To Be Shocked That DS Got A 'D' In His First Half-Termly Report At Grammar School

(114 Posts)
gazzalw Mon 12-Nov-12 13:19:12

Not sure if I'm looking for reassurance or what but here goes...

DS has always been regarded as very good at maths by his teachers and us (well he was at primary school) and got a Level 5A in his KS2 SATs. He did do Level 6 and didn't pass but we assumed that was because he was actually ill when he did the exam (not an excuse but he did have slapped cheek virus quite badly) and the primary school teacher who was coaching his year to the Level 6 curriculum was off sick for the last half term so they didn't complete the work.

We had always assumed that he had passed his three 11+ exams on the basis of his maths, NVR/VR skills rather than his English (for which he got a 5B in KS2 SATS) which has never been his strongest subject not one that particularly interests him.

Note he hasn't been tutored in maths at all.

Anyway, going to a super-selective we were under no illusions that he would be a top dog in any subject, but in maths would have probably expected him to be average in the class. Looking at how he's been getting on in his homework it doesn't look as if he's had any major issues with not understanding the work.

So imagine our shock (and his) when he got his first report and although he has got Bs for most subjects (including English) which put him in the middle of the class (no problem with that especially as he is quite lazy), he got a 'D' for maths and is apparently one of the bottom three in the class of 30 boys!

What would your opinion be? I guess it might just be a reflection of the fact that in a boys grammar school they are generally maths whizzes, that a lot of them have been tutored and are working well above the baseline levels that you would expect even of grammar school children, that maths is one of those subjects that it's easier to coach ahead in and a lot of them have been coached ahead (he says that most of them have tutors although difficult to know whether that is indeed true), that he wasn't taught to such a high standard as other boys at his primary school or that he just isn't naturally as good at maths as his cohort?

I know that as parents we can think our children are brilliant when they're obviously not, but the thing is we have always wholeheartedly felt he has some latent skill at maths - maybe he has but just compared to his classmates it doesn't seem that way!

That would essentially put him in the bottom group in his Year (unless he just happens to be in the class most capable at maths!) which I find hard to believe as he is quite clearly a lot more competent than we were at the same age (and we went to grammar schools and were not in the bottom sets)

Hope to get some insights rather than being shouted down....I guess the bottom line is that in high achieving grammars someone has got to be at the bottom ;-(....

GrimmaTheNome Mon 12-Nov-12 22:06:39

Though you do hear of some who apparently use imaginary numbers...

MordionAgenos Mon 12-Nov-12 22:08:33

You know the Z plane is an actual maths thing, right? grin

Yellowtip Mon 12-Nov-12 22:09:54

I avoided the accountancy thing for fear Mordion might slay me with a 'love'.

QOD Mon 12-Nov-12 22:12:00

My dd is at grammar school and the grades in the first two years were based on 5's to 7's
It's only now she's doing options in year 9 and starting GCSE course work that she's being graded a D' to B's
What the D he's getting? Is it his current GCSE level?

MordionAgenos Mon 12-Nov-12 22:17:31

I think you have to come from Croydon to actually get the full, you know, weight, of that word though. Athough I've deployed it literally all over the world with basically pretty good success. grin

gazza tell your DS to tell his mates (or, as it may be, the fellow students he'd not want to be seen dead with - I guess it could go either way) that if they genuinely want to be accountants - or at least, if they want to do the really properly interesting and well paid stuff - it's their writing they need to focus on.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 12-Nov-12 22:19:29

>You know the Z plane is an actual maths thing, right?
Oh yes - Scientists and engineers do legal things with imaginary numbers grin

racingheart Mon 12-Nov-12 23:04:10

seeker - not academically it's not. Not for loads of kids. They languish and learn very little, especially the bright ones, in unstreamed Yr7 classes.

But to move from state primary to selective grammar, to be suddenly surrounded by pupils who are brighter than you, learn faster, work harder, and to have teachers who expect a lot from you is a big shock to DC who are used to coming top, even when they coast, in primary school.
It's a bigger jump, academically.

gazzalw Tue 13-Nov-12 07:21:46

Thanks everyone...and in fact DS came home yesterday and said he'd done well in his fractions work and said "I'm doing stuff I like at the moment" which I guess says it all and fits in with the peaks and troughs factor!

