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Do I tell my DS I am disappointed with his GCSE results

(72 Posts)
froot Fri 26-Aug-11 09:09:04

He did not do half as well as he should have (nowhere near what his school predicted) because he didn't work hard enough. I am livid and disppointed and cross with myself for not pushing him harder but I beleived him when he said he had done enough revision (he is super bright but frigging lazy. Now his exam results dont reflect his braininess which is the fffffing frustrating thing).

He can still do the A levels he wants but his GCSE grades will probably adversely affect his chances at uni (he wanted to try for Oxbridge and now that is probably a no-hoper as the current state of affairs I beleive is 7 a* and an average grade of almost a*, plus A* in maths if you want to do a science - which he does)

I cant decide whether to vent my spleen at him now in the hope he will work harder at 6th form or whether there is no point as we cant turn back the clock and just wait til he gets to 6th form and then lay down the law.

So far I have said 'well done' but not gone overboard with the congrats.

I know he is a bit disappointed but he is so laid back he is virtually horizontal and I dont think he realises that these results (in this highly competitive time) are going to adversely affect his uni chances......

MigratingCoconuts Fri 26-Aug-11 09:17:25

I wouldn't freak out at him but I think you need a frank and honest talk together about what the consequences are here.

I teach AS Biology and the shock for students like your son is that even more work is now required just to pass the AS, let alone get the A grades he thinks he will get (if he has been considering Oxbridge). students who effectively coast GCSE grades get a huge shock in year 12.

He is clearly academically right for A levels but he needs to improve his attitude to study otherwise you are in for another 2 years of this.

CustardCake Fri 26-Aug-11 09:24:23

Why not ask him how he feels about his results? I bet he is shocked and disappointed too. Even the brightest child reaches a point in education where their natural ability ceases to be enough to let them do well with no work and, being so clever, he has reached that point a lot later than others so this is his first chance to learn that lesson.

Tell him what you've said here - that you feel sad his GCSE's won't tell unis in the future about his true ability and ask if he feels the same and is going to make any changes for A Level

I don't think ranting will help but I don't think its bad to show him you are disappointed for him and a bit disappointed in him too.

froot Fri 26-Aug-11 09:30:31

Thanks . Good advice . The first exams are in January and he is set to do maths and further , chem, physics, human bio and gs so massive workload ahead though he reads textbooks for fun and they are all his favourite subjects (apart from gs but that's compulsory where he is going) .

titferbrains Fri 26-Aug-11 09:48:44

I have no teenager kids but I did struggle with pple's expectations of me when I was young, and still tend to underachieve rather than aim for excellence and fail. I often wish I had had a better understanding of the working world when I was young in order to give myself the drive to succeed academically. Have you had a good chat with yr DS about what he'd like to do later on? not a specific role but the kind of work, the kind of satisfaction he'd like from a job, the kind of lifestyle he'd like? Maybe if he can spend the day in the environment he'd like to work in (a lab, with a doctor or whatever) and has a chat with other people who have slogged it out to pass science exams, get degree etc and see what it has got them, he'll feel more motivated.

Much more important to guide your kid towards happiness than success. The success is usually a consequence of happiness no?

MigratingCoconuts Fri 26-Aug-11 09:49:27

Yes, that is a massive workload! He needs to commit to hard work or there will be no point at all.

In my experience, a student who gets a B grade at GCSE science will struggle to even pass at AS. I don't know what grade your DS got but this will help you try to explain just what he is up against now.

Hopefully custardcake is right and he has learned this for himself the hard way smile

MigratingCoconuts Fri 26-Aug-11 09:52:26

titferbrains makes good points. Is he just on a conveyor belt of education with no game plan or does he have an end in sight? You could discuss this with him.

Medicine, vet, dentistry all require work experience on the CV to show commitment. Work experience in any field may give him focus

marriednotdead Fri 26-Aug-11 09:53:12

DD's predicted grades did not materialize following a lack of effort and an ill-timed bout of glandular fever. She still passed 9 gcses but mostly at grade C. I did congratulate her at the time. She knew she could have done better but has more regrets now, 8 years on with a degree, masters and PGCE under her belt, and says at some point she will resit Maths.

The point I am trying to make is that your DS is smart enough to know he's slipped up without you moaning at him, and it may be counterproductive. I still remember being told that my exam results weren't good enough (98%!) and I swore I would never make my DCs feel like failures sad

Encourage him to work hard and remind him of his goals, the rest is up to him. He has to want it for himself. These are hard years for us as parents!

