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 ;-(....

hardboiled Wed 14-Nov-12 10:02:00

Hi gazzalw, joining this late...But I couldn't help being surprised at the way your DS school "grades" the students. It seems his grade depends on what the other children are attaining as in "average" or "top", whereas I always thought a grade reflects an individual's knowledge and attainment on a particular subject... Maybe the bar is set very high in grammar schools and it does reflect his first assesment results, but it shouldn't be explained to you in terms of position within the group, I don't think that's a constructive healthy way of thinking iykwim! But then it's all about competition these days isn't it. Very tiring.

gazzalw Wed 14-Nov-12 10:15:48

Hi Hardboiled, yes I agree. Mind you, we did always used to complain that the primary school reports didn't at all reflect how DS was getting on in relation to his peers so maybe we've been hoisted by our own petard!!!

No, in a way I don't think it's constructive but DS is very competitive so I think it might be what he needs to get himself back in the running...

One would hope that these schools do know what they're doing and have a good rationale for doing it.... ;-)

hardboiled Wed 14-Nov-12 10:24:41

I'm sure they do! And you're right, some kids do get their motivation out of knowing where they stand in relation to their peers.

gazzalw Wed 14-Nov-12 10:28:28

Is it the way they work in public schools, does anyone know? I ask because there was talk of an academy being set up nearby (with some support from a Head from one of the well known public schools in the Home Counties) and they were very hot on the whole idea of year group league tables....

JustFabulous Wed 14-Nov-12 10:29:22

I honestly think what other boys do is irrelevant to what grade your son gets. There isn't a limit on how many A's can be handed out. Other boys being tutored doesn't stop your son working to a high ability. It maybe that he has been getting high marks easily but now that the work is harder he has to work harder as it comes less naturally to him.

Use this as a wake up call for all of you.

twoterrors Wed 14-Nov-12 12:07:40

I think in selective and very selective schools it is more common to use the cohort in that school as some sort of benchmark as lots of the kids are on track for all or mostly As or A* at GCSE. Knowing roughly where your dc are can be useful as it provides context: what classes are like in their weaker subjects, how long homework should take. They are not necessarily to be competitive over (tho' am sure there is some of that but it happens anyway!).

One of mine was always in the middle at maths - that was reassuring because the middle get good grades. We just get told what the average mark in exams is for that year group, so you just have a rough idea.

changejustforyou Wed 14-Nov-12 12:15:19

For what it's worth, Ds was top at his local state primary school, when he started sec private school(untutored) , only average. I also know that by midterm/now the grades in some subjects are only assessed by 1 or 2 tests.If unlucky with these he might not have shown his real capabilty.
(dd wants to be a hairdresser or a waitress, don't think she would be interested in engineering, astronaut or accountancy....)

seeker Wed 14-Nov-12 12:24:46

"I'm sure they do! And you're right, some kids do get their motivation out of knowing where they stand in relation to their peers."

And you think they don't know?grin However much we try to prevent them from finding out?

bigTillyMint Wed 14-Nov-12 12:42:07

Seeker, true saywink

DD knows EXACTLY where she stands in relation to her individual classes and sets/year group.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 14-Nov-12 13:40:28

Kids do have a feel for where they are in their group...given this, I wonder whether it is actually better for them to have an accurate placement rather than one that may be a bit skewed by over/under confidence?

Not necessarily individual places but average and range is useful.

gelo Wed 14-Nov-12 13:41:13

Not true that all children know their exact class ranking though - maybe most have a fairly accurate idea, a fair few have either inflated or deflated opinions of their ability and one or two dreamers drift along without having a clue (or caring).

gazzalw Wed 14-Nov-12 15:52:11

Well I wouldn't say DS is overly confident but he obviously had a vastly over-inflated view of his class position in maths!!! He reckoned he was in the middle!

bigTillyMint Wed 14-Nov-12 16:45:23

Like others have said, it may be that he just did relatively badly on an end of topic test, but is middling in lessons

Nuttyprofessor Thu 15-Nov-12 21:47:13

DS at super selective grammar. The letter grades were for effort and the attainment was measured as a sat score, maybe it is the same.

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