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I need to go in and see the teacher, don't I?

(83 Posts)
LittenTree Thu 04-Jul-13 23:01:54


DS1 is 'able' as in 'is capable of 9 or 10 decent GCSE passes, and most probably university'.

He attends the 'best performing comp' in the county as measured by exam results.

They do 'Business and Communications GCSE' at the end of Y10, presumably because they recognise that to a 'good', 'school-ready', 'MC' cohort it's 'a gift'.

DS has just admitted, after some wheedling from me- he got a D in the end of Y9 exam.

I am Not Happy.

He and I revised the reasonably detailed 'revision sheet'. Block a business letter? Check. H&S? Check. Methods of reimbursement? Check. All his notes were presented in text boxes, as in:

I am a H&S officer; DH is in IT. DS has had lots of help in his revision.

I have No Idea why he did so badly. He is a quiet, well behaved DS who is generally achieving well. Or as well as our expectation would, well, Expect.

So. D?

Why have we not received a personal communication from the teacher who is the Head of IT telling us of our DS's, well, FAILURE? Why has his exam not been sent home? Why did a 'D' from such a DC not ring alarm bells?

Why have our comprehensive schools not grasped that fundamental of a successful educational outcome, i.e. Child/Teacher/PARENT?! The famous Japanese three legged stool? Is that So Hard?

I am not blaming the teacher for his failure as such but I am suggesting that this glaring failure should have been immediately drawn to our attention so we can see what went wrong.

Did he give one word answers to questions? He claims not.

Miss the point entirely?

He has No Idea why he did so badly. He hasn't been told, just that his performance was 'disappointing'. And we have no exam to look at.

Like everyone, I am busy. I shouldn't have to go in and see, if not confront this teacher. They should have told ME there's 'a problem'.

Rant over but I am Not Impressed.

LittenTree Fri 05-Jul-13 10:41:07

Amusing radio-silence from all of those who canned me yesterday, hey? grin

Got a call from the teacher concerned.

All now is much clearer. Apparently there was an exam timetabling mix-up/clash which means that the DC were supposed to get their mark along with a detailed explanatory letter in their reports in 10 days' time but instead, the exam result was published in isolation as yes, has caused a lot of bother!

She apologised for all this and recognised that a DC who was 'achieving well' suddenly getting a D a year prior to their GCSE didn't look good at all and she understood why parents were concerned. She says that in her opinion, with his works so far, DS is on target for a B as a minimum, she's happy with his progress but some massive complexity of GCSE marking scheme where getting 50% in one part gives you a C, but 67% in another a D was 'the explanation'. She also warned me that in the upcoming school report many DC will have apparently made no progress whatsoever since the March report but we are to 'disregard the mark but read the comment'...

You can see where the confusion has arisen!

Anyway, she read out a couple of DS's answers where I readily agree that there was detail missing which she said she wasn't surprised about at this stage etc, but, overall his grasp of the subject was 'solid' and so forth... which still doesn't really tally with a 'D', does it? She acknowledged that this looks like 'failure'! And apologised again that the result wasn't put into context properly due to this exam clash/report date thing. She also said she had done the teacher-thing in saying that D and E was 'disappointing' to the DC but hadn't meant to 'upset' DS as much as it had... OK.

So I am now satisfied that this was mishandled, they recognise it was, DS will be a whole lot less stressed about this out-of-the-blue fail; the teacher now knows we're 'concerned parents' and we can all move forwards.

chicaguapa Fri 05-Jul-13 11:11:31

I don't think there's any doubt that there are 'concerned parents'. A significant amount of time is spent placating them. hmm

I'm glad you got the outcome you wanted. Perhaps next time you should trust that the teachers in the 'best performing comp in the county' to be doing the best for your DS.

noblegiraffe Fri 05-Jul-13 11:18:26

The people yesterday who said it probably wasn't anything to worry about appear to have been correct.

LittenTree Fri 05-Jul-13 11:24:21

No, the school screwed up. By their own admission. I was not 'placated', I was given a plausible explanation, and an apology.

I accept that mistakes get made. Just because this is 'the best performing comp in the county' doesn't absolve them of responsibility for keeping their eye on the ball, nor does it allow me complacency in not keeping an eye on DS's performance, in search of steady progress. Maybe, just maybe this school does so well because all of us endeavour to be 'on the same page'; our DC, their teachers, us, the parents.

