To Be Shocked That DS Got A 'D' In His First Half-Termly Report At Grammar School

(114 Posts)
gazzalw Mon 12-Nov-12 13:19:12

Not sure if I'm looking for reassurance or what but here goes...

DS has always been regarded as very good at maths by his teachers and us (well he was at primary school) and got a Level 5A in his KS2 SATs. He did do Level 6 and didn't pass but we assumed that was because he was actually ill when he did the exam (not an excuse but he did have slapped cheek virus quite badly) and the primary school teacher who was coaching his year to the Level 6 curriculum was off sick for the last half term so they didn't complete the work.

We had always assumed that he had passed his three 11+ exams on the basis of his maths, NVR/VR skills rather than his English (for which he got a 5B in KS2 SATS) which has never been his strongest subject not one that particularly interests him.

Note he hasn't been tutored in maths at all.

Anyway, going to a super-selective we were under no illusions that he would be a top dog in any subject, but in maths would have probably expected him to be average in the class. Looking at how he's been getting on in his homework it doesn't look as if he's had any major issues with not understanding the work.

So imagine our shock (and his) when he got his first report and although he has got Bs for most subjects (including English) which put him in the middle of the class (no problem with that especially as he is quite lazy), he got a 'D' for maths and is apparently one of the bottom three in the class of 30 boys!

What would your opinion be? I guess it might just be a reflection of the fact that in a boys grammar school they are generally maths whizzes, that a lot of them have been tutored and are working well above the baseline levels that you would expect even of grammar school children, that maths is one of those subjects that it's easier to coach ahead in and a lot of them have been coached ahead (he says that most of them have tutors although difficult to know whether that is indeed true), that he wasn't taught to such a high standard as other boys at his primary school or that he just isn't naturally as good at maths as his cohort?

I know that as parents we can think our children are brilliant when they're obviously not, but the thing is we have always wholeheartedly felt he has some latent skill at maths - maybe he has but just compared to his classmates it doesn't seem that way!

That would essentially put him in the bottom group in his Year (unless he just happens to be in the class most capable at maths!) which I find hard to believe as he is quite clearly a lot more competent than we were at the same age (and we went to grammar schools and were not in the bottom sets)

Hope to get some insights rather than being shouted down....I guess the bottom line is that in high achieving grammars someone has got to be at the bottom ;-(....

Sparkleandshine78 Mon 12-Nov-12 13:27:58

I think this is probably quite simple.....

He is clever enough to pass the 11+, and get into a good selective school.

however especially as he is quite lazy is your key comment....

he needs to understand (and here is the wake up call) that he needs to work harder and probably have some tutoring to make the most of the fantastic opportunity he has.

I imagine if you have gone from state school to grammar, it may be a shock but the 'top set' put in lots of outside work. He has probably been able to float towards to top of the class up to now and coast a bit, whereas now the writing is on the wall - in a class of 30 boys, they are all working harder.

mateysmum Mon 12-Nov-12 13:29:57

It could be lots of reasons. You need to talk to his teacher and seek clarification, ideally have a meeting with your DS present.

Sounds like it's the shock as much as the actual mark that is bugging you and if your DS is performing below par, then the teacher should have made him/you aware of this.

If this is his first term at the gammar school, don't panic, some kids just take a bit longer to settle in and pick up the pace and it sounds like suddenly he has come up against lots of other talented mathematicians. Once you know the background, you can agree an action plan with the teacher to support your DS.

Yellowtip Mon 12-Nov-12 13:34:40

This is D for attainment rather than commitment I assume? I only ask because on the reverse side of our reports there's an explanation of each grade. If he's D for commitment in his first half term I wouldn't get myself wrapped around the axle tbh, I'd probably just say sharpen up. If he's D for attainment but B for commitment I might dig a bit deeper but it really is very early days. Even my golden child got Cs in his first report (never mind the less golden DC smile). He's a boy, don't panic!

gazzalw Mon 12-Nov-12 13:35:15

I think you are right.....he has coasted right through primary school and never really been stretched.

Always felt it would take him a time to actually see what they would expect of him at a grammar school and I think he's now beginning to see. He did say himself that the "only way is up."

I just think that there are other subjects (such as Art or DT) which we might have expected him to get a 'D' in (but he didn't) because he would himself admit that he has neither aptitude nor interest in those but would never have had him down as being 'weak' at maths which is what this report is currently indicating....

Sparkleandshine78 Mon 12-Nov-12 13:35:43

.... I would be talking to other parents about how much their kids are doing / being tutored etc.... and the teacher - have a special appointment to see what she thinks.

Yellowtip Mon 12-Nov-12 13:36:07

Eek: 'probably have some tutoring' Sparkle. No! Why? Bad!

Blu Mon 12-Nov-12 13:36:30

Hello gazza!
If he was shocked, it sounds as if he has not been struggling with the work - do you know how this level was arrived at? Was it the result of a one-off test or based on the whole half term's work? How do you know he is one of the bottom 3? Maybe they have ALL been marked relatively low? By which I mean is the D relative to everyone else in the class or relative to some absolute benchmark?

I think you need to talk to his tutor or maths teacher. There could be all sorts of explanations - they have been covering ground that the heavily tutored have covered, he hasn't quite adapted to secondary school pace and environment, he had an off day, or whatever.

I don't think you should assume that this result defines his school career from now on.

I am watching anxiously - DS has gone into the top stream of a comp not a million miles from you, with the same SATS results. he comes home saying he feels 'rubbish' at maths because the girls sitting next to jim is much faster. They seem to work at great speed in secondary, and the naturally genius and the Kumon tutored seem to be shining.

How does your DS compare in age with his cohort? DS is late summer born and while enjoying it all has sometmes felt daunted and overwhlemed by the overall-ness of secndary school, and gets very tired.

musttidyupmusttidyup Mon 12-Nov-12 13:36:52

Might be interesting to find out what the grade is based on (test score? Homework? Classwork? Teacher assessment?) and whether its a grade which has used his ability as a baseline (ie his ks2 score) or is assessing him in line with his peers? Has he been given a target or expected level for the end of the year? Is it judged against that? Does he get any other grades in his report - ie is this an attainment grade? Or effort? Or both?
Difficult to assess what the problem is unless you are sure of the criteria.
Also - did he do cats tests? If yes what is his Q and NV score? These combined can give a good indicator or his ability and strengths/weaknesses in the subject.

