BLOODY A * TARGETS!!!!!

(165 Posts)

Apologies for shouting but I am so pissed off. My poor dd1 was given all A* targets for all 12 of her GCSEs. She's done pretty well so far in keeping on track for that but has always felt very pressured by this. She is extremely bright and works ferociously hard. Having the A* as a target has not boosted this. What it's done is made her feel like anything less than A* represents failure. Today she did her second French speaking assessment. She worked hard, I worked hard checking it with her. She got 27 out of 30 which she is told is an A. This means she has 2 As for the speaking element. She is upset by this, she feels she has failed. In what sort of screwed up world is an A grade a failure?

Overall she got As in her mocks (which I think is damn good). I am dreading results day because every A grade will be seen as a failure by her and every A* as only what she expected. How the heck to I help with this? I told the Head at target setting parents evening I thought this was a crappy thing to do and I am even more sure now.

OfstedOrganised Mon 10-Mar-14 17:57:57

It does seem though on her. Keep boosting her confidence and reassuring her that A grades are just fine smile

BackforGood Mon 10-Mar-14 18:04:17

dd's maths teacher told her he'd be disappointed if she didn't get 100% in her GCSE.... no pressure there then grin
But mostly she treats these targets with the cynicism they deserve. She's always been reminded that the schools have to generate targets as if pupils are machines but they are very formulaic and not what we are interested in. She has a pretty healthy disregard for them.

I do that and she doesn't believe me sad Poor little lamb.

In her whole school career dh and I have never, ever had to put one ounce of pressure on I was talking about GCSEs to a mate and she said 'oh you've nothing to worry about' - my laughter was audible from miles away. I wish.
If I had to get her to work hard I could do that - but how do you make somebody give themselves a break?

bulby Mon 10-Mar-14 18:11:56

In fairness, you daughter's targets are probably no less achievable to your daughter than all D targets are to another student who will feel just as much failure, more even, if they get an E.
I really feel for you because exam years are so stressful for all involved. The best help you can give is to continue to provide the supportive environment at home you already do and make sure you enforce breaks and treats during revision time! Good luck.

Dinosaursareextinct Mon 10-Mar-14 18:14:22

Surely As at mocks are good - she has time to work up to A*.

impty Mon 10-Mar-14 18:18:40

It's hard. My dd is I the same position, but the school issue two target grades. Supposedly the achievable (12 xA) and the achievable if you work really hard (12×A*). I'm not sure this helps though. French will be a B if she's lucky, in reality.

Dd1 is feeling very stressed and under pressure so I'm trying 'enforced fun'. Anything that takes her mind off her exams. Tonight chocolate and Call the Midwife. grin

impty Mon 10-Mar-14 18:19:36

Actually, I think they are all feeling the pressure regardless of the predicted grades!

The way the French works she feels she won't be able to get A* now as she would need to do amazing well on the other elements that she doesn't feel are as strong.

The difference between her and a student with a D target is that they can excel, achieve or fail. She can only achieve or fail. Bit depressing. It's not that the target was unachievable, just that it devalues all the other good grades.

noblegiraffe Mon 10-Mar-14 18:24:55

Maybe she needs to visualise exactly what would happen if she didn't get 12A*s.

She won't get into trouble for missing her targets, instead she will be congratulated by everyone on an excellent set of results. Because they will be excellent, even if they are As.

Fear of failure can be paralysing. She needs to realise that if she does fail (in her eyes), it's not the end of the world. Then she can stop stressing about it and just get on with doing her best.

That is the line I'm trying to take, thanks I think you're right.

This is the child though who in Year 6 was in a play through school and the local theatre. The author was coming to see it and it was a complex piece. Some kids were not working hard enough and they all got a bollocking from the head. Dd was in floods of tears at home and I pointed out I knew she had done all she could. She said 'I know but the author is coming and he will be so disappointed....<<snot, tears, snot>>'

I think she believes that dh and I are ok whatever she gets. It's letting down the teachers she worries about and of course they are all push, push, target, work hard.

TalkinPeace Mon 10-Mar-14 18:55:29

OP
I feel your pain as my DD has a similar set of targets and is working unbelievably hard to achieve them.

I keep reminding her that the Exam boards are under huge pressure to only let the very very brightest get strings of A* now
therefore that either an A or an A* is still a fantastic achievement

we also looked at the college requirements and they clearly state A/A* at GCSE to do the A level successfully.

Knowing that the relax space of As is there seems to have helped.

NB one of her teachers got a bit funny about it but I let DH growl at them (as they all know what he does) and they backed down.

I think I've spoken to two teachers so far because she's been in a stressed out state. The rest she's managed herself. It's just so hard to see her unhappy with great results. I've just eaten a loaded cheese Panini, a coke and a penguin. Sympathetic comfort eating...........

totallyuseless Mon 10-Mar-14 19:03:38

My DD is the same age, she has just got all A* in her mocks, her teachers told her at parents evening she should now be aiming for 100%!!!! no well done, nothing. I couldn't believe it.

An A in the speaking part of French is fantastic its much harder than previous years. She should be proud of herself.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Mon 10-Mar-14 19:08:35

It is so sad to think that the only "successful" grade appears to be Grade A*. Of which my children got none. They are still alive and happy successful graduates in gainful employment!

TalkinPeace Mon 10-Mar-14 19:11:38

totally
^ her teachers told her at parents evening she should now be aiming for 100%!!!! no well done, nothing^
DISGRACEFUL I would have complained on the spot.

amothersplace
For some kids, top grades should be a given.
I admit I'll be very disappointed if DD gets more than 1 B as I know she's at the very top of her cohort, and has been such in several inter schools challenges
but A or A* : both are good by me.

What's the point of being told to aim for 100%? angry Are they actually trying to break these kids?

Capitola Mon 10-Mar-14 19:14:49

I think these predicted grades are questionable at best.

My ds was predicted all A*, and I think he was in year 8 at the time. He is doing his GCSEs this year and will undoubtedly do well, but there is no way he will get all A*. He's a typical boy though, so doesn't put any pressure on himself, I bet if he were a girl he'd be more like your daughter, Northern.

ExcuseTypos Mon 10-Mar-14 19:22:26

My dd had very similar targets, throughout GCSe and A level. It used to make me so angry that an A wasnt good enough and I did tell the teachers. on several occasions

In fairness to them, they have to produce targets for each student, so they do have to push each child to do "better".

TheBuskersDog Mon 10-Mar-14 20:02:33

I'm left wondering why if these children are so bright they are being predicted all A*s, they are having to work so hard to get them. I think perhaps these girls (and they usually are girls) have always worked hard and so have done well and being praised for it, they daren't ease off in case they don't then get the top grades that people have come to expect from them.
My son is bright but not exceptionally, he's lazy and didn't really work at GCSE so he got a mix of As and Bs, if he had spent the previous years working hard I'm sure they would have been A*s and As. He does have a couple of very clever friends who don't have to work hard and still get top marks, they don't feel pressure because it really does come easy for them.
If they are having to work ridiculously hard at the expense of a life they are unrealistic targets.

Oh she has a life but yes she is working hard too. I think the targets are individually realistic for her - but to get them ALL is the problem.

Roisin Mon 10-Mar-14 20:43:09

This is awful: it's teachers projecting the stress they are under onto the kids. Ds1 had all A* targets and yr10 consequently was awful: he was so stressed all the time. I spoke to the Head, to governors, to teachers, SMT, but they just didn't see it... well, some did, but the head wasn't for budging.

ds2 by contrast moved schools towards the end of yr9, so they didn't know him and he's had to prove himself and demonstrate his ability; because he wants high target and predicted (and eventually actual) grades. It's so much better that way around.

