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Son's school told him not welcome at 6th Form before GCSE exams taken

(63 Posts)
Damali Thu 09-Feb-17 23:28:29

My Year 11 son started boarding at a small school in Year 9. He is not a straight A student but he has progressed in his learning, his reports encouraging and at last parent meeting no indication from teachers that access to A level would be a problem.

There were grumblings about how long he spent on his gadgets and not always being too enthusiastic about all the extra stuff on offer. He felt he was unfairly singled out. I have made a point of every few weeks asking whether there are any problems with the replies positive.

His recent GCSE mocks were borderline but he was nowhere near the bottom. But that is the point of mocks, you know where your weaknesses are and you work hard over the next 5/6 months.

This week he was told that there would be no 6th form place for him come September citing the old problems and that he was not A level material. He is devastated, bewildered, sad and feels rejected as do I.

How can a school tell a child that at this crucial point of GCSE studies. Its like it was deliberately timed to ensure exam failure. Kids are already under enormous pressure and this new stress could totally derail him. The school obviously don't want him as 6th form is automatic with the required grades. Surely it would have been kinder to tell him after his last exam?

I feel I need guidance on how to support my son and help with what to do next. I was getting non-school help with the fees and feel we would not be in this situation if I were a rich or famous parent who could make a large donation to the school.

user1484226561 Thu 09-Feb-17 23:36:25

He had better get used to it, offers are normally made or with held BEFORE exams are taken.

He isn't wanted there, it doesn't sound like he suits the school ethos at all, and obviously accepting him would discourage the type of pupil they DO want to attract.

Its no big deal, tens of thousands are getting the same news across the country. He now needs to apply elsewhere..

Leeds2 Thu 09-Feb-17 23:49:13

I would try and use this as a motivational tool,and get him to show the school that he can achieve the best possible grades, and that they were wrong to not offer him a place. Fill him with as much enthusiasm as you can for wherever he is offered a place.

Crumbs1 Thu 09-Feb-17 23:57:57

Trouble with crappy small private schools. Go look at the local state sixth forms and get him excited about moving to one. Some are fabulous and get better results from more comprehensive intake of children.

dataandspot Thu 09-Feb-17 23:59:51

This is the trouble when grades count above everything else.

Where is the care in schools now?

ChocolateWombat Fri 10-Feb-17 07:32:47

Grades probably aren't the full story. In many schools teachers have to say whether they think someone is suitable to do the subject at a level. That means they consider their work ethic, behaviour etc. Likely grades at GCSE and also what would be likely at A Level is a big factor, but not the only one, especially if a child has a history of being very lazy or very disruptive - not saying your son is......but if the relationship with the school hasn't been positive and he has been a lot of hassle, this will be the point where they don't have to continue with him.
You can fight your corner and resist this....but think carefully about whether this actually is the best place for him. Also use the opportunity to have a really serious chat with him about attitude to work, attitude to staff etc.....instead of just being angry, use it as a useful warning to take notice of, which can help son perform better in these last months, plus do better in the next phase too.

sashh Fri 10-Feb-17 07:51:48

His recent GCSE mocks were borderline but he was nowhere near the bottom

Sorry but that indicates he is non A Level material, for the past few years students with a grade below B have not been encouraged to do A Levels, those that do come out with very poor grades, A* students often find the jump har. Now the new style A Levels will be even tougher.

OurBlanche Fri 10-Feb-17 07:59:28

Take it bit by bit... he spends time on gadgets and ignores any offers of help. He and you have been told this and you still support him in his behaviour until... what? Until the last minute? Well that minute has arrived!

Despite warnings his mocks went badly - not the worst does not equal "Will pass when he has to!". If GCSEs could be learned in 5 - 6 months the government would save itself a lot of time and money. That you say that gives us an idea of where he gets the attitude , I suspect the school may think much the same. A poor student with parents who support such laxity is very offputting for teachers.

As for devastated, bewildered etc... that'll be because this is the first time his behaviour has had direct repercussions. Tough!

Start looking for open days in FE colleges. There you will both meet teachers like me. Ones who areperfectly used to meeting students and parents who have been forced out of their complacent education bubbles. You may not like what they have to say either... but your son may wake up to himself and start making better choices!

Well, you can hope so, some don't!

Brokenbiscuit Fri 10-Feb-17 08:04:51

Sash, the OP hasn't said anything that indicates whether or not her ds is "A-level material". What nonsense!

