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Maths GCSE

(19 Posts)
SuzieB13 Thu 06-Feb-14 15:17:17

My son in Year 11 has gained a C in the Foundation Paper sat last November. As soon as the result came through in January the school began insisting that he drops maths now and uses the 4 hours curriculum time to work on other areas in 'supervised study'. My son's reaction was immediately that he wanted to try for his B at Higher Tier and I had always understood, as had he, that this would be the path to follow. We now find ourselves under pressure to do what the school wants. I think they should encourage him to achieve more. I think he is capable. What should we do? This is an expensive school with very small class sizes. Am I wrong to feel they should encourage him to achieve a higher grade? Why would the school actively discourage a child from achieving a good maths grade?!

yourlittlesecret Thu 06-Feb-14 16:36:03

It's not in their interest is the cynical answer. League tables measure grade Cs and he has that.
It's also rather late in Year 11 to question this. If he took the GCSE in year 10 has he actually been working towards the higher paper so far in Y 11?
Perhaps he is borderline in other subjects and they genuinely think his time would be better spent on them?
At this stage in Year 11 both of my DC have been at the final revision stage. Any child at their school who is not on target for their grades is given loads of additional support, after school booster classes etc. But that is a bog standard comp.
Not sure what cost and class sizes has to do with it confused

titchy Thu 06-Feb-14 17:22:40

Presumably it's a crap private school and as the customer she should have more say in the service she pays for. And I agree OP he should be given a chance of a B.

LIZS Thu 06-Feb-14 17:29:07

How did you come to agree to him taking Foundation last term, seems very odd if he is capable beyond that. How many GCSEs is he taking and what is he planning next ? Most 6th forms would require A/A* or possibly a B in a subject to continue to study that or a related one at AS/A level.

Does the school publish its results ? It doesn't sound very good aspirational nor has he benefitted from small class sizes and your investment .

yourlittlesecret Thu 06-Feb-14 17:51:32

Sorry OP I mis-read it that he had taken the GCSE a year early.
I presume they are basing their judgement on the marks he achieved when they got the result in January.
I'm not sure there is much to be gained for putting a lot of work in to go from a C to a B? The higher paper has more subject content, so is actually quite a bit harder.
My Year 11 gets a report every few weeks detailing each subject and what grades he is predicted / working at. I think you need something similar to know more about his predictions in all subjects and then judge whether they are right about how he spends those 4 hours. Don't they give you this kind of information at private schools?
He would certainly need an A at least to manage A level maths.

MillyMollyMama Thu 06-Feb-14 18:00:08

Yes LISZ, but some children are not particularly clever who go to a private school! They are not all A* pupils!

I would have thought the school has not taught him the Higher Tier Syllabus and presumably thinks he needs time to get better results in other subjects. I would have thought OP that you would have known that he was not being prepared for the Higher Tier before this though. What has he been taught since November? However, is the B vital or would he be better off getting C s and above in all his other subjects? If he prefers other arts/humanities subjects, the C may not matter. I think you need to find out what he has been taught to date, in that he has been having maths lessons. If the school think he will not get a B on the Higher Tier, is that why they are suggesting he drops it? Poor communication though. I would see the Head of Maths to clarify the situation. Presumably Maths A level was not an aspiration.

SuzieB13 Thu 06-Feb-14 18:34:06

This was his second attempt at foundation having narrowly missed it in the summer. He is in a low maths set but not alone in having his C. I suppose my point about the small class size is that the teacher should be able to differentiate a bit? Maybe I have this all wrong! My real cause for concern is the lack if encouragement to achieve your best. If I really thought that was his best then I would be fine with it. In science for example I know we really would be flogging a dead horse! And I now find myself really stuck knowing what to decide for the best. As he is struggling in other subjects and time is not on our side, perhaps we should just throw in the towel- although this feels like giving up. They have all the experience - this is my first child to go through GCSEs.

LIZS Thu 06-Feb-14 18:38:49

ah so they are grateful he has now got his level 2 and want him to focus on the other subjects. I'm afraid I don't agree with sitting exams early just to pass but some schools seem to have this policy. Have you had a parents'' evening since the summer to explain it ?

TheReluctantCountess Thu 06-Feb-14 18:43:53

A C at foundation will be easier to get than a C at higher.

reddidi Thu 06-Feb-14 19:33:02

Don't know the whole picture, but here's a scenario that could fit:

12 months ago the heads of department at the school sit down together:

Maths and Science: "We're really worried about Jonny Smith, he's struggling in Maths and Science and if he has a bad day in the exams next summer he could end up with a fistful of Ds."