Yellowtip Mon 12-Nov-12 13:38:14

Maybe an e-mail Sparkle, not a special appointment - or poor gazzalw will be flagged up as an over anxious dad.

GooseyLoosey Mon 12-Nov-12 13:39:17

Sounds a lot like me in my first report at secondary - the grades were not good at all. Having coasted through primary, I believed I could do everything without trying and put little or no effort in to my work. Homework was not focused on at all and I did nothing outside of school. The report came as an almighty shock to the system. It took another term or so, but I became (and remained) a straigh A student. All it took was the shock of doing badly. This may be the case for your son - certainly sounds like he could do with working harder.

middleclassonbursary Mon 12-Nov-12 13:42:39

My DS is at a super selective boys independent he very very good at maths he finds it very easy got an A in a maths GCSE at 12 when at prep. At his senior school he changed at 13 he's in the third set out of 8 the first term was not great he didn't like the teacher methods and he didn't really like him he was near the bottom of the class after the first half term and hating maths. We spoke to the teacher who I didn't feel was overly helpful. He was offered a few weeks extra help by another maths teacher persevered and by the end of the first year he was top of the class and now talking about keeping it up to a level and beyond. OP it's early day and its a new environment have a chat to the teacher maybe he can just give a bit of help to get over this little blip.

Blu Mon 12-Nov-12 13:44:56

When is the next parents evening?

tiggytape Mon 12-Nov-12 13:49:05

Being near the bottom of a class in a super selective grammar schools is not really bottom by any stretch of the imagination. All of the children at his school will be exceptionally bright but within that category there will be degrees of 'brightness'.
Some children will be comfortably above average but the very top children will probably be 3 or 4 years ahead of the norm. Yet all of them would have been top of the top group in previous schools - it is just getting used to that adjustment in expectation now that they are all grouped together.

Maths is also a subject that a lot of children seem to excel in at this age. My DS is at comp, he got a 5A in Maths but is not top of the year (and some boys in our area do travel to grammars so are 'creamed off' and not at the comp). He is in the top group at comp but there are children who appear to be streets ahead in maths. Some of them have been tutored (and are still tutored) but some of them just shine at maths (but didn't pass the 11+ because their English is only average for example).

I think overall though, it comes of being at grammar school where being comfortably above average for their age equates to being merely average compared to other grammar school boys. That isn’t a bad thing of course – it doesn’t alter the fact that your DS is exceptionally good at maths, it just means he will have to get used to being compared to boys who are all above average and some who are truly exceptional. And also maybe as he gets older, his focus and talents are shifting more to English?

gazzalw Mon 12-Nov-12 13:54:25

Thanks everyone for responses - will try to answer as best I can:

No we have asked him how he's been getting on and he implied that he considered himself "in the middle of the class".

I am not sure what the grade is based on (whether it's a combination of classwork, homework and tests or any combination of the above).

We know he was in the bottom three because the grade one's son got is highlighted in black and includes a white number indicating how many boys in total were given that grade!

No Blu we haven't 'written him off' yet grin - it's just a shock!

No unfortunately he doesn't even have the summer born factor to work in his favour - he is a 'middling' in his year child! Well he was at primary school but not sure now!

I think he's been assessed in line with his peers rather than on the basis of his KS2 score.

He got a D for attainment and a 3 (average - 15 boys in total out of 30 got that score) for effort.

I am not aware that he has done CAT tests - how would one know? I know that his peers who went to comprehensives did those before they started (or right at the beginning of term) but don't think that DS has.

I'm sounding a bit vague but only because the report sheets didn't really give any additional information which would have been of any use to me!

I guess we will just have to sit it out until his parents' evening (at the end of the month).

What I do know though is that the last teacher DS had at primary school wasn't very good at maths at all (which is why they had to have another teacher to teach for the Level 6 stuff) and DS only made one sub-level of progress twixt Years 5 and 6 (which we didn't consider good enough really)

Well yes, there's all this huge thing with the grammar schools saying that they don't want heavily tutored children but then those who haven't been (such as DS) then seem to be disadvantaged for being naturally able but not tutored to higher levels.....

HMMMMM

HellothisisJoanie Mon 12-Nov-12 13:55:51

you know though. s1 is in hte bottom set for maths at a grammar.
I was all GASPY then the teacher said
"oh yes at least half of them get As"

HellothisisJoanie Mon 12-Nov-12 13:56:43

its VERY old fashioned to give places in the class and tbh slightly pointless

difficultpickle Mon 12-Nov-12 14:03:22

I went from top of my year mostly and top of my class always in primary to 26/30 first year in grammar. It was a real wake up call as I had been having too much fun with my new friends. I pulled my socks up in the second year and came third in the year. I got a prize for the most improved pupil (which I felt a bit of a fraud in accepting).

Sounds to me as if the mark will be the wake up call he needs. I wouldn't be overly concerned but I would have chat with the teacher to understand what has been used to compile that grade (ie assessments, homework, classwork etc).

gazzalw Mon 12-Nov-12 14:03:28

Yes rationally I can see that, HellothisisJoanie - one has no idea about his cohort and unless one does know what levels they entered at it's not necessarily helpful.....

It is difficult to interpret data presented in such a way...maybe a shortcoming of the grammar system????

Well the remark from your DS1's teacher puts it in perspective, doesn't it .... mind you it certainly wasn't like that at the grammars DW and I went to - I failed my O Level and DW got a C- from Division 3!)

