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(165 Posts)
Northernlurker Mon 10-Mar-14 17:54:22

Apologies for shouting but I am so pissed off. My poor dd1 was given all A* targets for all 12 of her GCSEs. She's done pretty well so far in keeping on track for that but has always felt very pressured by this. She is extremely bright and works ferociously hard. Having the A* as a target has not boosted this. What it's done is made her feel like anything less than A* represents failure. Today she did her second French speaking assessment. She worked hard, I worked hard checking it with her. She got 27 out of 30 which she is told is an A. This means she has 2 As for the speaking element. She is upset by this, she feels she has failed. In what sort of screwed up world is an A grade a failure?

Overall she got As in her mocks (which I think is damn good). I am dreading results day because every A grade will be seen as a failure by her and every A* as only what she expected. How the heck to I help with this? I told the Head at target setting parents evening I thought this was a crappy thing to do and I am even more sure now.

PowderMum Mon 17-Mar-14 14:15:28

OP my DD1 is looking to do a science/engineering subject at university too, although not a 'life' science as she dropped biology post GCSE. She is considering Oxford, not Cambridge as she doesn't like the course plus other RG Unis.
Her 4 AS options include a non science subject which was so she could keep her options open and possibly study economics/law/politics, when she was choosing last year she could not make the final decision. 6 months into the subjects she has now almost certainly decided to pursue the science route and will drop that subject for her A2 year unless both her and her teachers agree that she will be able to achieve top grades in her other subjects plus a good grade in this. For her preferred course she is likely to get offers based on 3 A2s at A/A* I just hope that her nerves can hold out.
Yes it is narrowing down her subjects but she wants to follow this path so she needs to start to specialise.

rabbitstew Thu 13-Mar-14 22:51:54

bigTillyMint - I did the A-levels you should have done! grin

Milliways Thu 13-Mar-14 22:14:48

Your DD sounds like mine OP. All through secondary she set herself targets to get to the top of each class in each subject (after failing to get into the Grammar school). The pressure they give themselves gets fuelled by the teachers and goes mad!

I remember in floods of tears before her AS exams because "I'm the A* girl so now I'm expected to get 5 A's!".

Having a laid back DS was quite a relief throughout his exam periods.

Good luck with her exams, I'm sure they are worse for the parents smile

venturabay Thu 13-Mar-14 22:00:00

I can't see that Theatre Studies is a problem either. I know a number of students who have got an Oxbridge offer with Theatre Studies (especially for English), or Art and Design. I have a DC who was an Oxford undergrad and is still there doing postgrad who had Art and Design as one of her three A2s. Doing one of those sort of subjects is obviously not a reason in itself not to get an offer, even these days, when there are so many more applications than there were even a decade ago.

venturabay Thu 13-Mar-14 21:48:09

Northernlurker I have a DC at Oxford reading Medicine and he had a mix of sciences and humanities and didn't take maths at A2. In fact he's a scholar. Sometimes the schools give pretty workaday advice. Go to the university websites instead.

AtiaoftheJulii Thu 13-Mar-14 21:11:44

Yup, my dd1 is doing Maths along with arts A levels, and finding it pretty easy and far less time-consuming than the others. Also, no coursework smile

rabbitstew Thu 13-Mar-14 20:36:50

I'm glad she enjoyed the science quiz!

You dd's A-level choices sound fantastic, although quite hard work. I honestly think maths is a great option for someone good at maths, as it really saves time for you to concentrate on the other essay and fact-heavy subjects, but nevertheless looks great on your CV and is helpful for any science subject at university. The problem is choosing between English and history, I guess, if she opts for maths. My opinion would be that maths is less work for the perfectionist (who can always think that an essay could be improved upon), but for the same amount of credit. grin

Northernlurker Thu 13-Mar-14 20:00:18

I HATE those dreams!

