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Failing students

(12 Posts)
eidsvold Sun 08-Feb-04 20:44:28

this from australia.... what do you think.....

Schools told: get tough on failures
THE Federal Government will force schools to reintroduce policies allowing teachers to fail students and make them repeat years if they cannot pass benchmark standards.

Education Minister Brendan Nelson said primary schools in particular now routinely sugar-coated students' results and refused to acknowledge failures.

"I think we need to be able to say 'your son has not been able to meet the standard required', " he said.

"I think there are circumstances when it is of much more benefit in the long term for them to repeat a year if necessary."

Dr Nelson said he was designing a funding model that would make school reporting standards a condition of receiving Federal Government money.

Since Dr Nelson complained last month that schools did not assess students in plain language any more, his office has been inundated with copies of school reports parents say they do not understand.

The reports – largely from primary schools – no longer fail students but provide encouraging words such as "working towards", "emerging" or "developing".

Dr Nelson said schools need not use the word "fail" but should provide some tough love when providing results.

He said many employers had also complained, saying they were sick of interviewing young adults who thought "two plus three equals six".

Dr Nelson said a Queensland boss with 70 staff had told him: "The education system in this country is stuffed."

hulababy Sun 08-Feb-04 20:46:35

Not sure on this but I do know that when I write reports at secondary school my comments should primarily be written positively. Our head checks every report too and hands back ones he feels are too negative.

hmb Sun 08-Feb-04 20:55:13

I think that I can argue this both ways. I *am* in favour of being positive and encouraging to students. Without this sort of support they will never meet their full potential.

But at the same time we have to give students a realistic view of how they will do in external examinations. (talking secondary kids here) At the moment I teach a lot of students who have totaly unrealistic views of how good they are. I have one student who does *no* work unless I stand over him, goading him along. He does no homework. His estimated grades at GCSE are two Es. And he seriously thinks that he can do A level science with his level of understanding and application.

I teach a very able set who had become very complacent and cocky. As a result they had all but stopped working for their previous teacher. They were all underperforing by at least a grade, and some by two or more. In the spirit of 'tough love' I told them all their current projected grades. What a turn around! Students moved themselves from friends that would disturb them and they are now working their socks off. All of them have improved their grades by at least one, and often 2 grades. Sometimes kids need a bit of a kick up the backside to get them to work.

We are not allowed to put anything negative in Y11 reports. What nonsense! If a kid needs to pull his/her finger out they, and their parents need to be told this. If they are rude and disruptive, ditto. It undervalues the stuff that you right about the majority of *good* kids who work hard and try their best.

And a reality check before they hit the big wide world would be helpful. Many of them need to realise that employers expect them to actually *work*

hmb Sun 08-Feb-04 20:56:21


hulababy Sun 08-Feb-04 20:57:36

Good points (again) hmb!

Luckymum Mon 09-Feb-04 09:32:59

<We are not allowed to put anything negative in Y11 reports. What nonsense! If a kid needs to pull his/her finger out they, and their parents need to be told this. If they are rude and disruptive, ditto. It undervalues the stuff that you right about the majority of *good* kids who work hard and try their best.>

Couldn't agree important part of growing up is learning what its's like to fail, how to accept it and more importantly learn from it. My ds also has unrealistic expectations of his GCSE results and TBH is it fair to him to allow him these expectations? On results day he will 'fail' to reach them and then its too late to do something about it. What happened to that long lost phrase 'could do better'?

hulababy Mon 09-Feb-04 09:35:07

Luckymum - not allowed to use that one now! That's why parent's evening in Year 11 is quite useful. I feel I can tell parents the truth much more through them than in a report, without the head checking every sentence said.

hmb Mon 09-Feb-04 16:40:52

Lucky mum, I agree with you 100%. You and your son need to know if he has problems. Once these have been identifies they can be worked on and hopefully resolved. But we can only couch things in the most general of terms. So if you don't read 'teacher speak' you are stuffed!

For example in my dds last report it was full of 'enthusiastic', takes an active part in lessons, 'has good verbal skills and loves to share what she knows'. All true but in other words, she never shuts up! Wouldn't it be better if we shared information *honestly*!

I tend to put words like 'has potential and needs to apply his/herself' which mean 'does no work',. Another one to watch for is 'needs to concentrate more in class'

And you are right children need to learn how to deal with failure....we all fail at *something* during our lives.

Did you see the back to the 50s grammer school reality TV prog? Most of the kids were A A* students and most of them failed their 'O' levels. They were so shocked as I don't suppose that they had ever been told they had failed anything before.

Luckymum Mon 09-Feb-04 17:01:39

At ds's school the reports aren't 'wordy'... they are marked 1,2,3 for progress, organisation and behaviour, 1 being the higher mark. I understand that this is less time consuming to complete but don't feel that it gives the complete picture. A 2 is satisfactory (but should that be interpreted as 'could do better'?) The only written feedback is via the homework planner and verbal at open evening. There are absolutely no written comments on the report whatsoever!

Its a long time since I was in school (1980) but I can see from the work he produces that he is not going to achieve the grades he thinks he is, despite me being on his back 24/7! As mentioned on the 'keeping them back a year' thread, he would have been helped had his under achievement been noted earlier and he been held back.

As far as 'failure' goes it seems to me that its the same as the word 'No'. Its not PC and no one feels able to say it anymore and its not doing anyone any favours!

hmb Mon 09-Feb-04 17:16:44

We also give 1,2,3 for attainment and a,b,c,d,e for attitude. In our school the 1,2,3is 'within the class', so a child getting C grades in the 'top' set would be marked as a 3, below avarage. A child in the botton set getting a C would be graded as 1, above avarage. For behaviour a D is grim and E for those who have been on temporary/full time exclusion!

It is a flipping nightmare, and you and your kids deserve better. But we are not allowed to say it like it is. So kids end up with a hopelessly inflated idea of how good they are, and come crashing down when they sit their mocks and get an E.

I had a chat with a kid today, estimated 2 Fs, and she is disapointed with this. Well to be honest it is because she doesn't so any work and is an all round PITA!

Hulababy Mon 09-Feb-04 20:14:50

On our new style reports for this year our style of reporting of effort and attainment has changed. It is now as follwos:

For KS3 - target National Curriculum level for end of KS3 (Y9) given, worked out by software based on various criteria and tests
For GCSE - target grade for subject at the end of the course, worked out by software based on various criteria and tests

Teacher's NC/grade assessment for each half term being reported on - based on current work/tests each half term (so can be different for each half term)

Working level:
A = working aboove target
O = working on target
B = working above target

2 = very good
1 = consistently working well
-1 = inconsitent
-2 = very poor

2 = very good
1 = consistently well done
-1 = inconsitent
-2 = very poor

Sonnet Tue 10-Feb-04 13:56:31

A friend of mine is a lecturer in an FE college and he often tells of his frustrations based around the fact that no pupil is allowed to fail...
Well we are failing them for life itself...

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