To hate what the education system is doing to my son?(53 Posts)
DS1 is 15 and coming up to GCSES. He's at a school which was on special measures a couple of years ago despite most of the parents being completely happy with it. It's still on 'Requires Improvement' despite most parents loving it and the number of parents putting it as first choice going up by 200%. I'm not boasting but he is very bright. He's predicted to get 12 A* s in his GCSES. I really love the school and genuinely believe that the teachers care about the kids but I also know they're under huge pressure from OFSTED. DS1 is generally a laid back kid but, since the beginning of March, he's become a shadow of himself. He's lost weight, he's begun to have constant nose bleeds, he looks pale. I walked in on him last night in the computer room to find him slumped over the desk with his head in his hands. He had tears sliding down his cheeks. That was the first time I've seen him cry in about 3 years. He had to go into school for 6 days over the Easter holidays for revision sessions. He has to stay at school everyday until 6pm for revision. I know GCSES are important but they're not the be all and end all. And I really feel that the school are doing this to get their OFSTED rating up. I spent an hour just giving him a cuddle and telling him that I don't care if he ends up being a road sweeper as long as he's happy. I just hate the pressure that's being put on our children.
YANBU - I'm so sorry that your son is feeling that way.
Is he being told / advised to go to these revision sessions? It would be worth him having a break from it for a little bit. I know the exams are a couple of weeks away, but can you go out somewhere as a family this weekend - long walk somewhere / do something silly?
As a teacher, I hate seeing students crack under the pressure and try to keep the balance between caring enough and becoming anxious.
IN all honestly I would get him seen by the GP, nose bleeds, weight loss and fatigue is something I think a GP would need to investigate.
Id also be TELLING the school, he needs a break, he does not need to be doing a 10 hour shift everyday. No wonder the poor boy is exhausted and it will be counter productive for him anyway, he wont retain the revision as he is ill.
MsJamie has it right pallor, nose bleeds and weight loss need investigation by a GP.
12 A*s is very bright and also makes me inclined to feel this pressure may well be self-imposed. Sorry he's not feeling good
It sounds like he needs to see the GP. Maybe, if he gets his health issues sorted out he might feel better about his exams.
However, why on earth is he taking 12 subjects? Is it really necessary to do so many?
IT won't be compulsory to attend any revision sessions that aren't part of the school's normal term-time/school day. Yes they'll be putting these sessions on because of bloody Ofsted. Ofsted didn't exist in when I was in secondary (all those years ago), or at least not in its current guise, and there were no revision sessions during holiday time. I sill managed to come out with 9 grade As.
Poor kids. They're probably not putting on the sessions for the hard-working sensible kids who are better off revising at home. The Kids they're aimed (borderline to get the all-important C or above) probably won't turn up to them anyway.
I would definitely let school know how he is feeling and ask if ALL the kids are expected to attend the seasons. It might be that they actually advise him not to put pressure on himself to go to them as he doesn't need to.
YANBU. Education should be an enjoyable journey that sets children up with a basic set of skills to see them through life, and gives them the desire to keep learning after they finish formal education.
Oh gosh your poor son - I would definitely be withdrawing him from after school revision.
Also think he needs a trip to GP for a health check - have you ask him if he is eating okay?
I also have a bright daughter who puts so much pressure on herself to the point of becoming ill so I do understand your situation.
PS There are very few schools in my city now who have had a recent Ofsted under the new inspection rules who are NOT a "Requires Improvement". Don't forget such schools used to be "satisfactory". Honestly they want blood these days, they really do. It's not enough for teachers just to do a good job teaching their subject- there are all sorts of other schemes and initiatives they are supposed to getting involved in. No wonder no-one wants to go into teaching.
There's a support thread here and you would be welcome to join us.
Agree with pp about going to your GP and speaking to the school about what is going on with your son. My boyfriend when I was 15 had a nervous breakdown at the age of 17 due to the pressures of A levels and that was years ago -the pressure on kids is much worse now.
I'm glad that you have noticed the toll it is taking on your son before he suffers too much - just talking to him and letting him speak about how he feels will be a great relief I think - he might need more than that but sounds like you are ready to seek more help if needed.
