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Really need help please. DS ill. AS levels very soon

(23 Posts)
dahliaa Sat 07-May-16 23:08:04

I would really appreciate some advice. DS is in year 12 and has been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Seen by GP then Cahms and due to see psychologist this week.
He is 17 and this is the first time he had this type of illness.
There had been some improvement but sadly since last weekend he has been suffering from severe anxiety and panic attacks and has been unable to school.
AS level exams start next week.
Like many schools his turfs you out if you don't pass all exams at the end of year 12.
School know about illness and have been supportive however they won't give any guarantees at this stage if they will a/ either look at his results more leniently or b/ offer him a place to resist year 12.
I really couldn't care less if he never sits another exam - just want him to be well. But DS does really want to stay on and I do think it would be good for him to have the guarantee of another year in a familiar place with his friends while he recovers.
Obviously the uncertainty re next year is not helping his anxiety.
Just to avoid drip feeding. DS is very well liked by teachers at school. Worked hard for and did well in gcses's etc - so no other issues where school might want him to leave.
Anyway the question. He is doing 3 AS levels but with the rebound only one of them now counts towards the final subject. In that subject he had a very good mark for his coursework which is 50% of the exam so if we can get him to school he has a good chance of passing it.
The other two subjects don't count towards final A Level exam - so does that mean it is totally at schools discretion if they allow him to continue (ie even if he didn't actually take the AS exams or he failed them?)
It would be very useful to know when building case to put towards Head.
Thank you for any help. Sorry this is so long.

dahliaa Sat 07-May-16 23:10:30

Sorry for typos !! Rebound should actually say 'reformed' AS levels

EatonGate Sat 07-May-16 23:31:12

For the AS exams which don't count, could you ask the school if they would let him sit the papers in exam conditions at school at the end of the summer when he's feeling a bit better? That would take the pressure off for now, but if he is able to pass AS level papers I can't see why they wouldn't let him into year 13.

Is the school private or state ? If it's the former I suppose everything is at their discretion - if the latter, perhaps it's worth contacting the LEA?

dahliaa Sat 07-May-16 23:46:57

Thanks Eatongate I hadn't even thought of that as an option.
(It's a state school.) They haven't suggested anything like that but it's worth me raising.
I guess what I still don't understand properly about the new AS exams is - do you 'HAVE' to have them to move on to A2 or is that just a nice to have.
(When I was in sixth form no one seemed particularly interested in what we did in lower sixth - and there was certainly no one chucked out at that stage.)

noblegiraffe Sat 07-May-16 23:52:57

He doesn't have to sit the reformed AS and in fact if he's in a bad place right now it would be better if he didn't as the results would have to go on his UCAS form.

I think your best option is to try to get him in for the AS that counts - ask if he can sit it in a separate small room rather than the exam hall. Ask for him to be withdrawn from the other AS's. They should have done mocks and have a good idea of whether he is suitable for progression already?

dahliaa Sun 08-May-16 00:01:50

Thanks noble that's really useful.
They did their mocks quite late (when he was already ill although we didn't realise how bad it was at the time) - so results not great - but school and teachers know him well because he has been there since year 7 and they think he is capable.
The timing is just very bad for him. (I wouldn't wish this on him at any time but it would have been better if all came out earlier in year 12 so treatment could have started earlier.)
Anyway - thank you for answering the questions about the AS Levels and the suggestions. Really appreciated.

dahliaa Sun 08-May-16 00:05:24

Meant to add - I might be completely misreading this ... Individual teachers have been incredibly supportive but one member of school leadership team gives impression of not being particularly interested in needs of individual student but more in the final results for the school. As I say I might be mistaken with that and could be just because I am feeling very sensitive at the moment.

Ceilinglight Sun 08-May-16 00:12:15

I appreciate you're not asking for advice about your son's illness but I thought I'd mention I experienced this at his age and my parents took me to a homeopath and it was incredibly effective. I don't know what remedy she gave me, and I've not been to a homeopath ever again, but it made such a difference to me when I was feeling on the edge.

I hope your son feels better soon

Peebles1 Sun 08-May-16 00:49:54

My DD suffered from this during GCSEs and still struggles (though lots better) now she's doing A-levels. She has a smaller room for exams, like Noble said. When she feels panicky she lets the teacher know and they go out with her while she calms down. The clock is 'stopped' during this time and restarted once she's calm enough to go back in. Also, she gets a letter from her GP as near to the exams as possible, saying how this has affected her ability to work, which the school sends to the exam board. It may only give 1 or 2 percent extra but may make a difference. I try and ease the pressure by talking to her about how it's not the end of the world if she fails, loads of adults who have happy lives didn't pass first time, or at all etc etc, while still gently encouraging work (cozy she's a lazy bones not hard working like your DS!). She took beta blockers for a flight abroad which worked well, not sure if that would help for an exam?? Doesn't answer your original question but thought some info might help. Good luck, I know it's very hard.

dahliaa Sun 08-May-16 09:15:51

Thank you so much for the replies.it does really help to hear about other experiences. It's so horrible to see him suffering but also from reading here to see how many young people are going through the same thing :-(

peacheshoney Sun 08-May-16 15:44:58

I think GCSE/A level grade should be differently denoted if they are given extra time.As an employer I would certainly want to know if one candidate had been allowed 25% more time than another!

dahliaa Sun 08-May-16 16:16:46

I'm also an employer peacheshoney and tbh if someone has a diagnosed health condition then I'm not sure I would be too concerned about extra time. I would be interested to hear if they had managed to do the exams despite the health condition as that would demonstrate some resilience and dedication.

