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Year 11 struggling with GCSE

(19 Posts)
SarahE15 Thu 10-Mar-16 19:55:27

Hi I am new to this site but hope someone can help.

My daughter is suffering with anxiety issues over exams etc in Year 11. Her grades have taken a real nose dive since last year as the school has changed to an Academy and most of her teachers that she is doing GCSE's in have left so she has had to deal with new teachers and new ways of learning. She is meant to be doing higher level Math's, English and doing Triple Science. Her grades have now dropped to a predicted D in maths and English. She wants to take these exams at a Foundation level as she knows how much she is struggling to keep up. After talking with her head of year today she has said it will be the decision of her teachers for those subjects whether they move her down. Surely it must be her choice and ours? If she doesnt get the C's she will have to keep re-sitting them at 6th Form which means she wont be able to do as many A levels or BTEC's.

Has anyone got any information or advce about this?

noblegiraffe Thu 10-Mar-16 20:11:45

Decisions about appropriate tier of entry are actually quite tricky and should definitely be something that teachers advise on.

I'm a maths teacher. The decision about whether to enter a borderline student for Foundation or Higher comes down to which paper the student is more likely to get a C on. A student who has been taught higher would be aiming towards getting 30% on a difficult paper. They would have been focusing on C and some B grade topics to try to get them over the line. They have to be the sort of kid who isn't daunted by a paper they can't answer most of.

Foundation isn't the easy option for a borderline kid. Foundation kids need to remember things that higher students haven't practiced in a long time. They need to get a high percentage of questions correct and can't afford to make silly mistakes. It takes a certain mental endurance to get through the paper.

A lot of maths teachers would say that it is easier for a borderline kid to get a C on the higher paper.

If your DD is desperate to swap, she needs to show it's the best option for her to get a C - sitting past papers in strict test conditions as evidence. She would also need to accept that she is writing off any chance of a B.

SusanAndBinkyRideForth Thu 10-Mar-16 20:18:42

I'm a science teacher and agree with Noblegiraffe. So I won't repeat it.

Your DD might well benefit with some help with the anxiety though. That can make a huge difference in an exam. Some mindfulness or just calming exercises will also help during revision - a panicked student will procrastinate and not learn it revise well.
She still has time to pull her grades up but needs to put in some work. Proper revision techniques and calm can do wonders.

Good luck to her smile

SarahE15 Thu 10-Mar-16 20:19:39

Having gone through her mock exams she is not only daunted it's affecting her moods her capacity to study and feel that her well being is being affected. It's as if she has shut down and is of the opinion that she simply cannot do the exam. As parents we have contacted the school and are trying to encourage and motivate her as much as possible but her whole demeanour is that of someone who is defeated already.

SusanAndBinkyRideForth Thu 10-Mar-16 20:25:20

Oh dear sad

Well that is the most important thing to address then in my opinion. You need to bring her mood back up, tackle the lack of confidence, and then address revision and catch up as appropriate. Poor lass.
Would a tutor help or be feasible? Could you have a word with her subject teachers about the lack of confidence? Use revision workbooks at home with her?

SusanAndBinkyRideForth Thu 10-Mar-16 20:26:42

Sorry, didn't read your post properly (2 yo is being a bedtime resister!)

SarahE15 Thu 10-Mar-16 20:30:14

We have been to the doctors and they referred her to the internet to look at self help techniques for anxiety and also to try using Bach Rescue remedy before going into exams. Will be contacting the school again on Monday (closed for teacher training tomorrow) to discuss it further. She has always wanted to go into Nursing so getting good grades for these exams is essential.

SusanAndBinkyRideForth Thu 10-Mar-16 20:33:26

I hope she finds something that works for her. If I may, can I suggest that she makes sure she does something fun, life-affirming and non school related every day in the Easter holidays as well as some revision smile

HamptonHogwarts Fri 11-Mar-16 07:07:17

Hi, I'm an English teacher and private coach, with loads of experience in all sectors, and former GCSE examiner. All I can say is that so much can be done over the Easter break to turn results around. Probably too late for coursework now, but a lot of the weaknesses stem from under confidence and lack of sustained past paper practice. Which is where tutoring can help. I am seeing this sad situation all too often...stupid school managements bullying our staff, who leave before being pushed, rapid teacher turnover, so the poor students get totally confused and a bit behind. It can all be worked on. Do PM me for more advice.

