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Bright child, zero effort, mediocre grades - how best to handle?

(33 Posts)
Noitsnotteatimeyet Thu 25-Aug-16 19:29:22

Ds2's GCSE results are decidedly mediocre (actually worse than his mocks which is quite an achievement).

He's very bright but just can't be arsed. His minimum target grades were a couple of A*s, with all the rest A apart from a B for English (which he's always hated). His aspirational targets (what his teachers thought he was perfectly capable of getting) were all A* apart from A for English. He's been in top sets in a generally high-achieving comprehensive so there are plenty of hard-working children around.,,

His actual results are no A*, 3 As, 4 Bs, 2 Cs, 1D and a U. Two of the As are in subjects he wants to do at A-level but his third A-level will probably be a subject in which he got a B.

He has given a sum total of zero fucks over the last two years. Every bit of coursework had to be cajoled out of him with teachers stretching deadlines to the limit. He point blank refused to go to any of the extra revision sessions laid on and all in all has simply not engaged.

Technically he is fine to go onto the next stage as his school accepts pupils onto A-level courses with a B but I worry that he's given himself an uphill take to get decent results in maths and sciences with so much of the GCSE curriculum misunderstood by him.

I have been quite pissed off with him today purely because of the lack of effort, waste of potential and general 'am I bovvered?' attitude

How can we get over this and turn things round for sixth form?

Princecharlesfirstwife Thu 25-Aug-16 19:41:56

I lived with the king of zero fucks for 2 years - DS actually did very well at GCSE and then fell to the very bottom of the zero fuck well by September of Yr 12 (i.e. in the 2 week period between getting his GCSE results and starting his A level course).

If there's any advice i could give you it would be that, quite honestly, if they don't want to work they won't. No amount of cajoling, shouting, bribing, making them stay in their bedroom, telling them their life will be ruined etc etc will change anything. If they want to work they will. If they don't they won't. It was a tough couple of years for us and our relationship survived by the skin of its teeth.

Maybe A'levels aren't his thing ever. Maybe they're not his thing just yet. Maybe he'll turn it around and surprise you. I think you just have to be there to support and advise gently in his own decision making.

MissMargie Thu 25-Aug-16 19:47:07

Going to open days at unis seemed to wake my DCs up- seeing the students, the accomm made it seem real. Is he old enough for that?

ShipwreckedAndComatose Thu 25-Aug-16 19:54:56

Miss Margie is right, trying to find his motivation by looking at possible open day university courses does help a lot of students who otherwise have no fucks to give.

BennyTheBall Thu 25-Aug-16 20:35:30

I have 2 of these!

DS 1 did brilliantly in GCSE - all A* and A, then fucked up his AS with A, C, D, D.

He has just got into uni however with BBB. He is SO much more capable than these results suggest, but at least he got there on minimal effort.

His younger brother (14) is brighter and even less motivated. I am hoping the lure of uni and seeing it when we drop off his brother will motivate him.

EwanWhosearmy Thu 25-Aug-16 22:31:27

My DS was worse sad. mediocre GCSEs then zero effort for AS after which he dropped out. Took no notice of anything we said. Now he is 23 and waking up to the realisation that most jobs need A levels. No-one to blame but himself.

senua Thu 25-Aug-16 22:48:22

How can we get over this and turn things round for sixth form?

You don't. You provide all necessary assistance but, really, it's up to him. It's part of the growing up process. He's a child in KS4, he's a grown-up at University. KS5 is a halfway house where he has to somehow work out what being an adult means.
Give him space. Lots of space, it can take all of the two years.

TheGruffaloMother Thu 25-Aug-16 22:49:52

I was one of these. After I was predicted all A*s and As and both my parents and teachers started behaving like those were the grades I had to get, I switched off. Didn't revise for a thing. I was doing 13 GCSEs and I imagine that the workload to get 11 As doesn't look much smaller. If 2 years worth of your efforts haven't inspired him to put all that work in then I'd suggest you take a step back and try to put up a supportive front rather than pushing for the best. It sounds like he's done well enough to do what he wants to do at A level. 11 As worth of extra effort may have been his idea of 'fuck that' when his more laid back attitude was good enough.

TaIkinPeace Thu 25-Aug-16 22:54:27

Another vote for - nothing you can do.
Sorry.

DS has to be hit with a cattle prod 200 times a day to make him work.
His mocks scared him. He decided to knuckle down. He did well.
Many of his friends did not.