Director of Studies: "OK, how about we try and get a C in Maths in the bag this year on foundation papers so he can focus on the science next year?"

Science: "If I can have him 2 more lessons a week I'd be a lot happier"

Maths: "But his mum thinks he ought to be aiming for a B"

DoS: "Well she's paying the fees :smile:, but I guess there's 3 possibilities: (1) he scrapes/middle grounds a C in June and we tick that box and focus on the science next year; (2) he aces a C in the foundation papers, breaking the UMS cap so we put him up a set and go for an upgrade next summer; (3) he misses a C so we try again in November, and June 2014 if necessary switching to the extra science when we can."

All: "Sounds like a good plan, let's get them to buy in at parents' evening."

... it sounds like they may have fallen down on the last part, otherwise does this look like a good school doing the best for a child?

noblegiraffe Thu 06-Feb-14 19:46:49

God, you're paying for this? With small class sizes and good teaching he should at least have a chance of a B.

'supervised study' IME with a middle ability kid is pointless. Without help they can't access the work to study and make progress, I would suggest paying for a tutor, but you are already paying for his education. If they want him to improve his other subjects why are they only offering supervised study instead of actual teaching?

TheFallenMadonna Thu 06-Feb-14 19:53:06

We entered our pupils early for Maths, but they are all continuing to the end of year 11. Anyone with a C (or a D in fact) is doing higher, and those who sat higher and did well are doing FSMQ. I have no beef with early entry, only early and final entry.

BobPatSamandIgglePiggle Thu 06-Feb-14 19:54:02

What does he want to do next year? Some A levels ask for B grade at GCSE rather than C.

If a C would do though (as in he doesn't want to do maths or Physics A Level) and he's struggling in other subjects then I'd drop maths to focus on those.

reddidi Thu 06-Feb-14 20:03:21

OK I missed the "supervised study" comment - this can mean different things, but it is true that if it is just a room with 25 kids and somebody to keep the noise down it is not going to help his grades. OTOH a room in the science block with half a dozen kids going over the work done that week in class with a teacher or even a bright 6th former at the front to answer questions that can work.

gardenfeature Thu 06-Feb-14 21:20:29

Is a C in Foundation easier than a C in Higher? Someone told me it was the other way around because for Foundation you have to get a much higher percentage of correct answers. Maths is DS's weakest subject but schookl are recommending the Higher paper to give him the chance of a B.

yourlittlesecret Thu 06-Feb-14 21:50:02

gardenfeature It's easier to achieve C in foundation because to do the higher paper you have to learn more maths. The foundation paper misses out the harder topics, less to revise.

reddidi Thu 06-Feb-14 21:54:07

"Is a C in Foundation easier than a C in Higher? Someone told me it was the other way around because for Foundation you have to get a much higher percentage of correct answers."

This is true, but with Maths in particular some students turn off completely when faced with a problem presented in an unfamiliar way, as higher papers tend to do. A foundation paper may contain a similar quesiton but break it down into more obvious steps to guide the less confident candidate through it.

By the time the GCSE choice is made for a borderline candidate they should have sat several past papers at both Higher and Foundation so the teacher should have a good idea of how they perform in each scenario.

Note that the mark for a C - and even more so D and E - grade on the Higher papers can be astonishingly low e.g. Edexcel June 2012 Maths A required 26 marks out of 200 for a D and 53/200 would have got you that C.

SuzieB13 Thu 06-Feb-14 22:30:51

Thank you all for your comments, all really thoughtful and helpful in reaching a decision. I think reddidi your scenario is accurate!
My son has decided, after much discussion (and a very difficult meeting at school today) to not try for his B, but to focus his time on improving other areas. I know he feels disappointed in himself, but we have discussed the possibility of re sitting at any time in the future - GcSE maths is not limited to year 11. I feel really disappointed in the school's attitude and how this has made DS feel about his abilities. I think for sixth form we will be heading towards my daughter's very excellent state school where I absolutely know this scenario would never arise.

circular Fri 07-Feb-14 10:46:16

Can he do what he wants in chosen sixth form with the C?
Some new subjects (ie. psychology, computing, economics, business) can require a B in English and/or Maths if no GCSE in subject.

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