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To Be Shocked That DS Got A 'D' In His First Half-Termly Report At Grammar School

(114 Posts)
gazzalw Mon 12-Nov-12 13:19:12

Not sure if I'm looking for reassurance or what but here goes...

DS has always been regarded as very good at maths by his teachers and us (well he was at primary school) and got a Level 5A in his KS2 SATs. He did do Level 6 and didn't pass but we assumed that was because he was actually ill when he did the exam (not an excuse but he did have slapped cheek virus quite badly) and the primary school teacher who was coaching his year to the Level 6 curriculum was off sick for the last half term so they didn't complete the work.

We had always assumed that he had passed his three 11+ exams on the basis of his maths, NVR/VR skills rather than his English (for which he got a 5B in KS2 SATS) which has never been his strongest subject not one that particularly interests him.

Note he hasn't been tutored in maths at all.

Anyway, going to a super-selective we were under no illusions that he would be a top dog in any subject, but in maths would have probably expected him to be average in the class. Looking at how he's been getting on in his homework it doesn't look as if he's had any major issues with not understanding the work.

So imagine our shock (and his) when he got his first report and although he has got Bs for most subjects (including English) which put him in the middle of the class (no problem with that especially as he is quite lazy), he got a 'D' for maths and is apparently one of the bottom three in the class of 30 boys!

What would your opinion be? I guess it might just be a reflection of the fact that in a boys grammar school they are generally maths whizzes, that a lot of them have been tutored and are working well above the baseline levels that you would expect even of grammar school children, that maths is one of those subjects that it's easier to coach ahead in and a lot of them have been coached ahead (he says that most of them have tutors although difficult to know whether that is indeed true), that he wasn't taught to such a high standard as other boys at his primary school or that he just isn't naturally as good at maths as his cohort?

I know that as parents we can think our children are brilliant when they're obviously not, but the thing is we have always wholeheartedly felt he has some latent skill at maths - maybe he has but just compared to his classmates it doesn't seem that way!

That would essentially put him in the bottom group in his Year (unless he just happens to be in the class most capable at maths!) which I find hard to believe as he is quite clearly a lot more competent than we were at the same age (and we went to grammar schools and were not in the bottom sets)

Hope to get some insights rather than being shouted down....I guess the bottom line is that in high achieving grammars someone has got to be at the bottom ;-(....

Yellowtip Mon 12-Nov-12 14:15:26

So what Sparkle? Because for the long term Op probably wants not to be seen by his DSs teachers as someone who over-reacts and comes racing into school for the slightest thing. He has a parents evening in a couple of weeks. In that context in would be way over the top to insist on an appointment with a busy maths teacher.

Also I'd say it would be a very bad idea to bring in a tutor. The DS is very new at the school, probably has just the right amount of homework etc., is still finding his feet and what he probably needs least in his life at the moment is to flog out to some tutor totally unconnected with the school and very possibly a rip-off on dark winter evenings. Sounds like a recipe for turning him right off school.

There really is no need to panic at this stage. None.

FourTables Mon 12-Nov-12 14:18:55

Could the D relate to current GCSE equivalent score perhaps? Although I assume if it did, the school woud make that clear hmm.

Getting a D when you are used to being near the top must be difficult to understand, especially when despite being at a new school, your DS thought he was about average. All the more reason to have a quick word with the teacher to find out exactly why. You don't want your DS to be demoralised when some further explanation could be enlightening...

gelo Mon 12-Nov-12 14:29:40

given that the ds seemed surprised about the grade too and the books look OK, it could be as simple a thing as mistaken identity. Do speak with the teacher and find out more, but no need to panic this instant.

musttidyupmusttidyup Mon 12-Nov-12 14:55:29

Agree that giving them a class position is old fashioned - what value they add is the current thinking.
He'd know if he'd done CATs - 3 hours of testing.

seeker Mon 12-Nov-12 15:01:54

I would expect some sort of explanation for any report that doesn't use NC levels- what on earth use is "D" to anyone? I would ring and talk to the teacher- just ask for a bit more information.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 12-Nov-12 15:06:43

DD is at a GS ...they don't set them for maths till yr9 (the only subject they set for at all). I guess they think that they're all pretty able but that it takes that long to equilibrate . DH was talking to a teacher at the boys' GS who said that boys from a particular private school with an excellent maths teacher always started out streets ahead ...but a couple of years later, the ones who weren't naturally so good would have dropped back a bit.

These are selective but not super-selective schools so this sort of effect is liable to be more pronounced in your DSs case.

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Mon 12-Nov-12 16:16:08

Yup, what seeker said.

mumwithtwokids Mon 12-Nov-12 16:45:47

Hi Gazza - I really wouldn't worry, I know it's hard not to but please don't.

Do you have parent's evening coming up soon? If not I would just drop a quick email to his head of year just expressing your concern. We've done this recently for something completely different and the school were absolutely brilliant. They as much as you want your DS to be happy and do well so I'm sure they won't think you are overreacting.

And please do not think your DS is at a disadvantage because he hasn't been tutored. My DS wasn't tutored either however there are one or two boys in his class who still have tutors!

