Worried about DD and her not coping with 6th form

(28 Posts)
skyblue11 Thu 11-Oct-12 19:41:13

I made an earlier posting about how hard she was finding it, 5 weeks in and she's still struggling. She's going Biology, English, Psychology and Business and Economics. The Biology is difficult, we knew it would be last week she did 3 tests, got U's and 3/4 of the class are called to a meeting with the head of biology and have been told to think about dropping it. DD is interested in psychology at uni (possibly unsure just yet) and really needs biology. She seems to be struggling in a lot of areas though that she is having difficult retaining information and even after going back for help taking sheets when she read over them later she just can't recall properly so now I'm really worried. She got 3 A's and all B's at GCSE so should be OK. She is tearful and I think overwhelmed at the amount of work and she works really slowly. It can take her an hour to write 1 side of A4 paper , she can't get into the self-study bit, she finds it really hard. If she drops business she would like to concentrate on Bio but if she fails at Bio then she would only have 2 A levels. I want her to drop Bio to remove the pressure but she doesn't want to. The teachers are unsympathetic in Bio, I think they want the kids to give up so they get the best students and not have the hassle. I want to speak/go into school but she doesn't want us to. She is going to speak with the 6th form support mentor when she's there next Monday but I'm so concerned right now. She's panicking and worries that she might have to leave altogether if she can't cope and that it's too late in the year to do anything else now. I don't know how to help her short of getting a tutor for biology but we can ill afford £30 per session to be honest. Oh, and I'm stressed to death about both mine and DH jobs's as we both look like being redundant in a few months and I'm scared to death! Sorry for long post.

CMOTDibbler Thu 11-Oct-12 19:50:09

I'd drop business and economics to concentrate on the other three. If it all goes wrong after that she could do another subject at AS next year, then do the A2 plus something else the year after alongside a part time job or whatever instead of a gap year.

Its never too late, so she doesn't need to panic - as my dnephew who is 18 said the other day, at their age everything can be sorted except babies and prison.

BrianButterfield Thu 11-Oct-12 19:50:29

Did she get Bs in Science at GCSE? It's not really enough; they really need an A in Science to be able to cope with sciences at A-level. It's not about the teachers not wanting the hassle - they don't want to teach students all year for them to get a U in June. Getting Us in 2 tests shows that she perhaps just doesn't have an aptitude for the subject. No amount of sympathy will solve that!

It isn't too late to change subjects though if she is ready to make up the time lost. She could drop Biology now and try it again as an AS in year 13? Might that work?

skyblue11 Thu 11-Oct-12 19:55:12

Thanks for your replies, you know no one ever said that you needed A's at least to do sciences, just B's so we thought she'd be OK.
I suppose she could do the AS later and like CMOT said do it alongside a part time job when she's 19. That's if she can get a job!

ladydayblues Thu 11-Oct-12 20:01:49

Right its early days, but already she is struggling so its not working. So you have to sit down and talk to her before you go to school. Go in her room and sit on bed. That way she cant walk away.

The results from GCSE are not necessarily an indication that she will do well in the same As as its such a step up. Plus a lot more of it has to do with timemanagement, research and self discipline.

You can help her draw up a timetable so that when she is lost she can consult it to see what she should be doing. Remember she also needs veg out/fun time in the 6th form.

You can talk to the school - just ask them not to tell her that you have spoken to them. They are used to this early panic/not coping and have loads of strategies they can suggest and put in place.

I would suggest a tutor as some children respond well to one to one, but if you are worried about your jobs then you will have to put that on hold.

I can say IMO she is doing way too many subjects something has to go, its just which one/two.

My DD had 11 A* and still couldnt cope with the 5 A until we insisted she dropped two, when that was done she relaxed, got the 3 A that she needed for Uni. The school were very supportive. Dont be scared just be supportive and give her a reality check. Do the plus and minus column thing.

