Coasting Secondary School

(6 Posts)
gleegeek Fri 12-Jun-15 13:53:54

Dd started year 7 in September. She goes to our local secondary school which she can walk to and most of her junior school went there with her. It is very well thought of in our area and she is very happy at school. However, its results seem to be sinking, she doesn't seem to be learning very much in Maths and Science and her own previous hard-working attitude seems to be slipping. She is slightly above average academically but not stellar, she will always have to work hard to achieve, it doesn't come easily.

My point in posting - I am concerned that she doesn't seem to be being pushed at all, there is very little challenge. She gets quite a lot of homework, but it mainly seems to be of the creative 'make a poster', print out pictures variety. She has had very little maths homework this term. She has a maths test today - only told yesterday about it and she had a bit of a meltdown last night when I suggested she revise a bit, telling me that she hadn't done anything new so she already knew itshock We had a lovely parents evening where all the teachers were happy with her and said she was performing well, but I don't see any 'push' going on.

We're getting a new head this September, but he's the old deputy... Alarm bells are ringing but I don't know what I should be doing. The other 2 local Secondaries have slightly worse results - 2 schools a train journey away have great results but are oversubscribed. I feel stuck. can't afford private - are we looking at tutors/covering the curriculum ourselves???

Advice would be great. Anyone been in a similar situation? Thanks

lottysmum Fri 12-Jun-15 14:32:56

This is a difficult situation ...Is your DD self motivated ? We had a similar situation (although I felt the school was deteriorating due to HT being near retirement), it did not affect all subjects just the mixed ability sets where some children were very disruptive or the curriculum was being set at a level that did not cover the "brighter children". We did opt out because I felt that I had a bright child who would not reach her full potential unless she was in an environment where there was no or little disruption and she could work at her own level and the confidence to push herself .....(there was also low level bullying not just my DD).

It was the best decision we have made ...she's very self motivated now ... there were subjects where she had fallen behind in because of the disruption (French in particular)

The whole ethos of learning is just so different ...there heads are not always down - I dont think the homework is excessive but she's in an environment where the children want to succeed whether it be sports or academic ..

Have you looked at the option of where a bursary may be available for private education ? Have you looked at the other schools and compared what they offer and if they set in certain subjects ? How does your DD feel ?

I personally feel that Year 7, 8 and 9 are difficult years because there is no real focus in many state schools to teach the children the right skills that will help them when they get to years 10 and 11 or much further with their education ....

DD's school teach "thinking skills" they start to prepare them for exam situations (same as GCSE) in Yr 7, they are taught revision skills ...in other words giving them skills that will help them succeed and meet their full potential.

PastSellByDate Fri 12-Jun-15 17:24:41

Hi gleegeek:

I feel your pain and often feel little niggles about what is going on at DD1's school (she's also Y7).

Things like no books coming home for English. I realise I'm ancient but it seems crazy to read books only in class. I raised this with the teacher at parent/ teacher evening and was told there were two issues - Y7 is mixed ability and they have past experience of a large number failing to read X many pages or a chapter. She also said there was a problem with lost books.

I've posted elsewhere about maths but basically everyone is set the same work in class and homework is whatever you haven't completed in class - so it's sort of a weird situation where the kids that like maths have no homework and want some and the kids that hate maths are stuck with homework (sometimes quite a lot) 3x a week.

Our solution - because we can't afford private school - is to just do more at home. With reading I simply looked up required reading for Middle School aged children in the US (in my home state) and we're adding those books to her diet of Hunger Games, Maze Runner books or Manga graphic novels. Some ideas are here: www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/middle-school-required-reading or www.phschool.com/curriculum_support/reading_list/middle_school.html

We also use resources through the Centre for Improvement in Maths Teaching, Univ. of Plymouth: www.cimt.plymouth.ac.uk/projects/mepres/book7/book7.htm - scroll down for practice workbooks - and you can contact them for the password to the answers. Also interactive maths problems/ tutorials: www.cimt.plymouth.ac.uk/projects/mepres/book7/book7int.htm

It's not ideal, of course, but it means a varied diet of books (DH and I also suggest childhood favourites) and not endlessly reading the same author and maths keeps churning away.

In the meantime we remain hopeful that setting, which starts at DD1's school from Year 8, may result in more ambitious content and workload. However, I do begin to see why there is such a stark difference between comprehensive and grammar school results at GCSE - the amount of work DD1's friends at grammar schools do at home (usually 1-2 hours a day) is the equivalent of what DD1 gets each week.

I don't know if DD1 would have enjoyed so much homework - but I can't help but wonder if all that extra work/ thinking/ learning/ reviewing/ consolodating doesn't = better results.

Millymollymama Fri 12-Jun-15 18:14:06

None of the schools described above are getting the best out of the children are they? Teachers should differentiate work if brighter children have already covered the work. Some schools set immediately in y7 so children can be accelerated and others that need extra help get it. The schools described here are actually being rather old fashioned in having all ability classes for English and Maths and won't look so great when Ofsted appear and the children have made little progress. Complain loudly! It is just not good enough.

Whichseason Fri 12-Jun-15 18:19:13

Is she making progress? What did the teachers say when you asked them about your concerns?

Results being less than last year does not mean the children are learning less. Those year groups may have come into the school achieving less than previous year groups. A lot of GCSE nolonger have a course work element making it more difficult to achieve higher grades.

gleegeek Sat 13-Jun-15 23:29:34

Thank you for your answers - broadband went down after I posted! I'm just in from a party so probably not best placed to be coherent but will read through properly tomorrow! Interesting to see we're not alone -it's depressing because I do believe teachers are generally working terribly hard but wasting a lot of time on new initiatives and useless paperworksad Comparing year on year results is a clumsy tool, but their science results were in the bottom 20% of the country so something seems wrong... I haven't yet complained as I was just so relieved that dd was happy, but I'm now seeing such slow progress that it does worry me!

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