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.

BeckAndCall Sat 24-Aug-13 13:54:46

Actually the additional maths which many private schools do in year 11 is not a GCSE, it's a GCE. A level above GCSE and gives a good grounding fr A level ( in my kids experience)

Jella2u Sat 24-Aug-13 14:02:00

Edexcel Core 1 book that the school wanted us to buy should land on Monday (Bank Holiday?) together with revision book. Syllabus downloaded from Edexcel together with exam centres. We will have to travel to exam centre and probably stay night before, but it might be best not to let school know - think they would be anti.

Not sure about exam registration dates. Assuming Core1 is taken mid year for Edexcel 8371 9371 and then stats or mechanics towards May? Would be grateful for any info on that.

So sorry to read of the problems of an early start on GCSE Maths. You assume top set will fly through. To end up with disillusioned students who showed promise at maths is depressing for them and a loss to the Country.

We intend to use Youtube to talk us through any tricky bits of maths supplying those missing lines that are vital to making sense of problems.

Hope someone in the DofE has a researcher reading all of this.

Anyway with the superfast one day delivery we will be powering on very, very soon. Many thanks for all advice so far. Anything else you have to offer very welcome.

noblegiraffe Sat 24-Aug-13 14:03:55

There are Free Standing Maths Qualifications or Further Maths GCSE, which are designed to bridge the gap to A-level. In my dreamworld, students who sit early and get an A* in Y10 could do Further maths in Y11. Those who get an A* in Y11 proceed automatically to A-level. Students who get an A or maybe a B in Y11 but want to keep up their maths and don't feel ready for A-level could sit a FSMQ in Y12, and then maybe AS maths in Y13.

noblegiraffe Sat 24-Aug-13 14:05:57

January modules have been scrapped, your DS will need to sit both C1 and C2 and whatever applied module you pick in May/June. Along with his other 4 AS's worth of exams. Gove again, it's a nightmare.

englishteacher78 Sat 24-Aug-13 14:07:38

And travelling to and staying over night may not be possible with the timetable of his other exams - make sure you check that first.

noblegiraffe Sat 24-Aug-13 14:13:59

Yes, it's entirely possible that he might have physics in the morning and maths in the afternoon (for example). With January modules gone it's a real squeeze fitting them all in.

neolara Sat 24-Aug-13 14:25:43

This is a bit off topic, but if anyone's kids or pupils are struggling with algebra, can I recommend the dragonbox app. There are too versions, one for 6 year olds and one for 12 years +. It teaches algebra in such a simple, logical way (while looking like it's just a game) that even my 6 year old can manage a 42 step algebra problem with no real difficulty. He's not a maths genius - it's just a very, very clever game / app. I guarantee that pretty much every 16 year old will learn to do algebra without any difficulty whatsoever if they spend 4 hours playing this game. At £6, it's unbelievable good value for money compared to the cost of a private tutor.

cumfy Sat 24-Aug-13 14:31:55

Twas the same back in 1982.

C (the old Bhmm) was not sufficient at O-level.

Clearly you don't need Further maths A-level to do engineering, however, the 1st year maths at uni will be a great deal easier.

cumfy Sat 24-Aug-13 14:36:40

Just read noblegiraffe, so maybe you really would benefit from Further maths if material has been shifted from standard into further syllabus.

noblegiraffe Sat 24-Aug-13 14:45:00

Yes, absolutely, cumfy. Universities now complain that a-level maths isn't good enough preparation for maths-heavy degree courses, but don't put Further Maths on their entry requirements to solve the problem because not enough sixth forms offer it. But really, if you want to do a maths-heavy degree, you really should be choosing Further Maths A-level.

scrazy Sat 24-Aug-13 14:52:18

Maths A level is hard. DD got a high B at GCSE and managed to get up to a C at AS level with some outside help but only in one paper the other was a U so an overall E.

Our school decided to only allow the A and A* pupils A level maths from then on as many struggled and bombed at AS level.

vaticancameo Sat 24-Aug-13 15:19:36

Before I reply, my credentials for your inspection are that I'm a teacher (not Maths, admittedly) in an 11-18 school, and I've worked as head of 6th form before switching to head of department. I know a lot, therefore, about the practicalities of A levels and ucas applications.

Op, I understand your disappointment and frustration, but - I mean this kindly - your plan is bonkers. For one, I can't see how you'll have the time to teach him. Most schools offer 10 hours a fortnight of class time per subject, on average, and expect students to match that in their spare time doing homework and private study. You might get through work quicker as a one to one, but you're still going to need a lot of time, which will obviously replace time spent on other subjects.

Next, the "filler" subject. The school won't see it as that. If he doesn't put the effort in and underachieves, that may trigger behaviour contracts, and will in all likelihood negatively affect his ucas reference (and no, you can't choose who writes that). If he fails a subject, he may be forced to re-sit the year or in extremis, leave the school.