BrianButterfield Thu 11-Oct-12 20:01:49

Well, of course they will let students on to courses with whatever grades they see fit, but in my DH's experience as a science teacher, there aren't many B grade students who can cope with sciences at A-level. There will be some, though, so it's not a 'rule' as such. I teach English and B grade students can cope a bit better with AS, at least.

flow4 Thu 11-Oct-12 20:07:15

"At their age everything can be sorted except babies and prison" < So true, CMOT. Don't worry too much, sky smile

skyblue11 Thu 11-Oct-12 20:10:43

It' more time management and research skills, it's hard to be organised too when they're not used to this big step up. I don't want to be hard on her and nag she has to do this for herself and she knows that. She's just so emotional she can't think straight.
I think I'll speak with the school, though I'd rather be upfront that not tell her just in case it gets back to her and I lose her trust which I can't risk.
It's a new school to us and we chose it as they said (particularly in Bio) that they had great support in place, as I knew she might need that help. I feel a bit let down at the moment.

skyblue11 Thu 11-Oct-12 20:11:27

Aw thanks flow4, sometimes it helps to put things into perspective!

skyblue11 Thu 11-Oct-12 20:23:09

Also, what if the school say she's not coping at all, she has to leave what then? No one tells you about all these scenarios and what to expect or what alternatives there are, except I think apprenticeships and college.......bit late until next September now though.

TheFallenMadonna Thu 11-Oct-12 20:46:54

It's not really about the GCSE grade. I teach Science, and there really is a world of difference between some Science GCSEs (21st Century Science...) and A level. You can been successful in one and not in the other. Our requirement is a B or above, and we have B grade GCSE candidates who do very well and A grade candidates who don't.

It is about mindset though. And about carefully going over everything after the lesson to make sure you get it. I give question booklets for every topic for students to work through. Just reading the textbook is not enough. I rely on the students to actually complete these and tell me if they have any problems though. We expect them to put in an hour of independent work for every hour of lesson time. I can't mark all of that!

ladydayblues Thu 11-Oct-12 22:27:21

Why do you think she may have to leave?? Dont even go down that path.

There is so much more that can be done. Talk to the school now. I dont know about this "loose her trust" stuff. You are the parent, you want to support her, this is important. If the school said they have support in place then access it and encourage your daughter to do same. She may get a bit hysterical and think that its all a bit much, thats partly her age, plus the step up to A levels coupled with the new school. Its a bump in the road and you can go over it safely, but dont get out and walk away.

My kids always said dont call school, but then a year later they said how glad they were that we did as they were just floundering about what to do and where to go for help - mainly didnt want to be seen as 'thick' which was how they felt about not coping. Of course in their eyes everybody else is coping fine - which is not true either.

If she is going to change/drop subjects then she has to do it now.

flow4 Fri 12-Oct-12 01:19:25

"Also, what if the school say she's not coping at all, she has to leave what then? No one tells you about all these scenarios and what to expect or what alternatives there are, except I think apprenticeships and college.......bit late until next September now though."
^^ Telling you not to worry didn't work, did it sky?! wink

1. The school aren't going to tell her to leave. With 3 As and the rest Bs,she's clearly suited to 'A' levels smile Besides, to be perfectly cynical about it, each pupil comes with at least £4.5K funding (more in some areas) and the school won't want to lose the cash smile
2. If she decides she wants to leave, yes, apprenticeships and college are options.Your first point of call in the UK is Connexions. It's their job to keep young people in training, education if at all possible.
3. I would personally do everything possible to keep her in school. My DS had the best part of last year out of education, and it was probably the most stressful year of my life. However, he's back now... Just a year behind... And the world hasn't ended grin
4. But it isn't going to happen anyway!

sashh Sat 13-Oct-12 08:44:06

Let me get this right, she is doing FIVE subjects. That is way too many.

Have a look at uni requirements, lots don't like you to take psychology A Level if you want to do it at degree level.

She would be better concentrating on 3 A Levels and getting good grades, than struggling with 4 or 5 and getting Es.

There is a huge step between GCSE and A Levels, very few people don't find it hard.

Has she been tested for dyslexia? The not studying and forgetting can be signs.

skyblue11 Sat 13-Oct-12 11:32:09

Hi Sashh, firstly just to say she's doing 4. English, Biology, Psychology and Business studues and Economics (Business & Econ = 1 subject)
Good point about dyslexia, her dad is and I kind thought we'd gotten away with it as she never had any problems until now so I suspect not however she mentioned it to her English teacheer who asked her to bring in written work from the previous year which she hasn't got, I want her tested then if this is the case at least she can get 25% extra time to help her process. She hates reading which is strange cos she always up to being about 11 did.
I was wondering why you said they don't like you to do Psych at A level?
I think she is thinking about dropping B & E and concentrating on the other 3....
we have also talked about the possibility of her even doing her A levels over 3 years if that's what it takes her to do it.

