Whole class has failed AS mocks

(22 Posts)
Idefix Wed 24-Feb-16 18:30:38

Not sure where to start...

Ds sat AS mocks in biology, physics and chemistry before the half-term. Today ds and fellow students were told today that all bar one pupil in one subject had received Us.

Ds realises that much of the onus is on his self-study, which clearly needs to improve. Prior to taking the mocks we had identified that ds was struggling and had liaised with tutors for further direction and ds was also given a learning mentor (ds has several specific learning needs). When we asked for this intervention ds was made to feel he really wasn't trying hard enough and we had to attend a 'Buck up your ideas' type meeting. Ds has vastly increased his efforts and I guess the flip side is that his marks may have been much worse without this extra effort.

I feel confused by how badly the whole year group has done. Or is this normal at this stage?

So as not to drip feed I should say that the head of science and ds physic teacher have left and been replaced.

Advice on how to support ds and/or approaches to the school would be appreciated.

LittleBearPad Wed 24-Feb-16 18:33:02

If they've all failed then I'd be concerned about the teaching tbh.

Berthatydfil Wed 24-Feb-16 18:35:14

How did he do in his GCSEs in these subjects?

noblegiraffe Wed 24-Feb-16 18:36:24

What were the entry requirements? What did your DS get in science at GCSE?

I know of a school that gets similar poor mock results mainly because they accept kids with a C to get bums on seats as the local grammar school takes all the kids who will do well.

TranquilityofSolitude Wed 24-Feb-16 18:37:16

If the whole class has failed it sounds as if there may be a problem.

However, I have DDs in Yrs 12 & 13 and there is an enormous step up to A levels from GCSEs. DD2 has good science GCSEs but is finding A level work hard. She does well in homework and in class but has struggled with tests and mocks so far because she doesn't always grasp that she is being asked to do something with what she's learned, if you see what I mean.

It could be that the whole class has failed because school want to send them all a 'buck up your ideas' message.

Idefix Wed 24-Feb-16 18:40:41

Ds did additional sciences not triple as he started school in yr 10 (triple science started in yr 9 and although ds did this at old school it was not compatible)

The break down of his grades was an A for biology and Bs for chem and phys. Ds son is realistic he started a unit down on these subjects compared to other students but grades were similar in these mocks does not intend to apply for uni, plans to do military service.

Idefix Wed 24-Feb-16 18:46:21

Tranquility there is deffo an element of lost in translation regarding using the knowledge to answer the questions.

Plan to redo the papers focusing on answering the questions and checking against the marks scheme.

Looking through one paper tonight and his teacher has said what he has put down is not enough, needs expanding or is in the right ballpark but not the bit of info required iyswim.

Really feel for ds, was so anxious last night and now feels a bit flummoxed that they all failed.

ByTheNine Wed 24-Feb-16 18:48:25

Any student I've taught A-level chemistry to that has achieved B at GCSE has struggled - D has been the top grade they've achieved. I've never had a whole class fail but it's been 80% before as many students struggle with the either the volume of facts they have to learn, the maths involved at A-level or the precision of language required in exam answers (or all three). Most students improve rapidly after the initial shock. What are his maths skills like?

I'd obviously still be concerned but I wouldn't say it's hugely extraordinary.

Bunbaker Fri 26-Feb-16 08:48:58

"If they've all failed then I'd be concerned about the teaching tbh."

This ^^

lougle Fri 26-Feb-16 09:35:30

The best thing you can do here is study the Mark scheme. I started an A level in Chemistry last year and at first on practice papers, I'd score 0. Yet I knew that what I'd written was correct. When I looked at the Mark scheme, I realised (and the tutor explained) that A levels aren't looking for a deep understanding of the concepts. They are looking for specific terminology used in the correct order.

Eg. What does chlorine do when added to water? The Mark scheme says:
Kills bacteria OR ‘kills germs’
kills micro-organisms OR makes water safe to
drink OR sterilises water OR ‘disinfects’
ALLOW to make water potable
ALLOW ‘removes’ for ‘kills’
IGNORE ‘virus’
IGNORE ‘purifies water’

So if the candidate says that chlorine purifies water (not an unreasonable statement in normal conversation) they would not get the mark, because in terms of chemistry it's wrong.

You can write a half-page detailed answer and get 0 points, or a 2 line answer with all the key words and get 3 points.

stayathomegardener Fri 26-Feb-16 10:03:29

Just reading that Lougle I am SO glad DD decided not to do A levels.
Sounds so tough.
Many of her very bright friends got all U's in mocks.

CeciCC Fri 26-Feb-16 10:19:26

If the whole class bar one failed the mocks I think there is some bad teaching involved too as PP has mentioned. I am not saying that you son is not at fault and just blame it on the teaching, but I would take even more serious steps on finding a tutor that could help on any teaching gaps. I would go and speak to the teacher and school but I would do what is best for my son even if that meant going against what the teacher/school advise. If the school/teacher assume that the whole problem relies on the students and not on them I don't think I could trust them.
My DH failed Maths A-level (many years ago) and so did everyone in his class bar one who got a D. It changed completely what his future as couldn't go to university what this was what he wanted to do. The school were told well before the exams about the problems in teaching but the school didn't agree.