Yellowtip Mon 12-Nov-12 14:05:10

gazzalw don't worry, really. Your DS got a 5A from an ordinary state primary which didn't stretch him and he wasn't tutored. He's very able. The fact that he was surprised by his mark is good. Even if he is still lazy for a while the teachers will get his measure very soon and these superselectives have ways and means to get the slightly lazy boys moving. Even if it takes time, don't worry - he needs to get there in his own time, up to a point. He needs to enjoy school too. I still can't fathom what makes boys like yours and mine spark up: DS1 got moving quicker then DSs 2, 3 and 4 but they all seem to get there in the end (in some cases right at the very, very end!). I think the fact that he hasn't been tutored is very positive indeed. Give him time.

Sparkleandshine78 Mon 12-Nov-12 14:06:28

I think you do need an appointment with the teacher - mainly because this is a surprise... it is counter to the way you (and he) thought things were going. Forget over anxious parent, so what? isn't this about getting the best for your DS? If neither you or DS understand what this report means or reflects you need a one-to -one chat with the teacher.

Re: tutoring, this was mainly a thought about your DS may need help with 'how to work' 'how to study' 'how to do homework' etc. rather thank help with a specific subject. I went to comprehensive and really lacked studying skills as was relatively bright and did well without too much effort, fast forward to A-levels and very nearly failed completely as didn't have ANY skills needed.

tiggytape Mon 12-Nov-12 14:08:29

That is true Hello - at the end of the day all children are aiming for similar GCSEs and A Levels. They don't need to be 3 years ahead to get fantastic grades in these exams although I am sure the grammars would help a child achieve this if they had the potential. They may also help them to get a higher number of high grade GCSEs or get them a bit earlier.

When DS was placed in the top groups, I told him he must work hard to stay there because I want him to have the option of triple science and other subjects at GCSE (he is capable but also prone to coast).
At parents evening however, they told us all of set 1 and set 2 are expected to get A* or A in maths and that all of them will be doing triple science whether they want to or not! Set 3 can also opt to do it and are expected to get grades A-C in core subjects and even the lower sets are still expected to get C's in the core subjects and do double science.

What I'm saying is that even at comp (so especially at grammar), a child does not need to be top of the top group or even in the top group to get brilliant results later on. And that is what counts really. Employers and universities will look at a child's grades / personal statement / academic record not at whether 27 children in the same year were maths geniuses

gazzalw Mon 12-Nov-12 14:11:52

Thanks everyone for putting things into perspective - I guess the telling thing that he is generally a 'B' so he is holding his own. As my SIL so wisely put it, some subjects require maturity and depth of knowledge whereas maths is one of those subjects that children can be pushed ahead in from a young age....

OwlLady Mon 12-Nov-12 14:12:07

Personally I think they go through peaks and troughs with maths, if that helps?

gazzalw Mon 12-Nov-12 14:15:23

Well maybe the measure of it will be when they start doing things in maths that not many of them have previously studied. I will have to ask DS whether he's covered lots of new ground this half-term. Maybe he is learning new things and a lot of the others are just reinforcing what they already know?

Yes, OwlLady I think you are right, and you can just 'get' some parts of maths and not others.

Yellowtip Mon 12-Nov-12 14:15:26

So what Sparkle? Because for the long term Op probably wants not to be seen by his DSs teachers as someone who over-reacts and comes racing into school for the slightest thing. He has a parents evening in a couple of weeks. In that context in would be way over the top to insist on an appointment with a busy maths teacher.

Also I'd say it would be a very bad idea to bring in a tutor. The DS is very new at the school, probably has just the right amount of homework etc., is still finding his feet and what he probably needs least in his life at the moment is to flog out to some tutor totally unconnected with the school and very possibly a rip-off on dark winter evenings. Sounds like a recipe for turning him right off school.

There really is no need to panic at this stage. None.

FourTables Mon 12-Nov-12 14:18:55

Could the D relate to current GCSE equivalent score perhaps? Although I assume if it did, the school woud make that clear hmm.

Getting a D when you are used to being near the top must be difficult to understand, especially when despite being at a new school, your DS thought he was about average. All the more reason to have a quick word with the teacher to find out exactly why. You don't want your DS to be demoralised when some further explanation could be enlightening...

gelo Mon 12-Nov-12 14:29:40

given that the ds seemed surprised about the grade too and the books look OK, it could be as simple a thing as mistaken identity. Do speak with the teacher and find out more, but no need to panic this instant.

musttidyupmusttidyup Mon 12-Nov-12 14:55:29

Agree that giving them a class position is old fashioned - what value they add is the current thinking.
He'd know if he'd done CATs - 3 hours of testing.

seeker Mon 12-Nov-12 15:01:54

I would expect some sort of explanation for any report that doesn't use NC levels- what on earth use is "D" to anyone? I would ring and talk to the teacher- just ask for a bit more information.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 12-Nov-12 15:06:43

DD is at a GS ...they don't set them for maths till yr9 (the only subject they set for at all). I guess they think that they're all pretty able but that it takes that long to equilibrate . DH was talking to a teacher at the boys' GS who said that boys from a particular private school with an excellent maths teacher always started out streets ahead ...but a couple of years later, the ones who weren't naturally so good would have dropped back a bit.

These are selective but not super-selective schools so this sort of effect is liable to be more pronounced in your DSs case.

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Mon 12-Nov-12 16:16:08

Yup, what seeker said.

mumwithtwokids Mon 12-Nov-12 16:45:47

Hi Gazza - I really wouldn't worry, I know it's hard not to but please don't.

Do you have parent's evening coming up soon? If not I would just drop a quick email to his head of year just expressing your concern. We've done this recently for something completely different and the school were absolutely brilliant. They as much as you want your DS to be happy and do well so I'm sure they won't think you are overreacting.

And please do not think your DS is at a disadvantage because he hasn't been tutored. My DS wasn't tutored either however there are one or two boys in his class who still have tutors!