Ok so looks like she had an ok time.

rabbitstew Thu 13-Mar-14 19:39:10

That's OK, Northernlurker. grin I once had a nightmare that I was having a lovely day chatting with my parents in the garden when I suddenly remembered I had children and I'd left them locked in a room all day, because I'd forgotten!

bigTillyMint Thu 13-Mar-14 19:14:07

rabbitstew, I did maths for the same reasons! And French as I was/am pretty fluent. Made a mistake taking chemistry instead of English though - it was waaaayyyy too too much learning of facts for megrin

Northernlurker Thu 13-Mar-14 18:52:17

Oh and rabbitstew thank you for continuing to post after I snarled at you yesterday grin I think I'm feeling the parental stress a bit. Had one nightmare that dd3 was being stole by social services (that's how it was in my dream, I know they don't actually steal kids) then last night dreamt I forgot to take dd to quiz OR pick up dd3 from after school club and it was about 3 hours too late.....

Northernlurker Thu 13-Mar-14 18:50:26

Her school was the only one in the city to offer the IB but they aren't anymore. The deputy head who led on it has left and anecdotally I heard the results/uni offers weren't working out as well as they felt they should. it would have been a good solution for her. Aaaargh!

As things stand she would be doing biology, chemistry, history and English lit which I think is a really nice balance for her. It's looking increasingly likely she will do GCSE Further Maths so perhaps we'll see how that goes.

She's at a science quiz tonight, desperately hoping she's having a good time. Can't be doing with anymore disappointment for her.

rabbitstew Thu 13-Mar-14 18:25:41

I loved maths A-level: did it with arts subjects and it was lovely to have a non-essay subject. If you're good at maths, it's quite easy - much less revision than the other subjects I did.

rabbitstew Thu 13-Mar-14 18:23:32

No chance of her doing the IB and keeping her subject options a bit more open than with A-levels?

Northernlurker Thu 13-Mar-14 18:18:36

The parents of the ex grammar boy need a sharp slap and a dose of seeing what life can throw at you. I've worked in hospitals in admin for the last umpteen years. All I want for my kids is good physical and mental health. Telling your child you will be disgusted with less than an A* is child abuse imo.

Regarding subjects you like versus those you should take. Dd is interested in a science degree atm. Entrance requirements are biology plus another science. That's no problem. However she wants to do 2 (facilitating) arts subjects as well. So far so good. Her prospective head of 6th form firstly said she should be looking at medicine and all science -levels with grades like hers (which made me furious because a) she doesn't want to do medicine and b) we don't want her going for that sort of pressured degree unless she's passionate about it. Then he said she should do maths instead. So she e-mailed a couple of unis including Oxford and got the replies that no, what she'd picked was adequate BUT then we looked at Oxford stats for the course and overwhelmingly most people who got an offer were doing 3 science subjects (counting maths as a science). Only 7% who got offers had an a-level make up like she is proposing. Now on the one hand you can say well she is special - because she is actually a genuine all rounder which brings something to the table that the heavy on the science side kids don't AND there is an aptitude test as part of the admissions process which would allow her to show her competency (assuming she IS that competent grin) BUT on the other hand you start thinking she SHOULD do maths instead of one of the arts subjects. That way madness lies I think and I am currently encouraging her to talk more to unis and keep an open mind. It's just very hard. I don't remember a-level choices being this fraught. Mind you maybe that's why I didn't get in to Cambridge - one of my a-levels was Theatre studies. Ideally tbh I'm not keen on her applying to Oxbridge but she's quite interested. Given how we're doing at the moment I have reservations to say the least.

motown3000 Thu 13-Mar-14 16:11:57

The "Ex Grammar School Boy" is at DDs 1 School because of "Bloody" targets and pressure brought on by his parents. I have known him since Primary school. ( He is a Close Friend of DD and the school have used her to put an arm round him when he is upset).

He was given a " Managed Move from the Grammar" after several incidents the final straw being a breakdown in the Chemistry Labs last October. The "Boys"
parents insisted on a Managed Move and a letter from the school saying that DS "Could Still be considered for their Sixth Form". They then started "Touting" him around all the local Private schools , when no private schools would touch him , reluctantly sent him to "That School".

