Monthly school reports are depressing us

(106 Posts)
uiopw Mon 10-Feb-14 21:19:26

DS 15 is in year ten and school is sending monthly reports, which are so depressing.
Teacher after teacher are saying that he is intelligent and could do so well but he is so unfocussed, distracted, silly, chatty and slow to get down to work.
We make him work here at home and have put everything into action to support him, including revision skills etc. etc.

There is just not anything more we can (and want to) do.

We feel he is now at an age that parental control needs to be withdrawn bit by bit, so that he can take on responsibility for himself. But these monthly reports send us all into some sort of depression and tears.

DS is tearful and upset as he always thinks that he is improving and DH and me are depressed as we have done so so much for him in the past to support him and can not do much more.

We are tempted not to look at these reports any more because there is nothing we can do anyway and it is all so depressing but on the other hand it feels slightly irresponsible.

On the positive side DS is a loving, very humorous, kind and helpful boy. We feel we cannot really enjoy these beautiful sides of him because of his depressing under-achievement at school that gets rubbed into our faces every four weeks.

DS has high ambitions and wants to study some scientific topic like physics or chemistry at university but from how he is at school at the moment there is nowhere in the world he could get there. He will be lucky if he gets into sixth form at all.

What do you think? Shall we look at these reports or give him the responsibility to get on with it himself.

invicta Mon 10-Feb-14 21:21:14

Why don't you speak to the teachers, and ask for their advice. They may be able to give some tips.

Morgause Mon 10-Feb-14 21:25:36

He's only 15 and still a child so I think you still have to be the nagging parents, especially if he wants to go to university eventually.

There is plenty you can do - set aside a time and space for him to do his work and ban screen time until it's done.

Don't get depressed by bad reports - get cross and make him knuckle down.

uiopw Mon 10-Feb-14 21:28:15

We have talked to the teachers but they are at their wits end just like we are. He sometimes gets these special interventions where for two weeks he gets monitored more closely and has to let the teachers sign his planners. But after these 2 weeks are over it is back to normal.

DS also does not revise properly despite us making it very clear and easy for him with all the revision books and a step-by-step plan of how to do it. He just does not do it and we feel he is too old for us that we should police these things.

We also have encouraged the teachers to be more strict with him but it is not happening.

Ds's problem is that he has such a high opinion of himself and always things that he has improved and than is totally shocked and in floods of tears when the next devastating report arrives.

Littlefish Mon 10-Feb-14 21:29:09

Does he acknowledge the teachers' assessment of his behaviour as being accurate. What does he say would help him improve? If he has high ambitions then it is his choice to either behave, work hard and achieve, or continue misbehaving, and lose the opportunities to do well at this stage.

Have you been reewlly blunt with him about what will happen if he continues on his current path? Have you sat down with your son and the teachers together to reiterate the consequences of his actions?

YoungJoseph Mon 10-Feb-14 21:32:02

Perhaps you could ask for him to go on report. There are various ones they use but it would be something you could look at daily and spot any patterns of good / bad behaviour. Knowing that he's on report and that you check it every day might help him focus.

uiopw Mon 10-Feb-14 21:32:46

Morgause
we have got angry many times and here at home we make him work many hours a week in the kitchen, where we can see him (it's quiet - he's an only child) and monitor how much he produces. (he is quite co-operative, there is no conflict about this)
The problem is at school, where he constantly chats and does not work properly and that is not something we can monitor.

Screen time is rather minimal in this house and strictly connected to good behaviour

uiopw Mon 10-Feb-14 21:37:22

thanks for all the responses, I can't keep up

Littlefish
"Does he acknowledge the teachers' assessment of his behaviour as being accurate."

begrudginly yes

" What does he say would help him improve?"

nothing, as he gets every possible support already. If he came up with anything that would help we would jump at the idea.

" If he has high ambitions then it is his choice to either behave, work hard and achieve, or continue misbehaving, and lose the opportunities to do well at this stage. Have you been reewlly blunt with him about what will happen if he continues on his current path? Have you sat down with your son and the teachers together to reiterate the consequences of his actions?"

Yes, yes, yes, many times and now we are so depressed that we just do not want to do that any more.

We looked at FE colleges and other non-university routes but DS gets so upset and depressed about it and we ourselves find it also a bit depressing.

uiopw Mon 10-Feb-14 21:39:51

Young Joseph
they have done this with him for 2 weeks at the time - we'll ask the tutor if he can do this for longer.

YoungJoseph Mon 10-Feb-14 21:48:04

Yes, longer may help. Also seating plans, so he is sitting next to a non chatter (bet they've already tried this).
Somehow he has to realise for himself what he is doing wrong. If he is bright he's acting pretty thick not understanding 'don't talk' and 'be quiet'.
I'd almost be tempted to back off a bit and let him fail, not completely you understand but if he is getting Bs when he is capable of getting As then that is down to him and if he wants to do better then that is also down to him. How far off his target grades is he?

uiopw Mon 10-Feb-14 21:53:13

his target grades are mostly Cs and Ds - much too low to study sciences.
But he has an A in biology and occasionally he gets As in maths. Now he is a C in maths.
But these occasional As in difficult subject makes everybody excited that there is some good intelligence in him.

Littlefish Mon 10-Feb-14 21:55:44

Has he received better grades in the past?

uiopw Mon 10-Feb-14 21:59:53

as I said - his grades are very variable - he goes up and down between A's and C's in the sciences and maths and has a C in English (traditionally he always struggled with English, so that is actually quite good for him). All the rest are Ds and Es.

Littlefish Mon 10-Feb-14 22:01:46

Sorry, I mean his grades historically. Did he show potential at primary school? Has his behaviour been like this since he started at secondary school or is it a recent thing?