Oh, and try this for size. Ds1 and some others were told they could certainly have got an A* in maths in yr10, but the teacher wanted them to aim for as near 100% as possible and take it at the end of yr11 instead, which they did. (Queue a very boring and tedious year.) The results duly came out, and they got A*s, but as they did the linear qualification the results weren't even recorded!

bigTillyMint Mon 10-Mar-14 21:38:57

Thanks for starting this thread - DD has pretty demanding targets too and at times is really buckling under the stress. She also feels that if she doesn't attain them, she will have failed.

I am trying to get her to just aim to do her best and that we will be proud of her whatever she gets, but that isn't what she wants.

Does it get better in Y11 Roisin? She is in Y10 ATM

bigTillyMint Mon 10-Mar-14 21:41:34

NL, I agree that she has the potential to get each one individually, but 14 or 15...
Well she is definitely taking one this year.

Y11 hasn't been better for us. She's got some great revision diagrams up on her wall and is very organised though. She did some very sound work over half term and was sensible about planning it and then having a break and something fun so I'm hopeful we get through the next three months ok. Am dreading the results though.

TalkinPeace Mon 10-Mar-14 22:22:52

TBH DD is motivated so I just nod and chivvy her along
DS is going to need a cattle prod and the xbox power supply destroyed to get him to revise

MrAnchovy Mon 10-Mar-14 23:20:24

She got 27 out of 30 which she is told is an A.
I don't believe it. I don't know which board she is doing but AQA, Edexcel and OCR are all usually around 50/60 raw marks for an A* in French speaking, with 55/60 or so enough for 100% UMS marks.

There is a culture in some schools that the more pressure you put on, the better results will be, and lying to the pupils about where the goalposts are is just part of that pressure.

bigTillyMint Tue 11-Mar-14 07:29:04

Oh dear, NLsad I am just counting the days...

I actually think the cattle prod scenario is better (DS) than the overly worried about failing to meet the highest targets scenario.

She's got 54 MrAnchovy and it's AQA. That's interesting. I shall be furious if that's the case!

She's gone off to school still looking a bit down. Give me a cattle prod child anytime!

5madthings Tue 11-Mar-14 07:56:20

My ds1 is also predicted a* in everything. I think it's a lot of pressure but thankfully he isn't phased by it. Not sure why that is, he just has a laid back personality, nothing I have done!

He seems to be applying himself tho and is performing at or above expected levels and his teachers are very happy.

We always tell him to try his best, he can't do any more.

Hugs for your dd xx

MrAnchovy Tue 11-Mar-14 09:05:18

blush I should have checked first, AQA are a bit tougher than I suggested, here are the recent grade point boundaries:

AQA 46553 GCSE French Unit3: Speaking
June 2013 A* 55; A 50
June 2012 A* 55; A 50
June 2012 A* 55; A 50

So yes 54 (assuming no moderation) is probably one mark off an A*.

An A* overall is definitely not out of reach but she does need a solid A* performance in the other units. IMO most people would be better motivated by knowing that than believing that they would have to do "amazingly well" in order to stand a chance.

Whats the difference between 'solid A*' and 'amazingly well'? grin
She did well on her mocks in writing and reading but her listening wasn't good. We can try and work on that. <<sigh>>

lainiekazan Tue 11-Mar-14 12:44:38

I have a ds predicted all A*s. I fervently wish he had not as now even one A will be seen as disappointing.

Also, unlike the girls on here, there are no revision plans in evidence and in fact there isn't the slightest sign of any revision at all yet. I keep banging on that brain alone doesn't cut it and neither does just hard work - it has to be a combination of the two. It's difficult to criticise him when I never do anything I can put off till tomorrow.

BirdintheWings Tue 11-Mar-14 13:01:09

Hold on a minute.

These 'predictions' are what the school needs to use to demonstrate that its staff are doing their expected job, not that your daughter is. In other words, given that she's clearly very bright and hardworking, any given subject teacher is expected to be able to get her to an A* standard.

It is not an assessment of your daughter's 'achievement' or 'failure'. Whether she gets 12A*, 6A* and 6A, or 12A, good on her -- she's (rather more than) succeeded.

Now, if she could just pop round here and remind bright-but-idle DS that his GCSEs too are happening this summer, that would be lovely.

bigTillyMint Tue 11-Mar-14 13:05:50

Yes, but bird, as they share them with the children, the well-motivated but anxious about their performance children feel like it's down to themsad
We know that they won't have failed for getting an A instead of an A*, but they will feel they havesad

BirdintheWings Tue 11-Mar-14 13:30:10

I know, but objectively, there is no way on earth that a couple of A grades in a run of A* is a failure, and we should be teaching these very bright children to recognise that.

Alternatively, did anyone else hear the radio programme a couple of weeks back about the need for failure as a life experience? (Admittedly they probably had something more dramatic in mind than a one-point-off-the top-grade kind of 'failure'.)

Oh, and NL, you might like to mention my (yeah, yeah, Oxbridge) tutor's point of view from many years back: 'I always find the ones with straight A grades raaaather less interesting to teach than the ones who only did well in the subjects they really liked...'

bigTillyMint Tue 11-Mar-14 13:53:19

I know, I know!

sad that our children are thinking an A or even a B is a failure

venturabay Tue 11-Mar-14 14:08:47

I have a DS who recently got 12 A*s without having taken any modules or exams early and although he worked pretty steadily, there didn't seem to be a need to work crazily hard. I have three DDs who also got 11 straight A*s recently (well, to be accurate one got an A). None of them worked excessively but they did do a reasonable amount and each DD had a different routine which they seemed comfortable with. It's really not healthy nor necessary for a DC to flog him or herself and an A or two at GCSE is just fine. It's probably worth having a very serious talk to try and get her to accept some perspective ahead of exams, never mind results. Hopefully that might reduce this worrying level of self-imposed pressure - remember she has to keep going without flagging until the end of June, through 26 or so exams.

venturabay Tue 11-Mar-14 14:11:44

Tilly it's up to parents to try to ram home the fact that As are fine.

Dinosaursareextinct Tue 11-Mar-14 14:40:11

This is all so different from our day. I'm sure we were never given any predictions about anything. And so anything seemed possible.

DrownedGirl Tue 11-Mar-14 14:46:36

How have the targets been set? If it's been assumed based on her getting good level 5s in English and maths at the end of primary, then using that to target a*s in all subjects at gcse! including French, etc, is a bit of a leap.

The targets are really for the school, in a way, for the progress measures they are ranked upon. At individual child level, of course there are other factors at play.

Does the school offer mentoring or counselling? Sounds as if they should be recognising the stress she is facing, and helping her to get it in perspective.

DrownedGirl Tue 11-Mar-14 14:50:16
bigTillyMint Tue 11-Mar-14 15:21:39

ventura, do you think I don't try?!

She is naturally quite competitive (but hides it really well!), has been told at school all along that she is capable, etc, school is (obviously) very keen for good results for the league tables, loads of course-work/CA's/ISA's and at times now she is buckling a bit under the pressure.

Drowned, I think they use CATs and FFT.

Being the parent of a not-previously anxious teen is a whole new ball-game for me! It will be interesting to see how DS copes, but then I think he will be in the first cohort of the new regime.

And I agree, it was all so different in my day. No predictions, I was not top-set of the grammar I went to, so no pressure that way, DM didn't have a clue....

cory Tue 11-Mar-14 15:51:54

It's when I read threads like this that I feel bizarrely grateful that dd had a breakdown and bombed her GCSE's.

At least she has faced those demons once and for all; she knows that life goes on whether you get A's or not, that you remain more or less the same person and that there is always a way back.

I had a university lecturer who used to say that everybody ought to fail at something once. He was a wise man.

Martorana Tue 11-Mar-14 15:53:15

Sorry- but if a student is capable of 12 A*s are you saying they should be given lower targets? hmm

venturabay Tue 11-Mar-14 16:13:42

No I don't think anything Tilly but it's all so unhealthy for these kids to be killing themselves and feeling a failure with As.

I dislike targets too.