Yes, agree that half a class aspiring to be accountants is not the way to go really - BORING. I don't remember it being quite like that when I was at grammar school - broader aspirations...

Yes, hello GatheringLilacs, agree that the problem is that someone has got to be bottom of the class - it's just a pity when it's one's son!

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 08:16:53

Did you actually mean to sound so rude? And, you know, ignorant?

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Tue 13-Nov-12 08:22:14

Eh, Mord?

twoterrors Tue 13-Nov-12 08:23:12

I wouldn't worry about this from the grade POV, but I would check that he doesn't have gaps in knowledge or understanding from primary school - that he never really understood decimals or how to use a scientific calculator or something. They will be going fast so it can get very confusing - and demoralising - if the foundations are not secure. If there are gaps, fill them and perhaps a bit of practise. Then he can fly.

Both my children seem to be strongest in maths on topics mostly just taught in secondary school - I think having specialists makes a big difference in maths. We had to go back and plug one or two gaps (learning a workable, fast method for long division, for example).

It should absolutely be OK to go to the school about anything on a report that is not explained or comes as a surprise. They will want him to do well - and if he can do fractions, he can do it!

GrimmaTheNome Tue 13-Nov-12 08:37:13

Its not whether its boring or not that - joking aside - is an issue. (I've heard that senior financial positions entered via accountancy can be very interesting). What is troubling is that so many of our brightest would not be more interested in making money rather than manipulating it. As in, activities which make life enhancing stuff which creates money for the economy not just for themselves.

Sorry, way OT!

PropositionJoe Tue 13-Nov-12 08:47:26

Don't panic, he probably needs to work a bit harder. Check his books - are there careless mistakes? He can't get away with that any more (and now he knows!)

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 08:59:48

If we leave aside the fact that accountancy is a profession which covers a multitude of activities from regulation down to book-keeping - most accountants are actually employed in industry even now (in the face of our shrinking manufacturing sector).Those people clearly contribute to the making of money rather than the manipulating of it (although that's a ridiculously simplistic dichotomy anyway). The next biggest group are probably those employed in the public sector, where arguably they are contributing to activities of social worth.

It is impossible to set up as an entrepreneur/inventor without the support of a decent accountant. It is impossible to run a business employing people without the support of a decent accountant. And as I understand it - I know quite a few - most inventor-entrepreneurs have very peculiar brains. In,obviously, a really good way. But none of the ones I have met were ever particularly academic and none of them went to super selective schools.

None of the cleverest people I knew at Cambridge are inventors or entrepreneurs either. They are almost all working in the arts and/or telly. It is possible I moved in the wrong circles though.

HappyTurquoise Tue 13-Nov-12 09:07:53

Am interested in your OP. DD was level 6 for maths and English by year 5 and at super selective grammar she was in the bottom third of her class for maths. I was surprised (she has been at normal primary schools, no tutor) as she has soaked up maths like a sponge and never had any difficulty understanding. Discussed this at the parent's evening and within 2 terms she had moved to the top third. I think it was just a few areas she hadn't been taught because of moving from school to school, and once explained, she understood. She also lost some marks with silly mistakes on an early paper, and she hardly does that now.

seeker Tue 13-Nov-12 09:15:55

If it helps, my dd was in set 6 of 7 all the way through grammar school and got an A at GCSE. Usually the sets get smaller as they get lower, so there is more individual attention.

tiggytape Tue 13-Nov-12 09:16:43

Of course accountancy can be a secure and worthwhile profession. It is just uncommon for young children to appreciate its benefits since it appeals to things that are more adult concerns (like decent promotion prospects and job security) rather than benefits that are traditionally more appealing to children (like excitement, earning £1million in your first year or a cool uniform!)

As an 18 year old adult, to be considering a career in accountancy shows good sense and ambition. It just seems a little odd for so many 11 year olds to know much about it, let alone aspire to it, when there are so many more obviously exciting alternatives (albeit these are often unrealistic to an adult mind and may well be rejected in favour of paying the mortgage and long term prospects).

