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AIBU to question school decision

(17 Posts)
AndiPandi Tue 11-Feb-14 20:47:14

DD is in first year at a scottish secondary school and has just been told that she needs to 'consolidate' level 2 rather than work at level 3. My understanding of this is that she will then not be able to sit her Nat 5 until S5 at the earliest so she is effectively being kept back a year already at S1. DD's maths teacher says she performs very well in class and homework but falls apart in assessments. Head of maths has told me her assessment results put her near the top of the set she's in but there are a couple of pupils with slightly higher averages (but remember DD falls apart in assessments so is actually much more capable than her marks indicate). DD has a maths tutor who says she is very capable of working at level 3, has a strong grasp of the concepts & the basics but very low confidence and feels it is more of an emotional issue affecting her test results.
I feel the school's decision is wrong, the head of maths does not even know who DD is. For a number of reasons I feel DD will do far better working at level 3 and her tutor fully agrees with me. DD is also very keen to work at level 3 and willing to do whatever it takes to do so.
Does anyone have any experience of tackling schools on issues like this? What are my chances of getting them to move her?
My worry is that if she is left on L2 for too long it will be too late for her to catch up, so a wrong decision now seems to be irreversible and impacts the rest of her school life, putting her a year behind her peers. She is also very demotivated by being in the bottom group and I honestly don't think it's the right place for her.
Any advice appreciated.

AndiPandi Tue 11-Feb-14 21:04:36

Does anyone have any experience of anything similar? Would really like to know what others would do in this situation. Please?

Annunziata Tue 11-Feb-14 21:09:35

I am really not up to date with these exams. The old Standard Grades are 3, 4 and 5, and then Higher, yes?

Does she suffer very badly from nerves?

SantanaLopez Tue 11-Feb-14 21:20:57

Depends why she falls apart in assessments. You mention confidence being an issue- if you take away her notes and textbook examples, would she be able to do her homework to the same standard?

AndiPandi Tue 11-Feb-14 21:52:15

A Nat 5 is the only level that requires an external exam, will be graded A-D and the equivalent of a standard grade.
Her tutor feels she has a good grasp of the concepts but has low self-esteem, and doubts herself in a test situation where she has to identify what type of sum each question is. So a piece of homework all on the same type of sum she is comfortable with because she knows what she is meant to be doing. A test with a mixture of sums she goes into blind panic. Tutor feels she should continue learning new concepts and the rest will come with practice and as her confidence grows.
The problem for me is that holding her back now seems to hold her back permanently in this new system, and I genuinely don't think it's necessary.
How should I approach the school about this!

SantanaLopez Tue 11-Feb-14 22:05:39

Definitely make an appointment with the school. Unfortunately I think you are between a rock and a hard place because they do not want low grades to count with the results.

I think pushing ahead with the higher levels might not necessarily help her confidence- will she not be crushed by 'failing' several assessments?

maddy68 Tue 11-Feb-14 22:05:42

To be honest I would be advised by the school. Better to be kept back a year and be successful in my opinion

AndiPandi Tue 11-Feb-14 22:14:17

DD does not work like that, I know most people would feel better at the top of a low set, but all DD sees is that she is in the bottom set and must be rubbish. When she sees the less able pupils she thinks she must be struggling as much as them. If she's working with brighter children she feels more confident because she is 'worthy' if being there with them and that she must be capable of achieving what they can achieve.
Are there any Scottish teachers on here that can tell me if this decision is as irreversible as it seems, or would it be possible for her to move up later & still sit her Nat 5 in S4?

AndiPandi Tue 11-Feb-14 22:16:48

She is finding the work in class and homework 'easy', completes it all unaided and gets 90-100% in them all! it's only the assessments where she doesn't perform as well, and even then she is in the top 5 in the set.

BabyILoveYou Tue 11-Feb-14 22:29:21

Are there any Scottish teachers on here that can tell me if this decision is as irreversible as it seems, or would it be possible for her to move up later & still sit her Nat 5 in S4?

Every school works differently and some have very concrete rules, as I'm sure you'll appreciate, so none of us can give you a yes or no answer to this. Having said that, IME there is normally a lot of movement between sets in S2 and S3, and a hardworking child with good basics theoretically could catch up on the gaps.

What does your DD score on her assessments, on average?

SparklyTwinkleGlitter Tue 11-Feb-14 22:31:56

Not sure if this helps but when I was at school, they put me in the CSE set for English and GCE O'level for everything else. My mum went to the school and complained and was told it was because I wasn't up to the standard, but mum was having none of it.
I got moved to the other class, didn't put any effort in as I assumed the teacher must know best and came out with an A.

Everything was exam based in those days (coursework wasn't part of the assessment) so maybe I got lucky, who knows?

If you feel strongly enough, speak to someone about it. I'm very glad my mum did.

AndiPandi Tue 11-Feb-14 22:38:28

Baby- thanks, I wasn't aware all schools do things differently, but that's promising that there might be more movement later. Her average score was 75 (whatever that means!) and the highest average in the set was 78. But the teacher had already told me she performs much better in class and homework assignments than she does in assessments

AndiPandi Tue 11-Feb-14 22:40:31

Thanks Sparkly. DD desperately wants to be moved up and is promising to do whatever it takes, it's really not me pushing her. I just want yo help her if I can.

BabyILoveYou Tue 11-Feb-14 23:01:06

If that's 75%, that's very strange! I was expecting you to say that she averages about 30% under assessment from your previous posts. 90-75% isn't such a massive drop. It's certainly not something I'd be worrying about, considering she's still in S1 and just beginning to learn exam technique.

Head of maths has told me her assessment results put her near the top of the set she's in but there are a couple of pupils with slightly higher averages (but remember DD falls apart in assessments so is actually much more capable than her marks indicate).

Hmm. I think they might be setting by number (ie. top 25 in set a, next 25 set b and so on). I would make an appointment with the class teacher and head of department and ask about the school's individual pathway (as I have said, some are ridiculously set in stone) to Higher Maths- I presume this is your/her aim? One of the principles of the CfE is personalisation of learning, so your DD certainly should not be hampered by being in a 'lower' set.

I understand what you mean when you say her confidence is boosted by being in 'the top set', but... well, it wouldn't go down well with my HoD. I would advise you not to make too big a fuss over this.

AndiPandi Tue 11-Feb-14 23:09:28

Thanks Baby that's really helpful advice. I am very mindful of the HoD's position but also painfully aware she has no idea who my Dd is let alone what she is capable of. She was literally just looking at these test scores. It's not the 'top' set she's aspiring to, she just desperately doesn't want to be in the bottom. I will ask for a more detailed appt with class teacher and HoD as you suggest and try not to offend anybody!!

BabyILoveYou Tue 11-Feb-14 23:19:46

Once you start looking beyond results, it gets very messy and it also sets a precedent to the rest of the year group, please don't take it personally! smile

Good luck!

pinkr Wed 12-Feb-14 22:05:18

Scottish teacher here. Not maths but near enough. Try not to worry... no school will determine what level a s1pupil will sit in s5. everything can, and will, change between now and then.
If you think she's seriously misplaced a quiet word with hod might help but please be aware that parent who push to put their kids in high sets often come across badly. If everyone who complained got what they wanted then everyone would be in a top setb which defeats the point of setting. You need to trust that the school knows levels accurately. I'm not saying they don't get things wrong but you do get parents who really have no idea what level of work is required bit just think their child should be higher because it's their child! Someone has to be in the lower class smile

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