09:04

Seconding what ch says. From an admissions POV, when you are admitting to a maths degree, even if there are other optional subjects involved, what you are really concerned about is the maths. This is because if people can't do maths, then they really can't and there is not a lot you do to help them once they hit the wall known as WTF???? which most of us hit who are not mathematicians. UCL make it really clear in their admissions site that they are far less concerned about the language side. Your DD already has what she needed to get onto the course with her GCSE result, so if this is what she wants, the next two years need to be all about the maths.

But do PM ch and also ring UCL for advice to see if anything has changed, and what they say about schools who don't offer further maths.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Tue 03-Sep-13 21:15:56

I'm a bit concerned that the school is talking about "helping out" with Further Maths. Further maths is not a short course that can be done in a few hours it is a full A level just like the maths, physics, chemistry and French.

(Actually most people who do F maths find maths A level ridiculously easy in comparison - I used to spend maths lessons flirting!)

I would be hunting for somewhere she can do Maths, F Maths, Physics and French.

Yes - the sixth forms will have some established friendship groups but friendships change a lot during A levels anyway as you get to meet people you didn't before. Plus a lot of people do move about at 16 - my school sixth form was roughly 50% from the school and 50% "incomers".

Beastofburden Tue 03-Sep-13 21:18:10

True, mum. If she is absolutely clear about her degree choice then I would be doing maths, further maths and say physics at school with French as a sideline. But her school doesn't do further maths, not sure what options OP has. She'll need coaching for STEP too and that's nontrivial.

whois Tue 03-Sep-13 22:29:18

whois it is hard enough finding maths teachers who can teach A-level, let alone be confident enough to teach Further Maths

I was going to ask if you were joking, but then I though ab

whois Tue 03-Sep-13 22:37:32

whois it is hard enough finding maths teachers who can teach A-level, let alone be confident enough to teach Further Maths

I was going to ask if you were joking as I would expect any secondary maths teacher to be good for teaching A level.

But then I thought A level sure, but thinking about the kind of mad math skills needed to teach further maths and realised you would probably being doing quant finance for £lots rather than being a maths teacher. Which is a shame.

I had fantastic maths teaching at sixth form, my pure maths teacher also worked for Edexcel writing the pure maths papers. Really liked maths too, P3 was about the end of my ability to be comfortable with the concepts tho. It started getting a little abstract for my liking!

Defo agree F maths isn't a small extra, it's a full block. My friends all did the AS and A2 models in L6 then another 6 to finish F maths in U6 so not sure how it would work if you just sat normal maths plus 'help' as you wouldn't be covering the AS and A2 modules fast enough. Would be pretty hard to study M3 before you've sat M1 for example.

ballstoit Tue 03-Sep-13 22:55:20

If your DD is hoping to travel to the USA to study in 2 years time, perhaps she should be gaining independence by sorting out her own A Level options?

I didn't realise helicoptering still went on at 6th form confused

Cabrinha Tue 03-Sep-13 22:56:28

When my local 6th didn't do my preferred A levels, I personally found another.
Sounds like OP was relying far too much on school to do the running round and research, and the daughter relying too much on the OP!
At her age, she should be fixing this herself, albeit with guidance from OP.
If you have to do either maths or French outside regular school, I'd pick the French - I think far easier to get tutors for that.

noblegiraffe Tue 03-Sep-13 23:00:18

I would expect any secondary maths teacher to be good for teaching A level.

You would hope. But there is a shortage of maths teachers and so you get teachers who have been drafted in from other subjects because they've got an A-level. You don't need all teachers in a department to teach A-level anyway, often adverts will say 'ability to teach A-level an advantage' rather than a requirement.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 03-Sep-13 23:05:59

I would look at the strongest teaching department tbh and do the other subject with a private tutor.
Maybe maths would be better at college and French with a tutor.
Unfortunately quite a lot of schools and colleges are like this with time tabling and lessons clashing. A level is no different in this respect.
Also, as 6th form is not compulsory school they don't have to accept your dc like a school does and the system changes quite a lot.

MrsBonkers Tue 03-Sep-13 23:32:25

Ha ha Ballstoit I was thinking the same.
Lots about what the school isn't doing and about what the OP could do, but what is the DD doing? What research has she done herself over the summer to research what and where she will be studying this September?
No wonder employers say people leaving full-time education don't have the skills they need.

OP, I wish you and your daughter well. Think this situation will be just the catalyst you both need to really help both of you on her journey to achieving her potential.

emsiewill Wed 04-Sep-13 00:13:02

Can't post much as I'm in bed on phone, have been out all evening.

Thanks for all of the input, lots to think about. Apparently school only offer F maths if you did GCSE a year early & AS in year 11.

Dd is much more proactive than most of her friends in terms of researchIng into what is required for what she wants to do. I still think the school should offer more guidance and assistance for those children who have specific aims. Perhaps dd is suffering from going to a bog standard comp, rather than selective or private school where they are geared up to this. I don't believe that all other kids who get to the top unis get there because they are individually proactive & do it all themselves. Surely most of them have "expert" guidance?

It would seem that the only way dd will ever get into somewhere like UCL is by changing schools now. Wish I'd realised this sooner...but where is the guidance?