So no, 'next time' I shan't just 'trust in the teachers' if they've made a balls up, in the same way I would expect them to tell me pdq if DS was ballsing up- which a sudden unexpected, unexplained, isolated 'D' implies, does it not? I shall enquire as to What Went Wrong, like I have this time, thanks.

LittenTree Fri 05-Jul-13 11:28:30

noble - I admire your complacency. I really wish I were the sort of parent who'd just shrug if my DS, one year short of a GCSE he and I had every confidence he'd pass, and pass well suddenly got a D for his end of year exam. How I wish I were sufficiently supine I'd go 'Oh well, never mind, it probably doesn't matter. What's the odd thrown GCSE in today's economic climate?'...

How relaxed I'd be!

burberryqueen Fri 05-Jul-13 11:32:17

you still sound unbalanced about it tbh

chicaguapa Fri 05-Jul-13 11:36:26

They didn't balls up though, did they? They just didn't put the result in context ahead of the reports coming out next week. Feel sorry for the teacher tbh having to apologise for that.

Hardly worthy of the rant and gloating afterwards.

pusspusslet Fri 05-Jul-13 11:39:37

Ummm... I'm not sure why so many people don't seem to be able to understand your concern. I do.

I'm glad you contacted the school, and that they've been able to provide some sort of explanation. We rely upon schools to teach our children the things they need to regurgitate in order to pass important exams. If bright children who also work hard appear to be suddenly failing then I think it's fair enough for parents to be concerned, and asking questions.

And yes, a D is a fail.

Good luck to you and your DS, OP!

chicaguapa Fri 05-Jul-13 11:43:17

I really wish I were the sort of parent who'd just shrug if my DS, one year short of a GCSE he and I had every confidence he'd pass, and pass well suddenly got a D for his end of year exam

I think the minimum expectation would be to wait for the Y9 reports and if it wasn't addressed in that, speak to the teacher afterwards.

Not 'confront' the teacher assuming that she's let your DS down by marking the exam poorly & not phoning you personally to discuss your DS's disappointing result.

chicaguapa Fri 05-Jul-13 11:45:59

I'm not sure why so many people don't seem to be able to understand your concern. I do.

I understand the concern too, but the reaction was OTT.

LittenTree Fri 05-Jul-13 11:46:46

Well, intending putting a sudden, out of the blue, unexpected poor exam result in context via the medium of an explanatory letter with the report containing the exam bombshell -but failing to do so is a bit of a balls up, isn't it?

When the NC suddenly changed 'the rules' regarding how Science would be examined a good 2 years ago (far more 'use of facts', far less 'learn the facts'), the school sent us a 2 page explanatory letter prior to that year's report, telling us why our DC may appear to have made no progress this year as they were now using a new marking scheme. Fair enough. This is the sort of school, probably like yours, where this sort of thing is dealt with properly; so when it isn't, one can maybe see that the result is a parent who wants to know why her DS went from 'doing well/on course/all OK' to a 'D' and therefore might be looking for some answers.

So I called to find out what was going on; now I have my explanation (and an apology for the mishandling). Sorry if my telling you what happened next is regarded as 'gloating'. I don't see it that way.

LittenTree Fri 05-Jul-13 11:48:56

I said 'Hi Miss 'X', it's Mrs Y here, DS1's in Class A's mum. I'm calling because I am rather concerned about DS1's unexpectedly poor Y9 exam result in your subject.. What went wrong?!'..

If that's 'confrontational', you have thin skin.

Theas18 Fri 05-Jul-13 11:51:00

As I said before it is not a surprising grade half way through the course when measured against the end of GCSE standards then!

Dejected Fri 05-Jul-13 11:52:54

In the grand scheme of things GCSEs don't matter. They are simply a stepping stone into other avenues of education. Not all children are academic and the pressure put upon all children to achieve numerous academic qualifications makes my blood boil.

Exams can be taken at any time in your life. Life skills are far more important along with health and happiness.

