With the streamed sets, is it possible to look at the fact that if he is not in the higher sets then certain options/grades won't be open to him, eg not being able to sit triple science, or the higher papers in maths etc, and how this reduces his options?
That's a good idea re: older boys Nagy - I'll have a think.
I think he benefitted pre-secondary from having a competitive set of kids around him who all wanted to do well which lifted his own game. Not sure how that has translated to a larger cohort of kids and streamed classes.
I do think some boys do coast until they have something to aim at. They understand that they need good gcse grades to get onto an A level course but it all seems a long way off. It's easier if they have some idea of what they want to do/study after school.
Get him to look what grades etc he needs for various couses and jobs. Maybe get other slightly older young men to say what they did or didn't do if you know any. I have 5 DS and my 15 yearold takes notice of older brothers and cousin if not me or DH.
Also don't let him tell you nobody at school is working hard. Lots are even if they deny it to look cool. It's a bit like everyone else has XYZ or going out all the time when really it's very few.