Is it usual to need a grade A GCSE to do A level maths now?

(427 Posts)
Jella2u Fri 23-Aug-13 16:59:37

Disappointment here too. Son has got 10 GCSE's grade A-C. So what's the prob? You have no prob! Yes I do!!!
He got a grade B, yes that's right, B for Bertie for Maths. The school (which is a comprehensive turned Academy ) will let him do his Physics, Chemistry and Biology, but not Maths for which they say a Grade A is required unless you've clocked up a total of 224 points between the last 2 module papers. Unfortunately his tally was 205. Husband went up suited and booted to the school this morning to plead son's case. Phoned us this afternoon - no go. Have said this to all who got a B. So nothing personal there.
Have tried to contact other schools this afternoon. Needless to say all are shut. Local Authority very helpful and recommended emailing. Are schools running a clearing system that I don't know about? Do tell.
School did offer Statistics as a replacement this morning, but by this afternoon that was off the menu as no-one wants to do it. There are 7 pupils in this maths grade B situation who want to do A level Maths. Strangely the school says Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Maths are the most difficult subjects. So they might be for most people, but what if your child is the one that has had to struggle with French, Music, English Language and bid their time to do the supposed hard four?
We feel he needs A level maths to support science subjects.
Unfortunately, I said we would be back with an answer as to taking up a place with some sort of substitute for Maths before term starts. Every chance if I can't get something sorted fast he will be a well educated NEET!!!
All ideas welcome. Thanks in advance.

Noblegiraffe, my son's maths teacher said exactly the same as you when he said he was considering A level maths. As it turned out my son got a B yesterday in his GCSE and immediately dropped the idea of studying maths any further and is taking English lit instead. smile

PatriciaHolm Fri 23-Aug-13 20:07:00

If you didn't trust the school to get him a top GCSE maths grade, why would you trust them to get him a top A grade? It sounds as if, even with your help, he's just not as good at maths as you would like him to be. Surely it's best to concentrate on subjects he enjoys and will excel at; a level maths sounds like it could be hell for all of you.

Does he actually want to be a engineer or is that the family expectation?

TheSecondComing Fri 23-Aug-13 20:14:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ethelb Fri 23-Aug-13 20:31:49

@patricia I do hate the assumption that people who do maths and science only do it due to parental pressure. Such an anti-intellectual position.

PatriciaHolm Fri 23-Aug-13 20:36:46

Ethel, I wasn't implying that at all and I don't think my post suggested that.
It may be that the boy here loves those subjects. However, the OPs post suggests that he will become an engineer like his relatives but doesn't mention anything about his own wishes. If he does end up doing a subject he doesn't love (whatever that subject is)and isn't great at, he will have a miserable couple of years. I did a level maths, further maths and economics, so i do know a bit about what I'm talking about!

Jella2u Fri 23-Aug-13 21:26:04

Resolution is coming!!!! Er, Hopefully.

Have spoken to son and husband is now home.

This was my son's suggestion : put in for the Chemistry, Biology and Physics and then...... chose a very soft option for the fourth choice and make no effort in it. The school will think we have acquiesced and jump at this because they'll want the thousands the council will pay for son and at the same time think they are going to keep their exam results up. So they will, but not for that fourth option.

This will give us the time and energy to do maths at home and enter son as an independent candidate. The school runs a continental day from 8.50 to 2.25 (half hour lunch) and is within walking distance.

I will teach him the maths. Fortunately I don't work. I had my son late in life and would be a pensioner - if the Government would let me. I did not realise this what they had lined up for me! We will at least cover all the syllabus and there will be none of this "We don't teach the whole book" nonsense having started a term early. Not good enough.

My son was worried that it was a lot to put on me. No other sensible option. Bite the bullet. No moaning. No groaning. That's life. Get on with it. You ain't going to change the system.

Others have written to check out uni requirements. My husband is the Engineering Manager at a Company with about 450 people working for him. The Universities fit company requirements not the other way. Take note.

My husband who has three degrees does not have Further Maths and says it is not essential at all for Engineering. "What do you want Further Maths for - talking out of their rear end!"

Someone will come back and say why not pay privately. Fees have gone up well beyond inflation, we are getting older and the pension money looms. If we can back up the system, why not run with it. We will firm things up by paying for Christmas/Easter residential revision schools.

