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Good at Science but not good at Maths

(22 Posts)
Niceweather Mon 01-Oct-12 21:09:26

Have read a bit on here about sets being linked and the need to be in a high Maths or English set in order to be in a high Science set etc. DS (Yr8) is good at Science but also has dyslexia and so struggles with basic maths, graphs etc. He's just been put in top group Science and has also just gone up from Group 3 to Group 2 in Maths, despite struggling with it. I am surprised they put him up and wonder if he needs to be in this group to maintain the place in top group Science? Despite a great memory, enthusiasm and affinity with Science, I think he's going to struggle with the Maths side of it. Is it possible to be good at Science but not Maths? He's currently around a 5c in Maths and at least a 6c in Science and was getting 7c's in some test sheets in Science in Yr7.

colditz Mon 01-Oct-12 21:13:58

They may have moved him up in maths because his ability to grasp scientific concepts points towards him being able to grasp the mathematical concepts, and you tend to get less disruption in higher groups, meaning the teacher can more accurately target his support. He's clearly not lacking in ability, so he will probably do better in a class of more able learners where his specific difficulties will be addressed than in a class of less able learners where he may be the one kid who 'gets it' but struggles to write it down, and will therefore be ignored.

colditz Mon 01-Oct-12 21:18:53

I was in a middle maths group with a shit teacher, and as a result it would have affected my science scores had my biology teacher not gone above and beyond the call of duty to teach me the skills I needed for the express science class!!

Startailoforangeandgold Mon 01-Oct-12 21:28:07

It's possible to do GCSE level science without being particularly good at maths, much harder to go further.

However, my dyslexic DD is awful at her tables and adds up on her fingers, but can do algebra and more complex maths.

Graphs, My guess is someone went too quick. Scales on graphs generally require a bit of basic multiplication and coordinates go across then up. If some idiot used left and right that is a bad start.

Like my DD gets totally floored by analogue clocks, there are several things to think about at once.

However, graphs actually break down in to very manageable chunks if you do it slowly.

DD swears by the CPG key stage 3 book, levels 5-8 I think. She lost her old books, revised from this and has gone up a set.

Not as flashy some, but very comprehensive.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 01-Oct-12 22:23:05

Some parts of science are less mathematical than others, but you really do need to be mathematically competent.

Having dyslexia does not necessarily equate to struggling with maths. I've a dyslexic friend who's a maths/science genius - he thinks in numbers far easier than words. Hopefully your DS will turn out something like startail's DD - not inherently weak at the sort of maths you need for science. I'm wondering if he could get some sort of specialised tutoring?

SkippyYourFriendEverTrue Mon 01-Oct-12 23:34:58

I remember when I was at school looking at old (early 80s) A Level Physics papers, and the maths on that was harder than the current A Level Maths!

There is a tendency over time to remove the maths from science to make it more accessible as part of the general grade inflation.

I don't know what it's like now, but I can't imagine them having ADDED hard maths to the A Level science syllabus since I did it.

Niceweather Tue 02-Oct-12 06:22:37

Thank you... all very interesting and very reassuring. I think he could actually be ok with mathematical concepts but just struggle with the basics. He gets mixed up with left, right, up, down. He also gets some visual blurring which would also affect graphs or things in small font but he has some blue lenses that help. My greatest fear when he started secondary was that he'd get put in bottom sets because of his difficulties but it seems that they may actually be getting it right! He's went up from Set 3 to Set 2 English quite early on, despite having appalling spelling and punctuation.

Knowsabitabouteducation Tue 02-Oct-12 06:30:56

National Curriculum levels in Science really do not have anything to do with Maths. The KS3 course is more about learning factoids instead, and has very few calculations. The closest overlap is in reading information from graphs and tables.

I can't see why the school needs to align maths and science sets unless it's for timetabling purposes. If so, it's better to err on having him in higher sets, unless he has self-esteem issues.

TimeChild Tue 02-Oct-12 07:49:52

My yr 10 dd finds basics - times table, basic arithmetic etc hard. But she announced to us last night that she will be learning pythagoras' theorem tomorrow!! She too seems to cope far better with the algebra, geometry and other more advanced stuff than the basics.

She is in quite a lowly set for maths. We think this is better for her as at her school as there is a better teacher-pupil ratio in the lower sets and also it's good for her confidence to be one of the best in the set. Given all the struggles she has had in the past, we think that if she pulls off a C at GCSE it will be fine.

