Advanced search

Is it usual to need a grade A GCSE to do A level maths now?

(436 Posts)
Jella2u Fri 23-Aug-13 16:59:37

Disappointment here too. Son has got 10 GCSE's grade A-C. So what's the prob? You have no prob! Yes I do!!!
He got a grade B, yes that's right, B for Bertie for Maths. The school (which is a comprehensive turned Academy ) will let him do his Physics, Chemistry and Biology, but not Maths for which they say a Grade A is required unless you've clocked up a total of 224 points between the last 2 module papers. Unfortunately his tally was 205. Husband went up suited and booted to the school this morning to plead son's case. Phoned us this afternoon - no go. Have said this to all who got a B. So nothing personal there.
Have tried to contact other schools this afternoon. Needless to say all are shut. Local Authority very helpful and recommended emailing. Are schools running a clearing system that I don't know about? Do tell.
School did offer Statistics as a replacement this morning, but by this afternoon that was off the menu as no-one wants to do it. There are 7 pupils in this maths grade B situation who want to do A level Maths. Strangely the school says Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Maths are the most difficult subjects. So they might be for most people, but what if your child is the one that has had to struggle with French, Music, English Language and bid their time to do the supposed hard four?
We feel he needs A level maths to support science subjects.
Unfortunately, I said we would be back with an answer as to taking up a place with some sort of substitute for Maths before term starts. Every chance if I can't get something sorted fast he will be a well educated NEET!!!
All ideas welcome. Thanks in advance.

hellsbells99 Wed 04-Sep-13 09:33:30

DD1 started 6th form yesterday studying maths and sciences. She is a high A grade student (not an A*) but will work very hard. She took her maths at the end of year 10 and during year 11 has been doing algebra etc. at school to bridge the gap to A level. She was shocked at the fast pace of the lessons yesterday (particularly in chemistry). She coped fine but said others were struggling on the first day. She then came home and had over 2 hours homework to do....and that is just on day 1. I do think that a normal 16 year old will struggle to do an extra A level - a couple at DD's school do an extra one but they are straight A* students and normally doing further maths.
In Op's situation I do think it is unfortunate that the school won't allow her DS to try maths for a couple of weeks. At DD's school, some are being allowed to do an extra subject just for the first few weeks with a view to dropping one when they have made a decision which one is not for them (assuming their extra subject fits into the 5 option blocks - so effectively the extra lessons are when they would have self-study time).
OP - have you asked school whether this would be a possibility? This way, school and your son could decide whether maths AS level is a reachable goal or whether it is too difficult.

cory Wed 04-Sep-13 10:31:58

I hadn't thought about this before, but maybe this is a problem with having the same school for sixth form: you don't necessarily get to discuss all the possibilities, and a school that has been making decisions for you since you were a small boy of 11 might be a bit stuck in that pattern of thinking.

Round our way it's all sixth form colleges, and dd and her friends have been making several visits to each of the potential colleges= plenty of time to discuss all possible scenarios and potential problems, and plenty of time to pull back if answers were not satisfactory. "What happens if I don't achieve x at GCSE" seemed to be a question that came up a lot. It did mean they had to be more organised from the start, but also, now I think of it, gave them more clout; it wasn't just the school making choices, the students were making choices too.

exoticfruits Wed 04-Sep-13 19:30:07

I think that they would have been much better to let him start and then, like my son, he would have realised he couldn't cope. The pace was fast- DS realised he rest were coping and he certainly wasn't- and that was only the first week!

noblegiraffe Wed 04-Sep-13 20:04:54

Unfortunately some students don't seem to get that they aren't coping, despite scoring poorly on home works and getting very little on tests. If it is suggested that they leave, in come the parents demanding that their child is allowed to remain on the course even though it is blindingly obvious that it is unsuitable. And then the Head of Sixth Form takes their side and you're stuck with them.

<bitter experience>

That one wanted to be an engineer too.

hellsbells99 Wed 04-Sep-13 22:02:26

DD says 1 of her friends is struggling already after 2 days - got a B in maths and additional science and changed her options to do maths and physics. Hopefully she will swap back quickly to her original choices if she is not coping.

LaVolcan Wed 04-Sep-13 23:53:08

Do some children after struggling for a few days, not then begin to click and get into it? I know that I did with maths, without being what you would call a 'natural mathematicican'.

exoticfruits Thu 05-Sep-13 06:34:13

I think that it is less likely to happen at that age. If it hasn't clicked by 16 yrs I wouldn't start a fast paced course, with all those who do get it, in the hope that it might.

hellsbells99 Thu 05-Sep-13 07:47:24

I think the pace was part of the problem. DD was shocked by it smile

RussiansOnTheSpree Thu 05-Sep-13 08:01:17

I was appalled by my first applied maths A level lesson (it wasn't even the further maths lesson, it was the normal maths lesson). We did permutations and combinations and it was with a teacher we hadn't had since the first year, who was really, um, brusque and impatient and it was a nightmare. Some people were in tears afterwards, I wasn't that far gone but I was not happy.

