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New to college/6th form: how are they doing?

(22 Posts)
swingofthings Thu 29-Sep-16 17:18:17

4 weeks tomorrow since DD started 6th form and I think it's come as a bit of a shock to her. She's always found school easy and able to do well without a lot of work.

She's now moved to a new 6th form which has very high academic expectations which is quite a transition from her more laid-back comprehensive high school. The school has been insisting that the new A levels will be harder than previous and that they need to be prepared for it and as result have already done some mock like exams on what they've already studied.. DD is feeling quite the pressure for the first time in her life! Was wondering how anyone else was getting on. She is taking Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Further Maths and some research based course equivalent to an AS.

NicknameUsed Thu 29-Sep-16 17:30:19

Same for DD. She is struggling with the workload - biology, chemistry, geography and psychology. The school also do something called "enrichment" which is making DD's anxiety much much worse. We have had several meltdowns already.

She worked hard for her GCSEs, so she can apply herself, but it is the relentless hours and hours of homework that are getting her down. I'm quite worried about her mental well being as she is already on the waiting list for CBT for her anxiety and very low self esteem.

TheSecondOfHerName Thu 29-Sep-16 17:58:35

You'd be very welcome to join us on the support thread for parents of Y12 students.


We sometimes go off on a tangent, but the general focus is how they're coping with the adjustment to post-GCSE studies.

OhYouBadBadKitten Thu 29-Sep-16 21:04:28

yes as TheSecond says, you are most welcome to come and find us on the support thread. Lots of chat about how they are getting on.

swingofthings Fri 30-Sep-16 07:38:43

I think I've read/heard of this 'enrichment' thing around too, NicknamedUsed. The experience of DD is exactly the same, she feels that it is relentless, as soon as she's spent a long day finishing a piece of homework, she is then bombarded with more the following day so she never feels on top of it. If it can make your DD feel a little better, DD is the opposite of an anxious child, she even used to love exams and got a buzz out of the excitement, so for her to feel like this for the first time in her life shows that the pressure is really on affecting all personalities. I've heard that some colleges/6th forms believe in exposing them to the pressure from the start so they know what to expect from the start and cope with it better when the exams come about whilst others prefer the gradual approach so they don't lose too many pupils from the start. Quite a number of fellow pupils have left the 6th form already for the local college because they couldn't cope with it. DD knows that in the end, they will all do the same exams, so it is better than she goes through the worse now and be prepared psychologically.

Thank you so much for the invit to the thread. I did look for one as assumed they would be, but couldn't see it, so will now come and join you guys!

NicknameUsed Fri 30-Sep-16 07:48:03

"Quite a number of fellow pupils have left the 6th form already for the local college because they couldn't cope with it."

Same at DD's school. I think some of it is that her 6th form is quite cliquey and some of the students from other schools haven't settled. DD only has a small circle of friends and feels that she can't talk to any of the cliquey people. She feels a little isolated in some of her lessons because the others are part of the PE set 1 clique and she isn't the least bit sporty, so they ignore her. Fortunately some of the teachers have picked up on this and are mixing people around a bit.

RedHelenB Fri 30-Sep-16 09:50:43

i think for sciences monthly tests from the off are pat for the course. My dd got 4 As at as level after all As on her tests so there were no nasty surprises. Those that struggled with any of the tests could get extra help and redo them.if they didnt meet their target grades.

RedHelenB Fri 30-Sep-16 09:51:39

That is at a non selective sixth formcollege btw.

swingofthings Fri 30-Sep-16 16:26:20

The message to the pupils when they took the tests (For sciences only) was that the A levels were expected to be harder this year so if pupils didn't get a certain grade, they would be encouraged to drop out of the course and consider doing another A level. That was 2 weeks after they had started!

Saying, the outcome doesn't make sense to me! She got 86% in Chemistry assessment and teacher said that this was highly encouraging and they hoped she would continue to work hard towards her eventual success at A level. Fair enough, but then got a similar note for Biology with a result of 71% so expected it to say that she would need to work harder, but the comment was exactly the same than for Chemistry, ie. it was highly encouraging!

NicknameUsed, it is hard when they have to adjust to new circle of friends, especially at this age when those circles are more centered around specific interest/studies. DD is ok friend wise but is struggling to adjust from large classes where she would get to talk to all her friends to classes of 5 and 8 in two of her A levels and one girl who was in both classes she had started to befriend in particular announced on Monday that she wasn't coming back the following day as got a place elsewhere.

