Son has depression and cannot sit A levels, college not being helpful

(52 Posts)
andlipsticktoo Sun 17-May-15 12:54:27

I'm in a bit of a fragile state at the moment and could do with some advice please.

My son has been studying A levels in Biology, Classics and Chemistry. He has been flying in Biology and classics with predicted grades of A* and A, but since Christmas really struggling with Chemistry. He became more and more withdrawn in lessons and his tutor became very concerned for his mental health.

I booked him an appointment with our GP, and she diagnosed depression, for which she prescribed sleeping tablets and he is now seeing a counsellor. As he doesn't want me to attend sessions, I don't know what has been discussed, but his GP has suggested he does not sit his A levels and has provided a sick note.

I notified college, and at first they were understanding and said he could do the A2 year again, and sit the exams next June. They have now changed their minds, and said he cannot re=do the year, but will have to self study and we can enter him privately for the exams. They have also suggested we pay for him to attend a tutorial college, at a cost of £10,000 for the year!

Is this correct? Can they do this? Obviously we cannot afford to send him to tutorial college.

I am meeting with them on Friday, but would be glad of any advice.


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headlesslambrini Sun 17-May-15 13:12:05

How old is he? It might be a funding issue as most schools / colleges are happy to let them resit up to the academic year of their 19th birthday. If he is already at that point then this might be the reason.

roisin Sun 17-May-15 13:18:42

Sorry to hear about your ds. How is he feeling? Does he want to sit the Biology and Classics this year?

Funding for FE has been drastically cut in recent years, most schools, colleges and sixth forms are under extreme pressure.

As I understand it, the school gets zero funding for a pupil who is re-sitting a year, unless they take different subjects. So our school does not allow students to re-sit yr12 (as was relatively common in the past).

It's tough, but the fault lies with the government, not the schools.

LotusLight Sun 17-May-15 15:21:05

If he is A* or A in two subjects why not sit all three even if Chemistry is a C or D and presumably he's going to university and has UCAS offers?
On the other hand if he's in bed, doing no revision and will fail them all then yes you need to postpone. Presumably anyone can enter themselves for an A2 without actually being on a course. I taught myself music GCSE without a single lesson and got a top grade. The fee for that was the exam entry fee - virtually nothing.

boatashore Sun 17-May-15 15:30:08

As awful as this may seem, it may be a blessing that it came to light while your DS was still under your roof. I have a number of friends whose DC have gone off to university and then hit the wall with depression, and it has been very difficult for the kids off on their own to get the help they need.

I'm afraid I have no information about funding etc, but hope you are able to sort it out. If you are looking for treatment options, you might want to look into mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, which apparently for some forms of depression and anxiety is as effective as meds -- though of course do your research, as I am no expert! Do let your DS know that he's not a freak and he's not alone.

Lotsofplans Sun 17-May-15 17:05:38

Sorry to hear about your DSs problems. I am in a similar situation as my DS is also suffering from depression.

However his school has been brilliant. They've said that if he does badly in his AS exams he can repeat the year. I think it's at their discretion tho'. Unfortunately it doesn't sound as though your school is very supportive.

Is he thinking of not sitting the exams because of the stress or because he won't do as well as he should? When DS didn't go to school for 2 weeks, we took all the pressure off him by saying that if he just went to lessons he didn't have to do the exams. Eventually he decided to sit them and see what happens.

Does he have offers for universities? It's worth contacting them because if they know about his problems, they may accept him with lower grades. There is also a form you can send off for 'extenuating circumstances' if grades will affected by any situation. If my DS gets that far we'll be looking into that.

I hope you find a helpful way forward with the school.

andlipsticktoo Sun 17-May-15 17:25:08

the college is saying he must sit them and we can use his doctor's note to prove that this will have an negative affect on his grades, but his doctor has advised that he doesn not sit them at all, and re-does the year next year. This is where the college is not being helpful.

His head of faculty originally siad he could re-do the year, but after consulting with the assistant principal, they have now said that he cannot re'do the year and must either sit the exams this year (with special circumstances note), or we can enter him privately next year but he would have to do self study at home, or pay for tuition at a tutoring college.

My ds is quite clear that he cannot do them this year.

Do you think this is something we could appeal against?

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andlipsticktoo Sun 17-May-15 17:28:33

Sorry, I didn't see previous messages.

I am assuming it is a funding issue. He is 19 at the end of this coming December, so would be 19 during next academic year.

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TheDailyWail Sun 17-May-15 17:39:32

That is such a shame! Is it a small school? We have let 1 person back to repeat yr 13 for similar reasons. It's only one student. I would appeal and then, if no joy, write to the governors if the head says no.

mumeeee Sun 17-May-15 18:04:04

The college should be able to get funding for him if he is 19 in the next academic year. Funding is provided for 16 to 19 year olds. So speak to the college again.

andlipsticktoo Sun 17-May-15 18:30:25

Thank you, that is helpful advice.

It's a very large college as none of the schools in the city have sixth forms, so they all feed into this college.