YoungJoseph Mon 10-Feb-14 22:02:11

Well C/D border children do get some intervention in year 11 at my school.
Also we have learning mentors for under-performing kids. Is there anyone like that at your school; someone to talk to at school that isn't a teacher? Someone he could meet on a regular basis.

wannabestressfree Mon 10-Feb-14 22:04:05

I have to be honest most of the lads I teach in year 10 are lazy bones. It's once they go into year 11 they buckle
Down. They are quite a joy at the moment as the penny has dropped ......

uiopw Mon 10-Feb-14 22:13:22

the chatting is a problem since a year or so.
At primary his grades were like now - very up and down. I remember he got a special accolade in assembly for maths one day and they were saying once in his report that he was a 'gifted mathematician'. Overall he was at the bottom of the top third - so not so bad.

He got worse and worse the older he got. That may be due the fact that I have given him an enormous amount of support when he was younger. But since he's got older I have withdrawn it bit by bit becasue he needs to be self-responsible.

I also want to say that he is a ferocious reader - I bought him 21 (really fat) books for Christmas. By end of January he had read them all.

He also reads really difficult books about quantum physics (and the likes) and actually understands them. That makes me well up because there is a real interest in him for the science and he's probably not able to to study that the way he is. He needs to have Bs but ideally As in physics and maths in order to succeed in physics in sixth form and he is really quite far away from that.

Joseph, yes, he has a special teacher who talks to him once a month. It does not happen very often and we question the effects of this intervetnion.

uiopw Mon 10-Feb-14 22:15:02

wanna - that is giving me hope - thanks for posting that!
What is your advice - should we keep nagging and control him or let him go?

glorious Tue 11-Feb-14 08:54:11

I don't have a teenager (yet!) so feel free to ignore me.

Given the kind of thing he reads at home do you think he could be bored? GCSEs involve lots of learning fairly dull facts and methods and are not remotely stretching for the brightest, but in most subjects even the brightest do actually have to learn those facts and methods to succeed.

I disengaged completely when bored (admittedly at infants!) and it took me a while at a better school to catch up but I ended up doing very well.

cory Tue 11-Feb-14 09:09:11

One thing that helped my unfocused teen was to be put on report, so that for a few weeks every teacher, after every lesson, had to sign a report about his behaviour, which we then got to see at the end of the day. This helped him to see exactly where he had been distracted and where he had been working well. It was meant as a punishment, but we actually found it helpful.

GinniferAndTonic Tue 11-Feb-14 09:21:40

He is passionate about science, reads widely and works well at home when you make him, but gets distracted at school. Isn't home ed the obvious solution?

juneau Tue 11-Feb-14 09:23:52

I really think your DS is too young for you to step back and let him fail. He sounds sweet, but immature and clueless about how incredibly important this next 3-4 years of his life is. If he flunks his GCSEs he won't get to do his A levels. Without A levels he won't be accepted into any sort of academic further education and without that he's looking at doing a vocational job. Now that's fine, if that's what he wants and all that he is capable of. But if he has higher ambitions he needs to knuckle down and stop pissing about in class. There is no reason for him to daydreaming and chatting - these are things he can control. And as for reading 21 books since Christmas - that's great - but it sounds like he's reading for pleasure to the detriment of his school work and that's not okay.

If he was my DS I'd be standing over him when he was doing his homework and I'd be taking away his x-box, his mobile, his laptop, etc, if those things are distracting him. In fact, I'd be grounding him until he learned to apply himself. He won't like it and it will be hard on all of you, but that what parenting is about sometimes - being strict and laying down the law in order to do him good in the long run.

When I cocked up my mock GCSEs my mother went to the school and demanded a huge pile of past papers, which she sat me in the dining room and timed me while I did. It really is up to you and your DH to crack the whip. Everyone standing around and wringing their hands is not going to help.

uiopw Tue 11-Feb-14 09:25:22

glorious
you may well be right - but what can we do about it?
I know a number of stories of people who did badly at school because they were bored and annoyed at the learning system that made them submissively learn facts and have them spit them out again to the teacher's liking and then went on to university where they had more freedom and did very well. In fact, my sister is like this. She was terrible at school but now has a phd and is at the top of her professional game.

But the problem I see is getting DS to uni in the first place. At the moment he can be lucky to get into sixth form at all and then only with topics like media etc. which he is not interested in. He wants to do sciences but for that he needs Bs and not just Cs. I also read here on mumsnet that if they cannot achieve As in GCSEs then math and physics etc will be too hard in sixth form.

uiopw Tue 11-Feb-14 09:34:27

juneau
you sound like my kind of a parent - I'd like to hear more of your advice. We do pretty much everything you say - we do crack the whip here at home and Ds is sitting down every day including weekends for at least an hour and has to produce long written revision sheets. He does so willingly. He then tidies his room, prepares his lunch for next day and when all this is done he can go for an hour on some screen.

Past exam papers are ready to be printed out and he will start them in the next half-term - daily for at least 2 hours.

One thing that DS does is that he refuses to revise properly. I don't know when the tests are coming and what he has to revise. He has to revise with the notes that he has taken in class (and he does not do that properly - so he cannot produce what the teacher is looking for.) And that is where the bad marks are coming from.

uiopw Tue 11-Feb-14 09:40:03

Ginnifer
your post is making me cry again. Maybe you are right but I need a break. This DS was such hard work - I could have never coped with two or three children. That he works hard and behaves well at home is the result of an unbelievable effort (at least for me and DH).

Ds is grateful about my help but it never goes smoothly - there are always power struggles, strops and tears and tantrums. He is extremely bossy and arrogant and it takes daily effort to keep to that down.

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