Sometimes I think that getting an A* is all that matters....

(57 Posts)

I am starting to feel that's what DS1 (Year 9) thinks. sad had Parents Evening yesterday and he's a bit down now.

Iamnotminterested Fri 14-Jun-13 09:52:18

Sparklingbrook, Cs will be fine in this house if it's any consolation.

Who is putting pressure on him, other children being competitive or the teachers?

Difficult to say Iam. In a nutshell he changed schools last year and ended up in the top Maths set. We didn't think that was the right set but he's done really well keeping up. Turns out next year he is going to be in set 2. He now thinks he isn't doing as well as he thought.

He has a friendship group of quite high achievers which doesn't help. So there is a competitive element.

wordfactory Fri 14-Jun-13 09:57:30

So your DS thinks only an A* is good enough, OP?

Hullygully Fri 14-Jun-13 09:58:59

Tell him to buck his ideas up in that it is best to be in the set that works at the pace and in the style best suited to each child. You all still take the same exam at the end and he has every bit as much chance of a good result as the rest.

ie nip any low confidence etc in the bud...

I think he does word. We have never said anything about grades but i think he has got it into his head that that is the aim. now he is dropping a set he has assumed he can't get an A* but TBF I don't think he would anyway.

That's what I am afraid of Hully I need to put a huge positive spin on the Set 2 thing.

Changing schools has worked wonders for his confidence. he's had a good year and this is the first time he has had his confidence knocked.

Also he wanted to be considered for triple Science but i don't think that will happen either.

Hullygully Fri 14-Jun-13 10:10:34

Yes you do, really forbid any down on himself nonsense. Why not check with his tutor about triple science, and insist on it if necessary, it's the same standard, just a bit more of it. If ds wants to do it and is prepared to work hard, absolutely no reason he shouldn't do it.

The Science teacher was asking whether at A level he was thinking of Science or Humanities. If it's the latter then triple Science isn't really for him, and emphasised how much work it is.

He is 13, and has no idea what he would like to do beyond Year 11. I feel he doesn't want to burn any bridges at this stage.

I think I am just going through the post-parents evening dip TBH.

Hullygully Fri 14-Jun-13 10:21:21

That's bollocks, sparkling. He shouldn't limit himself now, triple science is much too valuable not to attempt.

Well he is still on the list for being considered for it Hully so we will see what happens.

I did feel a bit bad for us not knowing what his future career plans are. grin

Iamnotminterested Fri 14-Jun-13 10:25:46

Harsh, Hully.

monikar Fri 14-Jun-13 10:26:50

If he is in the second set he will still be entered for the same exam and so an A* is still available to him, just as it was before.

It could be possible that he will increase in confidence next year as he is likely to be near the top of this second set. My DD found in year 10 that sometimes the children are required to help others with concepts and so if your DS is one of the more able, he will be one of the ones others will turn to.

It may be a blessing in disguise. In my experience with DD (17) I found that her being in top sets for some subjects was a disadvantage - I often felt that she would benefit from a slightly slower pace and be given more practice in some areas.

Also, to get A* the students have to achieve an overall UMS of 90% which is very high.

Good luck, hope that helps a little.

Hullygully Fri 14-Jun-13 10:27:38

try reading properly iamnot

Thanks Monikar I do believe a slower pace is what's required for DS1. I can understand why he sees it as a blow but I think once he gets started he will realise it's better for him. Really it's a shame he ended up in the top set to start with, but they had to start him somewhere.

Iamnotminterested Fri 14-Jun-13 10:33:23

Ah. Ok. Moving on...

Iamnotminterested Fri 14-Jun-13 10:34:07

No need for rudeness to me though!

Hullygully Fri 14-Jun-13 10:34:38

But you were rude AND wrong to me, dear

monikar Fri 14-Jun-13 10:37:26

Yes Sparkling I agree. The problem with setting is they have to draw the boundaries somewhere.