All well and good for us by-passing the system, but what about the others forced to put up and shut up or move on? Do you have to accept what you are given. A bit too much of the Oxfam victim meeting Mother Theresa going on. We don't have to be grateful. We've paid for it.

Off to order the very same books he would have studied from.
We will succeed with the B grade even if the school thinks its beyond them!!!! Just hope it's some time before it dawns on them what we're up to.

Sconset Fri 23-Aug-13 21:42:30

A Level maths is nothing like GCSE maths- GCSE maths is just arithmetic really, A level starts to touch on real mathematics.

If he got a B, he won't do that well at A level without intense coaching, and even then he may not do well, depending where his talents lie.

He could go to a different college, and they may let him do the options he wants, or he can look at doing different subjects, but I agree with the school- they don't want to set him up for failure, they'll want him to be successful, and that means studying his strongest subjects.

What are you waffling on about, paying for it? If a student isn't capable of a course, they're not capable of it- it doesn't matter how much their parents have paid in tax! hmm Many children do not go on to A Level after GCSE, they aren't academically able enough. He obviously is capable of A level study, but he needs to looking at which subjects he will do well enough in to get to the next stage- his choice of university course.

Jella2u Fri 23-Aug-13 21:49:13

We don't expect to be loved for by-passing the system.
It will require effort on our part.
Support would be appreciated.
Sorry to upset you.

OddBoots Fri 23-Aug-13 21:52:15

There's nothing wrong with taking an alternative route if you've thought it through and understand and accept what it involves. I hope it works out for you.

noblegiraffe Fri 23-Aug-13 21:56:28

Try to get the school login for mymaths, it has interactive lessons on the entire core maths syllabus and a lot of the applied modules.

PenelopePitstops Fri 23-Aug-13 22:01:42

You sound insufferable.

Your poor son, does he even want to be an engineer?!

And obviously the school has it all wrong hmm

noblegiraffe Fri 23-Aug-13 22:06:19

This link would be useful, the school allows students to take A-level with a B, so long as they pass an entrance exam. There are some practice questions for the entrance exam so you could use these to assess your DS and see how his algebra is.

www.haydonschool.com/hy/content/download/1094/4208/file/A-Level+Maths+Entrance+Exam+Information.pdf

noblegiraffe Fri 23-Aug-13 22:08:55

I'd worry, btw that by flogging the maths in his spare time, you'd be taking valuable study time away from his other, very difficult A-levels and maybe risking him flunking them all.

nextphase Fri 23-Aug-13 22:13:10

You have mentioned engineering. What type?
I did science, and then a MSc which could realistically be labelled "Chem Eng for non engineers"
I now work on the science side of a massive manufacturing firm, and regularly plan and carry out trials on the plant (been to africa and asia to work on factories there also). If Chemistry / chem eng is the preference, this could be an alternative. I was shock at the lack of mathematical knowledge the chemistry undergrads had 15 years ago. It might have changed.

I think you have a great plan, and are fortunate enough to have the time and skills to carry it out. If you son is determined to do it, and will put in the work and can succeed, it will set him up for overcoming adversity later in life. I hope he is very successful

Good Luck!

nextphase Fri 23-Aug-13 22:15:39

Can we stop with all this science is hard, btw. It depends on the way your brain is wired.

Afaic, I picked the easiest A'levels FOR ME - biology, physics, chem and maths (in the days when 3 was the norm). I struggled more with the general studies than any of the others.

Weird?
OP not sure why you posted on here? You already had your agenda sorted.

noblegiraffe Fri 23-Aug-13 22:24:21

Next, science a-levels are officially harder

www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/official-some-alevel-subjects-are-harder-than-others-857643.html

Incidentally, so is general studies!

longingforsomesleep Fri 23-Aug-13 22:24:34

Jella - what was your son predicted for maths? If he was predicted an A*/A then perhaps the exam was a blip and he does have the ability.

I assume this was the case as if he had been predicted a B I presume you would have got involved and tried to improve his maths skills during his GCSE course.

Ladymuck Fri 23-Aug-13 23:10:37

Slightly OT but I'm surprised he is able to do Physics A level without Maths to at least AS level?