I think DD will adjust and today did seem a lot brighter. I guess she knew that A levels would be harder and would require more dedication but it was still a shock to be confronted with it so quickly.

cricketballs Fri 30-Sep-16 17:02:22

We used to 'ease in' students in regards to ramping up work/results from tests, essays etc and found that for a lot of students it meant towards the end it caused far more stress and pressure when it suddenly became real.

The past few years we have started year 12 highly charged so they understand the workload required for qualifications that are much more demanding. It has worked in academic achievement, uni offers and mental health for those undertaking A2.

swingofthings Fri 30-Sep-16 17:35:57

Thanks cricketballs, that is exactly what I told DD. She kept comparing herself and fellow pupils with her friends who chose to go to the local college who seemed to be transitioning much more pleasantly. I explained to her that her school chose to confront them to the reality of A levels from the start so that it will gradually become easier for her, whereas her friends might find it more difficult later. It seems she is already quite more advanced in the curriculum than they are.

I think she is starting to see it for herself and getting more used to the change in the workload and accepting that she has to get on with homework every evening. She is also starting to realise that she fortunate that she is enjoying the curriculum and likes all her teachers.

NicknameUsed Fri 30-Sep-16 19:36:42

DD's school sounds very similar to yours swingofthings. Her friends who went to the local 6th form college haven't talked about the courses, just the social life and the fact that they can go into town at lunchtime. DD is doing 4 A level subjects at the moment and is drowning in so much homework that she hasn't got time for a social life.

Notso Fri 30-Sep-16 20:10:58

I am struggling with DD.
She is at the 6th form she had her heart set on, she wanted a fresh start (she is the only one from her school there) and wanted to be in a school environment with few distractions (it's in the middle of nowhere.
Four weeks in she has been crying that she can't cope, she misses her friends and hates the fact it's so much like school.
She wants to leave her job too which I'm worried about because I know she will end up missing the money which will make her miserable.
Her self esteem is low, she has been referred for some councelling but has been warned its a months long waiting list

swingofthings Sat 01-Oct-16 16:06:50

Not nice for our kids, but it is reassuring for me to see that DD's experience is not unexpected nor unusual.

It does seem that there is quite a large contrast between some schools' 6th form and colleges and I can understand how finding out how old friends are moving on with their social life whilst they are tearing their hair trying to hang on would be quite distabilising. I can't believe that DD has lessons from 8 to 3pm Monday to Friday with no study time whilst some of her friends at college only go 3 days a week and not even for the full day. How can they be studying for the same exam?

Notso, I'm so sorry your DD is feeling so low. Has she talked about moving schools? Would she be able to do so? Do you think she is likely to adjust soon with the help of counselling?

NicknameUsed, DD has been going out a bit with her old friends and I think it is actually helping her. In the week, she went and played tennis with two old friends or hers and last night she went to a party. Then a group of 8 of them walked her back home. I think it made her realise that they still consider her as part of the 'group' and that is making her feel better about not being in the same college (a couple of others were from her current school too). She was out until midnight, but no alcohol (or any other bad behaviour), just old friends getting together. Would your girl be able to take just a break occasionally and meet with some of her old friends?

NicknameUsed Sat 01-Oct-16 18:26:19

I tell her to keep in touch and she has planned something for Halloween, but she suffers from social anxiety as well (triggered by some nasty bullying in year 10) so she doesn't usually like to instigate meeting up in case she gets turned down. The thing is, I know they would be pleased to see her.

She is also extremely tired and often falls asleep when she gets home from school so homework doesn't get started until after we have eaten, then she doesn't have time for much socially.

She tends to keep Saturdays free so she can see her boyfriend or other friends and this has worked so far.

Notso Sun 02-Oct-16 13:58:45

Thanks swingofthings it would be quite easy for her to swap but she says doesn't want to. Where she is is the best option for her and she knows that. I think it's a bit of a case of the grass always being greener.
DD is capable but she does need to work for her grades, she knows she would be distracted in college.
She chatted to a lad the other day who was saying how great it was in college and he was going to town socialising most of the day and had virtually no homework. DD was left feeling a bit flat.
However he is doing a vocational course not the A-levels DD is doing and I know the boys step Mum and he has been in trouble twice for not attending sessions.

It does seem baffling how little contact time they seem to get in college compared to where DD is though. She is in 9-3 and has eight hours a week study time. Her friends doing a levels in college have way more study time.