Those who say I'm helicoptering - would you really just leave your child to it? Is that what I should do? Seriously?

emsiewill Wed 04-Sep-13 00:20:58

The school obviously think parents should be involved as we had to sign the options form to say we were happy with the choices.

Am now worrying that I have totally done it all wrong for dd, have left it all too late.

She started the part time Maths course at the FE college tonight. Didn't enjoy it, wishes she could do it at school, but is willing to persevere so she can do both subjects. But should I have encouraged that? We had to make a snap decision to make sure she got on the course.

Not sure I'll sleep well tonight.

NoSquirrels Wed 04-Sep-13 00:33:10

Oh poor you.

No, don't just leave her to it. Even with a proactive, able child, you still need to fight her corner now. Now is when dreams can be lost for want of the best option; people telling you that "these are the options, bend to them". When you're 16-18, you shouldn't be bending. Time enough for all that. Your DD is telling you what she want to do, please do what you can to support her in that.

JessieMcJessie Wed 04-Sep-13 00:36:12

OP- please read the posts carefully, especially those from ch who actually did the course that your DD wants to do. Your DD does not need French A-level. However proper, structured, advanced maths teaching and Further Maths is a must.

TBH, if she couldn't work that out for herself from the UCL website then she's probably not cut out for the course.

cory Wed 04-Sep-13 00:54:46

"Those who say I'm helicoptering - would you really just leave your child to it? Is that what I should do? Seriously?"

I wouldn't just leave her to it- I would be there in the background as a sounding board and somebody to suggest and advise. But I would absolutely expect her to make her own phone calls and her own appointments with college tutors and do her own online research. In fact, I just have: my own 16yo is starting college on Thursday, having made all requisite arrangements wink

And I would really not advise her to let the thought of friendship groups be a deciding factor in choosing something that might affect her longterm chances. After all, whatever workplace she ends up in there will be existing groups. That kind of thinking works well when they are little, but at this stage they need practice in taking the plunge.

She seems very together and ambitious in her plans for study abroad etc: I would just encourage her to acquire the practical organisational skills she needs now rather than be overwhelmed when she goes to uni.

emsiewill Wed 04-Sep-13 00:55:59

Yes, I get that, thanks (the French thing) And we aren't the only people to have read the Maths requirement as either F Maths or STEP, so I don't think it's lack of brains that led to that error.

Well if nothing else, hopefully others will have learnt from this thread that they shouldn't rely on school to assist in their education choices.

BlackMogul Wed 04-Sep-13 00:57:11

Change schools ! Maths and French is perfectly normal but the best unis will want further maths as well for a maths degree. Make sure she is doing the right options. Studying in the USA is very expensive. You need to budget for about $40,000 a year fees plus living expenses. You have to be super bright , genius, to get a scholarship that will even get close to what it will cost you. I suggest DD and you start doing your homework on this as it is greatly over-sold and you will need deep pockets. As we found out!

emsiewill Wed 04-Sep-13 01:05:39

Dd has done a lot of research on going to study in the US, including attending a seminar on applying to US unis, in London, on her own.

We are going to US college day at the end of the month, all of this organised through dd's research.

She may or may not get in, we may or may not be able to afford it, but at least she will have tried to fulfil her ambition.

It's really being brought home to me what a disadvantage it is to go to a bog standard comp that is not geared up to deal with those pupils who want to do something outside the norm.

BlackMogul Wed 04-Sep-13 01:21:22

My DD did a lot of research, but not how one gets the money. that part was glossed over! So, as she was very keen, I went to one of these talks on unis in USA in London. They made it clear that funding is almost impossible for undergraduate level courses because the Brits do not qualify for USA loans or any of the funds from American institutions. A lot of them are small amounts anyway. Most of the parents there were stunned as to the costs. Did DD mention the costs to you? We reckoned it would have cost us £250,000 for our DD to take up her place and she got a scholarship. British unis are cheap by comparison. Forgot to mention that Bristol do Maths (MSci) with 3rd year in Europe being taught maths in your chosen language. Myriad of advice on offers though .good luck

JessieMcJessie Wed 04-Sep-13 01:44:01

OP, if you get it then why is your DD doing A level Maths at FE college part time just so "she can do both subjects" when she doesn't need to do both subjects?

Is it because actually she can't yet know if Maths will be her core degree subject and so wants to keep her options open for it to be French? That's fair enough, she's only 16 and I imagine that advanced Maths is a whole world away from what she did at GCSE. I did Higher Maths (Scottish AS level equiv) and sailed through with top marks, but I knew that was my ceiling and that I would have struggled taking it any further, whereas by the time I was applying to University it was clear I had a natural talent for languages.

Absolutely right to find out all she possibly can about US study, and great that she's motivated to do that now. However you are wrong to expect the school to give guidance - everything that she needs to know is on the Internet/ can be found out in a phone call to the institution. FWIW I got no guidance whatsoever from my bog standard comp and my parenbut ad not been to University, but I got into Cambridge by working out the process for myself.