In 6th form they have to decide for themselves if they are going to sink or swim
but
I agree with the high goals
Uni open days
outreach days
event days
anything to make him want what can only be had through hard work

Noitsnotteatimeyet Fri 26-Aug-16 13:54:11

Argh how depressing! I've already got many grey hairs through prodding ds1 through sixth form - but he'd got winging it combined with just enough knuckling down to a fine art and came out with good GCSEs and A-level equivalent

I think ds2 has looked at his brother and just seen the swanning around on the surface- ignoring the paddling that went on underneath

I'm not at all convinced that either A-levels or university will be right for ds but he's refusing to consider any other alternatives.,,

mawbroon Fri 26-Aug-16 14:07:55

I am pretty intelligent but didn't get the grades to match.

I was labelled as lazy but the truth is that studying is just not the way I learn best. Over the years, I have realised that I am a learn on the job type of person.

I wasn't lazy. I was actually depressed, stressed and fucking miserable. The pressure put on by the teachers didn't help.

It would have been best for me to leave at 16 and get a job instead of being expected to stay on at school.

Maybe your son is the same.

yikesanotherbooboo Mon 29-Aug-16 12:30:17

maw I relate to your post.
It really isn't possible to do it for them.
Every young person is not made from the same mould and we need to try to help them find their way.Doing well at school/in education is about a mixture of talents and raw intelligence is not the most important although it is very useful.
If you can identify motivation for them that is brilliant but by far the most important thing is your DC's mental well being.
I really empathise OP as it is incredibly frustrating, we always seem to hear about kids with strings of As and A*s and look at our own DC thinking that they should be able to do the same but the truth is that some kids are blessed with good organisation/competitive spirit/excellent memories/good concentration and maturity as well as motivation and a facility for the subjects and others are missing one or more of the jigsaw pieces.
I am not an expert here but I observe that girls are a little more likely than boys to have the requisite talents at an earlier age.
They haven't failed if they don't achieve at 16-18…it's only the beginning of their adult lives.
My advice is to continue to keep DC warm, dry ,safe and fed and some will sort in the time frame and others take a bit longer and will need the world of work/different motivations.
Daily arguments will upset everyone and make no difference.
Just my thoughts!

BackforGood Mon 29-Aug-16 12:38:41

I think it's FAR more common than you'd think - it's just not boasted about celebrated on FB or on here or in RL in the same way hard workers are.
My dd has just done really badly in her ASs, despite all the support, advice, offers of help, nagging, and being left alone we could muster during Yr12. By this stage, it has to come from them. Encourage, and let them know alternative ways, but ultimately, it's them that has to do it.

Billyjoelene578 Mon 29-Aug-16 12:45:59

I really sympathise, I have 2 like this! One is now final yr uni, having scraped thru everything g with the least effort he can get by with (retakes every summer...); he was forecast for mostly A*s at GCSE, but made no effort, and did the same thru a levels, with intermittent panicking over how badly he was doing. School maintained a view that he was mature and studious, and i couldn't bring myself to tell them he just wasn't -lovely kind boy, but no sense of the future and doing the least possible for school work..he was miserable with me telling him he MUST work, if he wanted to do the kids d of jobs that interested him, but it didn't make him work any harder (tho sometimes he begged me to force him to stick to a plan for studying).
My younger one just did GCSEs and is following similar pattern so far, and it has me stressed, but I agree with other posters, that pushing doesn't seem to work, and can make everyone miserable - I think u have to hope they'll find their 'thing'eventually, and u just have to have faith and support them

Noitsnotteatimeyet Tue 30-Aug-16 07:08:59

Thanks (I think grin)
We had a long chat with him yesterday about A-level choices, GCSE results etc.
He admitted that the last time he'd tried was in Y9 - he did spectacularly well in his end of year exams and was put in top sets for everything for Y10/11.
But then he decided that it was too much effort and as he could get ok-ish grades without working - so as far as he's concerned everything's going according to plan hmm
He says he wants to get better grades in sixth form as A-levels matter but is refusing all offers of help to organise his study time etc so I strongly suspect we're in for two more years of the same <pulls hair out in clumps and weeps quietly >

TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross Tue 30-Aug-16 07:19:26

Did you say he plans to do Maths? That might shock him into reality pretty fast: the Maths teachers I work with are fairly unified in their belief that anyone who got below an A at GCSE will really struggle at A Level, and those who got an A are only going to cope if their algebra skills are really strong. But really anything lower than an A* suggests hard work ahead at A Level.

Sofabitch Tue 30-Aug-16 07:21:52

Sounds like he's done bloody well.

Give him a break.

