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Son being allowed to coast in maths secondary school?

(21 Posts)
Collaborate Thu 09-Jul-15 11:02:49

My son is finishing year 8. We got his assessment results last week and generally they are very good.

The question I have relates to maths. With others in his primary school he got a GCSE grade C. Around a dozen or so kids got tuition from a part-time teacher and for the past 3 years the school have entered those kids in to the lower paper (the best they can achieve is a C). He also got a level 6 in his SATS. He really loved his maths, as he had an enthusiastic teacher and he was stretched.

At the start of his secondary education we were worried that he would be allowed to coast. We spoke to his maths teacher and she explained that he and some others would be given some advanced work when the rest of the class is dealing with stuff my son had already covered, but that some of the syllabus consisted of work that would be new to him. At the end of year 7 he was assessed as a 7a.

This year he has also got a 7a. However he did not have the opportunity to sit a level 8 paper, and the additional work he was given in year 7 appears to have tailed off or disappeared.

While he likes to be stretched, he will slack given the opportunity.

I can't see that it would take 5 years for them to move him on from a GCSE C to an A. If they take 5 years to progress that far I can see him losing interest in the subject.

I'm going to try and speak to either the head teacher or the head of year/maths to see if they can address these concerns, but on the face of it, do I have a point? He's made really good progress in other areas, and it is just maths and science where he appears to have made no progress at all.

Sorry about the length of this post. Thanks in advance if anyone has anything to say about it.

Cloud2 Thu 09-Jul-15 12:46:13

GCSE math is quite simple, for able student, they can be taught quickly but what can they do for the rest of the years if they finish the GCSE math at year 8 or year 9?

Maybe you can ask school to suggest resource to stretch you DS. I think there are lots of staff on line which you can find yourself. Does school provide opportunities like math challenge etc?

Collaborate Thu 09-Jul-15 13:00:12

Thanks for replying.

He did the maths challenge last year and this. Last year he got by some margin highest out of years 7&8 and this year he got through to the following round, albeit on a lower score. I don't think he got extra tuition for that though.

You're right of course that he needs something to do each year. But surely a school is meant to stretch its pupils?

noblegiraffe Thu 09-Jul-15 13:13:06

Wow, your primary school entering them for GCSE was a complete waste of time and given that only first attempts count for the league tables I'm not sure his Y11 grade will count for the school at all. Not sure you should bring that up though as they then have no incentive to improve his maths at all!

He might have got a higher level if he sat the 6-8 paper so it might not be that he has made no progress, rather that they haven't actually measured it properly.

But certainly phone the school and ask why his level is static. Next year I imagine the teaching for the new GCSE will kick in and there is lots there to keep him busy as it's much harder than the one he sat in primary school.

Collaborate Thu 09-Jul-15 13:33:30

Thanks. Good to hear that the syllabus is getting harder.

I heard something a year or so back that the first one not counting only applied to those sat when in Secondary School? Not sure anyway, but it's an interesting point you make.

Lonecatwithkitten Thu 09-Jul-15 13:39:43

They are unlikely to want him to take it early as many universities are now only counting the 10 best GCSEs taken at the same time. But yes he should be stretched.

catslife Thu 09-Jul-15 14:13:15

Your ds is in Y8 now so will have sat a Foundation stage GCSE in June 2013. The changes only apply to pupils taking a GCSE after September 2013 so your son should be OK. But really hope the primary school is't continuing with this practice as it's going to cause a problem for local secondary schools. There is nothing on this link to suggest a minimum age for the first GCSE taken.
For KS3 there are several types of paper but most pupils would be taking level 5 to 7 and some the level 6 to 8 but they may not have made pupils aware which papers they were taking. Achieving level 7a on the 6-8 paper may show progress if he did the other paper last year as the questions would be harder iyswim.

Collaborate Thu 09-Jul-15 14:56:53

Ah, thanks for that catslife. We're prepared for there to be a simple explanation like that, but really want to engage with the teachers and just find out a bit more about what my monosyllabic grunt is doing.

My daughter has just taken her maths GCSE. Maybe I ought to raise it with the head of her primary school? I suppose she could always get a new exam ID number.

TeenAndTween Thu 09-Jul-15 15:08:23

OP Why is the primary entering kids for maths GCSE?
To me it seems pointless unless they are expecting them to get an A*, which they aren't as they are only going in for the foundation paper.

To me it seems to be for the school/parents boasting, rather than of being any benefit for the child.