They are saying to him , that they will be disgusted with him if he does not get 10A* and back in to the Grammar. ( It is the Last place on earth he wants to go) The Grammar School letter said "Consider" nothing else.
They expect him to get 4 As at A level, they are Dismayed that his "Current School's average grade for A levels is D- not B+ of the Grammar School.

He is not helped by being compared to his elder sister who is Yr 12 at the Girls Grammar and is aiming for a Career in Medicine ( She is A lovely girl and is very kind to DD2 as her Yr 8 prefect) She is always asking about my Niece who was her prefect which is nice. She should though be sticking up for her brother and asking her parents to give him some slack.

I am a great believer in Grammar Schools, but sometimes even bright students don't fit in there. The Boy has settled down this year , one of the best things he has told me though is that he gets "Praise" from the teachers for doing something good ,at the Grammar nothing was ever said just expected. He is the kind of Boy who benefits from praise not "Just being taken for granted". I just hope though that the school can get him 9 or 10 A* and keep him for Sixth Form.

bigTillyMint Thu 13-Mar-14 14:55:05

Dinosaurs, if DD ever gets that far, that is what I will be doing too.

totallyuseless Thu 13-Mar-14 14:19:28

I wasn't being sarcastic in the slightest I was agreeing with Tilly. Funny how we read things differently.

Having thought about the issue I think children are forced into doing subjects they think they should do instead of doing the subjects they like. It starts at GCSE options instead of choosing Drama a child might be advised to do History because it looks better or when choosing A levels a child might be advised to do facilitating subjects rather than subjects they enjoy but are not as well respected.
When I was at school I just chose the subjects I enjoyed, that seems to be a thing of the past.

Dinosaursareextinct Thu 13-Mar-14 14:01:19

I agree Juggling. When will the competitiveness stop? That's why I suggested sending the anxious perfectionist DD to a non-top uni, to allow her to get out of the competitive cycle and enjoy life a bit more. Mental health and happiness are pretty important, after all.

Thanks Tilly thanks

rabbitstew Thu 13-Mar-14 13:31:18

Well, it seems to me that the more revision books, tutors, anxious parents, apps and internet we have, it stands to reason the more stress we will have. There's a massive industry out there, telling us that we mustn't rely solely on teachers, but must also download apps, look on the internet, buy revision books, see tutors and be monitored by anxious parents. I managed to get top marks in all my exams without any of that - way less stressful than quadrupling my workload by telling me I might get better tips here, there and everybloodywhere else. Since when did making life MORE complicated make it LESS stressful???

bigTillyMint Thu 13-Mar-14 13:07:08

rabbit, I don't think totally is being sarcastic - it just seems really strange that despite a lot of support that we didn't have, teens are finding the exam process more distressing.

Completely agree juggling.

About expectations .... I do hope that both my DC will find a course that interests them, be accepted on it, and go to Uni, because they are bright and interested in many things, because I went and it was a good start to adult life, and because it may give them more choices for future options in life.
But a recent family tragedy has sharpened my perspective that I'm lucky to have them both in my life, and hope they can choose life paths that will make them happy.
It can be easy I think to fall into a competitive trap, and for what purpose?
Hopefully they will do well enough to enable them to have interesting choices. That is all.

rabbitstew Thu 13-Mar-14 11:15:28

totallyuseless - haven't you answered your own question?! I presume you were being sarcastic?

AtiaoftheJulii Thu 13-Mar-14 11:11:34

Maybe that's a large part of it - with all these resources there's less 'excuse' to be less than perfect? And an ever-rising bar to jump over: more people going to university, more competition for university, more parents who went to university passing on (unconsciously perhaps) their almost-inevitable expectations ...

But then, my daughters have been the way they are since they were little - I could have predicted these reactions 10 years ago - which is why I mostly think it's just their nature.

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