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Unhappy with banding for my son's GCSEs

(28 Posts)
steggers56 Sun 14-Jul-13 17:01:02

Hello, this is my first post so be gentle with me! In June of this year we moved my son to a new school as he had endured nearly 3 years of bullying. Although unhappy, he still performed brilliantly academically. At his parents evening his English teacher told us he was good enough to study Law. So he starts his new school and thank goodness he is happy and not subject to any bullying. He has just been given his banding for next year (year 10) and he is in the lower band, where to quote his English teacher, 'we'll push you to get a c or a b'. Unfortunately, due to the time of year he joined the school, he has not been assessed in any of his subjects. So my feeling is, they are putting him where they have room. From my point of view, my son who at his old school was classed as good enough to do a law degree and was producing work in some subjects that was at GCSE level already, has now been consigned to a band where he will be encouraged to get c or b grades. What do I do? Any advice would be appreciated, my son is beside himself with worry, as am I. Many thanks.

ravenAK Tue 16-Jul-13 14:38:24

Speaking as a secondary teacher, I'd say get this sorted now - GCSE courses in core subjects can be very different right from the outset of Year 10 (eg. our top sets study separate English Lang & Lit GCSEs, weaker students study combined English, & the Foundation/Higher papers are very different anyway.)

What we'd do with a Y9 student at this stage, if their classroom teachers hadn't seen enough of them to make a secure judgment, is to get them to sit an old SATs paper in English/Maths/Science - they are still available online - & set the student accordingly.

Are you still on good terms with his previous school (the one you moved him from due to bullying)? Might be worth ringing his old HT & asking for a round robin from all his previous teachers, or at least core subjects. I've been asked to sort this for a student previously in my tutor group when parents weren't happy with her setting at new school.

But very definitely don't leave it!

vess Tue 16-Jul-13 10:20:53

Definitely go and see them before the end of the year and first thing in September, and insist on him being assessed.

steggers56 Mon 15-Jul-13 19:34:39

Hello all, primary was a state school, he got a scholarship and a bursary to attend the private school we just moved him from. The school he is in now is a state school. Basically, the private school owed us nothing because we had so much assistance with his place, so they did not need to butter us up and tell us how wonderful he was. At the end of the day, he got level 5's in his Sats, passed the entrance exam and got a scholarship to a private school, is a talented actor who has appeared on TV (he was in the 4 'o clock club) and he's bright boy full of potential. The new school have not assessed him, they have not contacted his old school and obviously have not looked at the reports, books and tests I sent in. I'm sorry if a sound like a pushy Mum lol! I'm really not, just really worried now.

eatyourveg Mon 15-Jul-13 19:09:49

my fault - sorry. Can see that the OP mentions the primary was private but no mention of secondary

LIZS Mon 15-Jul-13 17:39:13

I didn't get the impression it was a private school now . However agree relevant staff may be tied up with trips, sports events, end of term preparations etc.

tiredaftertwo Mon 15-Jul-13 17:37:51

With maths, the topics build on what has gone before so it is not always easy to move children once the course has started - they may not have the building blocks. Subjects with discrete topics may be easier.

It would be much better to resolve this now, one way or the other, IMO.

eatyourveg Mon 15-Jul-13 17:34:20

Private schools around here have broken up. They may not be ringing back quickly because they have broken up and its just the office staff that are in - they may have had to forward a message but the staff on leave won't be checking messages every single day.

xylem8 Mon 15-Jul-13 17:27:55

the trouble with independent schools is they have a vested interest in telling parents what they want to hear.was his primary a private school too.I don't believe their sats tests are marked externally like state schools and therefore open to manipulation/exaggeration.
The school will be discussing things to get a clear picture before phoning you back.At our school the children do YELLIS testing at the start of Y10 which feeds into grade predictions in a big way.If your son has ability, it will out!
Also bear in mind a sensible school would put your child in a lower set and then move him up, rather than put him in a high set and risk having to move him down.

monikar Mon 15-Jul-13 17:21:21

Yes, I agree, phone again tomorrow. In my experience with secondary schools you have to be persistent. An e-mail is an excellent idea as you can list your concerns in chronological order, whereas on the phone it is easy to get side-tracked.

If I were you I would try to get a written assurance that you DS will be in the higher band for the start of year 10. Having had experience of DC doing GCSEs - it is essential that he is placed in the correct group both from the point of view of his ability and the grade he is likely to achieve, but also from the point of view of the pace that the different groups will proceed at. Don't allow yourself to be fobbed off with 'we will change him later in the year'. The topics covered on the higher papers making the B/A/A* grades available don't appear on the foundation papers, so he will have a lot of work to make up if he is placed in the lower group and then moved up.

Good luck.

steggers56 Mon 15-Jul-13 17:17:20

Followed up with an email towards the end of the school day, as I could n't get through on the phone. So will try and call again in the morning. I'm trying to remain really calm, but I'm getting worried now. The school's ethos is to maximise every child's potential, so why do they want to limit my son.