You might also find that at the start of year 10, they will quickly get swept along with starting the GCSE courses and so this may well seem less important than it does now.

In my experience with DD, the way to get good at exams and reach the higher grades is to practise past papers in the run up to the GCSE in year 11. You can download these online from the exam board (check which one your DS is doing) along with the mark schemes. It is astonishing how they pick up those few extra marks with doing this. Many questions are similar year after year and also will give him confidence that he is progressing in the right direction.

wordfactory Fri 14-Jun-13 10:40:39

sparkling all you can do is keep reinforcing the idea that A*s are not the only valuable qualification.

Keep pointing out that every October universities are packed with Freshers who didn't get all A*s. Far from it grin.

Thanks Monikar that's useful to know. He does get very nervous in exams, and we do need to address that over the next two years. preparation will be very important.

Sometimes parents Evenings make you think a bit too much. Trying to read between the lines as to what's being said. I always feel a bit like this afterwards, mulling it all over.

With GCSEs being all over the news lately they have taken on this huge significance now DS1 is about to start Year 10.

That's a very good point word. grin

monikar Fri 14-Jun-13 10:51:25

Sparkling I think you are right about overthinking comments made at parents' evening. We only got 3 minutes per teacher when DD was in year 9 and it is not surprising really that in that time things could be misconstrued. I used to mull it over endlessly too.

There is such a lot of talk about GCSEs in the news and if your DS about to start year 10 you are bound to be concerned. He won't take the 'new' GCSEs though will he? I thought they started for current year 7s?

When DD was stressing about GCSEs I pointed out to her that the A* is a relatively new grade, and an A used to be the top grade. A* was introduced to distinguish those students who got nearly full marks on a paper from those who 'only' got 80%. Schools sometimes put a huge amount of pressure on students and it is very hard for them.

That's it isn't in monikar, we were spoiled getting a whole five minutes. And you don't want to interrupt and stop the teacher talking. I am a huge overthinker and it seems I may have passed the trait down. sad

Yes DS1 is still with the current system, DS2 will have the pleasure of trying to achieve a Grade 8. smile

Can I ask a question? How do you stop the GCSE years (10 and 11) from taking over everything? DS1 knows it's going to be hard work and has actually said he is worried about it.

How do we survive the next 2 years?

dingit Fri 14-Jun-13 13:13:46

My dd is in year 9, and already sat gcses in maths, science and PE. The stress has been unbelievable. So in answer to your question, I won't know sparkling, hopefully there will be a support thread for us next year!

Hullygully Fri 14-Jun-13 13:16:15

Well...I bought all the text books (secondhand off Amazon), the CGP revision guides, checked on the student room, printed off the specs and some past papers...generally made sure all possible forms of preparation and help were available and present.

Then you just have to learn the stuff!

Get the specs from the web, they tell you everything the student has to know in each course.

Of course, if you have a truly wondrous school, they'll do this, but in the real world..

Thanks Hully it really is about being prepared isn't it? I think a routine would help DS1 too. the Sunday night homework debacle grates my carrot at the moment.

dingit blimey. No GCSEs done yet thank goodness.

dingit Fri 14-Jun-13 13:23:11

Hmmm, we shall wait for the results, but I think the school ( academy) have pushed them to early. On the other hand, she will know what to expect in future!

dingit Fri 14-Jun-13 13:23:55

* too blush

monikar Fri 14-Jun-13 13:24:31

I don't really know the answer to that I'm afraid. For us, the GCSEs did take over nearly everything. DD's school made them do a lot of subjects and there were so many controlled assessments in so many of them. Also, the school made them do more than was necessary and then submitted the 2 best of 3 pieces of work if 2 pieces was required for example. Honestly, every week there seemed to be something.

The best advice I can give is to encourage your DS to keep up with everything - get started on big homeworks when they are given out as often they take longer than you think they will.