If he is predicted 12 A* and gets 11 or 10 or 9... he might feel as if he failed/let people down - no wonder he is stressed. I know the school is trying to encourage the kids but this is where it gets counter-productive.
He needs better strategies to handle the stress. Hope you get through this together, and well. Positive thoughts for you both
If he is predicted 12 A*, he does not need to go to revision sessions.
Revision sessions until 6 every day sounds excessive. If you think he is better of not going, he doesn't have to go. I say this as a secondary school teacher.
1) speak to the school and tell the head of year he needs less pressure and isn't coping at all
2) speak to your GP
3) build some relaxing things into his day. A walk early evening together, a relaxation/yoga session at home, a comedy film, a bike ride. Being physical is a real stress buster.
4) set limits. Screens off at 9, no homework after that.
If he's too stressed, take a day or two off school and do physical stuff outside. Be honest with the school about his reasons for absence.
The whole GCSE system is completely OTT.
Thanks for the support. The thing is, he isn't particularly perfectionist- if anything, he's on the lazy side because he can generally do well without putting in too much effort.
However, he is very in awe of authority so, when teachers put pressure on him, he feels it very strongly. We had planned to go away over Easter but DS1 said he couldn't because he 'had to' go in for revision sessions. I told him the school couldn't forbid people from going away in the holidays but he was insistent he'd 'get in trouble' if he didn't go. In the end DH went with the other 2 DCs and DS1 and I stayed at home.
He's not generally an anxious child so, if it's having this effect on him, I really fear for kids who are more anxious by nature.
It makes me worry about DD who's in Y8 who really is a perfectionist and very aware that she's 'not as clever' as her brother.
I've tried to get DS to the doctor but he's refused. I've spoken to my GP and she's agreed that I can take his blood (I'm a nurse) and she'll send it off.
Another thing that's really striking is that he's really lost his inquisitive side. We used to have amazing
Discussions about politics, religion, books. He's not interested anymore.
GP ASAP - these are not the sort of symptoms caused by stress at school.
And if he doesn't need the extra sessions, tell the school he's not going.
Best of luck to him in his exams.
Good luck with it.
Could he take a year off? Seriously.
My son is currently in year 11 and doing his GCSE's. He too is very gifted and is predicted A/A*s in all maths, PE, RE, IT and science subjects as well as the rest being B minimum. Last year he didn't attend a single revision subject unless he was behind in his subject. He didn't do any extra amounts of homework on top of the normal. He will still get into the gifted and talented group at a maple group college and has very firm plans to go to study Chemistry and maths at Bsc/Ma and then do his Phd. Do I care about his grades so much that I would allow him to make himself sick with 10-12 hour days? not in the last 2 years. I have tried to help him balance his workload as efficiently as possible while ticking all his boxes and still having fun/getting rest.
BUT as this is the last slog and he has just 2-3 months left in school he has been doing extra study groups for course work in school in the subjects he wants to do best in. This means that he goes in at 7.30 -9, then school til 3, then study and studies there until 5. Then we take him dinner and he does his drama practice 5-7. He is Zazu in the Lion king and is doing 5 shows next week every evening. So he won't get home until 10.30. I have no idea how he does it but he does. After the show ends he will have a full weekend to catch up on sleep and chill out, no books allowed. Then I will restrict his morning study group because I know what is best for him and he can't keep up at that pace for long before his brain breaks and he crashes ( he is also autistic). Hopefully, his course work will be done by then, if not he will have to do it at dinner time and give up his prefect duty.
My daughter last year got one B and a C for her GCSE's. Everything else was D's and I can genuinely say I didn't care. She was never an academically gifted student and is doing perfectly well at a local nvq college. I would rather have my son happy than a burnt out wreck and the pressure they put kids under these days is awful. last year my 11 year old son was actually caught putting his fingers down his throat to make himself sick so he didn't have to go to school for SAT study group. He is a high achiever but his teacher wasn't happy with his straight 5's as she thought he could do better!!
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