One thing worth bearing in mind is that standards for Maths scholarships are probably higher given that it's one of those subjects where it is really possible to be a born genius, or at least blessed with innate talent that can't be taught.

emsiewill Wed 04-Sep-13 02:08:30

I get it now, I didn't get it earlier when we were under time pressure (so we thought) to get her on the Maths course.

But yes, it does seem wise to keep her options open if we can & let her do the 2 subjects she enjoys most & excels in.

I should probably try & forget about this now & sleep. Slightly distracted by the police activities outside my house, apparently there's been a shooting...shock

Beastofburden Wed 04-Sep-13 03:19:52

I still think UCL may actually mean further maths OR step and you should ring them up to check. Good luck! shock at shooting.

ilovecolinfirth Wed 04-Sep-13 06:26:26

I can understand how frustrated you are. Unfortunately, schools do not always have the flexibility to offer all students the courses they require. Sixth form colleges do tend to have much more flexibility. I am surprised no other students wanted to do maths and French.

The school were a bit naughty to keep you believing that there was a chance she could be accommodated (unless they genuinely thought she could be). My opinion is that they didnt want to lose a high achieving student.

Congrats to her on excellent exam results.

SilverApples Wed 04-Sep-13 07:13:47

I don't think you are helicoptering, to me that's when you are fussing around micromanaging stuff that most children would manage alone.
But when something screws up, or they get thrown a curveball, then I see stepping in as support. Because you step away afterwards, which helicopter parents don't.
Otherwise you are leaving her to face a bank of adults, all of whom are telling her that what she wants isn't possible, and perhaps giving her biased information on what she should drop or take and how.
If she was a PITA and relentless arguer like mine can be in the face of unreasonable behaviour, it might be a different case, but she doesn't seem like that. So you back her up.

georgettemagritte Wed 04-Sep-13 07:33:14

It isn't an unusual combination of subjects (I did both) and I'm surprised the school have timetabled them against each other and have been so inflexible - it's not fair on one of their most talented pupils who they should want to keep. There has been some good advice on his thread about the need for further maths and I agree that if she wants to do maths at a good RG uni she needs further maths too - whatever the course admissions requirements are, she will find it almost impossible to keep up with a RG maths degree without having done further maths. The quality if the maths course and teaching at A-level is paramount and it supports both Physics and Chemistry - she can always keep up French on the side / at a college / with tutoring or take an intensive language course / live in France in the future, but she can't go back and re-do A-level maths very easily. Sadly I agree with you that most comps are not geared to advising/preparing bright pupils for good RG uni entry. I know your DD doesn't want to move to another school because of friendship groups, but she should think seriously about switching schools now to somewhere more selective - in the long run her academic ambitions will matter more to her future life than the discomfort of switching schools now. I had a similar dilemma at A-level and chose to stay with my previous school (to be honest it was a more comfortable option for me to do that), but the limitations of the school's academic teaching became very quickly apparent and I wished I had changed when I had the opportunity. She will see very little of school friends if anything once at university.
Good luck to your DD with her A-level study.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Wed 04-Sep-13 10:56:41

Why did your daughter not do maths a year early? How many from her school do? How many do further maths?

She really needs to figure out how to get F maths if she wants to do a maths degree. Even if she can get in somewhere without it, her first year will be horrific if practically everyone but her has done F maths.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Wed 04-Sep-13 11:02:13

Sorry - baby ds somehow managed to press submit there!

As I was saying my dh did Engineering at Cambridge without F maths when generally they require it. But he was accepted as his school didn't offer F maths, had never ever offered F maths and his school was one that had never got anyone into Oxbridge so he was seen as "disadvantaged".

Not sure that will apply to your dd if there are others at her school who do do F maths.

He said he felt he spent the whole of his first year trying to play "catch up".

emsiewill Wed 04-Sep-13 13:15:08

No one in her year did maths early, as there wasn't the timetable space available. Hers was the first year not to be able to do it, so I assume hers will be the first year not to offer Further Maths.

I've found this website which may be of use. It doesn't cover our direct area, but we are not far from Cardiff. I would hope the school would support dd with this, but they do seem to be able to help even if the school can't / won't be involved.

Another conversation to be had with the school, but I will make sure it's led by dd...

Beastofburden Wed 04-Sep-13 13:18:08

but, emsie, check what UCL say about schools that dont offer further maths- by ringing them up. Theres a big difference between doing it because it will be very useful, and having to get an A* in it. You/she need to know which will be the case.

I dont think you are helicoptering, BTW, this stuff is complex.

emsiewill Wed 04-Sep-13 13:36:03

Thanks, I need to sit down with dd and talk through all of this with her tonight. If we need to contact UCL I will get her to do it. (again, lesson learnt!).

We need to be clear on all of this.

(Shooting turned out to be people in one car shooting at people in another causing the second car to crash, road closed, armed police all over, CSI style forensic people there this morning. Local paper full of "this area is going down the pan" style articles. No wonder dd wants to get far away...)

cory Wed 04-Sep-13 13:39:41

Phone call or email, I am sure the UCL will be happy to deal with you directly.

Beastofburden Wed 04-Sep-13 13:52:36

cor at shooting, glad none of your friends or family were hurt

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