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Common Entrance grading

(21 Posts)
inthename Wed 04-Jun-14 01:58:07

Sorry in advance if this is a bit long!

Ds is in yr 7 of a prep school. They've just done what they call 'end of year 7' exams where for the maths exams they used Level 1 CE papers.

Ds is in mixed bottom/middle set after they moved him down from the top set after the end of the first term in year 7, still haven't been given a reason why and other children have continually scored lower in assessments yet remained in the top group. He finds the pace of this group agonisingly slow and finds the teacher delivers lengthy explanations with no opportunities to practise what is being taught as there always seems to be someone asking a question which the teacher then allows to dictate the pace at which everybody is working.
Ds is very frustrated by this and has been asking to go back to the other group.

Anyway, the exam was before half term. Today he has been told that he scored a 'C' on the level 1 papers. Can anyone give me a proper idea how these are marked?
I've got a meeting with his teacher as she wants to 'discuss a way forward'
Ds is distraught, keeps saying hes stupid and has no confidence left at all. Hes a level 5A in national curriculum terms so its not that he can't do the maths.
I'd really appreciate some ideas for boosting his confidence and letting him prove himself with a teacher who serms determined to not listen when hes tried to explain his problems with others dragging the pace back and hugely lengthy explanations and also what i can say to the teacher as nothing seems to get through the 'hes definitely in the right group' attitude when unfortunately he really isn't

summerends Wed 04-Jun-14 06:23:49

I don't want to appear gloomy but level 1 CE maths at the end of year 7 is very basic indeed, (you could look up what he needs to know on the ISEB website) so showing that he does not grasp basic concepts or is making lots of careless mistakes with simple sums.
He should n't be doing that badly even with little time to practise in the lesson. He may have got himself into panic mode with maths tests after previous experience. However there is no way he can be moved up sets with that result.
I think you need to have his paper to hand to go through with the teacher and find out if he can do it for homework (outside exam conditions).
Remembering his previous history with maths, he needs some urgent remedial action over the summer to get back his confidence to tackle perhaps CE level 2 next year or get a good level 1. He however has to put the effort in for lots of extra practise outside the lessons using for example mymaths and it sounds as though he has not been doing that this year.
Most children take level 2/3 CE (discounting scholarship level) for maths.

happygardening Wed 04-Jun-14 07:15:14

I believe a C is between 50-60% which on a level 1 CE maths paper is pretty low. Even schools generally considered not very selective would want at level 2 at CE for math and at least 50%.

AuntieStella Wed 04-Jun-14 07:28:14

Is your preferred school a CE one?

Do you already have a conditional offer? If so, what sort of mark does he need?

cakeisalwaystheanswer Wed 04-Jun-14 10:31:56

The problem with CE is that there are no defined grade boundaries each school sets their own. There can also be differences in how generously each school marks.

I would ignore the SAT level marks, my DD is Y6 and is assessed at a level 5a for maths, she decided not to do the extra classes for the level 6 paper. I am actually shocked at how basic the maths required to get this grade is, Her maths is nowhere near as good as her brothers at this age and he wasn't considered particularly mathematical. DD would not be able to do a level 1 CE maths paper, she hasn't covered half the topics.

On the bright side the CE maths paper is incredibly formulaic. The first set of questions are significant numbers, the format and questions never change just the numbers which go into it. Familiarising your DS with this format by going through old papers will make a huge difference to his grades. There may also be areas of maths he hasn't covered yet which you can pick up on. You can get old papers from Galore Park or from his school. Galore Park also have lots of CE maths practice books, I have some here and can ISBN you if necessary as they are cheaper on Amazon.

LIZS Wed 04-Jun-14 10:38:41

NC is an irrelevance to CE. Does his next school require CE and if so what sort of % ? If they have already covered all the topics is Year8 spent on revision , in which case he could make significant progress, or do they aim to teach his set to a higher level paper ? ds was in lowest maths set at his prep school but still got a scholarship to his secondary, partly because his exam technique is good so he could tackle much of the higher level part of the maths entrance tests even though he isn't naturally mathematical.

inthename Wed 04-Jun-14 11:36:22

Thanks everybody. His senior school options both need 55% - 60% at level 2 minimum.
Sitting down with the teacher, the papers and the mark schemes tomorrow because he has been doing level 2 and 3 papers as homework so this really doesn't make sense. At the moment its looking like he got 70% each for the calculator and non calculator and then totally messed up the mental maths which presumably pulled his score down.
He hates maths now, is extremely reluctant to do any extra bits because they seem to miss all the fun stuff when they give them extra and I need some way of getting his confidence back.
Will see what she says tomorrow

summerends Wed 04-Jun-14 12:01:51

Sounds as though he was panicked in the mental maths but does understand the concepts. He could nail it with lots of practice of the basic operations over the holidays so the mental maths become instinctive even when not thinking clearly.

happygardening Wed 04-Jun-14 12:39:56

It's all becoming very unfortunate once he starts hating math if your not careful it's a bit of a downward spiral. Although I agree much of CE marking is subjective I would have thought it's harder to be subjective for math. You do need to check that his current set will prepare him for level 2 if that what your chosen future school is wanting.
I personally in the circumstances might leave it for a while I would have thought he still has time to get the mark you want, stop practicing papers for a while, just back off and maybe restart in September? Others might disagree it's just an idea.
Has he been to see his future possible senior schools liked them and knows what the requirements are maybe this would help to inspire him?