Yellowtip Mon 12-Nov-12 16:54:26

Our reports aren't based on NC levels and tbh a lot of parents don't have a clue what they are - I didn't until recently. I find A - E much easier to understand and our reports state clearly what each grade means (A = attainment above that expected for the year group, B = attainment expected for the year group, C = below that expected etc. ). Much moe helpful as far as I'm concerned. I've never had a clue what levels mine are working at in terms of NC once they start secondary, only how they're doing within the context of the school. That's fine by me, keeps it simple.

seeker Mon 12-Nov-12 17:02:27

Absolutely. If the school's own system is properly explained, that's fine. But in this case, it obviously hasn't been. At least with the NC levels, you can easily look up what they mean. A school's individual system is useless without a rubric.

gazzalw Mon 12-Nov-12 17:03:38

Thank you everyone for your feedback (and hello, mumwithtwokids!).

No, not everyone will have been tutored - DS said half of his class want to be accountants though so maybe they're already fine tuning their maths skills :-).

I guess it's very early days and it will probably take a while before the playing field is levelled - maybe that's why they don't set until year 9?

Just a bit of a shock! I think we will wait until his parents' evening. Until we have spoken with his maths tutor we don't really have the whole picture.

Have reiterated do DS that if he has any problems with understanding that he has to ask us to help him....

Have to say that the report came in such a strange format (not like any report I've ever seen before) that it took us a while to interpret.....

I can't recall that we were ever basically graded quite like that.....

racingheart Mon 12-Nov-12 20:24:09

I'd be comforted by his attitude. 'The only way is up,' is a great response to that knock back. Sounds like he won't be complacent for long, if he ever was.

It's a real jump for DC from state primary.

seeker Mon 12-Nov-12 20:35:46

"It's a real jump for DC from state primary."
Any secondary school is a real jump from any primary school.

MordionAgenos Mon 12-Nov-12 20:40:47

@yellow I don't find it that helpful myself. But I guess that's what happens when you just have one child there. It might become more easy to understand by the time you're on child 7! It's the 'expected for the school' bit that I never quite get - expected for the school bed on average historic performance? Or expected for the school based on what a similar cohort when they started went on to do? I did think at the beginning that it must be norm referenced but DD1 assures me it isn't. I've given up caring now - well, I've given up stressing. We get additional feedback because of her SEN and that indicates she's doing great so I let the rest wash over me.

It is wierd though - DS came home from his school today saying he had got a level 6 in a French test (he's Y8). I have no idea if that's good or bad. blush

MoreBeta Mon 12-Nov-12 20:46:34

My feeling is the other children in the class may have been coached and been at prep schools so have just covered a lot of the material already at their previous school or with tutors - whereas DS was at a primary with not a very good teacher. Combined with his natural laziness he has come unstuck.

May be the wake up call he needs. Talk to teacher, look at his books, ask DS where his weak areas are and get some extra help.

Pluto Mon 12-Nov-12 20:46:53

Peaks and troughs is definitely how students make progress in Maths - and it is OK for them to hit challenges, overcoming them is how they learn.

Effort and persistence will see him through. The school isn't helpful in providing you with info re where he is in relation to the rest of his class. What you need to know is where he is in relation to his end of KS3 target and expected outcomes in relation to that - I would be asking the school for this sort of information

babytrasher Mon 12-Nov-12 20:51:44

Mordion L6 in early Yr 8 puts him on course for A/A* at GCSE. There is, of course, many a slip 'twixt cup & lip... smile

CecilyP Mon 12-Nov-12 20:53:09

Agree with MoreBeta that some of the children may be achieving more highly because they have already covered some of the work in primary DS. I don't see anything wrong with querying the situation with the school - you have been sent a report that you don't fully comprehend, with a grade that has come as a bit of a shock, and it is understandable that you should be looking for clarification.

CecilyP Mon 12-Nov-12 20:55:12

That should have read:

Agree with MoreBeta that some of the children may be achieving more highly because they have already covered some of the work in primary school whereas it is possibly completely new to your DS.

MordionAgenos Mon 12-Nov-12 20:56:15

It's just one test though. I'm not going to get excited yet. But thanks. Because we don't get NC levels from DD1s school I have just no idea what is good bad or indifferent so I just nod and smile.

OP - it may very well be that a D at your DSs school is still a very good mark. At some schools, the entire cohort gets A or A* for some subjects. So getting a low mark for the school doesn't mean a low mark on an absolute scale.

gatheringlilac Mon 12-Nov-12 21:14:15

Hello gazzalw.

We had this. I went to see maths teacher. Maths teacher shrugged and said: "They all get As or A stars. Don't worry about it. You have to remember that some of these kids are actual genius-level at maths, and they're all above average."

This, gazzalw, is the reality of a superselective (which is what your little one is at). Someone has to be at the lower end of a particular subject, some of the time. but you have to remember that that "lower end" is quite high, relatively.

I do worry that it can be bit demoralising for some of them: they're 12 As students but effectively the "invisible middle".

Weird.

NewFerry Mon 12-Nov-12 21:19:22

Far more distressing is the thought that at 11 half the class want to be accountants!
Why not scientists, or astronauts or engineers?

Yellowtip Mon 12-Nov-12 21:35:11

Mordion if they're bumbling along and treading water at the school then I feel fairly ok. Esp.with a boy. Better then that and I know to be cheery. We're fairly rudimentary us. I don't think I'd even heard of NC levels when DD1 joined Y7. I've seen Cs turn into straight runs of A*s and a relaxed happy child so I think very little would phase me now in the first half of Y7.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 12-Nov-12 22:03:34

>Far more distressing is the thought that at 11 half the class want to be accountants!
Why not scientists, or astronauts or engineers?

in a superselective GS that is pretty grim. Does accountancy even need much mathematical ability, its mostly sums isn't it?

MordionAgenos Mon 12-Nov-12 22:05:09

ha. ha. ha.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 12-Nov-12 22:06:39

Though you do hear of some who apparently use imaginary numbers...

MordionAgenos Mon 12-Nov-12 22:08:33

You know the Z plane is an actual maths thing, right? grin

Yellowtip Mon 12-Nov-12 22:09:54

I avoided the accountancy thing for fear Mordion might slay me with a 'love'.