Yes basically that is what I think. If dd - and all the other bright kids - were given targets no higher than A then they would have the choice to work hard and excel and surpass their target with an A* or work hard and be very good and get their target or work not so hard and miss it.

She knows the targets are for school - so she feels pressure to do well for the school, for the teachers who are very good and work hard. She knows our expectations and priorities for her centre around her wellbeing and not around the number of A*s. She knows what I think about parents who are offering cash for grades grin. And still yesterday she felt like she'd failed. That sucks.

Martorana Tue 11-Mar-14 16:16:53

So do you really think kids shouldn't be told what they could get if they tried?

Martorana Tue 11-Mar-14 16:18:53

Sorry, crossed posts but you would also have to tell them that although their target was an A they could get an A-* if they put the work in-wouldn't that just come to the same thing?

No there's a difference between saying ' we are aiming for you to get an A but you can do better - go forth and learn!' and in saying ' your target grade is A* - are you on track for that or not?' - which is what happens.

bigTillyMint Tue 11-Mar-14 16:21:52

I totally agree, NL.

And this "it's all so unhealthy for these kids to be killing themselves and feeling a failure with As"

noblegiraffe Tue 11-Mar-14 16:30:04

I teach top set maths, most of them have a target of an A*. They are mainly uber-competitive boys and would be insulted at being given any lower target. It would be insulting their intelligence.

Either way you can't win.

Martorana Tue 11-Mar-14 16:41:24

Tricky, isn't it? My ds is very able at maths, and his teacher said at last parents' evening that he should be aiming for an A."What about an A*?" I said "Oh, let's not aim too high" he said. hmm

reddidi Tue 11-Mar-14 17:08:13

Just to clear up what's happening when, unless anything changes:

From September 2014 the new national curriculum applies for all subjects except English, Maths and Science*.

From September 2015 the new GCSE syllabus will be taught (to current Y8s) in English and Maths only, and will be first examined in June 2017.

From September 2016 the new GCSE syllabus will be taught (to current Y7s) in the remaining subjects which will be first examined in June 2018.

.

* The National Curriculum for KS4 English, Maths and Science (i.e. GCSE level) is not changing in September 2014 because it is not ready.

* Pupils in Y2 and in Y6 in Summer 2015 (so current Y1s and Y5s) will take KS1 and KS2 tests respectively in English, Maths and Science according to the current (pre-September 2014) National Curriculum.

So in summary, if you are currently in:

YR - everything will change from September 2014.
Y1 - everything will change from September 2014 except Maths, English and Science which will change from September 2015.
Y2 - everything will change from September 2014.
Y3 - everything will change from September 2014.
Y4 - everything will change from September 2014.
Y5 - everything will change from September 2014 except Maths, English and Science which will change from September 2015.
Y6 - everything will change from September 2014.
Y7 - the National Curriculum will change from September 2014, Maths and English GCSEs change from September 2015 and the remaining GCSEs from September 2016.
Y8 - the National Curriculum will change from September 2014, but GCSEs will stay the same, except for Maths and English which will change from September 2015.
Y9 - the National Curriculum will change from September 2014 (except for English, Maths and Science), but there will be no changes to GCSEs.
Y10 - the National Curriculum will change from September 2014 (except for English, Maths and Science), but there will be no changes to GCSEs.

This ignores any changes to A levels, these have not yet been scheduled. It's the current Y8s that are potentially the big sufferers in this: as it stands they may end up with a mix of GCSEs graded E-A* and 1-9, or even (if OCR get their way) with marks instead of grades.

So that's really simple for children, teachers, parents and employers to follow isn't it?

totallyuseless Tue 11-Mar-14 17:10:19

http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity

I showed my DD this last night she feels so much better knowing that there is soooo much more to education that just grades.

totallyuseless Tue 11-Mar-14 17:13:55

It's the current Y8s that are potentially the big sufferers in this: as it stands they may end up with a mix of GCSEs graded E-A and 1-9, or even (if OCR get their way) with marks instead of grades.*

Why will the year 8s suffer?

I think the currant year 11s are at a disadvantage because of the hasty changes, the year 8s will be fine as far as I can see.

I have this child in Yr 11 and another in Yr 8..........I'm contemplating a trip to the moon for the next decade......

Theas18 Tue 11-Mar-14 17:33:13

Thank you Northernlurker!

I feel for your DD . Mine is in exactly this predicament. I post about it and was told off for " stealth boasting" . It's not a boast it's bloody annoying! Set them a target that is the top grade so al they can do, at best is "do OK" ie "target achieved.Any other outcome is a "failure" . They messing wit nthe heads of these academically able kids in a way that really doesn't help at all.

Heard something interesting on the radio last night about risk taking in learning- if you don't risk failure you really don't progress as fast as you could or go as far. Giving targets like this makes these kids very risk averse.

Ok well I give fair notice - anybody on this thread wants to have a go about 'stealth boasting' and I will not be responsible for my actions. What an awful things to say! Like the bright kids aren't allowed to have any issues eh?

dottyaboutstripes Tue 11-Mar-14 17:48:22

They certainly love to heap the pressure on. Dd has been predicted all As but at parents evening all that was said was that A wasn't really good enough, A* was the aim. Over and over and over. Dd now is thinking A is a failure and B would be abysmal confused

I can't even bear to think about what she will say if she gets a B.

motown3000 Tue 11-Mar-14 17:53:22

I have a DD in Yr 10 At a Comprehensive would expect Bs and Cs and a Yr 8 DD at A Grammar School would expect Grades 8 or 9? A Or A*

When Does the new grading Start ?

totallyuseless Tue 11-Mar-14 17:56:35

Teachers are also under pressure to perform at the highest level.

TalkinPeace Tue 11-Mar-14 17:59:44

motown3000
I have a DD in Yr 10 At a Comprehensive would expect Bs and Cs and a Yr 8 DD at A Grammar School would expect Grades 8 or 9? A Or A*

what does the type of school have to do with the expected grades?

I just had a RANT at DS for deliberately only getting a B in a subject he is dropping.

MojitoMomonga Tue 11-Mar-14 17:59:54

She has my sympathies, my DD got 36/40 in English which is an A* (not sure why 27/30 is not an A* in French) and feels bad that she didn't get 40/40. Your DD doesn't deserve this pressure.

WeAreDetective Tue 11-Mar-14 18:04:05

Teachers have to account for every grade they get. Because that is what is expected from the school by OFSTED. Teachers can lose their jobs for it.

It's very stressful all round. I found a student in tears in the corridor yesterday because of the stress of the stupidly large number of exams she has to takeand the pressure to meet those high grades. It's heartbreaking to watch and gets worse every year.

motown3000 Tue 11-Mar-14 18:07:18

I am really confused by what Reddidi has said, my Yr 10 Daughter will be graded the traditional way A*- C E.T.C ? . Will my younger Daughter be graded with a mix of different grades meaning the same thing .

If that happens I hope they put a key next to the marks explaining what they mean. A Employer who took CSEs for instance could mistake a grade 8/9 for a CSE grade 4 for instance . This has potential for a real "Mess" I am not even sure what year the Number grading starts and if some Exam boards are going to use different grading systems this is going to be terribly confusing !

HmmAnOxfordComma Tue 11-Mar-14 18:10:46

It is a horrible scenario, OP.

The only thing you can do is tell her you are proud of her, however she does, and ESPECIALLY if she does as well as her targets.

I got straights As at GCSE and A level and a first class degree. Not ONE person ever said 'Well done' to me. Nobody. Parents, friends, teachers, siblings. All everyone ever said to me was, 'it's what we expected; you find this stuff so easy'.

Gee, thanks <not bitter twenty years plus later, oh no>

I wondered if you might ask her which subjects she thinks she's most likely to get an A or B in - picking up ideas from cognitive therapy regarding challenging black and white or success/failure thinking. Oh, and also point out she can still do any of them for A level with a B grade or higher, or whatever the rules are at her school. So she only needs B's really in any given subject.