Yellowtip Mon 12-Nov-12 16:54:26

Our reports aren't based on NC levels and tbh a lot of parents don't have a clue what they are - I didn't until recently. I find A - E much easier to understand and our reports state clearly what each grade means (A = attainment above that expected for the year group, B = attainment expected for the year group, C = below that expected etc. ). Much moe helpful as far as I'm concerned. I've never had a clue what levels mine are working at in terms of NC once they start secondary, only how they're doing within the context of the school. That's fine by me, keeps it simple.

seeker Mon 12-Nov-12 17:02:27

Absolutely. If the school's own system is properly explained, that's fine. But in this case, it obviously hasn't been. At least with the NC levels, you can easily look up what they mean. A school's individual system is useless without a rubric.

gazzalw Mon 12-Nov-12 17:03:38

Thank you everyone for your feedback (and hello, mumwithtwokids!).

No, not everyone will have been tutored - DS said half of his class want to be accountants though so maybe they're already fine tuning their maths skills :-).

I guess it's very early days and it will probably take a while before the playing field is levelled - maybe that's why they don't set until year 9?

Just a bit of a shock! I think we will wait until his parents' evening. Until we have spoken with his maths tutor we don't really have the whole picture.

Have reiterated do DS that if he has any problems with understanding that he has to ask us to help him....

Have to say that the report came in such a strange format (not like any report I've ever seen before) that it took us a while to interpret.....

I can't recall that we were ever basically graded quite like that.....

racingheart Mon 12-Nov-12 20:24:09

I'd be comforted by his attitude. 'The only way is up,' is a great response to that knock back. Sounds like he won't be complacent for long, if he ever was.

It's a real jump for DC from state primary.

seeker Mon 12-Nov-12 20:35:46

"It's a real jump for DC from state primary."
Any secondary school is a real jump from any primary school.

MordionAgenos Mon 12-Nov-12 20:40:47

@yellow I don't find it that helpful myself. But I guess that's what happens when you just have one child there. It might become more easy to understand by the time you're on child 7! It's the 'expected for the school' bit that I never quite get - expected for the school bed on average historic performance? Or expected for the school based on what a similar cohort when they started went on to do? I did think at the beginning that it must be norm referenced but DD1 assures me it isn't. I've given up caring now - well, I've given up stressing. We get additional feedback because of her SEN and that indicates she's doing great so I let the rest wash over me.

It is wierd though - DS came home from his school today saying he had got a level 6 in a French test (he's Y8). I have no idea if that's good or bad. blush

MoreBeta Mon 12-Nov-12 20:46:34

My feeling is the other children in the class may have been coached and been at prep schools so have just covered a lot of the material already at their previous school or with tutors - whereas DS was at a primary with not a very good teacher. Combined with his natural laziness he has come unstuck.

May be the wake up call he needs. Talk to teacher, look at his books, ask DS where his weak areas are and get some extra help.

Pluto Mon 12-Nov-12 20:46:53

Peaks and troughs is definitely how students make progress in Maths - and it is OK for them to hit challenges, overcoming them is how they learn.

Effort and persistence will see him through. The school isn't helpful in providing you with info re where he is in relation to the rest of his class. What you need to know is where he is in relation to his end of KS3 target and expected outcomes in relation to that - I would be asking the school for this sort of information

babytrasher Mon 12-Nov-12 20:51:44

Mordion L6 in early Yr 8 puts him on course for A/A* at GCSE. There is, of course, many a slip 'twixt cup & lip... smile

CecilyP Mon 12-Nov-12 20:53:09

Agree with MoreBeta that some of the children may be achieving more highly because they have already covered some of the work in primary DS. I don't see anything wrong with querying the situation with the school - you have been sent a report that you don't fully comprehend, with a grade that has come as a bit of a shock, and it is understandable that you should be looking for clarification.

CecilyP Mon 12-Nov-12 20:55:12

That should have read:

Agree with MoreBeta that some of the children may be achieving more highly because they have already covered some of the work in primary school whereas it is possibly completely new to your DS.

MordionAgenos Mon 12-Nov-12 20:56:15

It's just one test though. I'm not going to get excited yet. But thanks. Because we don't get NC levels from DD1s school I have just no idea what is good bad or indifferent so I just nod and smile.

OP - it may very well be that a D at your DSs school is still a very good mark. At some schools, the entire cohort gets A or A* for some subjects. So getting a low mark for the school doesn't mean a low mark on an absolute scale.

gatheringlilac Mon 12-Nov-12 21:14:15

Hello gazzalw.

We had this. I went to see maths teacher. Maths teacher shrugged and said: "They all get As or A stars. Don't worry about it. You have to remember that some of these kids are actual genius-level at maths, and they're all above average."

This, gazzalw, is the reality of a superselective (which is what your little one is at). Someone has to be at the lower end of a particular subject, some of the time. but you have to remember that that "lower end" is quite high, relatively.

I do worry that it can be bit demoralising for some of them: they're 12 As students but effectively the "invisible middle".


NewFerry Mon 12-Nov-12 21:19:22

Far more distressing is the thought that at 11 half the class want to be accountants!
Why not scientists, or astronauts or engineers?

Yellowtip Mon 12-Nov-12 21:35:11

Mordion if they're bumbling along and treading water at the school then I feel fairly ok. Esp.with a boy. Better then that and I know to be cheery. We're fairly rudimentary us. I don't think I'd even heard of NC levels when DD1 joined Y7. I've seen Cs turn into straight runs of A*s and a relaxed happy child so I think very little would phase me now in the first half of Y7.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 12-Nov-12 22:03:34

>Far more distressing is the thought that at 11 half the class want to be accountants!
Why not scientists, or astronauts or engineers?

in a superselective GS that is pretty grim. Does accountancy even need much mathematical ability, its mostly sums isn't it?

MordionAgenos Mon 12-Nov-12 22:05:09

ha. ha. ha.

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