NicknameUsed Sun 02-Oct-16 14:08:24

It's exactly the same scenario for DD and her friends who went to college. He best friend is doing an AAT accounts course and is only in college 2.5 days a week. DD is studying 4 A levels and only gets 6 free hours study time at school a fortnight.

swingofthings Sun 02-Oct-16 15:44:05

Notso, that's great that she recognises that staying where she is is best for her, that's half of the battle. DD attitude is exactly the same. My heart dropped when she asked me 10 days ago what I would say that she wanted to move to the local college. My initial response was an instinctive 'Nooooo' and she just left the room. Then I realised that it was not going to help with conversation, so I said we could discuss it over the week-end but she didn't bring it up.

We finally had a good talk on Thursday, which was great progress as we hadn't had such a talk for months, probably years as DD is so independent and doesn't need emotional support, but we realised then that sometimes, she still needs her mum. From her perspective, she realised that I was prepared to listen and accept the pressure she is under and from my perspective, that sometimes, she does still need me to guide her and to be the one making decisions for her.

It's only been three days but I feel like I have my daughter back, positive and entrepreneurial. I think she's been through the worse and is now accepted her fate and started to get into her new routine. Cross fingers.

I have to say I really am puzzled with the differences in hours between institutions. I can understand that doing an additional A level is going to add to the schedule, but DD seems to be having almost double what her old friend is doing. She doesn't have any study time at all, lessons from 8:20 am to 3:10pm every week. She is doing something called the 'Aspire' programme (they all have to do it) which is supposedly well looked upon by top unis. She also has one session of Sport and 1 assembly so really full on.

I really hope it pays off for our DDs!

Notso Sun 02-Oct-16 18:28:12

I really understand the needing you swingofthings.
This is something I have struggled with as DD has grown up. I was the classic teenage tearaway and didn't feel I wanted my parents input at all, in fact at DD's age I wasn't even living at home. I moved back at 17 and out again at 19 when I was pg with DD. With DD I have realised that in some ways she needs us more than ever.
I'm glad things are looking more positive for you.
At DD's sixth form they do the Welsh Baccalaureate so she has had to spend some of her study sessions reading with year sevens, which she hates. I don't blame her!
I hope it pays off too. I feel excited for my daughter, she is following a path I wish I had followed with A-Levels and hopefully university.

NicknameUsed Sun 02-Oct-16 18:35:52

DD's school 6th form do something called "Enrichment" which I think is something similar to your "Aspire" programme swingofthings.

DD wants to help out in some of the classes lower down the school or do a first aid course.

It sounds like your daughter is under even more pressure than mine. School hours are 8.20 to 2.50 with 40 minutes for lunch. They also have form time and assembly.

swingofthings Mon 03-Oct-16 18:15:45

Oh, I don't blame her Notso, after spending all those years moving up the ladder, going from a subservient 11yo to finally to get to year 11 and in charge, it must be so frustrating to be back sharing lessons with Year 7.

That's funny what you are saying about being yourself independent. I too was living on my own by the time I was 16 (2 months shy of 17, so exactly DD's age now). I was such a nerd though, only cared about my studies! I had a few good friends, but never went to parties or any big social events! I think the difference is that if I struggle through something I confessed to my best friend, but DD seems to have many friends, but no best best friend who knows everything about her. I find this odd, but then DD think I was odd to discuss everything about myself to another girl! She is much more private than I was and because she is known as the strong one, who is always in a positive spirit, I think her friends would find it odd if she suddenly admitted that she felt pressured. So yes, I suppose I remain the one who she can open up to very occasionally (and shed some tears), I just have to remember that!

NU, yes, I think it is the same thing. There seem to be quite a number of programmes with different names that aim to achieve the same thing. The other one I heard about was 'special project' or something like that, although I think that one is done up to A levels. Does your DD enjoy it despite the additional work. DD said she really liked it, but then I think it is because it is a distraction from numbers and scientific figures! How was your DD this morning at the prospect of another week? When is she off on break?

DD has started to volunteering at a nursing home after school today (it is for one hour every Monday). It is organised by the school for pupils intending to go to Medical School. She had tried to do that independently for quite some months without success, so she had to admit that she felt grateful that the school offered this opportunity to pupils. She really enjoyed it too which is great.

NicknameUsed Mon 03-Oct-16 21:28:19

The enrichment hasn't started yet. DD and a friend are trying to help out at the local primary school, but the HT hasn't been able to sort anything out yet. She already helps out at brownies, which is a massive step for her as she is very, very shy and unconfident.

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