PonceyMcPonce Fri 26-Aug-11 09:56:14

I Mitty ask him about his plans? As if progress to 6th form is not assumed. He could easily waste a year doing as levels to a poor standard. I reckon he needs to commit to whatever he does

MrsMipp Fri 26-Aug-11 09:59:34

Do you need to say anything? He's a bright 16 year old so it's going to be pretty obvious to him that he needs to work a bit harder if he wants the top grades. You can't make him do it, motivation is something he has to work out for himself. With any luck he's had a wake-up call and it'll be a turning point for him.

I'm sure he can tell you're disappointed even if you're trying your best not to show it. That's enough. It's not like he's failed spectacularly and is now looking towards a bleak future cleaning the streets, after all.

MrsMipp Fri 26-Aug-11 10:01:08

cross-posted with marriednotdead - but I couldn't agree more!

froot Fri 26-Aug-11 10:01:12

He wants (probably) to do Chemical Engineering but will do (probably) a chemistry degree so that he doesn't specialize too early. But maybe quantum physics. But thats a really good idea titfer to talk to him about what type of job he wants to end up doing, lifestyle etc....he probably hasn't (nor had I) thought about that at this stage.

coconuts He got a* for all the sciences (but A each for maths and statistics and he 's meant to be a total maths boffin) on bugger all revision.

Part of the problem with his results (apart from his lack of adequate revision) that the school weren't on top of him about his coursework (more input with the less able kids and rightly so) and so he got crap marks for all his coursework. So for example for D&T he got 3 marks off full marks in the exam but a D for the coursework which was worth 60% of the final grade.

froot Fri 26-Aug-11 10:06:20

Cross posts again but thanks married I'm sure you are right. I think he is gutted to have seen umpteen of his mates get better results than he has.

He is really excited about going to 6th form poncey and so hopefully it might be a turning point. I haven't wanted to dampen his enthusiasm for that and thats why I have not laid into him ...... (I am struggling though)

Mrs mipp aaaargh motivation has never ever existed within him......I keep hoping! Possibly when he is only doing his favourite subjects....

Bumpsadaisie Fri 26-Aug-11 10:11:54

I don't think a shouting match would help but maybe a serious talk and find out whether he thinks he did as well as he could have.

If he thinks he didn't, then you can agree that it is a shame. You can point out the very real consequences and the importance of GCSEs and A levels.

I think its worth talking now while it is all immediate.

I remember similar with my parents (after GCSE mocks which really were dreadful). They explained that the better results you have at school the better university and course you can do with the result that the rest of your life is just easier as an adult, because you have more choices, more earning power. I remember my father telling me I would be very thankful at age 35 if I had little children to support that I had good A levels and a good degree from a good university. This literally had not occurred to me at age 16.

iamdisappointedinyou Fri 26-Aug-11 10:13:35

<watches thread with interest>

DS also underperformed. Both his parents are fairly bright but plodders. We have got where we are by hard work. DS is much brighter than us so when he was full of himself and his greatness we believed him and thought that that was how really clever people are, and were secretly a little jealous of his certainty and confidence. Unfortunately for him, the exam boards have better BS detectors.

Can anyone advise on our current plan. Up till now, he has had a monthly allowance paid straight to his bank account. He doesn't have a Saturday job (surprise, surprise) so we are his only source of income. We are thinking of stopping this automatic money and replacing it by hard cash which he has to (1) ask for and (2) earn. Will this work or backfire?

Bumpsadaisie Fri 26-Aug-11 10:14:03

PS his chances at Oxbridge may not be compeletely lost; good predicted grades and a report from his tutor that his GCSEs were worse than expected but that he is really doing well in the lower 6th should be enough to get him an interview. I don't believe there is any set standard for GCSEs for Oxbridge entry.

But of course he would really need to hit the ground running in the 6th form ...

MigratingCoconuts Fri 26-Aug-11 10:23:09

Bumps is right about Oxbridge. I would predict that your DS will hit the ground running but it is half a term in when complacency sets in that is the danger time. Long term committed hard work is tough!

iamdisappointed yes, I would cut the money and tell him to get a saturday job. He will also get a big shock when the AS courses start. No more coasting! Try having this conversation with him too. I taught the most arrogant student this year at AS. He had got A* grades at GCSE on no work and genuinely thought reading the text book before the exam would be enough to get him an A grade, he was that innately gifted hmm. We battled all year and he has come out with a D grade for his lack of efforts.

