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Year 12 meltdowns

(24 Posts)
NicknameUsed Wed 09-Nov-16 07:13:33

DD is really struggling with year 12. She did very well in her GCSEs - mostly As and A*s, which she achieved by hard work. She isn't one of these naturally clever people who can breeze through without having to work hard.

As a result the school have told her that she must take 4 A level subjects.

The original plan was to drop one subject at the end of year 12 (psychology) and continue with the other three, which are all academically challenging subjects - 2 sciences and a humanities.

However, she is finding the workload unsustainable and is having regular meltdowns. She tells me that many of a her friends are having the same issues.

We both knew that the step up up from GCSEs to A levels would be hard, but not this hard.

I have suggested that DD drops psychology now before she has some kind of breakdown, but she is stubborn and doesn't want to feel that she has failed.

Does it get any easier?

EatonGate Thu 10-Nov-16 22:49:31

I wouldn't say it gets easier, but the work your DD is doing at the end of y13 won't be significantly more difficult than what she is doing now, so she will have time to adjust.

I found what were then AS levels very difficult, and actually wanted to drop out completely in March of year 12 after getting a D in an AS paper after all A*s at GCSE (went and stayed with a relative who lived in a trailer park in Florida for three weeks and decided to persevere...) But even though the work didn't get easier, I did get used to it, and ended up doing 4 subjects right to the end.

Sciences are significantly harder than other subjects, even those considered academically rigorous, at A Level, so she is not alone in struggling, if that makes it any better. Universities do appreciate that, and if she can get through this year she'll be in a great position to do whatever she wants at university.

booellesmum Thu 10-Nov-16 22:57:49

Drop one now. DD is in year 11 at a grammar and they are being advised to only do 3 as that is what universities make offers on. Better to have 3 good grades than do 4 - spending less time on each and potentially end up with 4 weaker grades.
Doing 3 is not failing, it is being smart and using your common sense. If she wants to do something extra do the EPQ which universities do value.

NicknameUsed Thu 10-Nov-16 22:59:07

Thank you Eaton. The intention was to drop psychology at the end of year 12 anyway, but I don't want DD to have a breakdown.

The problem is that she doesn't get enough free periods at school and spends hours and hours doing homework at home. She is still hard at it now.

NicknameUsed Thu 10-Nov-16 23:01:52

Cross posted booellesmum. I agree, and have told DD this many times.

catslife Fri 11-Nov-16 17:03:18

As booellesmum has said unis make offers based on 3 A level subjects. The new reformed A levels are harder so if all her subjects are linear ones, there will be a high workload compared to previous years.
dd is in Y12 and is taking 3 subjects and finding it an advantage to have more free periods so she can do some homework at college. The only disadvantage is that she may not be able to change options at the end of Y12, she now needs to study these courses for 2 years. So if your dd does drop a subject she needs to make sure that she hasn't changed her mind re Pyschology iyswim . Used to teach A level and quite a high percentage of students change their mind about what subject to drop between the start and end of Y12 (assuming they manage to keep going for all of them).
I think she needs to have a word with her personal tutor if she has one and also needs to check again that the 3 subjects are OK for subjects she may be interested in taking at uni.
Dropping a subject isn't failure BTW as most pupils only take 3 A levels anyway and it's wise to focus on her best subjects and check that Pyschology is the best option to drop.

bojorojo Fri 11-Nov-16 18:48:22

I think that young people who have to work very hard for GCSEs are not naturally going to find A levels an easy 2 years. By their nature, they are demanding but many young people manage to do A levels whilst keeping up sport, music, drama and a full range of other activities including a part-time job. Therefore I think 3 A levels is absolutely the best route and dropping one now really would not matter for lots of courses. Don't forget that university is another step up too, so having a work-life balance in year 12/13 is vital because she will explode at university if she has to work all the time to keep up. Perhaps she needs help to understand that working all hours is not sensible and really will build up problems for the future. It really is not losing face.

NicknameUsed Fri 11-Nov-16 20:11:37

"I think she needs to have a word with her personal tutor if she has one and also needs to check again that the 3 subjects are OK for subjects she may be interested in taking at uni."

Psychology is the one subject she doesn't need. She was told that she had to study 4 subjects - she didn't have any choice. The other subjects are the ones she needs.

Thanks for your replies.

SuperPug Fri 11-Nov-16 22:37:43

Definitely drop one- the same issue at schools around the country, unfortunately. Unis are clearly stating three A Levels and referencing the reforms on their websites.
It's far too much pressure and they've (government) changed the whole system, making it worse, not better.

schokolade Sat 12-Nov-16 07:30:41

So will the school be persuaded to let her drop one, or are they likely to remain stubborn?

swingofthings Sat 12-Nov-16 12:22:01

Hi NicknameUsed. I'm sorry your DD is struggling, but she needs to know she is not the only one. Quite a few of DD's friends had to drop their 4th choice to in the last few weeks because they couldn't cope and indeed, it would seem that the main issue is not so much the subject itself but the lack of study time to get on with it all.