LadybirdsEverywhere Mon 15-Jul-13 16:47:13

V. bad practice not to phone you back. Phone again and ask whether there has been any progress made with ypur problem. Always be ultra polite but persistent. If there is no word when you phone again, ask at what time you can expect a call. Pin them down. Follow up with an email so you have a paper trail.

steggers56 Mon 15-Jul-13 15:28:44

Just to give you a quick update, I called school this morning and was told I need to speak to the Deputy Head, my call has n't been returned. So will have to keep on trying, Also spoke to the Headteacher of my son's primary school who could not understand how a clearly bright child who scored 5's in his SATs could be banded this way. I get the feeling I'm going to have a fight on my hands!

daphnedill Sun 14-Jul-13 23:11:32

Get him moved as quickly as possible! Don't rely on the school to spot his potential. The same thing happened when my dd moved schools at the end of Year 8. I asked politely, but nothing happened, so I stamped my feet and made a fuss - she was moved the next week. I was a secondary school teacher for 25 years, so I know schools aren't always as efficient as they like to think they are.

eatyourveg Sun 14-Jul-13 19:37:25

If he's going into Y10 ask the school if they would put him in the higher band initially (half term/Christmas) just to see how he copes. There is usually some fluidity in sets but you speak of bands so not sure if there is setting within the band

steggers56 Sun 14-Jul-13 19:13:29

Hi Titchy, he's year 9 going into year 10. I know there's a little time, but being in classes that are not stretching his ability is already wearing away at his confidence and motivation. I'm going to call school first thing in the morning and get an appointment to see the head of year ASAP.

titchy Sun 14-Jul-13 19:09:23

If he's only year 9 now no one will be making any concrete decisions about foundation of higher yet!

titchy Sun 14-Jul-13 19:08:27

Is he year 9 currently or year 10? If he's year 9 now don't worry he may not have even stArted GCSE courses yet. There's plenty of time. Monitor next term and phone head of year once he's been there a good few weeks and they have a better measure of his ability.

If he's year 10 now going into year 11 I'd phone the head of year now. It may be that he's doing a different syllabus form his old school and is having to catch up.

noblegiraffe Sun 14-Jul-13 18:53:32

It does sound odd that a student who was good enough to pass an entrance exam and has previously been quite academic would be put in for the Foundation paper. I would certainly phone the school tomorrow (speak to head of year) and ask exactly how he was placed in this band, as you think it is wrong based on his previous school experience.
If they say that they weren't sure where to place him, then say that you want him to try the higher band and if he flounders he can always be moved down when the results of assessments show this.

thegreylady Sun 14-Jul-13 17:45:43

You do need to sort this so that he is not entered for a foundation level paper.You need to talk to the head of year NOW as in tomorrow-this cannot continue.Everything will be winding down now but there is still time and you will need to be forceful but calm.
This could be so important.Just a thought-you could ask for him to be entered for AQA's iGCSE English certificate which is designed to allow teachers to teach and students to learn without the constraints of an anthology in English so he could just do the exam from where he is now.

forehead Sun 14-Jul-13 17:26:59

The thing is, that if you leave it any longer he will not have covered the topic areas covered in the higher paper.
This is why I think that you should speak to the head of year ASAP. Ignore anyone who labels you a pushy parent
Do not allow the school to fob you off by telling you that your ds is in the right group.

steggers56 Sun 14-Jul-13 17:19:06

Forehead, this is one of my issues, the maths set he has been put into will be taking Foundation level only, he is so bored and frustrated with the work they are now doing, he's gone from transitions to practising multiplying by 10!

LIZS Sun 14-Jul-13 17:18:17

If he is going into year 10 there is still time for shuffling around once he proves himself.

steggers56 Sun 14-Jul-13 17:15:47

Thanks for your replies, we sent in his old school reports, gave the school his exercise books which clearly showed his ability, and sent in a letter from his maths teacher which detailed his scores in all the formal assessments that had been done. His previous school was a private school for which he had to pass and entrance exam which he passed and gained a scholarship. Unfortunately the old school did not give them levels. Please don't think I'm a pushy mum who is over estimating here child's ability, I just want him to be allowed to fulfill his potential.

forehead Sun 14-Jul-13 17:13:34

Do you know if your ds is doing the foundation or the higher paper?. If he is doing the foundation , the highest grade he can gain is a grade C. If he wants to study Law I would expect him to get at least a B grade at GCSE.
I think you should make an appointment to see the head of year . Ask if your ds could be placedi in a higher set and then the school should monitor his progress.
Do not allow them to place him in a lower set as he is in year 10 and they have already started the GCSE syllabus.

noblegiraffe Sun 14-Jul-13 17:09:45

It's tricky as he has only joined the school recently. His English teacher saying that he is good enough to study law isn't unfortunately going to persuade the new school that he is in the wrong band.

Have you got any marks from his old school? What level was he working at in each subject and did he sit KS3 SATs exams? If you could post his levels, then posters might be able to advise you as to whether the band sounds wrong.

Did his new school get copies of his reports from his old school?

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