But LOADS of people get Us at first! I think my friend was starting by getting all Us in Chemistry and she ended up two marks off an A* this summer! Teachers see it all the time (as they told us) in Y12, people take a while to warm up.

I was getting C/Ds in A2 History throughout the year (seriously, less than a month before the exams) and got an A* in the end. Same thing in one of the sections in Y12, bad marks all year, and in the end I got 100% in that module. You really can turn things around without even knowing how or why you did it in the end.

Lots of luck to your DD and reassure her that this is pretty much normal. If she's still struggling after Christmas then maybe reevaluate, and maybe drop Business now, but for now just take hope from the fact that things can change very quickly, and she might end up with A*s, who knows, when things get a little clearer and she really gets into the rhythm of things. I wouldn't advise dropping two subjects, because if she wants to apply to certain unis (UCL, for instance), she'll need at least an E in a 4th AS.

Ah okay, sorry, didn't realise Business and Econ were the same. Can't she switch to another one- by this time in the year we really hadn't covered much in English Lit- just a few poems and first chapter of a book. English Lit had the lightest workload of my 4 ASs and it was one of two essay subjects. You said she doesn't like reading, but, believe it or not, we did much more reading in History, and I don't remember reading anything at home for English- that's more A2, which I (thank god) didn't do.

whitecloud Mon 15-Oct-12 19:57:51

skyblue11 - sorry to hear your dd is having problems. My dd went to 6th form college for AS year and found the first term really tough. She had to do 4, one of which was Chemistry - she found it really hard. This year she has grown up so much more and is finding 3 A levels far easier. I personally think that doing double and triple science is not as good a preparation for A level as doing 3 separate subjects, which are not offered usually. Lots of people find them hard at A Level. Dd was not getting such good marks in Biology at the beginning as she is now. What is wrong with 3 A levels I have no idea. Years ago the only people who did 4 were people who did Maths and Further Maths or people who were absolute geniuses. It is a big step up from GCSE and doing 4 subjects makes it a lot harder.

I worried about dd but it gradually got better over the year. Also, starting in a new place is difficult, with all the adjustment it entails. Everyone here goes to 6th form college, so there was no choice. Think the combination of a big step up in difficulty in the subjects, having to do 4 of them and adjusting to a new place is a lot to cope with. I found I had to give her a lot of support in that first term particularly. If your dd really can't manage 4 subjects the universities only seem to really care about 3 good grades so she might be better dropping one earlier as others have said, rather than struggling badly. And push for the school to support her, particularly if she is new. 4 subjects seem to make it harder to do well in 3 for all of them, I think, particularly at first.

Just want to reassure you and her that it does get better. Hope you sort something out and get the best help for your dd.

Rascalls3 Mon 15-Oct-12 23:25:55

Really helpful thread as I have a daughter in exactly the same boat.Same GCSE results and struggling with Biology(she is also taking psychology,history and PE) Thanks to you all and I hope that both girls get to grips with the subject soon.

LittleBearPad Mon 15-Oct-12 23:34:49

There's a big step up between GCSE and A level. I remember being really flummoxed by it but it is more about mindset than anything. There is far less spoon feeding at A level than GCSE but once you get used to this it's ok (this took me a good while). I think you said thus is a new school too? She may be feeling generally unsettled but again this will change as she beds in. Don't panic - she got good GCSE results and I'm sure she's more than capable once she settles down however doing three subjects may be better than four and seeking support from the school is also a good plan.

skyblue11 Wed 17-Oct-12 18:11:57

Thanks for your support, hopefully things will settle but were a long way off yet.
She asked to drop Business, they said not yet as if she doesn't do good in Bio she'd be left with 2 A levels.
I have found her a tutor, a student at the Uni at half the price, hopefully he can help, though it's not ideal. In fact school said your best bet was to get a tutor, nothing like passing the responsibility! We have yet to get together but she needs to time manage and get her head round the self teaching which she's finding hard. Also a struggle to get a referral for a dyslexia test as it wasn't picked up at secondary at all.

skyblue11 Wed 17-Oct-12 18:12:34

Forgot to say it's also about funding, if she drops a course they lose ££££ now it makes sense!

