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Child not interested in GCSEs

(22 Posts)
zee757 Tue 25-Nov-14 19:37:50

Hi all,

I need your help i'm really struggling. It's that time of the year that all Year 11s are looking into further education. I have 3 children two older ones have graduate and have successful careers, however it my youngest who is nearly 16 that I am worried about. He just doesn't care about his exams or doing well.

Over the years I've seen him slip from being a top achiever to someone who is predicted Ds and Es at GCSE. He's a bright kid, really articulate however he lacks any motivation or responsibility. He's ignoring the reality that come August next year he may not have 5 A*-Cs grades thus will be unable to do the subjects he wants to study at A level.

I really need your help. How do I make him realise that he needs to take things seriously and do well at GCSE.

I'm just so concerned and it's making me really sad.



skylark2 Tue 25-Nov-14 20:40:07

"He's ignoring the reality that come August next year he may not have 5 A*-Cs grades thus will be unable to do the subjects he wants to study at A level."

So tell him. If he won't work to pass his GCSEs, which apprenticeships is he going to apply for? To be honest I would be harsh at this point. When he mentions A levels, tell him he can't study A levels with the level of qualifications he's predicted, he needs to pick something at a lower academic level. What's that going to be?

Either he doesn't care and he can start making other plans, or he does care and he'll have to start working.

saintsandpoets Tue 25-Nov-14 20:50:30

Agree with the pp. This kid isn't cut out for A Levels and he need to know.

Start looking at other options with him. He may find a vocation he can actually get excited about.

Soveryupset Wed 26-Nov-14 09:08:55

I don't know about "being cut out" - he might be going through a bad patch? I went through that at age 16 but was lucky in that I lived in a country where exams weren't until 18, so I had time to catch up.

I was always a very bright child, with top grades. At around 16 I started to feel really depressed. I remember distinctly not wanting to go to school, I couldn't face anything. I didn't know what was wrong with me. My parents became very angry with me and I felt even more isolated. I couldn't say I was depressed as I didn't know what was going on inside me.

Eventually I got over it myself and did really well - but I did instigate a move - I felt that a change of environment would make me feel like a new start. I did really well in my A-levels (equivalent), went to university and did a Masters degree. I also have a good career.

I wouldn't write him off academically, but rather try and see what is going on - talk to him and see what is going on. It's a shame that teenagers are under so much pressure these days and are not able to have a "bad year".

Hope you get it sorted soon.

nostress Sat 29-Nov-14 16:01:59

When are his mocks? Some shocking results in those might be just what he needs.

noblegiraffe Sat 29-Nov-14 16:10:29

A brisk "right, let's see what you can get with those predicted grades....ok you can't stay on at your sixth form. Hmm, local sixth form won't take you either. Looks like you'll be going to the college across town. The bus leaves at 7:30am. You'll have to resit your English and maths GCSE, what can you do alongside that? Level 1 qualifications it looks like. What do you think to construction?" Ok, let's get your college application form filled out.

Then make him do it. He's supposed to be applying for sixth form now, so the reality of having to apply to the college for vocational qualifications might hit home.

LynetteScavo Sat 29-Nov-14 16:22:15

I may be wrong, but surely he will have had to do most of the course work by now, so it's going to be a bit late to drag his grades up. Won't he need at least 4 Bs for A levels? I would be looking at courses tbh. And also looking at why he doesn't seem to care.

skylark2 Sat 29-Nov-14 18:04:20

"surely he will have had to do most of the course work by now"

I don't think DS has completed any of his controlled assessments yet, in the sense of having run out of opportunities to redo them.

LIZS Sat 29-Nov-14 18:10:50

I guess the siblings were of a cohort who could opt out of education at 16. Sounds like he needs reminding about the need to plan something for the next 2 years, for which he needs the basic GCSE passes or it will become groundhog day at wherever might accept him. Could he also be reacting to their success and feel under pressure to live up to expectations, so almost need permission to work and achieve for himself.

Erebus Thu 04-Dec-14 03:34:38

I feel your pain- DS1, 15, has just begun to 'get it' regarding his upcoming GCSEs. He's in high sets for his subjects, including triple science and has been quite blasé about doing Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Geog AS/A levels, though he'll need at least a B at GCSE to be allowed to do them... but his end-of-Y10 report sang a sorry song of lack of effort, under-achievement, and he managed to be among the 20% of all Y10 who failed the Business & Communication GCSE they all took last June...... That shocked him, tbh!

Anyway, he's in the midst of mocks right now and will get his predicted grades in January. I have made it clear to him that it's the local Tech if he doesn't get good enough grades for A level. He's a bit of a snob so the thought of going to the Tech has made him think again, to an extent!

It is unfortunate that adolescence crashes headlong into the most important exams of their lives, to date, isn't it?

TalkinPeace Thu 04-Dec-14 21:00:36

Another one who STRONGLY suggests having a few visits to your local technical and vocational colleges

get him to look at the entry requirements for C&G bricklaying
or Btec hospitality
and the career options

pretend to be utterly accepting of his low expectations and he might start to feel that safety net slipping and start to cling on for himself

Erebus Tue 09-Dec-14 12:13:32

Yes, TIP, I also tacitly point out to DS that he hates being outdoors and cold which is what quite a few tradesmen's jobs involve!

I want to be clear that being a tradesman is a great and worthy job if it's what you want to do, not have to do because you threw your GCSEs!