Maybe take this forwards by discussing with the school and asking, for emotional well-being, for one or two of her targets to be dropped to an A (doesn't stop her getting an A*in it, it's only a target)

I think I'd do this if things are as you say - the across the board A* targets, whilst lovely to see in some ways and you should both be proud, aren't really helping her are they?

I think target setting has gone too far anyway.

Bearleigh Tue 11-Mar-14 18:12:30

It would be worth your while catching the talk on iPlayer that someone mentioned above, but I can't find it. It was within another programme, and was talk given by the head of Wimbledon High School. It was a discussion about that school trying to conquer this awful 'perfection' that girls feel they have to achieve and the approach is also summarised here:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/10277505/Helicopter-parents-creating-a-generation-incapable-of-accepting-failure.html

I don't think its fair to blame helicopter parents. I think most women recognise that the is huge pressure from the media for us to be 'perfect' and girls cotton on to that. The girls about to take GCSEs at my son's school are having a bit of a meltdown at the moment I gather.

Bloody hell Oxford Comma - not one person said "well done" at any stage?

It might be a bit late but WELL DONE anyway thanks

HmmAnOxfordComma Tue 11-Mar-14 18:26:06

Thank you Juggling

I couldn't swear that my stepdad didn't say Well Done to me when he opened my degree results for me over the phone; he probably did. But I distinctly remember my mum saying each time, 'no less than I expected' and my deputy head saying (when I was dithering over opening my A level envelope): 'For god's sake, stop being falsely modest, just open it: you know you've got four As'... shock

I think my mum thought that what she was saying translated as 'well done' but it really didn't.

motown3000 Tue 11-Mar-14 18:26:22

Talkin. The type of school has no relation to the type of grades, its just the 15 year old is Middle Ability ( High when not being Lazy) Her expected grades are Maybe an A in English and Mostly Bs in the other 9 subjects ( but with a fair wind ,an A in history) .

The reason I said Bs and Cs though , is because that is what is expected ( The Schools Average for Middle ability kids) Actually its C on the DOE Site.
The average grade for the Grammar School is A Grades , I hope younger Daughter gets mostly As or whatever the equivalent grading is.

Would a B be a Grade 7 on the new system?

bigTillyMint Tue 11-Mar-14 18:44:33

motown, my DC go to a comp. That is where DD got her A/A* targets from. There is a large cohort at her school that will have similar targets. However, if your DC are in a grammar school area, then it could be that the grammar has "creamed off" all the A/A* students. How do you know they are expecting them to get B's or C's?

Juggling "point out she can still do any of them for A level with a B grade or higher, or whatever the rules are at her school. So she only needs B's really in any given subject." - I am going to keep reminding her of this.

redidi "Y8 - the National Curriculum will change from September 2014, but GCSEs will stay the same, except for Maths and English which will change from September 2015" Damn! DS was hoping to avoid all the CA's DD has had to do!

Hmmanoxfordcomma - it isn't just you. I got a 'I never expected less' too. I HAD A BABY TWO WEEKS BEFORE MY FINALS. In those circumstances my 2:1 was a bloody miracle as well as being what I deserved. I think she meant it as praise but like you say it doesn't come out like that. I parent differently in that respect.

HmmAnOxfordComma Tue 11-Mar-14 18:53:46

Indeed, NL a bloody miracle and 'Well done' to you.

At least you (and I) know to do different!

bigTillyMint Tue 11-Mar-14 19:04:09

Well done to both of you!

Martorana Tue 11-Mar-14 22:22:55

When I passed my driving test, my mother's response was "Good. You can start working for the Advanced one now........."grin

duchesse Tue 11-Mar-14 22:35:11

My children's schools do not predict or give A*s as targets. The drawbacks of doing so, especially in an intrinsically motivated person, are as you describe.

Her school is stupid misguided to do it. I would love to know their reasons.

venturabay Tue 11-Mar-14 22:40:20

I do hope that cory's voice is not lost in all these posts. Kids break down. A*s are nothing to that.

TalkinPeace Tue 11-Mar-14 22:42:11

ventura
what cory's DD went through is not wished on anybody

but I have to agree with others that sooner in life, most people will fail at something (in my case it was A levels) and its a significant perspective learning experience

venturabay Tue 11-Mar-14 22:50:05

Talkin not quite sure what you mean. My point was that parents should make very clear to perfectionist DC that A*s are fine, but other things are vastly more important, and that if A* can only be achieved by getting utterly wound up then frankly they really aren't worth having. I have another DS taking GCSEs this year and provided he does a sensible dollop of work I couldn't care less what the tally of A/A*s is. If he flaked off then I might mind, but any kid who works reasonably hard - fine. Any kid who works too hard needs a warning just like the flaky ones. IMO.

motown3000 Tue 11-Mar-14 23:25:24

Big Tilly mount. my elder Daughter is a bit "Lazy" and thinks Bs are Great and because the school is what Talkin Calls a "Secondary Modern" Bs and Cs are regarded in the same way that A grades are at younger daughters Grammar.

I agree with Venture Baby about not putting to much pressure on them ,and that relates to elder Daughter who was the only one out of her Cousins and younger sister to fail her 11+. Elder daughter refused tutoring for the 11+ and her preference was for the High School. ( I have posted about Niece/Nephew Under similar Name). She actually "Smirked" when she learnt she had failed and was delighted because her school finishes 30 minutes before the Grammar. The other thing that made her joyful was that she has less Homework , than she would from a Grammar. The problem is I can not get her to do more than 1hR a Night under any circumstances ( Her Younger Sister does 2 Hrs each Night). This is better than previously though as she used to do homework on the school bus, she just did enough to avoid Detention.

The school is a "Good school" ( Have Said Elder Daughter is capable of As in all subjects) but we are unable to " Baby Sit" DD due to having more pressing pupils who need C grades and others to which E grades would be a result. The School overall does a very good job for its pupils, and the only reason elder Daughter may end up with Bs will be because of herself.

Duchesse - I asked the head and he said they had to give them A* targets if the tracking they did in years 7-9 suggested that was their capability. That they would be selling them short with lower targets. I think now that I should have insisted on them being reduced sad

I could not be clearer with her that A*s are not our priority for her. I cannot make her hold herself to a lower standard. She is what she is.

BirdintheWings Wed 12-Mar-14 08:29:30

I mentioned something of this to deeply idle only moderately diligent DS last night, and he said, 'Oh, like Freya then? She says she has to get all A* or she might as well shoot herself because A* is just who she is.'

Aarghhh.

I'm currently rather grateful for DS's attitude of 'S'pose I ought to get at least Bs or they won't let me in 6th Form, and anyway it would be well embarrassing.'

venturabay Wed 12-Mar-14 08:36:46

But Northernlurker you use the term 'very pressured' and you say she works 'ferociously hard'. She doesn't need to work 'ferociously hard' to get all A*s. She's extremely bright, so she only needs to work moderately and steadily. Get her to take time off and prise her away from her desk. It's going to be far better for her with future more challenging exams if she thinks she needs to half kill herself to achieve. These are the easiest exams she'll take - if she overdoes it on these, she'll ramp it up on each subsequent set of exams, which will be a thoroughly miserable cycle.

Martorana Wed 12-Mar-14 08:59:38

An A student should get As regardless of the school they are at. Grammar schools get more As because they have more A students.

Martorana Wed 12-Mar-14 09:01:09

"I'm currently rather grateful for DS's attitude of 'S'pose I ought to get at least Bs or they won't let me in 6th Form, and anyway it would be well embarrassing.'

Up to a point. Do remind him that universities now look at GCSE results!

bigTillyMint Wed 12-Mar-14 09:14:15

Motown, I think we just have to accept that our DC are who they are and that they may not think/do things in the same way as us or in the way we would like them to. Academic achievement is not everything, by a long shot.

