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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 ;-(....

Nuttyprofessor Thu 15-Nov-12 21:47:13

DS at super selective grammar. The letter grades were for effort and the attainment was measured as a sat score, maybe it is the same.

bigTillyMint Wed 14-Nov-12 16:45:23

Like others have said, it may be that he just did relatively badly on an end of topic test, but is middling in lessons

gazzalw Wed 14-Nov-12 15:52:11

Well I wouldn't say DS is overly confident but he obviously had a vastly over-inflated view of his class position in maths!!! He reckoned he was in the middle!

gelo Wed 14-Nov-12 13:41:13

Not true that all children know their exact class ranking though - maybe most have a fairly accurate idea, a fair few have either inflated or deflated opinions of their ability and one or two dreamers drift along without having a clue (or caring).

GrimmaTheNome Wed 14-Nov-12 13:40:28

Kids do have a feel for where they are in their group...given this, I wonder whether it is actually better for them to have an accurate placement rather than one that may be a bit skewed by over/under confidence?

Not necessarily individual places but average and range is useful.

bigTillyMint Wed 14-Nov-12 12:42:07

Seeker, true saywink

DD knows EXACTLY where she stands in relation to her individual classes and sets/year group.

seeker Wed 14-Nov-12 12:24:46

"I'm sure they do! And you're right, some kids do get their motivation out of knowing where they stand in relation to their peers."

And you think they don't know?grin However much we try to prevent them from finding out?

changejustforyou Wed 14-Nov-12 12:15:19

For what it's worth, Ds was top at his local state primary school, when he started sec private school(untutored) , only average. I also know that by midterm/now the grades in some subjects are only assessed by 1 or 2 tests.If unlucky with these he might not have shown his real capabilty.
(dd wants to be a hairdresser or a waitress, don't think she would be interested in engineering, astronaut or accountancy....)

twoterrors Wed 14-Nov-12 12:07:40

I think in selective and very selective schools it is more common to use the cohort in that school as some sort of benchmark as lots of the kids are on track for all or mostly As or A* at GCSE. Knowing roughly where your dc are can be useful as it provides context: what classes are like in their weaker subjects, how long homework should take. They are not necessarily to be competitive over (tho' am sure there is some of that but it happens anyway!).

One of mine was always in the middle at maths - that was reassuring because the middle get good grades. We just get told what the average mark in exams is for that year group, so you just have a rough idea.

JustFabulous Wed 14-Nov-12 10:29:22

I honestly think what other boys do is irrelevant to what grade your son gets. There isn't a limit on how many A's can be handed out. Other boys being tutored doesn't stop your son working to a high ability. It maybe that he has been getting high marks easily but now that the work is harder he has to work harder as it comes less naturally to him.

Use this as a wake up call for all of you.

gazzalw Wed 14-Nov-12 10:28:28

Is it the way they work in public schools, does anyone know? I ask because there was talk of an academy being set up nearby (with some support from a Head from one of the well known public schools in the Home Counties) and they were very hot on the whole idea of year group league tables....

hardboiled Wed 14-Nov-12 10:24:41

I'm sure they do! And you're right, some kids do get their motivation out of knowing where they stand in relation to their peers.

gazzalw Wed 14-Nov-12 10:15:48

Hi Hardboiled, yes I agree. Mind you, we did always used to complain that the primary school reports didn't at all reflect how DS was getting on in relation to his peers so maybe we've been hoisted by our own petard!!!

No, in a way I don't think it's constructive but DS is very competitive so I think it might be what he needs to get himself back in the running...

One would hope that these schools do know what they're doing and have a good rationale for doing it.... ;-)

hardboiled Wed 14-Nov-12 10:02:00

Hi gazzalw, joining this late...But I couldn't help being surprised at the way your DS school "grades" the students. It seems his grade depends on what the other children are attaining as in "average" or "top", whereas I always thought a grade reflects an individual's knowledge and attainment on a particular subject... Maybe the bar is set very high in grammar schools and it does reflect his first assesment results, but it shouldn't be explained to you in terms of position within the group, I don't think that's a constructive healthy way of thinking iykwim! But then it's all about competition these days isn't it. Very tiring.

gazzalw Wed 14-Nov-12 09:53:17

Yes, at DS's primary school the girls all wanted to be doctors and the boys wanted to be footballers!