DeWe Fri 23-Aug-13 23:10:53

My dm tutors maths. Round her some of the schools do accept a grade B for A level maths. But in her knowledge in the years she has been doing it (20+ years) there has been one who had manage to achieve a grade in A level from that point. (and we're not looking at her pupils there, she knows it from contacts)
And he admitted he had mucked around for 5 years at secondary, the first thing he had to learn was all his missing knowledge from GCSE with intensive tutoring, which if he hadn't been determined he wouldn't have managed it.

As a general rule dm feels it is unfair to accept someone onto A-level from a B as it gives them unrealistic hope-often they think their GCSE result= Alevel result and are devasted to find that isn't the case.

In all honesty unless you feel he didnt work at GCSE then I doubt he will manage it, and he may well struggle at Physics. You needed quite a bit of A-level maths to survive at A-level physics when I did it. He'd probably be okay with Chemistry, and Biology though.

Does he want to do engineering or are you just assuming? because as someone further up the thread said, they will almost certainly require maths, and if they accept him without maths he may have to do major catchup of maths and possible further maths in his first term.

SvarteKatterogFlosshatter Fri 23-Aug-13 23:22:18

I'm not sure why you're being rude about people saying he needs further maths. Remember that university admissions are incredibly competitive, and you need to really stand out from your peers to do well. Although most universities don't specify that they require it, (although this is because lots of schools don't offer it), it would seriously help his application.

Sconset Fri 23-Aug-13 23:42:58

I fail to see how you are "bypassing the system" confused

Sending him to an independent school or college would be doing that, and I can tell you for one, they won't be letting him do maths A level with a B at GCSE!

BackforGood Fri 23-Aug-13 23:47:20

What a strange reply.
You've asked a question, to which there has been a similar answer from most people - that actually the school are right to take such a stand, and that there is a massive jump from GCSE to A level for a lot of subjects, but particularly for maths, which is reputed to be one of the most difficult jumps to make. Then you just come back with that weird load of gobblygook.
Begs the question - why ask MN in the first place as you and your husband clearly know so much better than every other poster, plus the staff at your ds's school ? confused

SlowlorisIncognito Fri 23-Aug-13 23:54:29

Jellla2u If that is the course your son wants to take, then it is worth a try.

I suggest psychology for a 4th A level if it will fit, not because it is especially soft, but because there is some overlap with biology, and his chemistry will also help. It is also accepted as a science A level by universities (so is geography). It's also something that won't completely bore him if he has an interest in biology. It's not too time intensive, either.

Please do bare in mind that all his qualifications must go on his university aplication, so if he gets 3 good AS and 2 poor ones, that will look much worse than 3 good AS and 1 average one. 5 average AS grades will look worst of all, and you should try and avoid this happening.

I also think you should agree a point in advance where you/he are willing to accept he has taken too much on. He sounds like he may not be a natural mathematician (I don't mean this as an insult, I'm not either) and there may come a point when you/he decide the effort is reducing his chances of success in other AS levels/A levels.

Finally, this may cause some issues with getting predicted grades from the school. They may be unwilling to predict a grade for maths, as they are not teaching it. Universities are unlikely to accept a grade predicted by his mother. Therefore, you may have to accept his predicted grade for maths will be whatever he got at AS, and the school are unwilling to predict a grade up (which they may do for other subjects).

TwasBrillig Fri 23-Aug-13 23:58:24

Perhaps he just isn't cut out for it? You and your husband obviously have an aptitude for maths, and its easy to think a subject can be easily taught when you find it easy yourself. However, you say you did extensive work with him and he still got a B, it really doesn't sound ideal. I didn't ever have to work in maths -it was all self evident to me. I sailed through maths gcse having just looked briefly at a revision booklet, never having to work in lessons and finishing homework in seconds.

However I found maths A level hard as I suddenly had to actually work at it!

As a teacher I wouldn't advise maths A Level to a student with a B and I'd worry in your case that should your son not manage it he will feel a lot of guilt and pressure not to let you down.

As for the fourth AS. Why on earth not work for it? Its often advised to do something complimentary for a fourth.

It sounds oddly as if you blame teachers for results and not the students aptitude or effort.

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