I probably under-achieved at my grammar school (preferring to do just enough to get by) and was certainly never pressured by the school or my mother to achieve higher and better. Has it ruined my life? NO! I have had a career that I love and decent pay. However, I do know many others who achieved more highly than me and who are now feeling like they have somehow failed because they should be at the top of the tree in a highly respected/paid career.

However, I don't think this anxiety to achieve is solely down to the school - it is clearly a mixture of the child's own personality and external pressures as not all children react in the same way.

wordfactory Wed 12-Mar-14 09:19:21

duchesse DD's school is the same.

No talk of predictions 'we're not clairvoytant', no talk of personal targets. Instead, asll the girls are given full information about what is required to attain an A*.

Obviously, some DC are ambitious and set themselves targets, but somehow that seems less of a pressure, I don't know why.

wordfactory Wed 12-Mar-14 09:22:55

martorana you're right of course.

GCSEs do matter for many universities. Also, with the demise of AS, they're likely to become more important.

The kids know this. The teachers know this. Parents know this. So naturally, this information feeds though, sometimes as an unneccessary pressure.

rabbitstew Wed 12-Mar-14 09:44:22

Personally, I think someone with a perfectionist, high-achieving, anxious personality would benefit hugely from cognitive behavioural therapy. It is quite possible to build up a whole, ridiculous mythology around your success and what you must do to achieve it, which is why failing at some point in your life can actually be good for you, because it forces you to deconstruct that mythology and realise that you still exist when your central mythology has been taken away from you. Having to go through that in order to change your thought processes is an extremely painful way to have to go about it, though.

The perfectionist tends to focus on and remember their mistakes and then magnify them, whilst dismissing everything they did well as luck or just the easy stuff; they find it hard to change their unhealthy behaviour patterns because they don't know which aspects of them are really leading to the continued success; they start to believe that whilst other people could cope with failure, they are too weak to be like that, so must on no accounts fall off that pedestal; and they are afraid to let go of these beliefs because they are afraid they might fail at something if they do.

bigTillyMint Wed 12-Mar-14 10:32:12

Yes, rabbit. Sadly CAMHS are overstretched...

BirdintheWings Wed 12-Mar-14 11:48:40

Oh, shoot me now, Martorana -- the wretched child is adamant he's heading for stage school rather than university anyway.

(At least he has a Saturday job. Could be his sole means of support at this rate.)

Martorana Wed 12-Mar-14 11:54:36

Oh, Lord, Birds..........have fun with the audition pieces!grin

BirdintheWings Wed 12-Mar-14 12:01:15

Thanks! Now in fact he does put effort into those -- agonises over the best choice, times the speeches, tests them on the dog, films himself so he can check the angle of his head, reads obscure textbooks on Shakespearean method, does bizarre voice exercises that have me leaping upstairs to see if someone's dying...

Martorana Wed 12-Mar-14 12:13:23

I currently have a child who is talking all the time in an Alan Bennett accent preparing for a monologue......

BirdintheWings Wed 12-Mar-14 12:15:19

Is he sharing a cup of Earl Grey with Thora Hird?

I don't want to be snappy and defensive but I really do NOT need to be told my child needs therapy. I appreciate you were trying to help rabbits but it really hasn't helped MY anxiety. Maybe I should get us a group session hmm

motown3000 Wed 12-Mar-14 13:14:20

Thanks Tilly. The School has suggested that Elder Daughter shows some Dyspraxic Symptoms ( I Have Dyspraxia ) and that she probably has mild Dyspraxia .

The Senco has given her help regarding organisation and tips for concentration. The school have said two things though , under the present circumstances its is very unlikely she would get a Statement ( Partly because her projected grades are well above average). The other problem they have is that in her year they are 25 Pupils with Statements and most of them will struggle to get C grades , funding is of "Cause" short. They have said in an idea world they would give her more support to achieve her potential but with the current financial restrictions, a pupil who is liable to get 1 or 2 As and the rest Bs is not a priority.

The school also said that in DDs year that they are 19 pupils (15%) who are "High Ability" students and are capable of As in all subjects ( DD is one of those 19). DDs History teacher told me that she thinks DD will probably do well at A level , because she believes ( She will enjoy the different and less formulaic style) . I don't think she will do well if she is only prepared to do 1 Hr Max homework a night though.

Dinosaursareextinct Wed 12-Mar-14 13:38:44

Do you think she would be better off not going to a highly competitive university, but going somewhere well within her abilities where she can relax a bit and take the time to get involved in non academic stuff and enjoy herself?

venturabay Wed 12-Mar-14 13:46:48

Northernlurker how long ago did she do her mocks?

November

rabbitstew Wed 12-Mar-14 14:14:22

Sorry not to help, northernlurker! It probably doesn't help, now, so close to exams, but it takes one to know one and I took that attitude through school and university and into the world of work and it was a real millstone around my neck. You can't have a successful career and family life and healthy levels of stress if you continue with that approach, so you have to take stock at some point. In the real world, only your dd will think she's a failure if she "only" gets all As (although she might also be relieved to have all As if she spends the wait up until results day dissecting every exam paper in her imagination, forgetting what she did right and remembering every mistake).

lainiekazan Wed 12-Mar-14 14:26:28

Ds went to an Oxbridge talk at school and they said that unless you have at least 7A*s you're out. Ds isn't necessarily aiming for Oxbridge, but he doesn't want that door to close already. As it is he took four GCSEs early in Year 10 and got a B for one (compulsory Business Studies) and was so upset he went to bed for a day.

So it's all very well to shrug and be laid back, but if your hopes lie in an academically competitive direction, then some anxiety is understandable.

lainiekazan Wed 12-Mar-14 14:28:59

I would add that ds did no work whatsoever for Business Studies as he fell for the old line, "Me? Any work? Naaah - just going to wing it," from various friends and learnt to his cost that people don't always tell the truth.

rabbitstew Wed 12-Mar-14 14:36:21

So what? You work hard and you accept the results you get, like everyone else. Why fear and be disappointed by the results? Once it's done it's done and it's FAR better to shrug and be laid back about it, and find out what alternatives are open to you, afterwards, than to hark back to the past.

rabbitstew Wed 12-Mar-14 14:37:29

Obviously, if you didn't work hard, then that's another matter, but northernlurker's dd clearly doesn't have that problem.

TheRaniOfYawn Wed 12-Mar-14 14:38:16

I don't know if her school is doing work on growth mindsets? There is a project going on with local primary schools and the university about this, and I know from a friend who is applying for teaching jobs in the area that this is a big thing in some secondary schools as well.

The book (by Carol Dweck) might be useful for both you and your daughter to read. It is about teaching yourself to embrace failure as part of the process of learning and is, I think, especially helpful to people who see themselves as failures and to those who haven't had many opportunities to fail and who feel under a lot of pressure to succeed.

Slipshodsibyl Wed 12-Mar-14 14:50:38

Actually I think some kind of support/therapy can help at this stage. I have one who was like this. There was no overt target setting from school and we ask our children to try hard, but that that is enough.

This attitude affected her performance to some degree as apart from energy wasted in worrying, she would panic if she felt unsure of the best way to do a question and underperform.

I told her I would be very upset if she continued to insist on perfect grades as exams always involve a bit of luck and that I would be cross if she obtained 6 or so A* and considered that not good enough. It didn't help that much So she had some gentle therapy/ coaching carried out by school staff (boarding school as I am overseas). It wasn't a lot. It centred on helping her understand with her feelings and the negative effects of her anxiety. It helped quite a lot as it gave her anti-anxiety techniques to focus on. Also, she listened in a way she wouldn't listen to me as she knows I am concerned with her well being more than results, but she wanted the good results.

The positive news is that she has been a different child in sixth form. Very calm and more confident. The smaller number of subjects felt more manageable to her (she did 10 IGCSEs) and she felt that having done well at IGCSE, she had somehow proved something to herself and increased in confidence. She is holding an Oxbridge offer and although she found the process very stressful by the end because she wanted it very badly, she was able to recognise what she was feeling and take steps to cope with it.