Let him study something he enjoys and he'll find his own motivation

Eastpoint Tue 30-Aug-16 07:26:11

I've got one of these too. Really irritating as he just tells me that his grades are better than the national average. DH is convinced we should just leave him alone, I'm worried that he's depressed and think he needs support.

ParkingLottie Tue 30-Aug-16 07:43:56

I think these 'predicted grades' are a problem for some. They seem to think 'oh, I'm predicted an A, so that's fine' , missing out the rather crucial bit that the prediction only holds true if hard work is applied.

In last years tests my eldest only pulled out the stops for the subject that had a predicted C, and he wanted (and got) a much better grade. He seemed to think the othe subjects were 'in the bag' due to the prediction.

But maybe that is just my teen.

Does he have any hobbies where he experiences the rush of feeling success or achievement following hard work? To get a sense that it feels heady to do your best and get a result to be proud of?

Have you read any of the growth mindset material?

Luckily for us, DS's success in getting himself from a C to an A / A* in one subject has given him a lesson in the nick of time.

timeforabrewnow Tue 30-Aug-16 07:56:11

He's got 9 GCSEs and that includes 3 A's??

You do need to step right back. I would have been absolutely delighted if my DS1 had got those results.

* but is refusing all offers of help to organise his study time etc*

Will you be organising his study time throughout 6th form and University too? He hasn't started 6th form yet.

BombadierFritz Tue 30-Aug-16 08:06:49

I wouldnt be absolutely delighted if I knew the lazy so and so could have got straight a's! its only gcse. mostly a's would be standard for a high achiever. he is going to find a level a shock. as everyone else says though, its up to him and not much you can do. its tricky to balance presenting "accepting him for who he is" with "challenging him to do better as he is more than capable". I would also leave it up to him after offering help if needed, and remind him education is lifelong if he decides to work harder in his 20s.

Billyjoelene578 Tue 30-Aug-16 08:26:52

Quite a few people have said l that 9+ GCSEs made up of a couple of A's, some B, some C's, is great, and we should be proud of kids and happy, and that was certainly the case when I did OLevels, but it really has changed...

Some schools will not let student take an A level if they get a B for GCSE, even if predicted grades were better (take a look at entry requirements for 6th form colleges to see this). My DC is waiting to find out what A levels he can now take after this. A B used to be a good grade, now it's not seen that way by schools really they seem to see it as showing an insufficient grasp of the subject. it looks to me like A* is the new A, A is the new B, etc.
And almost everyone takes >9 gcse's - there are diff subjects, some may be less taxing, but whereas when I was at school, 6 or more passes was great, now I think all my son's class would have been shocked with <10 (English is 2 GCSE'S, maths often is also, so they stack up without studying anything exotic!).
Sure, not everyone has to do A levels (tho nowadays a large proportion want to), but if your DC wants to, a set of results which were great 30 years ago would likely be seen by DC and schools as disappointing now.

Kennington Tue 30-Aug-16 08:36:23

I would certainly make some restrictions (Internet, wifi, phone, money, tv) if he is being lazy. Not overboard but just to be clear he won't get these things on tap unless work is done.
Not paying for driving lessons or only paying for a handful might be a carrot too?
Insisting on chores if he isn't doing homework - as an either/or?
I am obviously not the parent of a teenager though!

HellsBellsnBucketsofBlood Tue 30-Aug-16 08:40:54

I think you are going to need to step back and let him sink or swim alone. Pushing him will likely entrench his attitude. And also, if he then fails he may blame you (you didn't push enough). If you make it clear now that his achievement or otherwise is now his responsibility - and force yourself to step back - it may give him the room he needs to grow up.

And yes, his results are decent. But unless his school is bad, he's already in a position where uni admissions officers for the top units are unlikely to be overly impressed (GCSE results are one of the best indicators of overall achievement at uni, once adjusted for things like having a crap school).

insan1tyscartching Tue 30-Aug-16 09:16:43

Ds2 was very similar, no effort at all, no revision just sat the exams on what he knew. He did well enough, He didn't work in sixth form either in fact he probably worked even less as there wasn't the constant aggravation from his teachers and there was more to distract him like alcohol, parties and sex.
He didn't go to uni at 18 but went to work instead and he worked hard and progressed rapidly and his workplace funded his degree and his Masters (that he got with little effort tbh) He's now at 27 senior management, earning a very good salary so he turned out well in the end.
I would say that the effort and motivation will have to come from your son none of the lectures or friendly chats made the slightest bit of difference to ds in fact if I had my time again I'd have kept silent and let him figure things out himself as relationships were tense.
Ds's motivation is money and the respect of his colleagues so probably the reason why school just didn't cut it for him.

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