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Maths advice needed please:)

(22 Posts)
RussianBlu Sat 08-Feb-14 16:57:53

My son is in year 9 and beginning to think about options. I have been following the thread about options for average children and found it quite helpful. Unfortunately my somewhat lazy son is currently 'below target' in Maths, English and Science. As it stands he is (as of Jan) a level 4a in maths and is predicted to be a level 5c by the end of the year.

I am wondering if I should get him a maths tutor for sometime. My maths isn't great and I would struggle to help him. Unfortunately tutors here seem to charge around £40 an hour which is an awful lot of money for me so I was going to try and find someone to tutor once a fortnight which would still be a big amount for me. The maths teacher at parents evening didn't seem too bothered or interested in my concerns but surely he is going to be lucky to get a grade C at GCSE if this is his current level, though maybe I am misunderstanding.

I am able to help him with his English but it is a struggle to get a conversation from him that doesn't go all Kevin and Perry and frankly, its easier to get blood from a stone than get him to do any homework.

Part of me feels like I would just be throwing money away by getting a tutor as I'm not sure he would bother to focus and appreciate how much its costing me but on the other hand I know life wont be easy without any decent qualifications too!

Thanks so much if you took the time to read all of this and any advice/comments would be most appreciated.

bruffin Sat 08-Feb-14 17:11:38

We used a maths tutor for A level last year and it was only £25.Thats border of london/herts.I would ask the school if they have any A level students who can help him which would be cheaper for you. Your ds may relate better to someone nearer his age.
We only used a tutor to boost revision ie ds told her what he needed help with and it was only a few lessons.

ihatethecold Sat 08-Feb-14 17:14:53

i have been using a friends dd who is at uni studying maths,
i pay her �15 per hour.
it has really helped my ds 13 to grasp algebra.

have you thought about using a student at all?

noblegiraffe Sat 08-Feb-14 17:24:56

As the statistics stood in 2009, before ks3 SATs were scrapped, only 25% of students who got a level 5 in Y9 went on to get a C at GCSE, and chances are, these were students who got a 5a.

I would expect that if he is a C/D borderline student when GCSEs come around he will have extra support from the school, but some sessions with a tutor now to identify his problem areas, boost his end of Y9 level, and possibly get him into a higher set in Y10 wouldn't be a waste of money.
You could ask the school if any of the maths teachers do tutoring on the side, which might be cheaper. Is he pupil premium? Sometimes this might qualify them for a bit of free tutoring.

RussianBlu Sat 08-Feb-14 18:01:40

Thanks everyone. I did, a couple of years ago, get him a university student who was taking maths but actually he didn't seem to really know what he was doing so I don't think that was very helpful.

I also tried one of those tuition centres that base their learning on the computer for about a year but again he didn't seem to make any progress.
He isn't pupil premium so I'm not sure he would get any extra help and I am not aware that he has received any extra help with anything.
Most homework is done online. He has had a good few weeks of either not receiving any homework or just not doing it due to not understanding what to do, but again, the teacher seems less than bothered.
I have found someone who says he specialises in helping students struggling with maths. I think maybe the prices are high (£40!!)due to my location. I am fairly central as far as London goes, though classed as Outer London!

I feel like tearing my hair out!

KayleeFrye Sat 08-Feb-14 18:05:50

I did a lot of maths tutoring of this age group when I was a postgrad student.

A student will be able to help, at much cheaper than �40ph, if what is needed is lots of practice of applying concepts he already understands, and if he will benefit from the 1:1 attention. however, sometimes I used to come across children who had managed to get to this age with no-one noticing that they didn't quite understand the concept of number. This is more common than you think and similar to a child who has learned to read using the look-and-say method who doesn't quite know how to tackle an entirely new word. If this has happened then I think you need to pay the higher rate to get a properly qualified teacher to help unpick where his understanding isn't linking up.

tess73 Sat 08-Feb-14 18:27:59

The first thing I would do, before paying a tutor, is to see if his mental arithmetic and times tables are sufficiently up to scratch. You can buy apps to work on these, squeebles is good though maybe a bit too childish. Or buy maths bond books, start at age 9-10 and assuming he is getting 85%+ then progress up. Or carol vorderman online maths, start at year 5 so it is fairly easy then work up.
My niece struggled with maths due to a combination of lack of understanding and poor teachers, she really doesn't know her tables and isn't too hot on adding/subtracting. Without these solid basics fractions, percentages, decimals etc will be very hard.

RussianBlu Sun 09-Feb-14 22:23:16

Thank you all. tess, you are right. I don't think he is solid in his basic maths concepts. I have workbooks coming out of my ears that I simply cannot get him to work from. I have decided (in a panic driven state when looking at his predicted end of year grades) to bite the bullet and phone the expensive tutor. He sounds very nice but is very booked up (I suppose that must be a good sign).
Anyway he is able to offer me a couple of sessions soon at a slightly cheaper rate (but not much) so I feel like I have to go for it. Perhaps I can then look into getting a student to help at a more affordable rate. I have not given him the bad news about how he will be spending 1 or 2 hours of his half term yet!!

CouthyMow Mon 10-Feb-14 02:25:23

If he's only at level 4a in maths in Y9, and you can afford a tutor, then I would do it. That equates to around the G grade my D d is going to get at the end of y11...

She was on lvl 4a in the middle of Y9.