Lougle Fri 26-Aug-11 10:29:38

This thread saddens me. A child gets A* for science, As for maths, and his parent is 'furious and livid'. What a way to make your child realise that it's what they do, not who they are, that matters sad

MigratingCoconuts Fri 26-Aug-11 10:35:06

Lougle, that's unfair. Op knows her son better than any of us. It is because of 'who he is' that she knows that he has let himself down.

She has quoted the good grades as part of a discussion of the subjects he enjoys and will do at A level. We don't know what else he got in the subjects he was less bothered with.

I think you should cut her some slack for knowing more about this than we do.

And yes, your actions in life do matter....

TheBride Fri 26-Aug-11 10:44:26

What you do is who you are. What else are you, other than what you do?

Merrylegs Fri 26-Aug-11 10:46:29

I kind of have to agree with Lougle. He got A*s for his sciences! Well done him!

Perhaps the problem here is with your/the school's expectations of him. You are disappointed he 'only' got an A in maths as he is 'meant' to be a maths boffin.

But 'meant' to be and 'actually is' ain't the same.

He sounds a lot like my DS - predicted A*s, got As. The frustration with my DS is similar - he didn't reach his perceived potential. But actually, that's part of who he is, a non-stressed kid who enjoys his work but doesn't bust a gut. You can lead a horse to water and all that....

It's about finding a balance between what you think your child could achieve AND given the person they are, what they actually will achieve.

Actually, your DS sounds like an intelligent and reasonable individual who will likely apply himself to his A levels.

I think it's about moving forward rather than looking back.

Ephiny Fri 26-Aug-11 10:48:46

All A*s an As doesn't sound too bad to me - though I know standards have changed these days!

I understand the disappointment if he didn't do as well as he could have done with a bit more effort. I was the same at his age, it is tempting to slack off if you know you can do OK without really trying. Don't see what good would come of you 'laying into him' or telling him how disappointed you are. He's getting to the age where this kind of thing is his own responsibility and you need to back off a bit and let him get on with it (or not, as he chooses). Of course you want him to do well and make the best of himself, but at that age he has to want it as well, and work for it.

Hopefully it will be the shock he needs to realise he has to put in some effort to get the very top grades. It's a real shame when kids have to learn that the hard way, but sometimes it's the only way!

TotalChaos Fri 26-Aug-11 10:52:15

As someone who did excel academically, please bear in mind that to thrive in a professional career, you need all sorts of qualities - social skills, resilience etc over and above the pure academic skills. Let him enjoy his teens, don't vent his spleen, he's clearly excelled in the subjects that interest him, let him build on that.

silverfrog Fri 26-Aug-11 10:52:28

Lougle - he achieved those results with little to no revision, according to OP.

and in the subjects where he needed to put in some work, he didn't. whether during coursework (so many opportunities to ge tit right, he will have heard the warnings to other pupils, and seen the sustained efforts and re-writes/re-dos that other pupils did) or for the exams.

I walked through everythign at school, especially at gcse. I was lucky. I got a wake up call at my mocks, where I got As across the board, a B in music and an F for history.

quite rightly, my mother focussed on that F, not on the other grades, which were "just" standard for me.

<it still didn't spur me on to do any work, sadly - overconfident as I was.>

I revised on the morning of the exam each time (two papers), and the stress waiting for that result was enormous. I honestly did nt care about my other results at all - all I could think about was how I was going to explain to my mother that I had ignored my mock result, still done no work, and failed that history exam

as it happens, I got an A, which is frankly ridiculous.

my mother had words with me anyway (having correctly read the nervous twitches while waiting for the postman)

there are times when, especially if no effort has gone in, that A grades are meaningless.

Cupawoman Fri 26-Aug-11 11:08:38

Merrylegs "The frustration with my DS is similar - he didn't reach his perceived potential. But actually, that's part of who he is, a non-stressed kid who enjoys his work but doesn't bust a gut."

Fantastic common sense there. This is my both my DSs in a nutshell - they did very well academically but probably neither reached their full potential. However, they are both very laid back, happy, chilled out individuals who don't get stressed at exam time. Got to count for something.

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