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Charis1 Sun 17-May-15 20:21:40

No, mumee, the college will not be able to fund him next year, there is no funding for repeating the year. you have to have made progress to get funding, or be a new student.

the normal thing in these situations is to apply to a new college, and be a new student there, and get funding for being a new student.

However, this is harder for year 13 than for year 12, as you need to find a college that does the same subjects in separate timetable slots, and with the same exam boards.

it is possible for a college to take a small number of students unfunded, but this would not be within the gift of the head of faculty. It sounds like the head of faculty has asked for this, and been turned down. This might be because they have already agreed to take other students unfunded.

There is absolutly no legal appeal against this. If the college offer this to you, it is a GIFT.

It is worth discussing this with them, and asking them to consider.

The normal reason to take an unfunded student is because the college feels they have a moral responsibility towards that student. i don't suggest you use the words "moral responsibility" as tht sounds a bit like emotional blackmail!

But emphasising that he has worked hard, and achieved well ( mostly), that this medical condition is out side of his control, that the school has the full support of his parents, that his options will be very limited,, or non existent if they do not take him back, and that he is cooperating fully with all medical treatment on offer, and that he is very committed to his studies, all these things will help.

just keep in mind that you need to couch it in terms of humbly asking a very expensive favour, rather than talking about legal appeals against their decision,

good luck.

Orangeanddemons Sun 17-May-15 20:28:12

Can't they claim special consideration? I've done it for my A level students when they've been ill. Although it's never been for something which stopped them from totally sitting an exam. More for underperformance due to illness, buts it's always been granted

I have definitely done it for GCSE students who've been too ill to sit though

andlipsticktoo Sun 17-May-15 22:02:03

Charis1 thank you. I will bear all of this in mind when I speak to Head of Faculty.

I just feel so absolutely devastated for him as he was doing so well.

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mumeeee Mon 18-May-15 09:24:16

Charis DD3 did get funding to stay in college when she was 19 in that academic year and also one of my DNs also got funding to do the same at another college but we live in Wales so perhaps it is different.

andlipsticktoo Mon 18-May-15 17:36:53

Hi mumeeee, was that for the same course, or for a different course? DSs college is not budging on this.

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goinggetstough Mon 18-May-15 18:38:02

I think the funding for year 14 age 19 has changed recently.

mumeeee Mon 18-May-15 19:36:00

andlipstickto I just realised DD3"s was for a different course but DN's was for the same course but they were both doing BTECs so might be different to A levels.

EvenFlo Mon 18-May-15 19:44:39

I work with kids with mental health problems and have written tons of letters recently asking exam board to take into consideration their predicted performance levels prior to becoming unwell (I'm afraid I don't know the technicalities of what then happens) - could you do something like that?

bruffin Mon 18-May-15 20:03:43

My ds is resitting some A2s. He is not officially at the school and not funded as far as i am aware and we have to pay for exams, but he is allowed to attend classes as a guest.He is self studying for one resit as they are no longer teaching that syllabus. He is also helping out in some AS classes and was even allowed to teach one class.

andlipsticktoo Mon 18-May-15 21:28:38

Evenflo, yes this is what his college is suggesting, that his GP writes a letter detailing his condition and that these are taken into consideration. However my ds is so unwell that he cannot sit the exams at all, his condition is making him panic, become overwhelmed, have memory loss and not function.

A friend of mine's husband works at a school with a sixth form has done some research, and that school offers all students the option to resit all A levels (stating duty of care). They have also offered my son a place, however, they do not offer Classics as a subject, and it is also quite a distance from our house, making quite a commute (1.5 hours by bike and train).

I am still pursuing the line of 'moral responsibility' with ds college and the senior leadership team are meeting tomorrow to discuss his situation.

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Teacuptravells Mon 18-May-15 21:39:27

A friend had a similar (but different) situation. is there a uiversity offer depending on it? You may be able to get a much lower offer for entrance due to circumstances. They didn't have much luck at all with the college, but were able to get admittance to university on work so far.

Haffdonga Mon 18-May-15 21:42:16

If he had had an accident or appendicitis just before exams (thankfully not) he would be unable to sit them because he's incapacitated or whatever, then the college can apply to have his mock exam grades taken into account to be considered as if they were his final exam results. Unis will accept this in lieu of final exams. They could apply this rule for your ds as he's incapable of taking the exams at the moment.

(Not exactly sure what this is officially called but ds's friend had to do it due to a car accident.)

KPlunk Tue 19-May-15 00:18:09

What a sad situation. It must be so difficult for your son and for you too.

I really hope you can get something sorted and that your DS gets better soon.

andlipsticktoo Tue 19-May-15 08:29:21

Yes he had offers from 5 Universities, mostly ABB and an offer of ABC from Exeter Uni to do BioMedical Sciences. Unfortunately he did not accept any of them and so they were declined (this was before I really knew there was anything wrong). In a way though, this is a huge relief, as he is not well enough to move away from home and start an even more intense time of his life.

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