Lvl 4a is more like an average Y5 level, isn't it? My DS2 is in middle set Maths at his Primary on that level. Not even top set Y5?!

richmal Mon 10-Feb-14 07:57:07

Online the Khan academy is free. It has tutorials on how to do the maths and sample questions to complete.

BBC bitesize is somewhere else you could try.

Also CGP and Letts do revision guides and workbooks.

RussianBlu Mon 10-Feb-14 19:43:44

Hi CouthyMow

Yes, I imagine he is shockingly low. I asked his maths teacher about it at parents evening, as I have done every year for who knows how long now. He didn't seem bothered, his paper doesn't show him as a red (as in well below level) but as a yellow (below level). He didn't seem to concerned about if he would need a tutor. I don't know, I can barely afford it but I think I have to make some sacrifices!

longingforsomesleep Mon 10-Feb-14 20:17:00

We're outer London and my ds has a maths tutor from Personal Tutors who charges £25 per hour. He's very good.

CouthyMow Mon 10-Feb-14 20:52:18

I'm doing a Maths GCSE myself, and I second the recommendation for the Khan Academy clips on YouTube. I was posted that way by my 23yo DBro!

RussianBlu Mon 10-Feb-14 21:28:10

Thanks for that, I had looked at the Khan Academy pages briefly a while ago so I will revisit them. We have access to mymaths which I think could be a very good tool for revision as well, but its the old 'you can lead a horse to water but you cant make it drink' problem that I have.

Thanks for the recommendation for Personal Tutors longingforsomesleep. What sort of background does their maths tutors tend to have?

longingforsomesleep Mon 10-Feb-14 22:04:05

Russian - if you google their website each tutor has a profile (I don't work for them by the way!).

To be fair the tutor we have isn't a qualified teacher and some people think that is best. But my ds was a bit anti having a tutor and he relates really well to the one I chose. He's in his early/mid twenties, plays the same sports as ds and, as luck would have it, went to the same school.

pointythings Wed 12-Feb-14 13:41:41

Couthy 4a is a smidge above what is expected at the end of Yr6, so not average in Yr5. But very low for Yr9, I agree the OP's DS needs help.

I remember you though, your DSs are maths wizards! smile

DD1 has done some stuff on Khan Academy and has found it really helpful - so have I, it really clarifies concepts I'd forgotten about given that secondary maths is a long time ago for me.

CouthyMow Wed 12-Feb-14 16:20:33

I don't have 'average' DC's when it comes to Maths...I'm probably a bit skewed because DD is working in a G grade at GCSE in Y11, so very behind, and my DS's all seem to have very mathematical minds. So it's hard for me yo judge I guess - OP's DS is ahead of where DD is now, and he's only in Y9, she's Y11, but he's behind my Y5 DS2... And we'll ignore DS1 as he IS an outlier in the truest sense as his maths skills are basically off the top if the charts!

tess73 Wed 12-Feb-14 17:47:47

CouthyMow how are you doing a maths GCSE? I started a distance learning a level last year but need to revisit GCSE first as it was WAY out of my league!

RussianBlu Sat 15-Feb-14 10:03:45

Thanks for the views everyone. I do find it odd that his maths teacher was nonplussed about his level if it is very low for where he should be. I myself got a D in maths as I just couldn't get my head round some of the concepts but back then there was no internet and no maths websites offering step by step help. It winds me up that my son has access to all of this plus the fact that I am willing to cut back on things to get a tutor sometimes and he makes no use of it. I dread to think where he would be if he had been at school with me!

afromom Sat 15-Feb-14 10:26:20

Schools tend to look more at levels of progress for the individual child, as opposed to where they should be for their intake.

IIRC in year 9 they should achieve a level 6, which at this time if year your DS is unlikely to get. Therefore the school will be more concerned about the levels of progress that he has made since Yr6 SATS. So for example, if he is now a 4a and he was a 2a at Yr6 SATS he would have made the 2 sub levels of progress (6 in total) over each of the 3 years. The teachers chart that he showed you with red, yellow, etc, probably means that he hasn't made the 6 levels of progress required, but possibly 4/5 levels. Do you remember where he was at Yr6 SATS? Possible a 3a/3b?

It is not right at all that they are not helping him to up his skills and eventually work towards achieving a C grade, but perhaps they may put more work in over the next 2 years to help him, working from the SATS results that the children get this year.

I would ask to speak with his teacher and find out what areas he feels are lacking, which would help the tutor with more information and also help you to locate the type of activities that will help him. If the teacher is still unconcerned and indifferent I would be wanting to speak to the head of dept and let them know that you are on board with supporting your DS to achieve a C grade and expect the school to keep you up to date with his progress as you are not happy for him to 'coast'.

OddBoots Sat 15-Feb-14 10:30:04

I'm not sure if you have seen this thread?

We've not got started yet (my ds has an assessment booked for Monday) but a few others have and have reported back.

MrsRuffdiamond Sat 15-Feb-14 10:40:01

I always find myself recommending BBC Bitesize, and I'm not on commission, honest!

We've found it really useful, as it covers all the basics in really manageable chunks, and because it's on the computer, appeals to children/teens in a way textbooks never seem to!

It's not just for GCSE/A Level. The KS3 syllabus is covered, as is KS2, if you think revision at that level would be helpful.

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