Receiving CBT or similar didn't mean people felt she couldn't cope but it stopped her wasting all that nervous energy and helped her channel it productively. If they are perfectionist, this problem is likely to follow them, so the earlier it can be supported, the better, I think. I have quite a bit of experience of students of this age and several years older and it is a real handicap if not controlled. If they don't have psychological equilibrium, nothing works properly, in my experience.

Slipshodsibyl Wed 12-Mar-14 14:59:43

Rabbit is so right about the focus on the mistakes which is so debilitating for them. External support really can help put that in perspective.

summerends Wed 12-Mar-14 15:22:40

Ultimately we all want to shield our DC from disappointment and we know that however good they are and hard they work they may not get the result they are capable of. However at the end of the day I would be very pleased to be thought capable of A*s as all your clever children are and would take that as a positive and not a necessity. The effort and learning will ultimately pay off even if not from GCSE exam results but equally important is acquiring perspective and trying to enjoy the actual learning process. It is very hard at that age to realise that there is so much more to life and intelligence than A*s especially when being wound up by friends and adults and the anxiety of failing.

Slipshodsibyl Wed 12-Mar-14 15:39:32

It appears to me that part of the problem is that there seems to be rather less scope to recover from failure than there used to be.

bigTillyMint Wed 12-Mar-14 16:08:35

Gosh motown, 25 in her year group with statements! That sounds really high and must be quite a challenge for the school. But great to hear that A'levels might suit her learning style more.

reddidi Wed 12-Mar-14 16:35:31

The Senco has given her help regarding organisation and tips for concentration. The school have said two things though , under the present circumstances its is very unlikely she would get a Statement ( Partly because her projected grades are well above average). The other problem they have is that in her year they are 25 Pupils with Statements and most of them will struggle to get C grades , funding is of "Cause" short. They have said in an idea world they would give her more support to achieve her potential but with the current financial restrictions, a pupil who is liable to get 1 or 2 As and the rest Bs is not a priority.

That is of course illegal, but all too common. You would have to fight long and hard to get the support to which she is entitled.

reddidi Wed 12-Mar-14 16:37:22

Note I have reposted the info on exam reform here to keep this one on topic.

reddidi Wed 12-Mar-14 16:40:53

GCSEs do matter for many universities. Also, with the demise of AS, they're likely to become more important.

This is true, but fortunately for the OP this only becomes a problem for current Y10s and younger.

bigTillyMint Wed 12-Mar-14 16:53:09

Oh dear, that's both DD and DS then.

hoboken Wed 12-Mar-14 17:03:24

Can you switch from her obsessing about the grades to thinking about what she would like to do in the future?

Alan Sugar, Kate Moss, Richard Branson, Lady Gaga, Simon Cowell (sorry). None of them have many qualifications but they are all successful (and they are only the famous ones I thought of quickly). Your DD is much, much more than a string of GCSEs. Does she not have any interests outside school work? I know she will want to work very hard in the next weeks but she needs other outlets for balance. Dance? Music? Singing? Running? Swimming? Indoor skiing? Volunteering?

motown3000 Wed 12-Mar-14 17:09:39

Tilly/Reddidi. The school is very mixed and has some odd statistics for instance : 63% achieved 5 A* To C last year and that within the high ability students that was 95% . The other odd thing is that the SEN rate across the school is 8.6% but 20% in DDs year , the reason for that was a school closed down and they took 9 pupils with Statements from that school and they also took 5 students from a Pupil Referral Unit.

the school also has 32 Students (26%) graded as high Ability and ( at Least 1 pupil from that group has a statement) He was expelled From A Grammar School and can be difficult but, is exceptionally bright. Of the 32 Pupils 19 (Including) DD
have been identified have having potential for multiple A grades, but the year head told me " It is More Important to get C grades for the Average pupils " (They want to get 5 A* to C up to 70%) than turning a B grade in to an A ,and so on for instance last year the school got only 21 A grades , 3 A* grades but achieved 150 B grades and 307 C grades.

cory Wed 12-Mar-14 17:23:30

<waves at Birdinthewings and Martorana>

round here it's a Glaswegian accent until the weekend when I have reason to believe we are going mid-West

BirdintheWings Wed 12-Mar-14 17:38:00

Urrggh, Cory! DS only seems to do Sarf-east or a sort of generic American ('but do you think I should blend it with a bit of Italian Gangster, Mum?').

It's when he tries to do Yorkshire that I start to threaten instant infanticide.

cory Wed 12-Mar-14 17:56:27

we need to pack them off to stage school to get some peace, don't we?

let the people who are paid to suffer suffer grin

BirdintheWings Wed 12-Mar-14 18:00:53

Maybe we could swap them for a week or two? I'll listen to a bit of Glaswegian and you can have my would-be Arturo Ui?

bigTillyMint Wed 12-Mar-14 18:13:47

Hoboken "Can you switch from her obsessing about the grades to thinking about what she would like to do in the future?" - this is yet another area of anxiety for DD as she doesn't know what she wants to do yet! And she does have other interestsconfused

Wow motown, it's a big year group too - I thought DD's was big, but is only just over half that! And the school does seem to be doing pretty well given that the grammar takes most of the potential A's and A*'s.

To add to the target grade pressure (though to be fair, they are now doing target grades for the end of the year (for DD, Y10) rather than GCSE IYSWIM which is better), the DC's school do class ranking positions. This is quite helpful to give you a better insight to how they are actually doing in class, but is yet another stick for an anxious but self-dooming high achiever to beat themselves with!

Interestingly dd's school is very big on the growth mindset thing. Can't say I've noticed it making much difference to her however. In everything she's said about it, it certainly hasn't been from a pov of embracing failure, rather it's been about not being able to do that yet - so failure is a temporary stage on the way to succeeding. This of course backs up the school giving A* targets - you can't get that grade yet but you will.......
Outside interests - she does stuff with friends at school and church. I am trying to persuade her to go swimming but she's not too keen atm. She is very subdued again today sad

bigTillyMint Wed 12-Mar-14 18:55:30

Just googled the growth mindset stuff and it does seem to be looking at the positive, you can improve your intelligence stuff rather than failure is good for you.

NL sorry to hear that - it's such a hard road when your DC are struggling to see things positively.

rabbitstew Wed 12-Mar-14 19:20:49

I would have thought the speaking and listening parts of the French exam would be the most affected by a candidate's anxiety. If your dd has nevertheless managed to get a good A in the French speaking part of the exam, surely that actually bodes well for the rest of it? Nerves shouldn't have quite such a big impact on her written work, giving her every chance to make up marks and move from an A to an A*.

As for swimming - exercise is supposed to help with academic performance, and make you feel more cheerful, if you don't overdo it! A classic sign of anxiety getting a bit on top of you is to want to stay in to focus on the cause of your anxiety rather than get out and burn off some of your excess adrenalin in a more positive way. Both ways make you feel equally physically exhausted, so it can become a vicious cycle, as you start to feel too tired to do anything but exhaust yourself focusing on what is making you anxious. Can you go swimming with her??? Or even just go out for a walk with her for 20 minutes, if the whole getting to the pool and getting wet faff is too much hassle for her at the moment? Or even get her laughing at a few silly jokes???

rabbitstew Wed 12-Mar-14 19:23:15

If you can laugh a bit at yourself, it can sometimes break the tension. It makes you remember that life doesn't always have to be so serious.

venturabay Wed 12-Mar-14 21:31:10

rabbit the written exams count for a smaller percentage of the overall grade.

Northernlurker sorry to hear she's subdued. It's so important to try to persuade her to see things in a more relative light - there are far more exhausting exams ahead.

motown3000 Wed 12-Mar-14 22:25:51

It is a very good school Tilly.. Its just though that with a bit more of an emphasis on the 19 higher ability students and not on the extra 14 students taken on . I wish the school had not taken all of the extra 14 Statemented pupils at a cost to the higher ability students learning.

