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Can anyone suggest ways to help DS1 with GCSE English

(14 Posts)
OpenMe Sun 17-Jan-16 12:28:41

He was always "good" at English. A early reader, got high 5s in yr 6 SATS and reads voluntarily for upwards of an hour every day, but doesn't seem to have progressed in secondary schoo. Now, in year 10, he's predicted level 4 in the new GCSE next year.

I asked his English teacher what the problem is, what he needs to do better and how we can help and I don't really feel that I've had a proper answer, although of course appreciate he's on one of several children etc etc.

Teacher has told me that in his last two assessments, for language analysis he scores 2/8 and for a critical response to a text he got 6/20 because, although it's clear he understands the text, he's not including enough detail/ideas in his answers. She hasn't told me what specifically he needs to change or made any suggestions for things we can do at home (which I asked for)

He knows he's not producing enough detail but he doesn't seem to know what he needs to do differently- he didn't get these assessments back to review and hasn't been provided with "good" answers to compare his work and see how it could have been improved. For the literature piece he says he was given a template to complete and he filled each section, so he is writing something, obviously not with enough quality but, he says, he doesn't know what to change IYSWIM.

He and I are at a loss as to how to help him improve. Does anyone have any suggestions? AIBU to expect a bit more support from the teacher?

I know it should be down to him, but it's (a bit) heartbreaking to see that he wants to improve but doesn't know how and doesn't seem to be getting support form school. What would you do in my shoes?

noblegiraffe Sun 17-Jan-16 12:33:37

I'd hire a tutor if I could afford it.

OpenMe Sun 17-Jan-16 13:11:45

Yes, that's certainly something I'm considering but I don't think I could do it long term , so when's the best time to do it? Now, or closer to the exams? How do I find a good one?!

lljkk Sun 17-Jan-16 13:20:28

Mine was told to give more Quotes, examples from the text he's analyzing. Then we had a chat about assertion-evidence-assertion-evidence....

My gives good analysis, though. I wonder if you could ask for copy of his exam paper or find old ones online, & go thru critically examining it together. Maybe yours just needs more practice at critical thinking skills?

noblegiraffe Sun 17-Jan-16 13:23:06

It depends on how long you could afford it for. Decent tutors are probably fully booked at the moment with Y11, so waiting till June once GCSEs have finished to find one would be better than looking now. Word of mouth is the best way to find one, asking the school for recommendations is another. Tutor agencies are expensive.

If you leave it till Y11, don't wait till after mocks because again, the best tutors will get booked up early.

In the meantime, it's pretty unacceptable that his teacher isn't giving him clear feedback on how to improve. He should at least be getting his assessments back to look over properly. Can you email his teacher asking for some clear points to work on?
I'm not an English teacher but I imagine that there are lots of resources on the Internet, exemplar answers and so on that your DS could work on. He should set aside some time each week to work on his English.

It's baffling that a high level 5 student is being allowed to head towards a grade 4. This will look awful in the new league table measures!

mummytime Sun 17-Jan-16 14:53:24

His teacher may teach a lot of students but they should be able to give personalised feedback to each of them, especially someone like your son who sounds as if any reasonable monitoring system should be flagging up as "underachieving".
I would look around for a good tutor now, if only to give him a couple of one off assessments and to diagnose where the problems may lie. If you know any English teachers you might even be able to persuade them to do this as a "special favour" although I'd still offer to pay etc.

There are quite good study guides out there, which can help.

snozzlemaid Sun 17-Jan-16 14:59:23

My ds watched a lot of videos on YouTube by Mr Bruff. He found him really helpful and said he has a really good way of explaining what is needed for the exams.

decisionsdecisions123 Sun 17-Jan-16 15:18:06

Just had a look at Mr. Bruff, had never heard of him. Thank you!

RE finding a tutor, try trawling through Gumtree and searching for an actual teacher who is teaching year 10 and pref focussing on the exam body your son is taking his exam through? Wont be cheap though but through experience you get what you pay for.

jeanne16 Sun 17-Jan-16 15:28:09

I spent a lot of time working through the Mr Bruff document with my DS in preparation for the Language exam. It was very helpful. Also I would suggest helping him to prepare for his controlled assessments as these count for 40% of the Language paper. This can make all the difference.

TitusAndromedon Sun 17-Jan-16 15:36:44

Just to clarify some things, there are no controlled assessments in the new spec. The grades are entirely exam based. In addition, it is unlikely that the teacher has many resources because the exam boards have not provided them. It is very difficult to provide examples of good answers when, as a teacher, you're flying blind! However, he should be getting substantial feedback and targets for improvement, and I also think his target grade should be higher based on his prior attainment. I would contact the head of department for suggestions.

EllenJanethickerknickers Sun 17-Jan-16 15:59:10

My DS credits Mr Bruff for his unexpected A grades in English Language and Lit.

bookwormA1 Sun 17-Jan-16 16:01:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ravenAK Sun 17-Jan-16 16:06:39

Mr Bruff is good; also Mr McCarey from the Cooper school. Both on YouTube.

enderwoman Sun 17-Jan-16 16:36:46

Have you seen the test that the teacher was referring to?

My children are taught acronyms for analysing text. I think it was PEE (Point-Evidence-Explain?) BBC Bitesize English should explain this sort of stuff.

They also learned common sense points like a 8 mark question should take twice as long as a 4 mark question, it's ok to skip a question and return to it or even complete the last question first and the first question last as sometimes the marks are concentrated in the last questions.

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