Badbadbunny Fri 26-Feb-16 10:33:19

There's still time but your DS has to put the effort in himself outside school. I failed all my A levels in the mocks with U grades, which shocked me into virtually removing myself from school and staying home a lot of the time with self-study books. What resources does he have, in terms of text books, online materials, etc? If not adequate, then get onto Amazon and buy some revision/practice manuals for him to work through. If the teaching at his school really is poor enough for a whole class to fail the mocks, then it's hardly likely to improve during the last few remaining weeks and you/he need to grasp the nettle now and do it yourself rather than relying/hoping on the school.

noblegiraffe Fri 26-Feb-16 13:27:39

If they all failed then there should be concerns about the teaching unless all the students had dubious GCSE results. I think the OP's DS was poorly advised to take 3 science A-levels with a B at GCSE.

catslife Fri 26-Feb-16 14:43:24

Some thoughts:
1. If he has specific learning needs are these being addressed e.g. does he have extra time in exams?
If he is dyslexic there are some exam questions where correct spellings are needed for example.
2. All 3 Sciences have new specifications this year and have some harder material that was in A2 in the old specifications. This means that some of the questions on old past papers are no longer relevant. What are the sixth form doing to help with this?
3. The spread of exam marks on A level papers is higher than on GCSE ones because only the best scientists are taking them. On many papers you need at least 45% for a grade E whereas 45% on a Higher tier GCSE will be grade C.
4. For Physics (and possibly Chemistry) students who aren't taking A level Maths tend to obtain lower grades. Some sixth forms offer Maths support for students for this reason.

ATailofTwoKitties Fri 26-Feb-16 17:33:15

Cripes, Lougle, I would fail that question for saying (over-literally) that it dissolves!

The question that they're trying to ask is 'why would you add chlorine to water?', which isn't the same thing.

OurBlanche Fri 26-Feb-16 17:42:24

It isn't all that unusual, especially in sciences, given the huge difference in the answers required, as Lougle said.

Sometimes a mock does what it should, scares the crap out of all concerned and makes the students buck their ideas up, get their heads around the phrase "These questions require a different style of answer than your GCSEs did" and the teachers will have to trawl through each answer and see exactly what teaching wasn't learned, and then try a different way of explaining it.

Do complain, if you feel you must. But I doubt it will make any difference to the teachers, HoY etc - they will be flat out working on the issue anyway.

chickindude Fri 26-Feb-16 18:14:30

I would be concerned.
The AS marks are what are used as predicted grades for Uni's. If all the children got U's their predicted grades will be a U.
Some schools will predict higher. I think though it is possible to be predicted an A* if they got an A, rather than predicted a C/D if they got a U.
Can your son re-sit? I am not sure if that is a possibility anymore though.
I hope it all works out for you.

chickindude Fri 26-Feb-16 18:15:29

Just seen it's mocks. There is still hope.
Tell him to get revising.

DaffyDodo Sat 27-Feb-16 00:19:41

This happened to me many years ago - A level history mocks the whole class got U's. No surprise because we had been taught the whole two years from a 'Letts Revise O Level history' book. Two weeks later our history teacher was sacked and the head took over. It wasn't great but in the end me and two others got C and above, the rest passed with a couple of fails.

From my experience it sounds like a problem with the teacher...

cricketballs Sat 27-Feb-16 11:19:18

for AS mocks (and GCSE) I always increase the grade boundaries and mark very harshly; it serves as a 'kick up the bum'.

The mock grades are not used for predictions but they are for the school and the student to see what needs to be worked on, usually it is exam technique other times it is gaps in knowledge.

From you latest post op it seems like it is exam technique which is perfectly normal and this is one of the main purposes of holding mock exams.

Idefix Sun 28-Feb-16 12:29:17

Thank you for all the replies, ds is currently next door studying. Ds has now said that everyone is having to attend extra support classes.

Regarding maths support I have emailed hoy to ask about this, ds definitely gets additional support for English. Hoy was his maths teacher at GCSE, on a number of occasions told us that ds was more able in maths than his grade suggested and said at 6th form interview that the maths aspect did not concern him. Ds also says he is coping with the maths demanded.

Ds is very realistic about his potential with a levels, he does not intend to apply for uni but wants to demonstrate that he has ability to study at a higher level as wants to apply for officer training. We were aware when he started them that his grade outcome would never be high.

Extra time was given so at least in this respect they are still accommodating his specific learning needs.

Have emailed teachers to check that going over the mock paper is a good plan. We have also been using a site called physics/maths tutor as recommended by teachers.

cats Ds keeps being told to revise the old papers despite the changes to the syllabus so think this may be part of the problem.

badbunny would love to have a tutor but we are not in the uk, although I haven't explored an 'internet' tutor.

CC how awful for your poor dh I think part of my anxiety is how do you know if the teaching is good or not, feel very out of my depths.

Generally feeling calmer in our house ds son has got straight back on the horse so to speak.

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