OP, if he wants to do A-levels, then he should certainly be encouraged to do so, but it doesn't sound like this school is the right environment for him - it seems that they're far more concerned with their statistics than with the wellbeing and success of the individual pupils.

There are other schools available and you will find one that is a better fit. Don't let your ds be discouraged by what has happened- let it spur him on to achieve great things and prove the stupid school wrong!

meditrina Fri 10-Feb-17 08:08:14

He's boarding OurBlanche so less day to day parental involvement.

But it's quite likely that his assessment that he was being unfairly singled out is not the full picture. Online whenever he can be, and not participating in the life of the school. Plus poor grades. That's not a way into the sixth form, and it's the lack of participation that's the clincher.

Many, many schools (day and boarding, state and private) have entry requirements to the sixth form.

And it's good practice to let the parents know if a current pupil looks unsuitable as soon as possible (and after mocks is probably the latest it should be done, and actually quite a good point as the school has most evidence by then) so that the family have time to look for where else the pupil could go, over about 6 months (largely in term time) rather than news in June.

OurBlanche Fri 10-Feb-17 08:08:48

but it doesn't sound like this school is the right environment for him I totally agree with that.

it seems that they're far more concerned with their statistics than with the wellbeing and success of the individual pupils. Or they prefer to teach students who actually work, fit in with the school ethic etc.

The key term here is "Post Compulsory" and that goes both ways! Schools have no need to retain all students and have every right to cull those who do not meet whatever requirements the school has set.

No one would question an employer letting go an unproductive employee! Post compulsory education is much the same!

HecateAntaia Fri 10-Feb-17 08:09:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JustRichmal Fri 10-Feb-17 08:10:52

I think the main problem at the moment is not the not progressing into sixth form, but your son being told a few months before the exams that he is not going to do well in them. If I were you, I would ask him how he feels about it and if he wants to prove them wrong. Is the prepared to do a few mock GCSEs over half terms and Easter? Or to try for these last few months to really focus?

This is a ridiculous situation, if thousands of children across the country are told they will not do well in their GCSEs.

OurBlanche Fri 10-Feb-17 08:11:02

He's boarding OurBlanche so less day to day parental involvement. Mmm! Is is school on Mars? When communication would take years? No? Thought not!

Having worked for many years in a residential FE college I am well aware of how much contact the parents of boarders have. And it is a lot!

OurBlanche Fri 10-Feb-17 08:16:30

I think the main problem at the moment is not the not progressing into sixth form, but your son being told a few months before the exams that he is not going to do well in them That timing is quite usual. That message is given after mock exams which, by there very nature, can't be given at the beginning of a year!

And he hasn't been told he won't do well, he has been told that his current academic standards will not allow him to progress to A levels there. That means he won't, at his current showing, achieve A/Bs. That isn't failure, just not excellence!

I doubt it is the first time he has been told that he needs to 'buck up'.

A levels aren't the only possibility. If OPs DS is not A level material then they both need to consider other options! Preferably now!

MaybeDoctor Fri 10-Feb-17 08:20:10

I can see that this is a bit of a blow, but perhaps it will be the making of him too? This will be the first time that he learns the lesson that the hard work, effort and enthusiasm put in is generally reflected in the opinion that superiors, peers and colleagues hold of you.

He comes across as lacking in energy and someone who drags his feet about things - just my impression from your description. While participation in extra-curricular activities shouldn't matter, in this school it does. Perhaps they rely on the sixth formers to be team captains, leading roles in performances, prefects and similar?

Brokenbiscuit Fri 10-Feb-17 08:22:40

The key term here is "Post Compulsory" and that goes both ways! Schools have no need to retain all students and have every right to cull those who do not meet whatever requirements the school has set

I don't disagree with this, but why tell him now that he isn't "a-level material"? What can that possibly achieve? Yes, by all means, tell him that he needs to improve his grades and/or his participation. By all means, tell him that he isn't putting the effort in and that he needs to get his act together if he wants to progress. By all means, make the progression criteria abundantly clear, and let him know that he is on the wrong track at the moment. But to label him as "not a-level material" is discouraging and dismissive. You might as well call him a no-hoper. I'd be unimpressed with any teacher delivering that kind of message to a child.

peukpokicuzo Fri 10-Feb-17 08:30:50

"Not A-Level material" at a private school means a very different thing to a real actual "Not A-Level material" verdict.