DD seems oddly happy, to the point that I am now worried that it because she is just managing, so not doing so poorly she feels pressured, but maybe not as well she could do. The intention initially was for her to only do 3 A levels anyway as she aspires to go to Medical School and she doesn't need more than 3 (and doing 4 won't win her extra points), but she is adamant that if she can't get a place (and the reality is that statistically, she is more likely not to), she will go on to study Maths, and to get a good place at Uni, she needs to do Further Maths too, so she has little choice.

My friend's son has dropped his 4th A levels (Further Maths) and is so much happier since as he feels he is much more in control of his studies. If your DD had always intended to drop Psychology anyway, she might as well d so now and focus on the other subjects.

noblegiraffe Sat 12-Nov-16 13:10:57

I was in a similar position - taking too many A-levels, hardly any free periods and having to work all hours of the night to keep up. It nearly broke me. When I did broach the topic of dropping the A-level that was causing me the most work outside of school, the teachers argued against it because I was good at it etc. I felt like I was letting people down, that I could do well if only I worked hard etc. No one really paid much attention to my mental health.

I would really have benefitted from someone taking me firmly in hand and saying 'This is not good for you, you need more of a life than this, we are going into school tomorrow and arranging for you to drop psychology'. I might have argued that I could cope really, but I think I would have been secretly relieved.

NicknameUsed Sat 12-Nov-16 14:01:13

Thank you Noble and Swing. You have both articulated my thoughts exactly. I have already had several conversations with DD that doing 4 not very well is counter-productive to doing 3 well.

She broached the subject with her form tutor who told her that if she dropped psychology she wouldn't get a place at university! However, we both thought that perhaps the tutor thought that DD was only doing three subjects.

There is a parents evening in 3 weeks so I will address this fully then. I will also email the assistant principal (who has been very helpful so far) outlining why DD needs to drop psychology now, and suggest we discuss this further at parents evening.

I appreciate everyone's comments.

GnomeDePlume Mon 14-Nov-16 13:10:39

I think y12 is a big change for students. There are a few things which DD has learned:

- be selfish. This is about getting what she needs to get to the next stage, not what the school wants.
- work smart. DD does a strict 20 minutes on and 5 minutes off. During those 20 minutes the phone and laptop are only on strictly study (no music, no chat).
- get study friends. DD has separate facebook chat groups for physics & chemistry
- focus on the subjects she will do well in. Unis will offer on 3 subjects only. Psychology seems to be far harder than many students think it will be.
- dont take what teachers say as gospel.

RedHelenB Mon 14-Nov-16 13:19:52

Depending on what she wants to do it may be worth keeping the psychology and dropping one of the others as apparently there is more of a correlation in high gcse grades leading to an A at the end of it than other subjects. My dd is doing 4 but only because she wouldn't make use of any extra study time that she had anyway!

NicknameUsed Mon 14-Nov-16 14:53:24

She doesn't want to use the psychology.

Trifleorbust Mon 14-Nov-16 15:21:40

I think there is a funding issue here. The school has to have the student on timetable for a certain number of hours and if they aren't, the government won't fund the student. That's why most schools will resist students taking 3 A levels from Y12.

NicknameUsed Mon 14-Nov-16 15:40:36

That's interesting Trifle DD's school is seriously underfunded. I use to be on the finance committee and balancing the books was a work of art.

noblegiraffe Mon 14-Nov-16 15:53:54

3 A-levels is fine for funding. A lot of schools have switched to 3 from the off because of the binning of AS.

Trifleorbust Mon 14-Nov-16 15:57:34

Yes but they will still have to fill up a certain number of timetabled hours. They will therefore give more hours to each subject. Might be worth looking into, anyway.

catslife Wed 16-Nov-16 20:13:17

They will therefore give more hours to each subject.
No they don't, students taking 3 A levels have the same number of timetabled teaching hours per A level subject as those taking 4 A levels.
What dds sixth form college do is make up a few extra hours by a timetabled tutor session, a "learning improvement" session which seems to be about careers etc. and enrichment activities (she has chosen drama but others may choose PE or other things e.g. D of E or political groups or charity fundraising etc.)

NicknameUsed Wed 16-Nov-16 20:48:26

The local 6th form college doesn't seem to offer enrichment as far as I know. DD's school does. DD has an hour of enrichment timetabled each week and has 6 free periods a fortnight for private study. The students taking three A levels also do an hour of enrichment a week, but get far more free periods for private study.

DD is a member of the charity committee and is an anti bullying advocate. She also helps out at Brownies every week.

catslife Thu 17-Nov-16 13:46:52

All that sounds fine nickname.
I think it depends on the individual sixth form to be honest rather than whether it's a school sixth form or sixth form college. Having said that, although enrichment activities are offered, I am not sure what percentage of students actually participate.

NicknameUsed Thu 17-Nov-16 14:01:59

Enrichment is compulsory at DD's school. She helps out in science classes lower down the school.

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