SueDunome Thu 09-Jul-15 15:25:04

Why did you allow your ds to take GCSE Maths at Primary school? Do you realise that he will have to declare the result on his UCAS form if he wants to go to Uni; any higher grade he may achieve in the future will be classed as a second attempt.

YeOldTrout Thu 09-Jul-15 15:31:03

I think that could be explained in a personal statement.
Our DC now in yr8 will doing the new style GCSEs that have 9 as top grade, not an A or even A*. It seems to me that a 9 will equate to something like an A**. Also, some schools will still offer further maths which may mean a GCSE in stats as well as an As in calculus (my yr10 is on this path).

School said that DS could have passed science GCSE in yr6 but he'll get a better grade by waiting until yr11.

YeOldTrout Thu 09-Jul-15 15:32:51

(presuming OP's DS is at private school now): the real pain is having to pay for taking the GCSE in math again. Actually, that's probably why private schools tend to aim for only 9 GCSEs, not 10-13 GCSEs. Parents won't be enthusiastic about paying all the exam fees.

SueDunome Thu 09-Jul-15 16:04:50

An A** grade already exists for GCSE Further Maths.

Collaborate Thu 09-Jul-15 17:51:06

Both kids are at state schools.

The kids really enjoyed sitting the exams. They wouldn't have put them in for it if they'd have felt they were borderline.

I hear what you all say though and we have been concerned about it being more for the benefit of the school than the children.

I shall enquire about further maths as something my son could do.

My daughter got in to the local grammar school so I'd expect her to be more stretched.

Thanks all for replying.

YeOldTrout Thu 09-Jul-15 18:50:49

oops, my mistake. I never before heard of state primaries putting kids in for GCSEs. Is it more common than I think? Did you have to pay for the exam, OP? Is it an affluent area?

Collaborate Thu 09-Jul-15 20:07:24

The school is in an affluent area and gets near the top or at the top of the local tables, but we didn't have to pay for the entries.

We were told that we have to provide their secondary schools with their candidate numbers otherwise they would lose their history of exam success. Maybe the answer is to conveniently "forget" to pass this on.

noblegiraffe Thu 09-Jul-15 20:23:03

How utterly bizarre. I think the secondary schools will tell them to pack it in when they realise it might affect their league table positions. Entering early for GCSE to only get a C is such a waste of time. All the maths organisations are against acceleration for bright pupils, in favour of enrichment.

I expect they'll stop it when the new gcse kicks in anyway.

Sobek Fri 10-Jul-15 19:44:10

Maybe you could ask the primary school whether they informed the secondary about the GCSE already taken. If not, you might be best to keep quiet about it. Your son is obviously extremely bright and I can understand that you are worried about him not being stretched. Is there a local grammar school for boys? Would you consider moving him?

Collaborate Fri 10-Jul-15 20:16:14

He failed the entrance exam for the grammar. We would consider moving him there but it's heavily over subscribed (7 applicants for each place).

We now have meetings lined up with the teachers next week. Onwards and upwards.

RedHelenB Sat 11-Jul-15 13:48:20

Maybe if he failed to get into the grammar he should concentrate on the other subjects. Personally, I think it's great to find something super easy as you have more time to devote to subjects you find harder. So my dd needed to do no maths revision and spend the time on other subjects.

PastSellByDate Tue 14-Jul-15 00:00:16

Hi collaborate:

I'm in a very similar situation with DD1 who is slightly out of kilter and exceptionally able in maths but more ordinary in other subjects.

I've also posted -and was given all sorts of good advice.

Our working solution is currently to do more maths through a variety of free on-line resources:

Corbett Maths 5 a day - GCSE review questions with worked answers: - you can chose the level of difficulty - this site also has instructional videos

NRICH Maths puzzles: - you can send in your answers and if they're correct they'll post them on-line.

Khan academy: - just select maths - very useful for videos on calculation techniques/ review of explanation on how to perform calculations.

Centre for Improved Maths Teaching, Plymouth - Mathematics Enhancement Programme - workbooks & videos. & scroll down to secondary. You have to write in to get the password for answers (which are not worked) - but we've found this useful to give DD1 practise opportunity (as she finishes all worksheets in class - so tends to have no homework). We've turned to this for regular, extra practice - and it is also covering topics just not covered this year in Year 7 at DD1's school.


It's not an ideal solution - and my own maths skills sort of lose the plot around the time sine/ cosine get involved, but fortunately the internet means there are resources out there to explain, reinforce and challenge.

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