Clavinova Wed 04-Jun-14 14:14:12

September might be too late - I don't think the op's ds has a conditional offer at senior school - so entrance exams in January?
Try - the teaching section has revision for CE maths and English with links to maths videos on You Tube.
Always the best advice to improve maths is practice - even just 30 minutes a day over the summer holidays should help. Can you test him with 5 mental maths questions per day as well? Does he know his times tables?

happygardening Wed 04-Jun-14 16:01:30

The OP posted very recently about Kings Taunton so I assumed, maybe incorrectly, that's where she's aiming for according to their website 13+ admission is by CE so quite a lot of time.
I know I'm a slack parent but I personally wouldn't want my DS to spend 1/2 an hour a day over the summer holidays practicing math however weak he might be, perhaps a couple of private lessons before he goes back in September then work on it through yr 8. He's only 12 he needs to enjoy his holiday.

summerends Wed 04-Jun-14 17:46:51

Although I would also classify myself as a slack parent I think it is a high risk strategy to leave any extra practice until year 8 especially as the maths teaching has not helped his confidence so far and inthename's DS needs to know that he will be comfortable with tackling level 2 papers by the end of the first term as otherwise other school options need to be considered if the first choice schools are fixed in their requirements.

happygardening Wed 04-Jun-14 18:12:18

You all are right! Lots of practice is probably the right way forward!
OP I don't quite understand your comment "is extremely reluctant to do the extra bits because they seem to miss all the fun stuff when they give my extra"
What "fun stuff" are we talking about here? Fun math stuff? I'm not sure how "fun" math is at this level, most children will be expected to take it quite seriously by yr 7/8.
Perhaps he just needs to grow up a bit and just get on with it. Following your other thread about Kings Taunton I suspect he doesn't know yet which school he's going onto, this might not help him especially if all of his friends know where they're heading. Most 13+ prep school children by now have a pretty shrewd idea of what CE mark they're aiming for at their chosen school, many will have already confirmed their place by paying a substantial deposit. Some will have a couple of options but these are likely to be school A if you're likely to get X in CE or school B if after some discussion with the head realistically your more likely to get Y but decisions are really being made now, the results summer exams are often one of the deciding factors. IME by the beginning of yr 8 it's pretty much decided! Many prep school children have grown out of their preps by yr 8, the up and coming move is a big thing for them, God knows it's been talked about ad infinitum and most can't wait to go into the bigger environment and make new friends etc. If he doesn't know where he's off too because you haven't found the right school yet this gives him nothing to aim for or to look forward too. It must be hard for him to be motivated if decisions haven't yet been made.

inthename Wed 04-Jun-14 19:39:22

Thanks again everyone. 2 of the schools hes registered for do entrance tests in January followed by CE in May, Kings just do CE but require 60% average. The other subjects are no problem, hes been A/B on all assessments since year 5 on level 2 papers. The annoying part is thar this has been rumbling for a while and suddenly they say he doesn't know his tables. The maths department has been in a bit of disarray as successive teachers have gone on maternity leave and the 'cover' teachers haven't worked out.
HG - by 'fun stuff' I mean they tend to take them out of DT; music, Art etc to do extra maths.

happygardening Wed 04-Jun-14 19:51:50

That's a bit mean OP can't they get HM to do the extra work at other times?

summerends Wed 04-Jun-14 21:40:59

That tactic of missing the fun activities is not the best way to endear maths to the children who need the most encouragement! Reminds of a story I heard from a friend concerning a junior school which kept children in at break to complete work they had n't managed to do in the lesson (not just those who messed around). The children concerned managed to work out that they were better off rushing the tasks and handing in their sheets full of mistakes than trying to be careful but risking being a bit slow.

inthename Wed 04-Jun-14 22:31:07

My feelings exactly summer; meeting tomorrow, expect it will be a lot of 'attitude is a barrier to learning' type speak; if so i'll do the concrete practise and leave them to their theories.

inthename Thu 05-Jun-14 10:27:33

OK, have had meeting. Hes definitely staying in thr bottom group (which hes not going to be happy about but they will be doing the explaining on that one)
His marks were 70% non calculator, 59% calculator and 7/20 mental maths. This is a level 1 paper. Then she really confused me by talking about 8% they have to take off for some reason which puts him around 50% overall.
Then she said that he seems to be finding difficult ways to do simple sums and other things like fractions where hes not remembering the method correctly.
So, its obviously going to be practise practise, but how on earth to motivate a 12 yr old when things like 'mymaths' are 'boring' has anyone bought out a maths computer programme thats actually interesting??

Needmoresleep Thu 05-Jun-14 12:21:58

CE is boring. There are no two ways about it. My son was bored to tears for most of Yr 8 as they revised and revised.

I suspect there is a need at any stage of a school career to keep a watchful eye on progress and be prepared, if need be, to step in and fix it. It might be about the child, eg a child who falls behind in English because of undiagnosed dyslexia. It might be about the teaching. Going back a few years but the whole of a Yr 7 CE maths set were struggling at one school. All but one of the parents hired a tutor (the same one). All but one of the students got the grade they needed at CE. The school then went on to address the teaching problem but it would have been too late for this group.

Try Galore Park "So you really want to Learn Maths." As well as being a text book it is designed to support those doing supplementary home study for CE.

Maths is crucial. Schools might not mind you missing a grade in something like geography, but will worry if a child is struggling in what is such a core subject, which forms the basis for other learning, eg science. Regardless of CE, if he has gaps in his understanding or technique, now is probably the time to try to fix it.

inthename Thu 05-Jun-14 12:44:32

Thanks; will look at the galore park one. I've got a feeling that a similar thing has happened with my ds year 7, with my ds being the one without the tutor!
The teaching side has definitely taken a nose dive this year so I'm going to make use of the time between now and september to know that I've sorted this out properly.

summerends Thu 05-Jun-14 12:59:30

Might be worth starting another thread asking for programme or app that is good for lots of practice of simplish maths. There is another one that the my DCs' school gave access to which they enjoyed called mathletics.

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