She has already taken 2 GCSE papers for Science in year 9 and got graded C for both.

noblegiraffe Tue 02-Oct-12 07:57:31

I'm a maths teacher and in our department we have no idea what science set the students are in, we set only based on our own assessments - the idea that we might promote someone up a maths set because of their science set is really odd to me! Phone the maths teacher and ask why he went up a set - perhaps he isn't struggling as much as you think and actually earned his place? Or if it is because of science then you can ask what extra support he is going to get in maths seeing as he is then misplaced there.

crazymum53 Tue 02-Oct-12 09:32:04

My dd is in Y8 and at her school they have a setting policy where there is a definite top set(1) and lowest set(4) for subjects such as Maths, Science, English and MFL. However sets 2 and 3 are both intermediate mixed ability groups so there is no difference between set 2 and 3. Both sets 2 and 3 go on to study Higher level GCSEs.
Could this be the case for your ds?

dottygamekeeper Tue 02-Oct-12 14:35:15

My DS now in Yr 11 was put in top science sets in Yr 9, despite being in set 4 (out of 6) for Maths and set 3 (also out of 6) for English. I was initially concerned about how he would cope. However, he achieved grade A in Physics, Chemistry and Biology in the modules taken in Jan yr 10, and an A in Physics & B in Chemistry taken in June, and also managed a B in the maths module taken in Jan and an A in the maths module taken in June (much to his and our delight and amazement). He has now been moved up a set in Maths. He has worked very hard, particularly in Maths where he has used the CGP revision books and the Mathswatch CD which I would really recommend.

He said he preferred being in the top science set as they were able to go more quickly and the other students in the set wanted to learn and understand and I would think your DS might find this too.

Niceweather Tue 02-Oct-12 16:30:30

I think I read somewhere on here the necessity to be at a certain level in Maths in order to be allowed to do Triple Science? Not that this is what he'll do but there seemed to be some kind of connection.

Thanks for all the information. I think that there is a definite 1-4 gradient in Maths and English whereas in Science, there is a top set and then the others are mixed ability. I think he will struggle with the maths but we shall see. I am sure he'll go back down if he's not coping. I am sure that you get bigger groups with less support as you get into the higher groups.

Great to hear of success stories Dottygamekeeper - well done to your DS!

crazymum53 Wed 03-Oct-12 09:23:59

To take Triple Science at GCSE most schools say dcs need to reach level 6 at the end of KS3 (Y9) so your ds is already at that level.
GCSE Science does not assume that you need a certain level of Maths in order to take the subject. In fact you can (in theory) take Science A levels with only a C grade in Maths but most sixth forms would stipulate that this grade was for Higher level Maths.

bruffin Wed 03-Oct-12 16:51:41

Most schools (at least the ones we talked to ) will not let you take Physics at A level without taking A level Maths and wont let you do A level maths withought getting an A at maths for GCSE and require an A* for Further maths.

DS 17 has dyslexic problems Niceweather and now gets extra 20% time for maths based subjects and 10% for written subjects. But that wasnt sorted out until he was in yr11! Like your ds his spelling was awful and but he was very comfortable in set 2 of english because he had very strong comprehension skills

His main problem for maths is disorganization so i think he gets the extra time so he can go over his work to check what he has done as he can make silly mistakes that effects the whole of the paper. Also if he was copying from the board and forget the sum from looking at the board to writing it on the paper.

I never thought of Maths being his strong point but he made rapid improvement and was level 8 end of KS3 and is now taking Maths and Further Maths for A level.
I think as long as your ds can understand the concepts he should be ok.

Spalva Wed 03-Oct-12 16:55:07

Reading with interest as my dd is also good at science but weak in maths. In Year 7 she was on a robotics team that won a European competition, and she won 1st place at the school science fair. But she struggles in maths -- though she is determined and work hard.

mummytime Wed 03-Oct-12 20:12:17

I would talk to the schools Maths department and see if your children can get extra help for their Maths, or if you can afford it pay for a Maths tutor.
If they are going to do Science later on the sooner they get a good grasp of Maths (which doesn't mean Arithmetic) the better.

crazymum53 Thu 04-Oct-12 08:17:41

The Science A levels I meant are Biology and Chemistry. The grade C at GCSE is stated in the exam board specifications for these subjects but in practice most sixth forms would require at least a B grade in Maths for these A levels. Some schools do allow dcs to take A level Physics without Maths but this does limit choices later on as most universities would require both subjects for courses such as Engineering.

Niceweather Thu 04-Oct-12 21:11:44

Really encouraging and inspiring to hear of dyslexic kids doing so well, especially in maths. I cannot see school giving extra help to a child in Set 2 on a Level 5c - help will go to the children in the lower sets who are way behind expectations. I don't mind helping at home but he needs help in so many areas, it's hard to know where to prioritise. Currently prioritising punctuation, reading and typing! Thanks for reassurance and input.

maggotts Thu 04-Oct-12 23:50:00

DD has never been very comfortable with Maths. But Science is very much her thing. A* for Bio and Chem GCSE and A for Physics (3 marks off A*). Doing Bio and Chem at A Level. To be honest, we did decide against Physics A Level due to Maths so think there is some impact there but not necessarily a problem with all sciences. However at this stage there is still a fair amount of Maths. As long as happy to work at the more Maths-y bits than shouldn't hinder overall Science progress.

mummytime Fri 05-Oct-12 06:33:25

Neither of my children are that bad at Maths. dS was given help as I expressed a worry he wouldn't get an A (necessary for a'level Physics at his school); DD got it as she had "holes" in her Maths, so could do well at some aspects the struggled with other bits. But they were lucky.

I would at least talk to the school and find out what aspects he is struggling with.

Niceweather Fri 05-Oct-12 07:04:25

Thanks Mummytime - it obviously is worth speaking to them then.

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