What would you make of this email? Sorry, really long....

(70 Posts)
BertrandRussell Sat 12-Mar-16 07:11:37

My ds's friend's mum struggles with English so I help out with emails from school and so on. They are top set year 10, and recently did a mock GCSE and as a class, did rather less well than either they or the teacher expected. They have already been warned that they will probably not all be put in for the Higher tier paper. She emailed the teacher asking what this meant for her son- he needs an A equivalent for what he wants to do next, so it matters- and got this reply-

I will keep you posted as to his progress with the Higher Tier content as we progress and let you know of any concerns that I have. We have moved the seating arrangements around in the lesson so that he can keep his focus for a longer period of time. He was not fully focussed this morning and we had a chat after the lesson and agreed to move him in the hope that it will improve his work rate and attention span. If this fails to happen, then we may need to look at a set move so that he can work on easier content (the Foundation tier)

She and I both interpreted that as meaning he was definitely "in the drop zone" but when she asked her DS about this he seemed genuinely surprised and shocked. So she emailed the school again asking the teacher to have a word with him and tell him where he stood.

He came home yesterday saying that the teacher had said "it's fine, you're definitely not going anywhere, you're not moving to foundation. Tell your mum not to worry". My DS heard him saying this so either they have both concocted a story or it's what he actually said.

I'm now completely paranoid that I've interpreted the email wrongly and panicked my friend unnecessarily. But I'm right, aren't I? The email and what he told the boy are incompatible? They were only 3 days apart. If it was me I'd just ring up on Monday, but she won't do this.

Optimist1 Sat 12-Mar-16 07:17:45

You're not mistaken, OP. How embarrassing for you and confusing for your son's friend's mother. Personally I'd be arranging for her, me and a copy of the email to be face to face with the teacher on Monday but then I can get easily affronted .

ChildIllAgainHelp Sat 12-Mar-16 07:18:29

Sounds to me like he is poorly behaved and in danger of being moved if he doesn't stop being a pain.

Eastpoint Sat 12-Mar-16 07:19:32

I would interpret the email as covering a few issues:
1. Teacher will let you know how his work progresses
2. They've changed the seating plan for all the students
3. He wasn't concentrating today and she chatted with him afterwards about needing to pay attention
4. If he can't concentrate & pay attention in this class he'll change to another at the same level.

Although the teacher does not state it, if I received this email about my child I would assume they were talking to their friends too much and so they were moved. After they were moved they made a fuss & if they can't get on with their work they'll be moved into another set (not necessarily down a set).

BertrandRussell Sat 12-Mar-16 07:19:40

"Sounds to me like he is poorly behaved and in danger of being moved if he doesn't stop being a pain."

Yes, it does, doesn't it? But he isn't!

FanDabbyFloozy Sat 12-Mar-16 07:20:56

Hi,
I'd read this as your friend's DS may be acting up in class (comments about not being "focused" and his lack of attention). I wonder if the teacher was actually warning that his behavior needs to change if he's to succeed at the higher paper.
This would be consistent with the teacher's reaction when the boy asked her.
I'm not a teacher by the way, but this teacher sounds frustrated that an able boy may not be applying himself entirely to the course work.
Do you all the result of the mock paper that has caused such issues?

BertrandRussell Sat 12-Mar-16 07:21:29

"If he can't concentrate & pay attention in this class he'll change to another at the same level"

There isn't another set at the same level! And even if there was, it does specifically say "work on easier content"

Eastpoint Sat 12-Mar-16 07:23:47

Sorry, I was wrong about the set level, typing on my phone in bed. He sounds like a 14/15 year old who is messing around & needs to keep quiet and work.

curren Sat 12-Mar-16 07:31:35

Could the teacher have said he isn't in danger of being moved because he genuinely believes he will knuckle down now they have moved him and discussed it.

He possibly may have meant 'if you keep working and not messing about you are in now danger of being moved'

BeaufortBelle Sat 12-Mar-16 07:32:40

I've picked up on something quite different.

They are top set year 10, and recently did a mock GCSE and as a class, did rather less well than either they or the teacher expected. They have already been warned that they will probably not all be put in for the Higher tier paper.

The class as a whole is not making the progress it should and has fallen behind expectations/predictions. Seating arrangements are being changed.

He might be failing to pay attention but it also sounds as if the teacher might not be managing this class well and that there has been a detrimental effect on teaching.