QOD Mon 12-Nov-12 22:12:00

My dd is at grammar school and the grades in the first two years were based on 5's to 7's
It's only now she's doing options in year 9 and starting GCSE course work that she's being graded a D' to B's
What the D he's getting? Is it his current GCSE level?

MordionAgenos Mon 12-Nov-12 22:17:31

I think you have to come from Croydon to actually get the full, you know, weight, of that word though. Athough I've deployed it literally all over the world with basically pretty good success. grin

gazza tell your DS to tell his mates (or, as it may be, the fellow students he'd not want to be seen dead with - I guess it could go either way) that if they genuinely want to be accountants - or at least, if they want to do the really properly interesting and well paid stuff - it's their writing they need to focus on.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 12-Nov-12 22:19:29

>You know the Z plane is an actual maths thing, right?
Oh yes - Scientists and engineers do legal things with imaginary numbers grin

racingheart Mon 12-Nov-12 23:04:10

seeker - not academically it's not. Not for loads of kids. They languish and learn very little, especially the bright ones, in unstreamed Yr7 classes.

But to move from state primary to selective grammar, to be suddenly surrounded by pupils who are brighter than you, learn faster, work harder, and to have teachers who expect a lot from you is a big shock to DC who are used to coming top, even when they coast, in primary school.
It's a bigger jump, academically.

gazzalw Tue 13-Nov-12 07:21:46

Thanks everyone...and in fact DS came home yesterday and said he'd done well in his fractions work and said "I'm doing stuff I like at the moment" which I guess says it all and fits in with the peaks and troughs factor!

Yes, agree that half a class aspiring to be accountants is not the way to go really - BORING. I don't remember it being quite like that when I was at grammar school - broader aspirations...

Yes, hello GatheringLilacs, agree that the problem is that someone has got to be bottom of the class - it's just a pity when it's one's son!

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 08:16:53

Did you actually mean to sound so rude? And, you know, ignorant?

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Tue 13-Nov-12 08:22:14

Eh, Mord?

twoterrors Tue 13-Nov-12 08:23:12

I wouldn't worry about this from the grade POV, but I would check that he doesn't have gaps in knowledge or understanding from primary school - that he never really understood decimals or how to use a scientific calculator or something. They will be going fast so it can get very confusing - and demoralising - if the foundations are not secure. If there are gaps, fill them and perhaps a bit of practise. Then he can fly.

Both my children seem to be strongest in maths on topics mostly just taught in secondary school - I think having specialists makes a big difference in maths. We had to go back and plug one or two gaps (learning a workable, fast method for long division, for example).

It should absolutely be OK to go to the school about anything on a report that is not explained or comes as a surprise. They will want him to do well - and if he can do fractions, he can do it!

GrimmaTheNome Tue 13-Nov-12 08:37:13

Its not whether its boring or not that - joking aside - is an issue. (I've heard that senior financial positions entered via accountancy can be very interesting). What is troubling is that so many of our brightest would not be more interested in making money rather than manipulating it. As in, activities which make life enhancing stuff which creates money for the economy not just for themselves.

Sorry, way OT!

PropositionJoe Tue 13-Nov-12 08:47:26

Don't panic, he probably needs to work a bit harder. Check his books - are there careless mistakes? He can't get away with that any more (and now he knows!)

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 08:59:48

If we leave aside the fact that accountancy is a profession which covers a multitude of activities from regulation down to book-keeping - most accountants are actually employed in industry even now (in the face of our shrinking manufacturing sector).Those people clearly contribute to the making of money rather than the manipulating of it (although that's a ridiculously simplistic dichotomy anyway). The next biggest group are probably those employed in the public sector, where arguably they are contributing to activities of social worth.

It is impossible to set up as an entrepreneur/inventor without the support of a decent accountant. It is impossible to run a business employing people without the support of a decent accountant. And as I understand it - I know quite a few - most inventor-entrepreneurs have very peculiar brains. In,obviously, a really good way. But none of the ones I have met were ever particularly academic and none of them went to super selective schools.

None of the cleverest people I knew at Cambridge are inventors or entrepreneurs either. They are almost all working in the arts and/or telly. It is possible I moved in the wrong circles though.

HappyTurquoise Tue 13-Nov-12 09:07:53

Am interested in your OP. DD was level 6 for maths and English by year 5 and at super selective grammar she was in the bottom third of her class for maths. I was surprised (she has been at normal primary schools, no tutor) as she has soaked up maths like a sponge and never had any difficulty understanding. Discussed this at the parent's evening and within 2 terms she had moved to the top third. I think it was just a few areas she hadn't been taught because of moving from school to school, and once explained, she understood. She also lost some marks with silly mistakes on an early paper, and she hardly does that now.

seeker Tue 13-Nov-12 09:15:55

If it helps, my dd was in set 6 of 7 all the way through grammar school and got an A at GCSE. Usually the sets get smaller as they get lower, so there is more individual attention.

tiggytape Tue 13-Nov-12 09:16:43

Of course accountancy can be a secure and worthwhile profession. It is just uncommon for young children to appreciate its benefits since it appeals to things that are more adult concerns (like decent promotion prospects and job security) rather than benefits that are traditionally more appealing to children (like excitement, earning £1million in your first year or a cool uniform!)

As an 18 year old adult, to be considering a career in accountancy shows good sense and ambition. It just seems a little odd for so many 11 year olds to know much about it, let alone aspire to it, when there are so many more obviously exciting alternatives (albeit these are often unrealistic to an adult mind and may well be rejected in favour of paying the mortgage and long term prospects).

It would be nice to think that the brightest minds aspired to great discoveries, technological feats or finding medical cures. There’s plenty of time later for worrying about recession-proofing your career, decent pension prospects and providing a sound financial framwork for the benefit and employment of others.

seeker Tue 13-Nov-12 09:18:47

Bear in mind that the "half the class want to be accountants" remark came from an 11 year old. It probably meant that the child next to him when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up said "an accountant" because it was the first profession he could think of.

dysfunctionalme Tue 13-Nov-12 09:20:46

Isn't it quite normal for super-smart children to flounder a bit when they move up from primary? They come up against other clever children and have to learn to work for their marks rather than coast. I am sure it has been a shock for you all but sometimes these things are excellent learning opportunities. Your son is obviously v clever and has good support at home, he will surely do well.

outtolunchagain Tue 13-Nov-12 09:23:24

I am an accountantwink, I have a degree from Durham , so was no slouch academically and trained with a top 5 firm ( the top in fact) .