Also, be meticulous about backing up documents on the computer. DD had a memory stick which she kept for 'saved' work, so she saved it on this and on the hard-drive. It is expensive on ink but she printed out 2 hard copies of important work - one to hand in and one as a spare in case the first gets lost/misplaced. Over the course of the 2 years, she came home several times with tales of friends who had pieces of work lost or they had lost their school memory stick and hadn't kept a copy.

DD still went out with her friends but cut down on socialising at the end as there was so much to do.

It's a hard 2 years but it sounds like your DS is wise and sensible to be thinking and planning for it now.

lljkk Fri 14-Jun-13 13:26:15

OP's thread title is the most common view on MN.

Mmm, I think I get a bit of that impression come to think of it lljkk, maybe subconciously that has skewed my view. I don't venture onto Education threads very often.

Great tips Monikar, I am making notes.

orangeandemons Fri 14-Jun-13 13:30:25

Sparkling, your ds sounds lovely. As a teacher and a mother of a now grown teenage ds, it is my experience that a lot of boys just want to pass, never mind aim foe an A*

If he really wants it, he will be able to do it. The second set go at a slightly slower pace, but can get A* easily.

Now my ds was an A* candidate who happily settled for a B angry. It will all unfold magically during Y10,and it doesn't take over their life. < recalls ds's hours on x box live with no evidence of revision>. It is slightly different now, as all modules have been scrapped, so all the pressure will come at the end of Year 11.

As one who remembers O Levels, which were done in a similar manner, I seem to remember doing not very much until exam revision time wink

My DD, Y8, is already getting stressy about her choices. She was of the understanding that if she moved into the bottom set for maths she would not be able to take the higher level paper and could only get a C.

She managed 76% in her end of year exam. We were delighted but she pointed out she still came bottom. Someone has to!

smile orange. DS has to really put the work in to get his good marks so he may need a bit of cajoling here and there.

How much to the GCSE grades matter when going on to do A Levels? Is a really good mark essential to be able to study that subject?

orangeandemons Fri 14-Jun-13 13:44:17

I've experience you need at least a B in any subject you want to do at A level. It is my experience that C grades struggle a bit.

There is some formula my school uses to decide who can do 2, 3 or 4 A levels, which is based on GCSE results but I don't know what it is. Something like an average of 8 b's or above to do 4

Exit DS1 seems very aware of everyone elses's marks which annoys me a bit. sad

That sounds about right orange. it's not an A* or you can't do it then? grin 4 A levels? <faints>

monikar Fri 14-Jun-13 17:12:59

Sparkling When DD was in years 10 and 11 there seemed to be less sharing of the marks than there had been in lower years, if that is any comfort to you. Perhaps it was because they were doing the 'real' stuff then.

DD is at the end of year 12 now. I agree that you need at least a B in a subject you want to take at A level, not only from the point of view that the school wouldn't let you take it (some schools specify at least a B), but the fact that you need the background and level of understanding in a subject at GCSE in order to be able to take it further, otherwise the jump to A level would be even greater than it already is.

So no, you don't have to have an A* in a subject if you want to do it at A level.

Thanks monikar. I am feeling a bit less mithered about it all now. DS1 seems ok, but they have all been discussing who got what in the end of term tests and who said what at Parents Evening. hmm

Can I be nosey and ask what your DD is taking at A Level? Has she got future plans?

monikar Fri 14-Jun-13 17:51:59

Yes, of course. She is doing Maths and 3 sciences at A level. She's not sure what she wants to do - she will decide further when she gets her AS results.

Thanks monikar. smile So the Science/Humanities decision is made at least.

clam Fri 14-Jun-13 18:17:15

With ds and GCSEs last year, there seemed to be a definite feel amongst his swotty mates that only A* counted - a bit like Olympic golds. He did really well, 9As and 2A*s (plus a couple of Bs) but had the hump for a few days as all his mates were only comparing how many A*s they'd got.
But of course, once Year 12 got going, they realised that it's the road ahead with A2s and A levels that really count.