If he were my child (or even if I had a child in that set being taught by that teacher and was aware of this) I'd be making an appointment with the head of department and asking why achievement was less than predicted and what mechanisms the school is putting in place to deal with the levelling off or drop in predictions. If the school was non committal and action wasn't taken very quickly then I'd be looking at finding a tutor as soon as possible.

BertrandRussell Sat 12-Mar-16 07:39:02

Well, if that's what he meant, why didn't he say it? As I said, unless both boys are making it up, he didn't. Such a mixed message. Oh, well, his mum is already in the process of booking a tutor, so he'll pay for a day of not concentrating!

Eastpoint Sat 12-Mar-16 07:40:27

Those are good points Beaufort - I hadn't considered the other position at all.

BertrandRussell Sat 12-Mar-16 07:51:01

Interesting. It was the first time they had seen one of the new maths GCSE papers and I know that some of them found the language really difficult. Literacy is a bit of an issue in our school anyway, and some of the children panicked when they found the questions hard to understand. Once they sat down as a class and looked at them they realised they weren't as scary as they thought. Apparently this is predicted to be an issue with a lot of candidates next summer. sad

curren Sat 12-Mar-16 07:51:09

I have no idea why he wouldn't have said that. But he isn't being clear somewhere.

I am not saying the boys are lying, but it sounds like the teacher isn't communicating well.

LIZS Sat 12-Mar-16 07:51:58

Are they due to sit it this summer ? It would seem very odd if none of the top set could take higher level. If her son is not concentrating in class, can his verbal report of what the teacher said be be believed?

DorothyL Sat 12-Mar-16 07:58:22

With it being new specs I wonder where the paper came from? Personally I see no use in doing mock anything at this stage, far too early.

BertrandRussell Sat 12-Mar-16 08:04:25

No, not sitting the exam till next summer.

New spec papers readily available!

I shouldn't have said it was a mock, it was more informal than that. He just gave them the paper to see what would happen.

TheFallenMadonna Sat 12-Mar-16 08:07:25

This is a non selective school in a selective area, so the top set would not have the ability range it might have in a different school. And this is year 10 Maths, so the new specification, new grading, and staff and students will be getting to grips with it.

Your DS's friend's mum does need to see the teacher, or perhaps the HoD, to get an honest picture. Because the email sounds, not necessarily like the friend is badly behaved, rather that he is not fully engaged, and is some one who will need to be fully engaged in order to be successful at higher.

Sometimes SLT, wrongly, put pressure on teachers to be overly positive with parents. Especially parents who send in two emails in quick succession. Whereas honesty is preferable.

What grade did the boy get?

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 12-Mar-16 08:31:04

It sounds to me as though the email is talking about an entirely different child in the class confused. Is it possible that the teacher as mistaken the email to be about another student? Or is the teacher somehow playing up the story with the email and playing down the story with the student?

I agree with thefallenmadonna, the mixed signals need clarification with a meeting, I think.

mummytime Sat 12-Mar-16 08:44:06

Okay, what you and your friend need to clarify with the teacher is: does the teacher know he will need an A grade? How realistic is it that he will achieve this grade? What can the teacher suggest he does to ensure this grade?

There is quite a gap between Higher/Lower tier border and an A grade.

Personally I think a teacher is crazy to suggest dropping the tier entered for just over behaviour.

sendsummer Sat 12-Mar-16 08:56:36

Could well be a dynamic process between the situation when the email was sent and the subsequent teacher's conversation with your DS' friend; the friend may have shown that he was ready to settle down once moved and academically is perfectly capable of the higher tier papers. I suppose that otherwise there may be a possibility of some selective hearing from the friend.

BeaufortBelle Sat 12-Mar-16 09:13:50

What is the tier business? My dc are 21 and 17. I have never heard of tiers for GCSEs. Have their been a reversion to an O'Level/CSE system that I have completely missed?

BertrandRussell Sat 12-Mar-16 09:27:07

Let me guess, Beaufort- your children are very much top set types? Am I right? grin

BertrandRussell Sat 12-Mar-16 09:31:39

He got a 4, TheFallenMadonna. The grades ranged from 1-7. I'm actually not surprised if the teacher is a bit confused!

BeaufortBelle Sat 12-Mar-16 09:37:07

DD isn't no. A 4; the old CSE grades were 1-6 I seem to recall. It's a serious question, has a two tier system been reintroduced with little fanfare? I'm genuinely quite shocked.

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