It really annoys me when the cliches about accountancy come out . To be a good accountant you need to be both numerate and literate , you need not just to understand and interpret the numbers yourself but also to be able to explain those conclusions to your client . The modern profession is very customer focused and excellent communication skills are vital.

It's an excellent all round training; as an audit trainee you could be in a different business almost every couple of weeks , you need to be able to work in teams and for a variety of managers simultaneously You need the confidence to talk to members of the clients accounts teams who may not have as high a level of education as yourself and may not understand what your purpose is , you need to get the confidence of those people and yearn to ask the right question to get the right answer.

In my first year I saw the inside of all sorts of business from Hotels to reinsurers to sherry producers . I had a much more interesting time than some desk bound university contemporaries.

I have never had any problem getting a job either .the skills are very transferable . I now work for a largish charity , I have an intellectually stimulating role and it's fairly family friendly .Many accountants travel the world and manage to work as an accountant while they do it.

So whilst it may not be as glamorous as some other jobs please do not dismiss us as boring number crunchers .

GrimmaTheNome Tue 13-Nov-12 09:28:32

Oh, I know accountants are necessary...in other (thriving) countries they seem to have a relatively lower status though, its not something the brightest would necessarily be looking towards at age 11. I wonder what the aspirations are in a similar class in Germany. Probably has more to do with the undervaluing of scientists and especially engineers in our society

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 09:32:24

It's likely that several of the class have parents who are accountants.

And in fact I wouldn't necessarily recommend anyone who is 11 to consider the profession, to be honest, the way things are. However that's got nothing to do with boredom - quite the reverse in fact. Interesting times.......

@tiggy - the way you describe accountancy sounds amazing. Also, sadly, hugely wide of the mark in both directions - you emphasise a downside that doesn't really exist and an upside that is sadly a thing of the past for anyone under 55 (the stuff like good pensions).

Theas18 Tue 13-Nov-12 09:32:57

Selective or superselective school?

If superselective I really wouldn't worry. Certainly our schools locally take the top 10% approx. Therefore, by a simple matter of statistics (and I know it isn't as straight forward as this) even the " bottom child" in ability is going to be brighter /more able than 90/100 of his peers. (so you would be in the top 3 ina junior class of 30..)

Leaving the accountants etc aside LOL I'd have a chat with school/form tutor to ask if there are any issues and that just try to address the possible " laziness" issues, and wait and see.

It could be that they've done a relatively small number of assessments on which to base the mark and one or two were where he didn't get the point of the task or something and dragged the overall result down.

I have no idea how prevalent tutoring is at grammar schools. We have never done it at all, at we can't unique in that.

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 09:34:53

Oh yes, I forgot the third sector. Without accountants the third sector would be completely stuffed, right outtolunch? grin

outtolunchagain Tue 13-Nov-12 09:35:19

I think you are confusing book keeping with accountancy .

I suspect that if this school is in outer London the simple explanation is that many of the children have parents who are accountants grin

Not sure why you think children in Germany would have amazing aspirations , the German education system is renowned for its rigidity.confused

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 09:41:51

@grima I work internationally. In Germany - since you mentioned it specifically - Wirtschaftsprufers have a very high status indeed. Certainly higher and better respected than in this country. The educational requirements are much higher too for the lowest level of entry. Te only country I can think of off the top of my head where accountants are slightly lower status is the USA where, as we know, lawyers rule and where they of course control one element of the traditional accountant's domain, tax.

I don't believe engineers are undervalued I just think most people can't be engineers. And I think a classroom in a super selective grammar possibly isn't the place to go looking for the people who do have those skills.

poozlepants Tue 13-Nov-12 09:43:12

There is a pyschological theory that children shouldn't be praised for their cleverness instead for the amount of effort they have put in as when they come across things that are difficult they think their inability to do the task means they are stupid. So they stop trying as they don't want to prove that this is right. There maybe a bit of this going on. If your DS was told at primary school he was great at maths and he was really clever at it when he's reached Grammar and discovered that there are hard things he has stopped trying rather than putting extra effort in to solve the problems. He sounds bright enough and it's only the first term. Personally I would be careful not to put too much emphasis on why everyone else is doing better -tutoring etc as it only gives him an out as to why he's not doing well unless of course you think he is really working as hard as he can.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 13-Nov-12 09:56:48

>I don't believe engineers are undervalued I just think most people can't be engineers. And I think a classroom in a super selective grammar possibly isn't the place to go looking for the people who do have those skills.

I would guess that what you are thinking of as 'engineer' isn't quite the same as modern reality...therein lies the problem. (not that most people can't do it. Most people can't be first-rate accountants either.)

And grammar schools are exactly where many (probably most) good scientists have arisen in the past.

Erebus Tue 13-Nov-12 10:01:44

It's funny the reputation 'accountancy' has, isn't it?!

I must say that it's also unfortunate that all the accountants I know (5) are profoundly dull people but I know that that doesn't mean all accountants are dull!

I think the fact the remark came from an 11 year old is the most important fact. I have a 'friend' who has sent her DS private. When he is asked what he wants to do after school he says 'be a solicitor'. Last month, someone asked him, now 14, what a solicitor does. He said 'I dunno'... ie his mum wants him to be an accountant, he just parrots what she says!

For the record, the superbright at DSs state comp, those with maths 'A' levels at 12, want to be actuaries!

Anyway, we digress.

Erebus Tue 13-Nov-12 10:05:05

And, imho, engineers shall inherit the Earth.

I genuinely think that- I believe those who can take stuff, do stuff to it and make it into other, more useful stuff are those we will desperately need in the coming end-days of oil.