Within a week we all loved her. She was a genius teacher. Very funny. But that first learning curve week was not good. Everyone in that class did really well. But it took a week to get to grips with the brave new world of A level. Further maths was actually easier because we started with set theory in pure and collisions in applied (I know the topic wasn't officially called that but you know what I mean - the snooker ball type questions) and they were just easier topics.

Jella2u Sun 15-Sep-13 08:48:35

I have dreaded coming back to read replies as I thought there would be loads more anti stuff and it was becoming like another very well known site recently in the news.

Things going well !!!
Break through the other night when son said
"So where am I going to sit the exam?"

Edexcel Mechanics Unit Chapter Two finished. The author gives you a fighting chance by explaining terms in the very first chapter. Some of the questions are more tricky towards the end of the chapter as you would expect, but a part of the trouble is the author not putting over exactly what he wants. (Book shoved towards Engineering Husband at that point for him to figure out how the answer was arrived at). Sorted.

I am now glad my son is taking Sociology and Criminology as students are forced to make presentations and forced to write essays and so will have communication and persuasion skills.

Back on to Core C1 maths again. Chapter 2 seems fine so far. Think too much was crammed into Chapter 1 with far too little explanation.

Pressing on.

circular Sun 15-Sep-13 09:43:40

Glad it's going smoothly for you. Is he coping well with the workload of his other subjects on top of this?

DD1 just finished first week in AS maths. I was more nervous than her (mid A grade GCSE) but she had been finding it easy (although still making careless mistakes). Bet she wont be saying that in a few weeks. More maths homework than any of her other subjects.
It seems they are going over GCSE stuff at the moment, although the topics are in the OCR C1/C2 text book.
As they are set for maths, she seems to be in a group going at quite a slow pace. All told that anyone struggling this week should seriouly consider dropping subject. They will be tested at half term, and sets re-jigged if necessary. She is slightly worried that they may be going so slowly that they will not cover enough of the syllabus to give her the chance of a decent grade.

Caoimhe Sun 15-Sep-13 09:55:17

My nephews has just started AS Maths. They did unit 1 of C1 in the first lesson and then moved on to unit 2! That was a bit of a shock for him.

Jella2u Sun 15-Sep-13 10:09:55


Have faith. Your DD has probably struck lucky with a very wise maths teacher. Go too fast with too little explanation and the books will be flung under the bed.

You can help her with workload by looking ahead and drawing the x and y axis with appropriate numbers on graph paper (just do a variety, bound to come in useful sometime) and draw out any grids that require numbers filling in. If your scanner is good print a few out. Store them ready for action in plastic file pockets. This really cuts time.

As for our own situation, time was always going to be a problem. I work out all the questions beforehand, so no time is wasted wallowing in confusion - the pitfalls have already been found. It is actually my time that could be a problem.

Always have faith. I remind you I am the girl who got CSE grade 5 at maths and then went on to do a degree mainly in maths. The school my son goes to tried to persuade us that he should not do GCSE geography, his last option to choose. Not much else on offer to suit him. He got a B - not bad for a struggler in the subject!!! Have faith.

The science subjects were always easier for our son, so this year should be a little easier than last, though he did get the dreaded French and Music. A very few French books now in loft together with the keyboard and its books. All heaving a sigh of relief!!!!

circular Sun 15-Sep-13 11:50:40

Caoimhe They have 2 teachers, 1st still doing unit 1 (co-ordinate geometry) with them, 2nd started on unit 7 (indices) with a bit of unit 2 (surds) thrown in. Says the indices are starting to get a bit more complicated than anything they did at GCSE. Of course, may be totally different for your nephew if different board - I'm quoting unit numbers as chapters from OCR text book.

Jella2u Thanks for the tips, but think I'm better off keeping right out of any geometry, my worst subject, second to mechanics.

Geograohy also DDs worse option subject at GCSE, should never have done it, but managed a B too.
Was about to say your son sounds similar, until I saw your French & Music comments - they are her other two AS subjects.

Jella2u Mon 23-Sep-13 20:43:18


To keep ahead of the game finding the leaflet that came with the calculator is invaluable when you come to changing the mode on the calculator.

If anyone is following Edexcel C1, chapter 2 is more sensibly set out. Loads on quadratics. Can understand why some teachers dump chapter one altogether - Edexcel C1 is written by seven!!!! different authors. Hmmm.

