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Vox Pop: Underachievement in secondary schools

(21 Posts)
fisil Thu 23-Jun-05 19:45:55

I want a few pithy quotes from people with different interests (e.g. parents, employers, educationalists, citizens) about underachievement. Can you answer this question for me (and say in what capacity you are answering it)?

In your capacity as parent/employer/teacher do you observe any evidence of underachievement in the nation's schools?

Thanks - should hopefully help me to get a new job!

fishfinger Thu 23-Jun-05 19:46:26

the facat that 50% of all cantdidates get an a in gcses?

fishfinger Thu 23-Jun-05 19:46:40

the story about the last supper picture q in gcse exam?

tabitha Thu 23-Jun-05 20:02:23

The way dd2 is quite happy that all her secondary school reports say she's 'average' despite the fact that she was near to the top of her class in Primary
(speaking as a parent, obviously )

Rarrie Thu 23-Jun-05 23:54:08

But Tabitha that does not necessarily mean underachieveing... we had lots of parents moan about this at my last school. Lots of students come in from small villages, where they have been amongst the brightest of say 30 students (1 class) and find themselves in a year group of 300. Now if they were, say just in the top 10% at primary - of a class of 30, that makes them the 3rd brightest child in the class <pretty impressive!>. To be in the top 10% at my school, would make them the 30th brightest child in the year (out of 300, say) and that would make them in the second set (if sets are about 25 per set - as they are!)<not quite so impressive> They are not underachieving, but sometimes parents can't always see that... we have lots of people complain as to why their child is only in set two when they were the third or fourth brightest in their class - but when you consider how much bigger the scales are, it does make sense when you can see the bigger picture!

As for underachieving - I think too many bright children are able to coast - especially in mixed ability classes. All the classes I teach in my subject are mixed ability, and I have had classes where one student (aged 14) has had a reading age of 7, trying to do similar work to those who are undertaking A levels in their spare time! In those circumstances, I think its very difficult not to just teach to the middle ability - which is so often the danger with mixed ability taeching!

happymerryberries Fri 24-Jun-05 15:50:18

I think that for the very brightest children GCSEs are not enough of a challenge. I think that for many less acadmic children there are insuficient vocations courses. Children underperform because they don't see the relevance of study.

Many children are entering secondary school with insufficient social skills and maturity to deal with the demands that are placed upon them. I teach some year 9 children who are far more like year 3 in terms of their social skills.

We have a one size fits all attitude to education and in doin so we are short changing huge numbers of children.

fisil Sun 26-Jun-05 10:57:25

thank you - i've got some good quotes. Any more?

tigermoth Sun 26-Jun-05 11:15:21

no direct experience of having a secondary school child - but have a year 6, so nearly there!

Hormone havoc is another likely cause for seondary school underachievement, I'd guess. I can see the effects just beginning to kick in with my year 6 son. He is getting more distracted by his friends, and less inclined to be in awe of adults, unless that adult is firm and really engages him.


tallulah Sun 26-Jun-05 11:20:50

I was an LSA in an underachieving school. The pupils were not interested in doing any work & just didn't want to know. The girls were killing time before they could have babies and the boys were just killing time. Some of the worst of our pupils came from homes where for example dad and 3 older brothers were all in prison (real example), and a frighteningly high proportion have been in trouble with the law since leaving. It is very sad.

KatieinSpain Sun 26-Jun-05 12:09:57

I worked in both the state and private sectors - all secondary. Expectations - the school's, parents' and the students' - correlate with achievement.

I taught the same ability group - bottom - for GCSE French in both sectors. In the state system, the top mark was a "D", whereas in the private sector, they all passed and there were even a couple of "B"s. The major difference between the groups was behavioural. The former did the bare minimum and no homework or revision, whatsoever and the latter, although certainly not angelic nor particularly interested in French, did that bit extra and it showed.

happymerryberries Sun 26-Jun-05 12:27:27

Oh, and in all the classes I teach there is a direct correlation between good attendance and doing Homework and examination grades. Cause or effect?

albosmum Sun 26-Jun-05 12:33:29

i work in a support capacity in an fe college (i don't teach) - i am constantly amazed by the low standard of work produced and cannot belived that these people have attended secondary school. I sometimes think my 9 year old could do better

Gobbledigook Sun 26-Jun-05 12:47:03

Speaking as an 'employer'/candidate selector/interviewer for jobs - poor, poor spelling!!!

Gobbledigook Sun 26-Jun-05 12:47:12

and grammar - shocking.

Tortington Sun 26-Jun-05 16:49:44

as a pssed off parent i can tell you that some children lose their interest in learning around the time puberty starts especially if there is a "fit" girl/boy in class or god forbid a "fitbit" teacher. this all comes about the time that wearing your tie in a certain way can get you bog washed ans wearing shoes from the inside market also gets you bog washed. in fact the social ettiquette in secondary school is so remarkably indepth that is amazes me that anyone ever gets out alive.

then you have good teachers and bad teachers. a good teacher once told me that my youngest lad had made more progress than my girl - his twin. thats the one and only time i ever heard a teacher tell me something nice about my son. ever, hes 12. he thinks he is "stupid" he calls himself "stupid" he hates school becusae he is stupid and he doesn't fit in with the right social circle either....sorry went off on a life story there. but thats what i mean

Tortington Sun 26-Jun-05 16:51:41

and blame.

teachers blame parents ( not all generalising here i admit) and parents blame teachers.

somethings wrong when a lad leaves school at 16 and cannot spell. wrong with the education system

happymerryberries Sun 26-Jun-05 19:11:06

It is the 'one size fits all' crap Custardo. Everyone is so wedded to the 5 A* to C that anyone who doesn't fit the profile drops by the wayside.

By the time kids get to 14 many of them have decided (not without good reason) that school= failure and can't be bothered to try (and I don't realy blame them)

Nome Sun 26-Jun-05 20:17:52

Low or non-existant expectations - when no matter how much you sell the GCSEs lead to A-Levels lead to uni/college/increased choice of job, 2/3 of your form are happy to settle for sweeping out their cousin's pub, then you end up with a class of children who are marking time till they can leave school.

And you cannot force children to learn - you can only give them the opportunities to do so, which brings us back to KiS' and hmb's homework points.

I was a teacher BTW.

Tortington Mon 27-Jun-05 18:15:42

HMB you are so very right. you are definatley minister for edumication in the mumsnet parliament

fisil Tue 28-Jun-05 09:20:38

I agree custardo. HMB is thoroughly quoted in my presentation!

Satine Tue 28-Jun-05 09:26:15

My niece is a teacher in a large secondary school in Hampshire and spends so much of her time trying to control and discipline the classes that she estimates only 50 - 60 % of lesson time is spent actually teaching. The nore I hear the more determined I am to find alternative education for my two.

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