That sounds like DS1's mates clam. Sounds like he did really well though you must have been chuffed.

Once A levels are done is anyone interested in what grades they got at GCSE?

orangeandemons Fri 14-Jun-13 18:29:34

Why wasn't my ds like thisconfused. He only cared about getting top marks in Halo and World of Warcaft.

Now he's at uni he is better but still wants to be top in League of Legends <sigh>

He's at Uni thought orange. smile What's he studying? Apart from League of Legends?


orangeandemons Fri 14-Jun-13 18:34:46

No, he pulled it off in the end, got all his exams.

He's doing History. Tells me all about Thatcher and the miners srtike

Oh no. That's History? sad

landofsoapandglory Fri 14-Jun-13 18:40:47

Sparkling DS1 is just doing his A levels now and he said to me the other day that no-one thinks or asks about GCSEs now. He worked his socks off, got all As and A*s, but says knowing what he knows now he would probably have not stressed as much.

He went for History, English, Law and Psychology at AS level and dropped Law as he went though to A2. He is predicted all A's but is saying he isn't going to Uni!

DS2 is doing his GCSEs now, he is working hard because he needs to get the grades to go through to 6th Form. He will be doing sciences at A level because he wants to be a nurse.

. If they want to do well, IMO they will. Your DS sounds like he does. As he goes through into Yr10 and 11 you might find his friendship group changes a bit and he joins up with youngsters of a similar mindset as him, I know my DSes did.

orangeandemons Fri 14-Jun-13 18:44:54

Yes, and I lived through it. I feel 100 years old sad

1Catherine1 Fri 14-Jun-13 18:54:15

Unfortunately, to me it reads as if your DS may have incorrectly been placed in the top set when you joined the school. It is terrible when this happens - it has happened on occasion at my school when the ideal class was full and the choice is between the higher set or the lower set, usually it is decided that the student will fare better in the higher set. It also happens when the previous school doesn't provide data promptly.

That said, if this is important to your DS and you - it doesn't need to be a permanent move. Last year in July I was contacted by a parent (from a student at another school) after their DD was moved down to set 2. She had been struggling to keep up and her teachers had felt it was the best move. Now she is half way through year 10 and as of next week will be moving back up to top set after a recent test meant she scored better than half of the top set. Now I'm not suggesting you get a private tutor, but I am suggesting that an hour of dedicated time per week can make all the difference.

Thanks land. He really wants do to well. That's why he has taken this badly I think. He has worked really hard and is being moved down to Set 2 so I can see his point in that respect.

Catherine that is exactly what happened, down to the full classes etc. I am not adverse to a private tutor he had one in Year 2 for Maths. My friend has said her son who is going to Uni in September will do some one-to-one with him over the summer in areas he is struggling with.

landofsoapandglory Fri 14-Jun-13 19:41:39

Sparkling DS2 was in Set 2 for Maths in Yr 10 and 11, he is still on course for either a high A or an A*. Set 1 did linear maths, so have already done their GCSE, some got A*s or As, some got Bs. Some have retaken three times already to try to get an A.

DS2 is going to get at least an A, unless something goes drastically wrong on Monday when he does the last bit of his exam. At the last parents' evening the maths teacher said he thought they had got DS2 wrong in Yr9 and had put him in the wrong set. But in my mind, I reckon they got it right, that little bit of extra input that he has been given has really helped him, and a few others in the class, and as a result he will get his A, or A*. If he had have been out of his depth who knows what might have happened?

That's reassuring land. I am hoping DS1 will come round to the idea in time. He seems a bit better tonight.

I just wanted to say thanks to everyone on the thread for being great and understanding during my 'post parents evening gloom'. It really helped.

DS1 and I are both back to normal now. He has cheered up considerably which is great.

Time is a great healer.

<exit. Home of the platitude>

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