LittenTree Fri 05-Jul-13 11:57:34

Theas it wasn't measured against an expected end-of GCSE standard!

in my post of 8:26 I said, following my asking the Head of Year, "Apparently they were examined on the curriculum as taught so far".

The teacher's explanation of how DS, apparently 'on-target' for a B, minimum, got graded with a D was, by her own admission 'difficult to understand' i.e. how 50% in one area gets a higher grade than 67% in another!

LittenTree Fri 05-Jul-13 12:03:53

Dejected- yes, but you try accessing those 'other avenues of education' without the right GCSEs! Grand scheme or not, you can't get on an apprenticeship course here without 5 good GCSEs, the competition is just too fierce.

Life skill are great but they can in fact be taught alongside GCSE subjects. Health and certainly happiness have a significantly higher probability of befalling someone who has choices in their lives, who are not corks tossed around in the ocean of helpless fate. Doing well in school for a DC capable of doing well in school buys that choice. No not all children 'are academic' but my DS1 is. Not fiercely so, but certainly 10 or so GCSE passes, A levels, probably university if that's what he wants to do. If a degree of pressure is required to help him in achieving something approximating 'his potential' then I stand accused, guilty as charged.

lljkk Fri 05-Jul-13 12:05:32

I'm another one who doesn't really understand the problem.

happygardening Fri 05-Jul-13 12:11:29

"I'm glad you got the outcome you wanted. Perhaps next time you should trust that the teachers in the 'best performing comp in the county' to be doing the best for your DS."
DS1 was up until three weeks ago at one of these. IME no one in their right mind should trust the teachers at a "best performing comp" or any other comp probably for that mater to be doing the best for anyone's DC! [bitter and twisted smiley]
Litten you are right to enquire/jump up and down/ write stroppy letters to governors/threaten legal action etc etc if you don't mistakes/issues go unchallenged and you only find out when its too late that everything is not as rosey is the garden as you were lead to believe.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 05-Jul-13 12:24:33

OP I can see why you were unhappy, but your method of expressing yourself, on here certainly, has been awful.

You've come over as superior, arrogant, the over-use of putting things in quotation marks is massively annoying. Really hope this is your 'style' at work, because if you had posted in a different way I think you would have got a very different set of responses.

Dejected if you want to do anything that requires remotely academic qualifications within any kind of normal timeframe and build a full career in it, then GCSEs really do matter.
Health is of course important, as is happiness. IME it is far more likely for a person to be happy if they have the maximum number of choices available to them.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 05-Jul-13 12:25:38

That should say, I really hope that this isn't your style at work.

chicaguapa Fri 05-Jul-13 12:47:45

Unfortunately people don't usually come across well when they're having a rant.

But there is a difference between a concern that your DS hasn't done well in an end of Y9 exam at school and then comments such as I'm not blaming the teacher as such and I shouldn't have to go and see, if not confront the teacher.

You did go in all guns blazing in your OP and have delighted in the two apologies the teacher gave you for messing up on the timing of the release of the information.

I wonder did you apologise for starting a thread about her and putting in enough information for her to be identified by parents of DC and other teachers at that school? Probably not. hmm

LittenTree Fri 05-Jul-13 12:54:07

Thank you pusspus and happygardening

Floggingmolly Fri 05-Jul-13 13:00:59

What communication did you expect from the school, beyond being informed of your ds's result? Calling you to "discuss" it in person is absolutely not standard procedure.

Floggingmolly Fri 05-Jul-13 13:10:39

Your assertion that your "deep and full understanding of what your ds was allegedly learning" should have somehow imbued him with this knowledge is; quite frankly, bizarre.
He was being examined, not you.

titchy Fri 05-Jul-13 13:23:51

Right so you expect each teacher, after they've marked all the end of year exams (that's all it was OP, not an actual GCSE, or CA, just a common or garden end of year exam), to phone each kid's parents up and give them a blow by blow account of what they did wrong?

Presumably they're more concerned with making sure those kids know where they went wrong (either in the next couple of weeks, or early next year), and keeping an eye on particular areas of weakness.

If you didn't know it was a past paper, and had the words 'Test' on it, rather than GCSE, would you be so bothered?

FWIW my year 9 quite often gets set past GCSE papers as end of year tests. But at the end of the day that's all they are - just tests.

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