The school is a business and it needs to protect its brand. The parents of 10 year old choosing schools are looking at GCSE and A-Level results and university entrance rates (including oxbridge rates separately). The higher these are, the more oversubscribed the school is and the higher fees they can charge.

Why on earth would they give a 6th form place to a kid who they know is uncooperative and unenthusiastic and only just scraped the minimum GCSE grades after being given a massive shock at mocks followed by a few weeks of intensive effort, but who in 6th form would return to the previous pattern and achieve uninspiring A-Level grades and mediocre or zero university offers? They will have a waiting list of aspiring and hard working students many of whom will be achieving top GCSE grades despite being at schools with less than half the funding, resources and opportunities that your son has had, and who will be a positive boost to these vital statistics (which is what they mean by "A-Level material") rather than a drag on them.

Your son will be perfectly able to go on to A-Levels at an appropriate state 6th form college if that is what he wants to do.

Brokenbiscuit Fri 10-Feb-17 08:37:11

The school is a business and it needs to protect its brand.

Exactly. The brand takes priority over the success and well-being of individual pupils. This is to be expected in a private school, but parents who have paid vast amounts of money to the school in tuition fees could be forgiven for feeling somewhat let down by this ruthless approach.

MixedGrill Fri 10-Feb-17 08:45:59

I agree it is really horrible to tell a child at a boarding school that they will not be staying for sixth form.

In state schools no one is guaranteed a place except in grades, if the sixth form is selective, and everyone knows they are in the same boat.

Private schools are businesses. Their brand and success stats are more important than your son's feelings.

I agree: get your DS excited about alternative schools (though round here the school sixth form applications are already past), and encourage him to work and do his best.

You both need to get over your 'victim ' attitude: him claiming he was unfairly singled out, you bleating about donations, and one way and another it is all someone else's fault.

The FACTS are that your DS could have worked harder and can still do better from now on. Use those facts to make sure he is in the best position possible. He can do well, people do A levels with Bs and Cs at GCSE and go to Uni with the same grade at A level.

I do feel sorry for your son feeling rejected even before he had taken the exams. Especially from a social point of view. Tell him his challenge now is to show what they are missing by ace-ing his GCSEs and getting into a great alternative school with his future in his own hands.

I presume they told you so that you can plan.

MollyHuaCha Fri 10-Feb-17 08:52:57

Hi Damali, round about Easter time in Y10, I was told by one of my DC's schools that one of my DC wd not be permitted to stay in for 6th form as IB wd be too hard. They were giving me a year and a half's notice to find somewhere else. This was an international sch in another country. This DC is now happily studying 4 A levels in a small independent sixth form college in the UK. I'm assuming you might be able to fund such as place as your DS is currently at boarding sch. The tiny classes and superb pastoral care are bringing out the very best in my DC. Plus it's a more adult atmosphere - no uniform, teachers called by first names. Enrolling here is one of the best moves I've ever made, my DC is a different child.

BackforGood Fri 10-Feb-17 08:54:15

What OurBlanche has said.

You are completely wrong about the timing though. If he isn't going to be able to fall into a place there, then he (and you) need to know that now so you can investigate other places. It would be a nightmare trying to start looking for alternatives if you leave it until July.

MiriAmmerman Fri 10-Feb-17 09:04:19

I don't really see the point of criticising the OP, her DS, or the school. It's clear the decision has been made; everyone needs to move forward.
OP, try to see this as an opportunity for your DS. From what you've said, it sounds like the school has never been a particularly good fit for him anyway. Encourage him to focus on his exams (would proving the school wrong work as an incentive for him?) while you do some research into other schools or colleges which might suit his needs and his future aspirations.

MixedGrill Fri 10-Feb-17 09:19:06

Being honest about things to leave behind (aka criticism) is a good start to moving forwards, though.

Badbadbunny Fri 10-Feb-17 09:24:55

Trouble with crappy small private schools.

Exactly the same happened with my nephew at a large comp. He was border line but the school made it clear to him that because of his attitude, behaviour, work ethic, etc., he wouldn't be admitted to their sixth form even if he got the required grades. It was simply because they knew him!! In the event, they were proved right. He moved to another comp's sixth form and got thrown out after the first year because his end of year results were so poor. It's not just private schools who are "choosy" - state comps can be just the same!

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