Finding the time for the maths is going to be difficult, but if the lack of A level maths is going to cost us another 9000 quid for a foundation course it's worth the challenge.

Wish we had been worldly wise and quietly ditched some of these GCSE's and concentrated only on the GCSE's that son would do at A level plus GCSE English. Actually realised there were 2 short course GCSE's for year 10 adding up to another one GCSE and an OCR National IT course. Son has knocked up a load of points for those school league tables, but was the price the maths? I would be interested to know if the points are all attributed to him as a pupil or shared around giving an average per pupil?

Still we are where we are. The good news is that the physics department appear to be not so defeated as the maths department and are teaching quite a lot of maths!!!!

circular Tue 24-Sep-13 17:58:30

So is it still going OK?
OCR rather than Edexcel maths here, and C1 does look quite straightforward.
DD finding Edexcel Physics quite mathsy, but says nothing she's needed more than GCSE level maths for yet. Although continuing with maths must be helping, even if its just the keeping it going.

Still more maths homework than any other subject.

Re the calculator, have you upgraded to what is supposed to be the AS/A level version? DDs school saying not necessary, GCSE model fine.

Jella2u Thu 26-Sep-13 14:52:21


Agree with your DD's school. Haven't found any need for upgraded calculator.

You know, when this started off I really thought son would be at a terrible disadvantage not doing AS maths as I thought he would be in a classroom with a whole load of students that were taking maths and would be out psyched by them having that advantage.
This is not what has happened. Physics doing vectors. Maths doing vectors? No, they are intending to stick to C1 for the whole term. Vectors appear in M1 next term. At the moment vectors in physics seem to involve only right angle triangles so no need for sine and cosine rules yet. When you get to vectors in physics the page "Real Life" Vector Questions in the CGP GCSE guide is invaluable. If you know that page can apply sine and cosine rules and a bit of bearings from the North you're away and running with both subjects!!!

We are doing our own thing and will take every advantage of overlap. So will be all vectored out soon, hopefully.
Doing it this way means there will be no chance of a possible entry to the AS class. However, I really wouldn't want any student, let alone my son, to go into a class where they are not going to be taught positively as if they were going to succeed and made to feel truly welcome.

Going to send off for local uni prospectus (it's well within the top 50) and see what their requirements are. Some may be interested in Russell Group. We are interested in the money saved by living at home.

MirandaWest Thu 26-Sep-13 14:56:44

Does your son want to live at home (whilst at university?)

Our local university has gone and joined the Russell Group (betraying its 1994 group credentials) although got a while yet to worry about DC in that respect)

circular Thu 26-Sep-13 17:43:35

DD won't be doing M1 at all for AS. they all do S1. Then get to chose between S2, M1 or D1 for A2.
As far as I know, the only maths she has needed in Physics so far is standard form. So the only advantage of doing the maths is keeping the brain going for mathematical thinking rather than overlap.

One of her friends taking FM is at a bit of a disadvantage, as the only one in the group not to have taking additional maths.

Would your son prefer to stay at home while at Uni?
I've been trying to persuade DD that she may NOT want to stay at home, to get the full experience, but she's not interested. Guess it will get ironed own when individual courses are looked at in more detail, and they have a better idea if predicted grades.

forehead Thu 26-Sep-13 17:52:27

I must say Jella, I admire your determination and dedication. I am sure that your ds will do well in his A levels.

noblegiraffe Thu 26-Sep-13 20:02:33

OCR National IT course

ICT is compulsory at KS4 so even if he hadn't done the OCR Nationals, he'd have had to do the ICT lessons. Schools stick them in for the course just to make it worth something.

Caoimhe Thu 26-Sep-13 21:33:13

It's interesting how different schools do Maths in different ways.

My nephew also has 2 teachers for Maths but one is teaching C1 and the other is teaching M1. At his school the boys choose either mechanics (doing M1 at AS and M2 at A2) or statistics (doing S1 at AS and S2 at A2) so no chance to do M1 and S1!!!

Jella2u Thu 03-Oct-13 20:46:14


Thank you for the compliment.

Husband is supportive. Both my husband and I have maths skills. We are financially comfortable. I can make the time and will work round our son's other subject commitments to make it as easy for him as possible.
Not an easy challenge, but very much easier for us than for others.

Jella2u Thu 03-Oct-13 21:00:42

The really good news!!!

We haven't drawn any attention to the B in maths to the Physics Department thinking it might be best not to flag up what seems to be a problem. So we were delighted to get a letter from the Head of Physics offering maths support sessions throughout the year for my son and others after the school day.

Many thanks to the Head of Physics for going that extra mile.

jlee1 Sat 30-Nov-13 12:36:58

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now