And I'm sorry about the accountant bit - had no idea it would start such a bunfight! Just for the record I wasn't saying accountants were boring per se but that it's boring that that it is what so many of them aspire does rather smack of parental 'hovering' IMHO!

thanks for all your comments by the way - feel a lot better about it really. I think it will probably take DS the whole of Year 7 to adjust to be quite honest - at least.

Yes, Gatheringlilacs it does rather put it into perspective to think that DS hopefully will be an A student but that in the context of a grammar school he will probably be lost as an average!

It's all character building stuff though!

NewFerry Wed 14-Nov-12 07:06:30

I think I was surprised at the wanting to be an accountant at 11, given that at that same age, my DC want/wanted to be a professional footballer, 'the sting' from top gear, and either a west end performer or a marine biologist (or as DD puts it, more people go to the theatre at the weekend, so maybe do both!)

I hadn't intended to start a bun fight, it was a light hearted observation.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 13-Nov-12 18:26:03

Can you think of any profession which isn't in some way misrepresented?

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 18:01:27

And they are not accountants.

Of course any crook might also skim off the top of a deal or transaction. Misappropriation of assets is a very common type of fraud, although it isn't the one that leads to the biggest losses. Management, staff (including accounts staff) - typical businesses will have many points at which dodgy dealings could occur absent proper internal controls etc. To characterise the profession as one that did that as a matter of course though is very ill informed, just as ill informed as confusing the profession with IFAs, insurance brokers, bankers etc.

I've lost count of the number of threads we have had in here over the years where teachers have expressed their irritation at their profession being unfairly and completely inaccurately maligned or otherwise misrepresented by members of the public and/or people on MN. I don't think it's unreasonable for me to be annoyed with posters doing the same thing to my profession. Especially when it is such very lazy misrepresentation. To be honest, I'm more pissed off about the resorting to cliche than I am about the insults. Although I'm sure I'll get over it soon enough. grin

GrimmaTheNome Tue 13-Nov-12 17:52:19

Mordion - no, its financial advisers who - until the new change in the rules - perfectly legally 'skimmed'.

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 17:06:14

And I did check exactly what you said, that is why I'm so offended. Accusation of impropriety is a big deal in my world. A VERY big deal.

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 17:05:22

Erebus if all the accountants you genuinely know are skimming off the top of every transaction, then you should report them to the police.

Except of course, they aren't.

But it's easy and lazy to accuse an entire profession of being crooks. And then bluster when you're pulled up on it. Just like it's easy and lazy to dismiss an entire profession as being dull based on a rather cruel assessment of 5 people. And then bluster when you're pulled up on it.

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 17:03:09

@Grima I never said all the engineers as you well know (if you read my posts). I said specifically that the successful inventor entrepreneurs that I had met or knew of through my job were not typically academically minded. Obviously engineers are academically minded, engineering is a fiendishly difficult sort of degree course to get on. grin Most engineers are not successful entrepreneurs though. They tend to work for people who are.

Erebus Tue 13-Nov-12 16:59:11

mordion! Settle down!

Where have I said 'I know what accountants do' in order for you to tell me I am ill informed because I don't know what accountants do?! I haven't cited media cliche, I've only cited personal experience of the people I know who are accountants!!

You really don't need to go into bat for the entire profession, you know. I wouldn't presume to do so for my profession had someone told me that 5 of its members behaved in a certain way.

I am actually, tbh, a leetle bit concerned that an accountant hasn't checked exactly what I said in forensic detail before answering what you thought I said! I thought attention to detail was essential to being an accountant, but then, I'm lazy and ill-informed, so what do I know, hey?

Anyway, I should stop having fun with you, now, so I'll sign off, here!

GrimmaTheNome Tue 13-Nov-12 16:31:20

We wouldn't assume that just because we knew a physicist with a touch of the Sheldon Coopers that they were all like that? Or ...that all engineers were mainly like the ones we happened to know , non of whom were 'typically academically minded'? grin

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 15:47:20

Erebus Also - I'm not sure being the sort of person to have a public meltdown in a restaurant over something like seating speed could be described as 'dull'. Rather too eventful for most peoples' tastes, surely? It sounds a bit like AS to me and yes, some accountants do have AS but no more or less than people in other professions which also require highly intelligent people and are perhaps less judgey panted than some.

You actually sound pretty mean and judgey panted yourself, you do know that, right?

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