"The Ex Grammar School boy" with the right Discipline and help is capable of 9 A* or at least A grades , my DD could get 2 or 3 A or A* grades and the other 17 " High Ability " students similar, the school should get at least 50 Grade As with these 19 students if the school channelled some extra resources towards them.

The problem though is if the school lets these pupils think B grades are adequate , when the students should be achieving higher grades.

BirdintheWings Thu 13-Mar-14 08:36:12

Schools don't get a choice about taking on students with statements, as the statement may well name that school as the best one to meet the child's needs -- which have to be quite severe. If the other units closed down, your school presumably is the next best thing for those children, tough though it is on all concerned.

(I have one who combines very high ability with serious, and statemented, special needs, by the way.)

Martorana Thu 13-Mar-14 08:54:21

"I wish the school had not taken all of the extra 14 Statemented pupils at a cost to the higher ability students learning."

And you're quite sure these statemented pupils aren't also higher ability students, are you? hmm

BirdintheWings Thu 13-Mar-14 09:05:00

Well, no, Martorana, Motown did say that at least one of the high ability students has a statement.

AtiaoftheJulii Thu 13-Mar-14 09:06:59

Interesting to read this thread. I'm not so sure it's the predicted grades that are at fault, I think the personality of the child has a lot more to do with it.

y12 dd1 had (iirc) 10 out of 12 A* predictions. She wasn't bothered at all by this, although she thought it would be good to get the 5 she wanted. Was very laidback about revision, to the point of driving me mad - you just want them to do their best, and I could see she wasn't really. I told her I thought eldest kids were supposed to be the Type A perfectionists wink

y11 dd2 is the stresshead. And her target grades are mostly B's, because she didn't go to school until y9 and her targets seem to have been plucked from thin air by the FFT. She finds that really really annoying. She is aiming at A*s for as many as possible (and I don't even want to think about what's going to happen if she doesn't get at least as many as dd1). Her teachers gave her predictions for her 6th form college application (because she refused to write down the B's!) and most said "A - I think you can get an A* but I don't like to predict that" which seems a reasonable attitude). She got an A in her History controlled assessment and came home and cried her eyes out. So her pressure comes entirely from within. (And I have done a bit of CBT from a kids' workbook with her!)

I find them both difficult in their own ways. When one is being frustrating, the other is a good antidote, but life would be easier if they were both somewhere in the middle!

PowderMum Thu 13-Mar-14 09:10:38

I'll admit that I haven't read the whole thread, but I want to support the OP as my DD1 went through this over the last 2 years, she was a very bright student and had very high targets throughout her schooling, however I always encouraged her extra curricular activities so that she had a balance with her academic work. When choosing her options for GCSE she chose one for 'fun' related to her hobby (music) and was always expected to get a lower grade in this. I always felt there was little point in arguing with her teachers about the high expectations as she fitted into the will do well box on their sheet.

Her main problem was stress/nerves/panic attacks and she really struggled in her mocks to the extent where she didn't complete some of the papers and had to leave the room. This was down to the pressure she put on herself and the expectations of top grades.

After this Together with her teachers we worked on strategies to help her and to lower her expectations, focussing on the subjects she wanted to study beyond GCSE. She also took Rescue Remedy (not sure of the medical evidence but it definitely worked), ensured that she had arranged lifts to school so she was there in plenty of time to prepare herself for her exams and she managed to sit through all her real exams and complete them.

She didn't get all A* just 7 with 4 A grades including her fun subject which was a total surprise. We are now facing exactly the same scenario with A levels.

DD2 is in her GCSE year now and although academically able she is not one of the star pupils so she has predicted grades of A/B for her subjects, she works hard but not at the stress level that her sister did and she can see that if she works hard she will achieve her target or exceed it and if she doesn't then she will get a lower grade and it will be down to her, it is so much more relaxing. It is also much easier to motivate her, this week she has taken 2 tests and I was able to encourage her to revise without putting on pressure we were able to discuss the possible outcomes and she was really happy to have achieved an A in both.

BirdintheWings Thu 13-Mar-14 09:27:48

Some very mixed experiences on this thread. I do think that in some ways the children with high-ish but not sky-high targets may be in the happiest boat.

DS's policy of confusing his teachers by getting A*s in some tests and Ds (or, memorably, U) in others, seemingly at random, means that his targets are all A or B. So the school was happy to let him bung in a subject he really wanted to do (dance) even though he wasn't likely to do wonderfully well. B or C in a string of similar grades looks just fine, whereas a friend with higher targets was warned off doing art in case it spoilt her perfect run of A*.

In fact, he's now unofficially predicted an A in dance and may well carry it through to sixth form.

bigTillyMint Thu 13-Mar-14 10:45:09

Powdermum, that is an encouraging storysmile

Isn't it worrying that so many of our DC are suffering with nerves/stress/panic attacks and worse. I don't remember it being such an issue when I was a teensad

totallyuseless Thu 13-Mar-14 10:54:38

Bigtillymint. I dont understand it either and I did GCSEs. The children have lots of advantages we didn't... internet, tutors, revision books, mobile apps and parental support so why do they have so much more pressure than we had?

AtiaoftheJulii Thu 13-Mar-14 11:11:34

Maybe that's a large part of it - with all these resources there's less 'excuse' to be less than perfect? And an ever-rising bar to jump over: more people going to university, more competition for university, more parents who went to university passing on (unconsciously perhaps) their almost-inevitable expectations ...

But then, my daughters have been the way they are since they were little - I could have predicted these reactions 10 years ago - which is why I mostly think it's just their nature.

rabbitstew Thu 13-Mar-14 11:15:28

totallyuseless - haven't you answered your own question?! I presume you were being sarcastic?

About expectations .... I do hope that both my DC will find a course that interests them, be accepted on it, and go to Uni, because they are bright and interested in many things, because I went and it was a good start to adult life, and because it may give them more choices for future options in life.
But a recent family tragedy has sharpened my perspective that I'm lucky to have them both in my life, and hope they can choose life paths that will make them happy.
It can be easy I think to fall into a competitive trap, and for what purpose?
Hopefully they will do well enough to enable them to have interesting choices. That is all.

bigTillyMint Thu 13-Mar-14 13:07:08

rabbit, I don't think totally is being sarcastic - it just seems really strange that despite a lot of support that we didn't have, teens are finding the exam process more distressing.

Completely agree juggling.

rabbitstew Thu 13-Mar-14 13:31:18

Well, it seems to me that the more revision books, tutors, anxious parents, apps and internet we have, it stands to reason the more stress we will have. There's a massive industry out there, telling us that we mustn't rely solely on teachers, but must also download apps, look on the internet, buy revision books, see tutors and be monitored by anxious parents. I managed to get top marks in all my exams without any of that - way less stressful than quadrupling my workload by telling me I might get better tips here, there and everybloodywhere else. Since when did making life MORE complicated make it LESS stressful???

Thanks Tilly thanks

Dinosaursareextinct Thu 13-Mar-14 14:01:19

I agree Juggling. When will the competitiveness stop? That's why I suggested sending the anxious perfectionist DD to a non-top uni, to allow her to get out of the competitive cycle and enjoy life a bit more. Mental health and happiness are pretty important, after all.

totallyuseless Thu 13-Mar-14 14:19:28

I wasn't being sarcastic in the slightest I was agreeing with Tilly. Funny how we read things differently.

Having thought about the issue I think children are forced into doing subjects they think they should do instead of doing the subjects they like. It starts at GCSE options instead of choosing Drama a child might be advised to do History because it looks better or when choosing A levels a child might be advised to do facilitating subjects rather than subjects they enjoy but are not as well respected.
When I was at school I just chose the subjects I enjoyed, that seems to be a thing of the past.

bigTillyMint Thu 13-Mar-14 14:55:05

Dinosaurs, if DD ever gets that far, that is what I will be doing too.

motown3000 Thu 13-Mar-14 16:11:57

The "Ex Grammar School Boy" is at DDs 1 School because of "Bloody" targets and pressure brought on by his parents. I have known him since Primary school. ( He is a Close Friend of DD and the school have used her to put an arm round him when he is upset).