BlackandGold Thu 18-Oct-12 18:41:06

far less spoon feeding at A level than GCSE

Really? hmm then it's changed dramatically in the last two years, starting when I went!

petal2008 Sun 21-Oct-12 17:54:47

We are going through this with DS at the moment. Very subdued since joining 6th form which was totally out of the blue. A*s for GCSE and really looking forward to 6th form.

Finally tells us that he can't do ANY of the maths, struggling with part of the Further Maths and Biology but Physics is fine.

Apparently everyone else is coping really well which I find hard to believe and after some probing he hasn't even asked if they are!

His maths teacher who is also head of 6th form has been brilliant and spent a lot of time with him after school but this can't continue. We have made an appointment and going to see her on Tuesday.

She has pointed out (and they were all told at the 6th form open evening) that A levels are a totally different ball game to GCSE but until they start it is hard to explain. Tons of homework and the onus is on them to put the work in. To be fair he is working really hard which is why he has started to panic that he can't cope and says he has lost his confidence since the summer.

There is a big learning curve and they have to do a lot of growing up very quickly (a bit like the first term at high school which was also a nightmare despite him being a high achiever at primary). With DS he just assumes he can do the work and when he can't the world comes to an end and he starts to panic. With the subjects he is doing we are no help at all.

quirrelquarrel
Your comments gave me some comfort as I think getting test results back with low marks was a real shock for DS.

It is good to hear that lots of DCs have pulled it round after the first term. I am sure it will work out for DS as he is totally capable of getting through.

At the moment all that consumes him is getting the grades/going to uni and what everyone will think if he fails and it is really upsetting to see him like this.

We have also discussed getting a tutor for a while to see if this works as he has modules in January. I am sure if he gets decent marks this will boost his confidence and spur him on to know that he can do it.

adogcalledbetty Sun 21-Oct-12 19:41:34

At the end of year 12 my DD messed up her AS levels (the subjects she'd excelled at at GCSE she suddenly couldn't seem to do) and so dropped all her subjects. She thought it was the end of the world.

Then a wonderful teacher suggested she do a Btech in a subject she actually had very little knowledge of. So, somehow, DD did the equivalent of 2 years work in 1 year (all coursework, so just about churning out the assignments) to get the triple award which was the equivalent of 3 A levels.

This enabled her to go to uni, though not the course she'd originally intended to do as that required the dreaded biology A level which she obviously didn't get. She's very happy; everything has turned out just fine. Things have a way of sorting themselves out.

Greypumma Wed 24-Oct-12 22:12:26

Help please! I have an 18 year old intelligent grandson (As and A*s and 2 Bs at GCSE) who dropped out of college before Christmas last year owing to (1) having chosen the wrong subjects and (2) suffering from anxiety. College was supportive and recommended he came back this September after sorting himself out. He returned as suggested but even tho he claims he is perfectly happy with his new subjects, he gets himself to college (eventually and often late) but most frequently does not go into class. College is becoming exasperated and threatening to ask him to leave as his attendance is "in the red". The work he does give in is marked as very good but he keeps saying he wants to leave because he knows he is messing every one around but he just can't face going in. The GP has suggested he is suffering from acute social anxiety and a level of OCD, so we have arranged for him to see a phsycologist but know that it won't a quick turn round and he is running out of time and rope. At his age if he drops out now we have no idea how he will get A levels in the education system. Suggestions and help urgently needed please!

zamantha Sat 27-Oct-12 09:03:41

Far as I can see - the independent study bit for 6th form and the academic jump is a bit of a blow to our DC.

Maths is notoriously hard at the start - my DS is doing A2 and is only 16 and finding it a stretch and some of Further Maths even harder. My DH a Maths teacher says this is normal! it takes time before it sinks in - sadly lots of practise needed which my Ds is struggling with as he has to concentrate so hard at school.

I daren't mention D of E to my DS as he feels a bit overwhelmed with all academic stuff - and may broach it this half term - it means him going with a group who are not his friends.

Want him to have all the credentials for a well regarded uni but know I need to just stay with where he is at and encourage what he can manage. I trust they will get there in the end- even if it takes 3 years not two. wink

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