Anyway, DS does appear to have knuckled down a bit with his GCSE mocks; the proof will be in the January pudding and the Sixth Form applications are in! I don't know when the Tech applications have to be in by- I must check, actually, but I bet they do have to do some mopping up from DC like my DS!

TalkinPeace Tue 09-Dec-14 12:50:36

I'm calling in client tax files at the moment. NB I am not in London

The window fitters (mad blokes who hang off the sides of skyscrapers slotting in 100kg sheets of glass) earn good money - around £40 k

The plumbers earn good money - around £50k
The decorators and carpenters can easily clear £30k
Electricians around £45k
Bricklayers around £25k

And then you have the labourers who wreck their joints by age 40, all for £20k a year tops

Gardeners - even at places like Hilliers - no more than £25k

As a comparison, I have to keep reminding the programmers to take holidays so they do not need to VAT register.

The industry that has died a death in the last 10 years is photographers : lots of SAHMs get hubby to buy them a posh digital camera and undercut the professionals

Oh yeah, my tattooist clients are doing quite well for themselves at the moment as well .....

There are lots of decent livings to be made.
It just depends whether you ever want to own a house
And how mangled you want your hips and knees to be age 50

Erebus Tue 09-Dec-14 14:32:10

The trouble with plumbing is that you can apparently 'do' it with a 6 week course under your belt these days! OK, they aren't necessarily 'doing it properly' but they'll be willing to under cut the 3 year apprenticeship plumbers, won't they?

TalkinPeace Tue 09-Dec-14 15:55:07

Paper plumbers will undercut for a few weeks till word gets out they are crap stares at the crappy joints in my house done by such
Three years down the line they will either be making money or stacking shelves at Asda.

I have a geography degree. That does not make me a geographer.
I have accountancy qualifications - and 25 years of experience - THAT makes me an accountant

Apprenticeships are really great : especially the new 8 week starter ones
as they let kids try something out and return to college if its not for them.
If it is for them, the progression can be very, very fast

MillyMollyMama Tue 09-Dec-14 16:37:21

So someone who can barely scrape an E at Maths GCSE can be an electrician or a plumber? Hopefully not in my house! Could they draw up and implement a wiring plan or calculate the size of boiler needed? Let alone configure a new heating system? Hmmmm?? If they can't be bothered at school, I think there are plenty more young people out there who really try and get reasonable qualifications to do a proper job.

TalkinPeace Tue 09-Dec-14 16:44:35

One of my clients is completely illiterate (took me a couple of years to spot it because his wife does a neat job of covering it)
but he's very good at what he does and earns a good living.
He's made his kids work at school BTW - but they chose to go into the same industry

The sort of thinking skills that get you through an exam may not be the sort of skills that let you debug a wiring loom.

happygardening Tue 09-Dec-14 17:39:44

My DH used to employ a man who was virtually illiterate (my DH suspected he was severely dyslexic but went to school at a time when it wasn't acknowledged) but in his trade was very highly sort after, to have skills of this level is extremely unusual and even 15 years ago was pulling £40k+.

Draylon Tue 09-Dec-14 17:40:56

TIP- Certainly, for DS2, Y9, the idea of an apprenticeship is very appealing. The silver lining of the uni fees hike was a bit more imagination going into post-16 courses! As it is, I'd like DS1, should he miraculously do well enough, to consider a higher apprenticeship post A level, then go into a company that'll pay his uni fees as he studies part time! Ideal.

But I know I'm not alone in hoping for that!

Milly whilst TIP is right that the right person can go a long way in certain fields purely by having charisma or 'the gab', my DS lacks either of these qualities! However, in this day and age, the C-D graders are going into the less competitive college courses, maybe not so much the E/U graders; However, frankly, I don't require my plumber to have demonstrated a gift in quadratic equations or surds, actually. A good, solid set of reviews in Checkatrade will do it for me! He'd be 'allowed' in my house and I won't be asking to see his GCSE certs! grin

Do not equate poor GCSE results with 'can't be bothered'. For some DC, an E grade represents an unimaginable achievement, a magnificent effort.

Greengrow Wed 10-Dec-14 17:16:58

It may be worth hiring him a sort of encouraging tutor/friend person who is a student currently to come 2 or 3 times a week even if just to chat about his work, grades, career choices.

I have worked with several millionaires who were so dyslexic they left school at 15 with no qualifications of any kind but are bright and very very hard working and were lucky. It is possible but not easy.

TalkinPeace Wed 10-Dec-14 22:10:21

ChillySundays Fri 12-Dec-14 10:16:20

OP - sometimes they need to find it out for themselves. There is only so much you can do and the rest is down to him.

If he really wants to do 'A' levels then he either gets into gear or he will be spending Y12 retaking his GCSEs. Sometimes the not doing well the first time round is the kick up the arse they need.

My son was supposed to do a lot better than he did (down to not being bothered). In theory he should have been able to get high enough grades to study 'A' levels although he would never have been suited to them. It was always going to be BTEC for him. We had a huge worry when the results came out as he failed english and several days were spent worrying about whether he would get onto the level 3 course although he had more than 5 A-Cs. He realised that being allowed on the course was a new start combined with the fact he is studying something that interests him and is doing really well.

Does he actually want to do 'A' levels? Is this his way of scuppering your plans? I don't mean that horribly but as you already have two DC who have gone through the system are you presuming that is the route for him.

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