SarahE15 Fri 11-Mar-16 07:40:19

Thank you HamptonHogwarts for that information I certainly will PM you today.

HamptonHogwarts Fri 11-Mar-16 07:53:27

Hooray! Look forward to chatting further.😀👍

catslife Fri 11-Mar-16 08:37:12

I have a child in Y11. I agree with the other posters that moving down a tier may not necessarily be the best solution for your dd. Most dcs who are C/D borderline at this stage are still entered for Higher tier for Maths/Science as they can do the grade C questions on the Higher paper successfully. dds school offers booster sessions for pupils who are on the C/D borderline but if this type of support isn't available in school you may need to look for other support such as private tuition for the key subjects.
Have you considered swapping from Triple science to Double? That could help reduce the number of exams and hence the stress levels. It would be better to have 2 higher grades for double science than 3 lower grades. (For nursing you need Cs in Double Science and it is not essential to take Triple).

TeenAndTween Fri 11-Mar-16 12:03:26

If she is at risk of failing both Maths and English, you do need to look carefully at what she might do next year, and make sure you have back up plans in place. Even if she scrapes the Cs, A levels may not be the most appropriate option.

There is quite a lot of maths in Physics - how is she getting on with that?

Do you believe it is anxiety or ability or both?

I needed to take a very hands on approach with DD1's GCSEs last year. We agreed a revision schedule that was manageable, and she had every afternoon off to go out for a walk or some other exercise (except when she had an afternoon exam of course).

Have you seen her exam timetable for the summer? Is there a less important subject she is also struggling with which by dropping would free up revision time and make the time around English and Maths clearer?
(Possibly better 2 Cs for English and Maths, than C for XYZ and Ds for English and Maths)

DD1 dropped history after mocks (various extenuating circumstances and there was no way she was ever going to pass it). The time freed up meant that she did manage to scrape a pass in her English Lang (loads and loads of work on technique required), and I believe helped her 2 sciences go up a grade each too (as more time available to understand and revise).

I do think for both subjects you need to understand whether it is her understanding/ability that is the issue, or panicking/timing in exam. Then you will know what to focus on.

HamptonHogwarts Fri 11-Mar-16 12:59:28

All good advice. I think a lot can be done, though, with an intensive burst and weekend follow up. Study leave comes in jolly handy too! This rapid turnover of staff is a national disgrace. I really feel for this situation - it is becoming all too common.

greenbloom Fri 11-Mar-16 20:46:21

Please don't let her panic. There is lots that can be done in a short space of time. I would suggest helping her to take charge of her of learning by using the exam boards websites to figure out grade boundaries, mark schemes and what is likely to come up. A good private tutor also can do wonders for confidence and exam technique in a very short space of time. I tutor English privately and have seen amazing things happen in the space of only a few sessions.

I'm an English teacher and I agree with what has been said upthread. Please don't believe that a move to the foundation paper will help. If she'd borderline C/D she's arguably more likely to get a C on the higher than the foundation.

Do you know which exam board she's doing and what her controlled assessment marks are? This might help us give specific advice.

If you'd like to PM me so that you don't give too much identifying information here then do feel free to.

marmiteloversunite Fri 11-Mar-16 21:08:08

Hi. My DD is yr11 too and tends to panic/worry. I found the Paul McKenna book about worrying was helpful. It comes with a cd which she downloaded and put on her phone. It has relaxation exercises which she listens to before bed to calm her down. Might be worth a try. Sure there are cheap copies on eBay but you do need the cd part. She didn't really read much of the book. Good luck.

marmiteloversunite Fri 11-Mar-16 21:08:42

Hi. My DD is yr11 too and tends to panic/worry. I found the Paul McKenna book about worrying was helpful. It comes with a cd which she downloaded and put on her phone. It has relaxation exercises which she listens to before bed to calm her down. Might be worth a try. Sure there are cheap copies on eBay but you do need the cd part. She didn't really read much of the book. Good luck.

Anxiousmum11 Fri 11-Mar-16 21:57:19

There is a free online maths tutor online whom you can ask questions and he will answer them for you. He replies quite promptly and he's really good. Check out his website:
FB page:

Hope this helps. Good luck!

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