Runningtokeepstill Sun 08-May-16 16:20:09

Well, peaches in this case we are talking about the clock being stopped while the student has a break as they are currently suffering from a health condition. This student isn't getting extra time. It's not a fiddle to get a higher mark but a recognition that someone is currently ill.

My ds had the right to breaks during his gcse's but decided not to take them as he found he could cope. It may be that knowing the breaks were available if needed helped him to keep going. He also used a laptop as he cannot write for long periods. Clearly, in my ds's case, as he has an ongoing medical condition that will continue into adulthood, he'd probably disclose it to employers and he'd need to apply for jobs where this can be taken into account e.g. sedantary computer based rather than on his feet all day or needing to hand write for prolonged periods. He's not getting something extra, just the right to compete at the same level as young people who are fit and well.

By the way, regarding exam concessions, we have been told that the exam boards are now asking for consultant letters rather than GP letters. This is a bit tricky for those students who, having been seen by consultants in the past, are discharged to the care of the GP. My ds no longer has consultant appointments since he grew too old for paediatrics and then entered the wasteland of 16 - 18 provision (or lack of in some areas).

Runningtokeepstill Sun 08-May-16 16:24:54

Cross posted with dahliaa. And thank you for a much happier response from an employer, which gives me hope for my ds in the future. Resilience and dedication is right. Having a disability or health condition is far from a ticket to an easy ride.

PotteringAlong Sun 08-May-16 16:30:47

I think it is also worth mentioning that the school do want him to do well, but the member of school leadership who is concerned about the results of the school as a whole is that way because he is concerned about the results as a whole. You need to be able to convince the school that if they put the concessions to allow him into year 13 in place that he will actually be able to sit his exams in year 13. If a lot of this stress and anxiety is exam related then that will be a hard sell. They may want to see how he performs under the exam pressure as he will have to regardless in 12 months time, whatever his mental health then.

namechange7711 Sun 08-May-16 16:36:29

Oh dear Dahliaa so sorry your DS' condition has worsened.

I would definitely push for him only to do those exams which are absolutely necessary and get the school to withdraw him from those which aren't, to take the pressure off.

I might also consider a little white lie of (for the moment) telling DS that the school has agreed to have him back regardless of his results, just so he has one less thing to worry about. Of course you can go into school, all guns blazing, to try to negotiate this - but I would be inclined to shield DS from your discussions right now.

Also, I could be wrong but I thought there was provision for DCs who have done some of their papers but are then too ill to do the rest of them? That might work in your DS' favour if he has completed the coursework for one of his AS levels. It would be worth finding out if he would get given a grade if he's too ill to turn up to the remaining exam.

TheGoldenApplesOfTheSun Sun 08-May-16 16:42:21

Strikes me this is a case covered by the Equality Act, which means the school have an obligation to make reasonable adjustments for your son to allow him to continue there, including allowing him to take exams in a quiet room on his own, getting extra time or remaining at school despite not being able to sit them all. It covers a lot of different conditions, take a look at www.gov.uk/guidance/equality-act-2010-guidance for more details. If you wave it at people they tend to get all self-conscious and become more considerate.

And speaking of being considerate peaches, didn't your mother tell you if you have nothing kind or constructive to say, to keep it to yourself? Go punch a pillow or something instead of taking it out on the OP.

noblegiraffe Sun 08-May-16 18:07:48

If a student is too ill to sit an exam then they can be awarded an AS grade if they have completed at least 50% of the assessment (which the OP said they had done) BUT they have to have completed the full course (which I'm not sure he has if he has missed school).

Regulations are here: www.jcq.org.uk/Download/exams-office/access-arrangements-and-special-consideration/regulations-and-guidance/a-guide-to-the-special-consideration-process-2015-2016

However I have a feeling that that's only the case if he cashes in his AS. If he continues to A-level, then I think he would expected to sit the missing AS module in Y13.

dahliaa Sun 08-May-16 18:15:01

Thanks so much for all the extra suggestions. I am busily scribbling notes.

And thank you namechange - I hope things are easier for you at home.

dahliaa Sun 08-May-16 18:18:10

Just to answer the q re exam pressure - it's not something he has particularly suffered with in the past. I realise that GCSEs are a totally different thing but he didn't have any problems sitting them in terms of anxiety Etc. so I'm trying to stay optimistic that if he can recover from this period of ill health he can go back to coping with exams and other testing ok.

Sadusername Sun 08-May-16 20:16:10

My dd's friend is struggling with anxiety at the moment. She and her mother were able to negotiate with school and she is only sitting the one AS level that she needs to. The other A levels she is doing are reformed ones so it is not strictly necessary though everyone else is doing them. Don't forget you also have a bit of leeway as students can continue full-time education till they are 19. So potentially has another year to play with.

Sadusername Sun 08-May-16 20:26:14

I have just remembered, my neighbour's daughter has anxiety and depression and struggles to leave the house. I was chatting with her Mum and she said that her dd sits her exams at home. An invigilator comes to the house and supervises her. It is possibly too late in the day to arrange, but you could always ask if it is possible?

dahliaa Sun 08-May-16 20:49:58

Thank you for that info - really useful.
Although awful to think that there are so many young people struggling :-(

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