We won't have quite so much need for those who move money from a to b whilst skimming a bit off the top of each transaction or those who count the money as it crosses their desks.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 13-Nov-12 10:11:50

That and peer group...DDs friends all seem to want to be vets.

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 10:12:15

@grimma indeed but it would have looked a bit self congratulatory for me to say that, wouldn't it. :D

Scientists and engineers are slightly different animals though, aren't they? I think that scientists are undervalued, specifically undervalued in financial terms, despite the politically motivated push to make all bright children do 3 sciences at GCSE whether they want to or not (which is an appalling thing to do, in my opinion). It's a real shame that successive governments of both hues have got this so very wrong.

As I said, I have, as a result of my career, met a lot of inventor entrepreneurs and none of them were typical academically minded people. I thought from the original post on this sub-topic - which talked about making money, and seemed to be manufacturing biased, rather than designing great bridges, for example (which rarely make any money, not for years and years) - that it was that sort of person the poster was wanting to see more of.

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 10:16:24

Erebus I expect they think you are dull too. Also, ill informed. smile

GrimmaTheNome Tue 13-Nov-12 10:21:21

>I think that scientists are undervalued, specifically undervalued in financial terms
tell me about it!

'making stuff' includes the output of scientists not just engineers. Dysons and drugs; people who can dream up the advanced materials to make eg, advanced microchips and then the people who write the code which runs on them (software engineers as well as mech eng!).

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 10:25:05

Also, chemical engineers. :D But none of them can do it on their own. To successfully design something, bring it to the market and make a go of selling it long term and actually building a sustainable business you need to bring in people with all sorts of skills, including accountants.

a lot of the people who go bust do so because they didn't think this element of it through properly, not because they had a crap idea.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 13-Nov-12 10:31:52

Of course you need all sorts of functions in a company (and outside - bankers even!) ...its the balance that is skewed.

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 10:46:35

@Grimma There isn't actually an oversupply of proper qualified accountants though. There's an oversupply of unqualified or part qualifiers, there's an oversupply of technicians, but the real deal? Not an over-supply (although there is a mismatch between the many different types of skill sets and the growth areas of opportunity). There is also an issue with the over 50s but that isn't restricted to one profession, it's an issue in many professions. sad

However - things are on the cusp of changing massively (although there will be tensions between the effects of the likely imminent changes) so, who knows where the future lies. I would say the same was true for inventors/entrepreneurs too though, especially those in manufacturing.

Erebus Tue 13-Nov-12 14:38:33

Mordion - my experience of these 5 accountants would lead me to think 'other people' don't actually cross their minds let alone having an opinion of their 'dullness'.....!

3 are married to friends, 2 are married to each other (our DSs are school friends). My friends choose not to bring their OHs to social do's any more having each suffered a little in the past from having done so smile. (The 'incident' I saw was one bloke actually have a meltdown because people were taking too long to sit down for a restaurant meal. He actually walked out!) And the 'couple' "prefer not to socialise", which is of course entirely their right.

Just so you know why I've reached my conclusion about these 5 people I know who are linked by the fact they are all chartered accountants!

But dull's OK. We can't all be social dilettantes! It does take 'all sorts'.

But 'ill informed' as a retort to what I said? No, you mean 'You don't think the same way I do therefore you're wrong', don't you? grin.

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 15:43:41

No, I meant you were ill informed since you clearly don't know what accountants actually do, and instead resorted to media cliche. I could have said ill informed and lazy, but I restricted it to ill informed just in case rather than being lazy you had been ever so busy. It seems perhaps I was too charitable though. sad

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 15:47:20

Erebus Also - I'm not sure being the sort of person to have a public meltdown in a restaurant over something like seating speed could be described as 'dull'. Rather too eventful for most peoples' tastes, surely? It sounds a bit like AS to me and yes, some accountants do have AS but no more or less than people in other professions which also require highly intelligent people and are perhaps less judgey panted than some.

You actually sound pretty mean and judgey panted yourself, you do know that, right?

GrimmaTheNome Tue 13-Nov-12 16:31:20

We wouldn't assume that just because we knew a physicist with a touch of the Sheldon Coopers that they were all like that? Or ...that all engineers were mainly like the ones we happened to know , non of whom were 'typically academically minded'? grin

Erebus Tue 13-Nov-12 16:59:11

mordion! Settle down!

Where have I said 'I know what accountants do' in order for you to tell me I am ill informed because I don't know what accountants do?! I haven't cited media cliche, I've only cited personal experience of the people I know who are accountants!!

You really don't need to go into bat for the entire profession, you know. I wouldn't presume to do so for my profession had someone told me that 5 of its members behaved in a certain way.

I am actually, tbh, a leetle bit concerned that an accountant hasn't checked exactly what I said in forensic detail before answering what you thought I said! I thought attention to detail was essential to being an accountant, but then, I'm lazy and ill-informed, so what do I know, hey?

Anyway, I should stop having fun with you, now, so I'll sign off, here!

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 17:03:09

@Grima I never said all the engineers as you well know (if you read my posts). I said specifically that the successful inventor entrepreneurs that I had met or knew of through my job were not typically academically minded. Obviously engineers are academically minded, engineering is a fiendishly difficult sort of degree course to get on. grin Most engineers are not successful entrepreneurs though. They tend to work for people who are.

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 17:05:22

Erebus if all the accountants you genuinely know are skimming off the top of every transaction, then you should report them to the police.

Except of course, they aren't.

But it's easy and lazy to accuse an entire profession of being crooks. And then bluster when you're pulled up on it. Just like it's easy and lazy to dismiss an entire profession as being dull based on a rather cruel assessment of 5 people. And then bluster when you're pulled up on it.

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 17:06:14

And I did check exactly what you said, that is why I'm so offended. Accusation of impropriety is a big deal in my world. A VERY big deal.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 13-Nov-12 17:52:19

Mordion - no, its financial advisers who - until the new change in the rules - perfectly legally 'skimmed'.

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 18:01:27

And they are not accountants.