It would be nice to think that the brightest minds aspired to great discoveries, technological feats or finding medical cures. There’s plenty of time later for worrying about recession-proofing your career, decent pension prospects and providing a sound financial framwork for the benefit and employment of others.

seeker Tue 13-Nov-12 09:18:47

Bear in mind that the "half the class want to be accountants" remark came from an 11 year old. It probably meant that the child next to him when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up said "an accountant" because it was the first profession he could think of.

dysfunctionalme Tue 13-Nov-12 09:20:46

Isn't it quite normal for super-smart children to flounder a bit when they move up from primary? They come up against other clever children and have to learn to work for their marks rather than coast. I am sure it has been a shock for you all but sometimes these things are excellent learning opportunities. Your son is obviously v clever and has good support at home, he will surely do well.

outtolunchagain Tue 13-Nov-12 09:23:24

I am an accountantwink, I have a degree from Durham , so was no slouch academically and trained with a top 5 firm ( the top in fact) .

It really annoys me when the cliches about accountancy come out . To be a good accountant you need to be both numerate and literate , you need not just to understand and interpret the numbers yourself but also to be able to explain those conclusions to your client . The modern profession is very customer focused and excellent communication skills are vital.

It's an excellent all round training; as an audit trainee you could be in a different business almost every couple of weeks , you need to be able to work in teams and for a variety of managers simultaneously You need the confidence to talk to members of the clients accounts teams who may not have as high a level of education as yourself and may not understand what your purpose is , you need to get the confidence of those people and yearn to ask the right question to get the right answer.

In my first year I saw the inside of all sorts of business from Hotels to reinsurers to sherry producers . I had a much more interesting time than some desk bound university contemporaries.

I have never had any problem getting a job either .the skills are very transferable . I now work for a largish charity , I have an intellectually stimulating role and it's fairly family friendly .Many accountants travel the world and manage to work as an accountant while they do it.

So whilst it may not be as glamorous as some other jobs please do not dismiss us as boring number crunchers .

GrimmaTheNome Tue 13-Nov-12 09:28:32

Oh, I know accountants are necessary...in other (thriving) countries they seem to have a relatively lower status though, its not something the brightest would necessarily be looking towards at age 11. I wonder what the aspirations are in a similar class in Germany. Probably has more to do with the undervaluing of scientists and especially engineers in our society

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 09:32:24

It's likely that several of the class have parents who are accountants.

And in fact I wouldn't necessarily recommend anyone who is 11 to consider the profession, to be honest, the way things are. However that's got nothing to do with boredom - quite the reverse in fact. Interesting times.......

@tiggy - the way you describe accountancy sounds amazing. Also, sadly, hugely wide of the mark in both directions - you emphasise a downside that doesn't really exist and an upside that is sadly a thing of the past for anyone under 55 (the stuff like good pensions).

Theas18 Tue 13-Nov-12 09:32:57

Selective or superselective school?

If superselective I really wouldn't worry. Certainly our schools locally take the top 10% approx. Therefore, by a simple matter of statistics (and I know it isn't as straight forward as this) even the " bottom child" in ability is going to be brighter /more able than 90/100 of his peers. (so you would be in the top 3 ina junior class of 30..)

Leaving the accountants etc aside LOL I'd have a chat with school/form tutor to ask if there are any issues and that just try to address the possible " laziness" issues, and wait and see.

It could be that they've done a relatively small number of assessments on which to base the mark and one or two were where he didn't get the point of the task or something and dragged the overall result down.

I have no idea how prevalent tutoring is at grammar schools. We have never done it at all, at we can't unique in that.

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 09:34:53

Oh yes, I forgot the third sector. Without accountants the third sector would be completely stuffed, right outtolunch? grin

outtolunchagain Tue 13-Nov-12 09:35:19

I think you are confusing book keeping with accountancy .

I suspect that if this school is in outer London the simple explanation is that many of the children have parents who are accountants grin

Not sure why you think children in Germany would have amazing aspirations , the German education system is renowned for its rigidity.confused

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