Ucas is another problem. You have to inform them of all AS subjects taken, and predicted grades. The school will do this part, so how will Maths be on there if you're not telling them about it?

I would think it highly likely that a Maths exam would be on the same day as another of his subjects.

Finally - every school I've worked in has re-sat pupils every year. I find it unlikely that your son has stayed in middle sets when he should have been in top set. You have a very scornful attitude towards this school; why not send him somewhere else instead for a fresh start?

vaticancameo Sat 24-Aug-13 15:21:15

Sorry - should say schools re-set pupils every year.

BlehPukeVomit Sat 24-Aug-13 15:24:28

I don't think the OP is listening confused

ArgyMargy Sat 24-Aug-13 15:27:32

Vatican - why would his maths exam be on the same day as another subject? Maths is often taken in combination with sciences.

englishteacher78 Sat 24-Aug-13 15:32:01

Because this happens all the time. There are several different boards doing exams at different times and they don't co-ordinate the timetables. We have clashes every year in the exam timetable.
Also the OP was talking about staying overnight at an external centre's location - this could make it difficult if he had Maths one afternoon and Physics the next morning.
Examination co-ordinator is an awful
job that I would never want as clash resolutions often involve having to keep students in isolation - sometimes overnight!

vaticancameo Sat 24-Aug-13 15:32:10

Argy, because with all the subjects and modules to be squeezed into the exam timetable, time is very tight and lost students will have more than one exam a day. We often have clashes with two subjects on at the same time - in which case we have to quarantine affected students in the library away from other students sitting that subject, remove their phones and run an extra exam session for them.

vaticancameo Sat 24-Aug-13 15:33:11

Most students, not lost students!

beatback Sat 24-Aug-13 15:33:52

My Nephew has just acheived an A at GCSE and the thought of doing A Level Maths would make him sick My niece who got 4 As at A Level and is reading French/Business studies at a RG university got an A* at GCSE and i remember asking her if she was going to do A Level Maths and she just laughed and said "I DONT THINK SO".

creamteas Sat 24-Aug-13 15:42:27

In DD's school, top set sit GCSE maths in year 10, then do FSMQ in Year 11. It is the result of the FSMQ that decides entry to A level rather than the GCSE now.

Delayingtactic Sat 24-Aug-13 15:51:02

What university are you thinking of? I had a quick look at some and there is a high applicants to places ratio. All seem to state maths as their main a-level followed by the additional science subjects. Whilst grade requirements are sometimes AAB or ABB in some unis the expectation will be that the A is in Maths. I noticed that imperial says A* in Maths.

Whilst your DH may be right in that you don't need it once you're an engineer, it is a way of differentiating amongst applicants. Plus as others have said, if he has to focus all his energy on maths to scrape an A (which is the best he may do according to the teachers who have posted) he may struggle with meeting requirements in his other subjects.

How much does your son want to be an engineer? A friend of mine wanted to be an engineer, struggled to get the grades at a-levels (all As but heavily tutored in a private school) and just couldn't manage at university. He had to drop out. Are you absolutely sure you are doing the right thing for your son not just now but in the long term?

HisMum4now Sat 24-Aug-13 15:53:15

The 2014 exams timetable could be consulted here on DofE website. Exam boards do coordinate their exams apparently.

noblegiraffe Sat 24-Aug-13 15:58:12

Oh he won't need to focus all his effort on maths to scrape an A, he'll need to focus his effort on maths not to fail completely. A D or a C at AS would be doing extremely well given his starting point.

Teachers don't advise students who get a B not to take maths because they think they won't get a high grade, but because we think he wouldn't get any grade.

HisMum4now Sat 24-Aug-13 16:20:25

Further to what creamteas said, at A levels Maths there is a huge change of gear in the type of learning skills required to succeed. The learning skills are discussed in this article. According to this article the reality is that at GCSE maths are taught by rote. This method might be an impediment to able students with logical minds (this is just my opinion). It also creates a barrier at A levels when they quickly need to adapt to a more synoptic learning. The FSMQ or further Maths which bridges the GCSEs with A levels, helps this transition. Some very able DC need more time and practice to adapt. However some basically never get the proper mathematical thinking and are therefore not good mathematicians. In my opinion those students that are only good at those recognition/rote learning skills described in the article would struggle at A level and would not make good engineers unfortunately. But if your DS's problem is different, you really need to understand exactly what it is.

Did you look at DS exam paper and did you come to a conclusion why he scored a B? My DS is in top set in a grammar school. However he did mediocre in mocks because of nerves - silly mistakes question after question. For me this does not put in question my DS ability in maths, but does mean that he needs a lot of practice to build resilience. Ultimately only the result counts.

mumeeee Sat 24-Aug-13 16:25:48

Jella Maths might be just doing a lot of practice for some. people but for others it is not. People's brains are wired diffently, It might be very hard for your DS to study 5 A levels. Does your son really want to do this if so then let him try otherwise let him do what he wants.

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