Of course any crook might also skim off the top of a deal or transaction. Misappropriation of assets is a very common type of fraud, although it isn't the one that leads to the biggest losses. Management, staff (including accounts staff) - typical businesses will have many points at which dodgy dealings could occur absent proper internal controls etc. To characterise the profession as one that did that as a matter of course though is very ill informed, just as ill informed as confusing the profession with IFAs, insurance brokers, bankers etc.

I've lost count of the number of threads we have had in here over the years where teachers have expressed their irritation at their profession being unfairly and completely inaccurately maligned or otherwise misrepresented by members of the public and/or people on MN. I don't think it's unreasonable for me to be annoyed with posters doing the same thing to my profession. Especially when it is such very lazy misrepresentation. To be honest, I'm more pissed off about the resorting to cliche than I am about the insults. Although I'm sure I'll get over it soon enough. grin

GrimmaTheNome Tue 13-Nov-12 18:26:03

Can you think of any profession which isn't in some way misrepresented?

NewFerry Wed 14-Nov-12 07:06:30

I think I was surprised at the wanting to be an accountant at 11, given that at that same age, my DC want/wanted to be a professional footballer, 'the sting' from top gear, and either a west end performer or a marine biologist (or as DD puts it, more people go to the theatre at the weekend, so maybe do both!)

I hadn't intended to start a bun fight, it was a light hearted observation.

gazzalw Wed 14-Nov-12 09:53:17

Yes, at DS's primary school the girls all wanted to be doctors and the boys wanted to be footballers!

And I'm sorry about the accountant bit - had no idea it would start such a bunfight! Just for the record I wasn't saying accountants were boring per se but that it's boring that that it is what so many of them aspire to....it does rather smack of parental 'hovering' IMHO!

thanks for all your comments by the way - feel a lot better about it really. I think it will probably take DS the whole of Year 7 to adjust to be quite honest - at least.

Yes, Gatheringlilacs it does rather put it into perspective to think that DS hopefully will be an A student but that in the context of a grammar school he will probably be lost as an average!

It's all character building stuff though!

hardboiled Wed 14-Nov-12 10:02:00

Hi gazzalw, joining this late...But I couldn't help being surprised at the way your DS school "grades" the students. It seems his grade depends on what the other children are attaining as in "average" or "top", whereas I always thought a grade reflects an individual's knowledge and attainment on a particular subject... Maybe the bar is set very high in grammar schools and it does reflect his first assesment results, but it shouldn't be explained to you in terms of position within the group, I don't think that's a constructive healthy way of thinking iykwim! But then it's all about competition these days isn't it. Very tiring.

gazzalw Wed 14-Nov-12 10:15:48

Hi Hardboiled, yes I agree. Mind you, we did always used to complain that the primary school reports didn't at all reflect how DS was getting on in relation to his peers so maybe we've been hoisted by our own petard!!!

No, in a way I don't think it's constructive but DS is very competitive so I think it might be what he needs to get himself back in the running...

One would hope that these schools do know what they're doing and have a good rationale for doing it.... ;-)

hardboiled Wed 14-Nov-12 10:24:41

I'm sure they do! And you're right, some kids do get their motivation out of knowing where they stand in relation to their peers.

gazzalw Wed 14-Nov-12 10:28:28

Is it the way they work in public schools, does anyone know? I ask because there was talk of an academy being set up nearby (with some support from a Head from one of the well known public schools in the Home Counties) and they were very hot on the whole idea of year group league tables....

JustFabulous Wed 14-Nov-12 10:29:22

I honestly think what other boys do is irrelevant to what grade your son gets. There isn't a limit on how many A's can be handed out. Other boys being tutored doesn't stop your son working to a high ability. It maybe that he has been getting high marks easily but now that the work is harder he has to work harder as it comes less naturally to him.

Use this as a wake up call for all of you.

twoterrors Wed 14-Nov-12 12:07:40

I think in selective and very selective schools it is more common to use the cohort in that school as some sort of benchmark as lots of the kids are on track for all or mostly As or A* at GCSE. Knowing roughly where your dc are can be useful as it provides context: what classes are like in their weaker subjects, how long homework should take. They are not necessarily to be competitive over (tho' am sure there is some of that but it happens anyway!).

One of mine was always in the middle at maths - that was reassuring because the middle get good grades. We just get told what the average mark in exams is for that year group, so you just have a rough idea.

changejustforyou Wed 14-Nov-12 12:15:19

For what it's worth, Ds was top at his local state primary school, when he started sec private school(untutored) , only average. I also know that by midterm/now the grades in some subjects are only assessed by 1 or 2 tests.If unlucky with these he might not have shown his real capabilty.
(dd wants to be a hairdresser or a waitress, don't think she would be interested in engineering, astronaut or accountancy....)

seeker Wed 14-Nov-12 12:24:46

"I'm sure they do! And you're right, some kids do get their motivation out of knowing where they stand in relation to their peers."

And you think they don't know?grin However much we try to prevent them from finding out?

bigTillyMint Wed 14-Nov-12 12:42:07

Seeker, true saywink

DD knows EXACTLY where she stands in relation to her individual classes and sets/year group.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 14-Nov-12 13:40:28

Kids do have a feel for where they are in their group...given this, I wonder whether it is actually better for them to have an accurate placement rather than one that may be a bit skewed by over/under confidence?

Not necessarily individual places but average and range is useful.

gelo Wed 14-Nov-12 13:41:13

Not true that all children know their exact class ranking though - maybe most have a fairly accurate idea, a fair few have either inflated or deflated opinions of their ability and one or two dreamers drift along without having a clue (or caring).

gazzalw Wed 14-Nov-12 15:52:11

Well I wouldn't say DS is overly confident but he obviously had a vastly over-inflated view of his class position in maths!!! He reckoned he was in the middle!

bigTillyMint Wed 14-Nov-12 16:45:23

Like others have said, it may be that he just did relatively badly on an end of topic test, but is middling in lessons

Nuttyprofessor Thu 15-Nov-12 21:47:13

DS at super selective grammar. The letter grades were for effort and the attainment was measured as a sat score, maybe it is the same.

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