He was given a " Managed Move from the Grammar" after several incidents the final straw being a breakdown in the Chemistry Labs last October. The "Boys"
parents insisted on a Managed Move and a letter from the school saying that DS "Could Still be considered for their Sixth Form". They then started "Touting" him around all the local Private schools , when no private schools would touch him , reluctantly sent him to "That School".

They are saying to him , that they will be disgusted with him if he does not get 10A* and back in to the Grammar. ( It is the Last place on earth he wants to go) The Grammar School letter said "Consider" nothing else.
They expect him to get 4 As at A level, they are Dismayed that his "Current School's average grade for A levels is D- not B+ of the Grammar School.

He is not helped by being compared to his elder sister who is Yr 12 at the Girls Grammar and is aiming for a Career in Medicine ( She is A lovely girl and is very kind to DD2 as her Yr 8 prefect) She is always asking about my Niece who was her prefect which is nice. She should though be sticking up for her brother and asking her parents to give him some slack.

I am a great believer in Grammar Schools, but sometimes even bright students don't fit in there. The Boy has settled down this year , one of the best things he has told me though is that he gets "Praise" from the teachers for doing something good ,at the Grammar nothing was ever said just expected. He is the kind of Boy who benefits from praise not "Just being taken for granted". I just hope though that the school can get him 9 or 10 A* and keep him for Sixth Form.

The parents of the ex grammar boy need a sharp slap and a dose of seeing what life can throw at you. I've worked in hospitals in admin for the last umpteen years. All I want for my kids is good physical and mental health. Telling your child you will be disgusted with less than an A* is child abuse imo.

Regarding subjects you like versus those you should take. Dd is interested in a science degree atm. Entrance requirements are biology plus another science. That's no problem. However she wants to do 2 (facilitating) arts subjects as well. So far so good. Her prospective head of 6th form firstly said she should be looking at medicine and all science -levels with grades like hers (which made me furious because a) she doesn't want to do medicine and b) we don't want her going for that sort of pressured degree unless she's passionate about it. Then he said she should do maths instead. So she e-mailed a couple of unis including Oxford and got the replies that no, what she'd picked was adequate BUT then we looked at Oxford stats for the course and overwhelmingly most people who got an offer were doing 3 science subjects (counting maths as a science). Only 7% who got offers had an a-level make up like she is proposing. Now on the one hand you can say well she is special - because she is actually a genuine all rounder which brings something to the table that the heavy on the science side kids don't AND there is an aptitude test as part of the admissions process which would allow her to show her competency (assuming she IS that competent grin) BUT on the other hand you start thinking she SHOULD do maths instead of one of the arts subjects. That way madness lies I think and I am currently encouraging her to talk more to unis and keep an open mind. It's just very hard. I don't remember a-level choices being this fraught. Mind you maybe that's why I didn't get in to Cambridge - one of my a-levels was Theatre studies. Ideally tbh I'm not keen on her applying to Oxbridge but she's quite interested. Given how we're doing at the moment I have reservations to say the least.

rabbitstew Thu 13-Mar-14 18:23:32

No chance of her doing the IB and keeping her subject options a bit more open than with A-levels?

rabbitstew Thu 13-Mar-14 18:25:41

I loved maths A-level: did it with arts subjects and it was lovely to have a non-essay subject. If you're good at maths, it's quite easy - much less revision than the other subjects I did.

Her school was the only one in the city to offer the IB but they aren't anymore. The deputy head who led on it has left and anecdotally I heard the results/uni offers weren't working out as well as they felt they should. it would have been a good solution for her. Aaaargh!

As things stand she would be doing biology, chemistry, history and English lit which I think is a really nice balance for her. It's looking increasingly likely she will do GCSE Further Maths so perhaps we'll see how that goes.

She's at a science quiz tonight, desperately hoping she's having a good time. Can't be doing with anymore disappointment for her.

Oh and rabbitstew thank you for continuing to post after I snarled at you yesterday grin I think I'm feeling the parental stress a bit. Had one nightmare that dd3 was being stole by social services (that's how it was in my dream, I know they don't actually steal kids) then last night dreamt I forgot to take dd to quiz OR pick up dd3 from after school club and it was about 3 hours too late.....

bigTillyMint Thu 13-Mar-14 19:14:07

rabbitstew, I did maths for the same reasons! And French as I was/am pretty fluent. Made a mistake taking chemistry instead of English though - it was waaaayyyy too too much learning of facts for megrin

rabbitstew Thu 13-Mar-14 19:39:10

That's OK, Northernlurker. grin I once had a nightmare that I was having a lovely day chatting with my parents in the garden when I suddenly remembered I had children and I'd left them locked in a room all day, because I'd forgotten!

I HATE those dreams!

Ok so looks like she had an ok time.

rabbitstew Thu 13-Mar-14 20:36:50

I'm glad she enjoyed the science quiz!

You dd's A-level choices sound fantastic, although quite hard work. I honestly think maths is a great option for someone good at maths, as it really saves time for you to concentrate on the other essay and fact-heavy subjects, but nevertheless looks great on your CV and is helpful for any science subject at university. The problem is choosing between English and history, I guess, if she opts for maths. My opinion would be that maths is less work for the perfectionist (who can always think that an essay could be improved upon), but for the same amount of credit. grin

AtiaoftheJulii Thu 13-Mar-14 21:11:44

Yup, my dd1 is doing Maths along with arts A levels, and finding it pretty easy and far less time-consuming than the others. Also, no coursework smile

venturabay Thu 13-Mar-14 21:48:09

Northernlurker I have a DC at Oxford reading Medicine and he had a mix of sciences and humanities and didn't take maths at A2. In fact he's a scholar. Sometimes the schools give pretty workaday advice. Go to the university websites instead.

venturabay Thu 13-Mar-14 22:00:00

I can't see that Theatre Studies is a problem either. I know a number of students who have got an Oxbridge offer with Theatre Studies (especially for English), or Art and Design. I have a DC who was an Oxford undergrad and is still there doing postgrad who had Art and Design as one of her three A2s. Doing one of those sort of subjects is obviously not a reason in itself not to get an offer, even these days, when there are so many more applications than there were even a decade ago.

Milliways Thu 13-Mar-14 22:14:48

Your DD sounds like mine OP. All through secondary she set herself targets to get to the top of each class in each subject (after failing to get into the Grammar school). The pressure they give themselves gets fuelled by the teachers and goes mad!

I remember in floods of tears before her AS exams because "I'm the A* girl so now I'm expected to get 5 A's!".

Having a laid back DS was quite a relief throughout his exam periods.

Good luck with her exams, I'm sure they are worse for the parents smile

rabbitstew Thu 13-Mar-14 22:51:54

bigTillyMint - I did the A-levels you should have done! grin

PowderMum Mon 17-Mar-14 14:15:28

OP my DD1 is looking to do a science/engineering subject at university too, although not a 'life' science as she dropped biology post GCSE. She is considering Oxford, not Cambridge as she doesn't like the course plus other RG Unis.
Her 4 AS options include a non science subject which was so she could keep her options open and possibly study economics/law/politics, when she was choosing last year she could not make the final decision. 6 months into the subjects she has now almost certainly decided to pursue the science route and will drop that subject for her A2 year unless both her and her teachers agree that she will be able to achieve top grades in her other subjects plus a good grade in this. For her preferred course she is likely to get offers based on 3 A2s at A/A* I just hope that her nerves can hold out.
Yes it is narrowing down her subjects but she wants to follow this path so she needs to start to specialise.

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