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what does learning support actually do?

(20 Posts)
Threeschools Wed 16-Nov-16 14:24:22

DS is in y8, and does not know how to revise for exams, therefore does not do it but ends up panicking when he has an exam. He said he was not taught how to revise by his school. It is a private selective school. I asked the HoY if he could have some sessions with the learning support department about revision techniques and she basically said no in a very long email with way too many words, saying that they had one session last year about this and they will have another one next year. That does not solve our problem though does it? I am rather p..d off right now so I thought I should write on Mumsnet first to calm down and hopefully get a few tips on how to help my son to revise, or I would send a rather angry email to the Headmistress.

TeenAndTween Wed 16-Nov-16 14:55:04

At a state school, learning support would be there to support the learning of those children with clear additional needs. So for example helping keep an child with ADHD on track, or helping a child with dyspraxia organise themselves, or giving spelling improvement intervention.

No idea what learning support does at a selective private school though.

Suggest you and your DS get on t'internet as there is loads out there on revision techniques.

fourcorneredcircle Wed 16-Nov-16 15:17:09

What teenandtween said.

I think learning support in an independent probably does the same as state. They generally exist to support specific needs rather than general education.

There are lots of resources available online to help you and your son, I'll list some below. Good luck!

Threeschools Wed 16-Nov-16 15:34:58

Thanks a lot for the links, I will have a look at that. On DS's school website under learning support I found that:

"The School has a well resourced Learning Support Department. Learning Support lessons are arranged through the Head of Year and in consultation with a boy, his parents and Form Tutor. Boys are taught on an individual basis or in small groups on a withdrawal basis. Lessons focus on teaching effective study skills to suit each individual’s learning style; revision and exam skills and developing computer expertise. Lessons aim to promote active learning and enhance pupil’s self-esteem. There is no additional charge for these lessons."

So I am not given up, I believe my son should be given maybe just a couple of lessons about revision skills since this is what they advertise. Pushy email sent to HoY. Let's see.

fourcorneredcircle Wed 16-Nov-16 15:45:47

I've just searched the quote, is it from CLBS? It reads (in context with the rest of the page) more like what they would/could do for boys with an identified SEN or disability. Not what all boys are entitled to. Being as the school is academically selective they may well have only a small team in leaning support who are there to support identified children. Please remember that if you insist on persuing this you could be removing the support a child needs in order to attend lessons in the first place. If you are able to pay for an independent school perhaps you could consider funding a tutor to help your son.

TeenAndTween Wed 16-Nov-16 16:19:36

Also to be honest revision isn't rocket science.

List all the topics you have to learn within each subject.
Allocate a time for each
Do a revision plan that includes everything and has sufficient variety and time for breaks.
Follow the plan without simultaneously gaming/face-booking/phoning

Make revision active, so make notes / mindmaps or do practice questions, or get tested by Mum, or quizzes on GCSE bitesize

jeanne16 Wed 16-Nov-16 17:39:41

The Learning Support Department in schools has nothing to do with revision techniques. It is meant to provide additional support in maths and literacy to pupils who are struggling .

merlottime Wed 16-Nov-16 17:55:43

The mainstream schools that I am familiar with the Learning Support dept only deals with SEND pupils, and is about helping them to access learning and exams, including how to work with a scribe and alternative ways of taking revision notes for those who struggle to write.

TheSecondOfHerName Wed 16-Nov-16 19:16:21

In my children's (state) secondary school the Learning Support department offers support to students with additional needs, to enable them to access the curriculum.
- transcribing materials into Braille for a student who is blind
- working on small motor skills with a student who has difficulty writing due to delayed motor development
- working on flexibility of thinking with a small group of students on the autistic spectrum
- providing anxiety management strategies for a student with panic disorder to increase lesson attendance

The above examples are the work I know about because it involves my children or their close friends. I believe the department also works with students with specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia. Offering help with revision skills to a student who is otherwise able to access the curriculum would not be a high priority.

TheSecondOfHerName Wed 16-Nov-16 19:28:24

I think that many children in Y8 don't know how to revise. The advice you have been offered above is helpful.

This is the advice I've given mine:

- Find out the format of the exam. How long is it? How many questions? Is it multiple choice? Short answers? Essay questions?

- Find out the content of the syllabus and divide it into topics. Divide the number of topics by the amount of days/weeks until the exam to work out how many topics to cover each day/week.

- The method of revision will depend on the subject. Maths is best revised by practising questions. Languages require memorising vocabulary and then practising writing, reading, speaking and listening. For sciences, it helps to do practice papers and then go through the mark scheme to see what key words / phrases the examiners look for.

CauliflowerSqueeze Wed 16-Nov-16 20:16:19

Quite honestly, with the massively increased content level of GCSEs and 100% of nearly all qualifications being exam based, there should be massive and ongoing input in exactly how to go about revising.

I think the HOY's response is poor and I would be seeking reassurance that the school is stepping up to the plate with regards to explicitly teaching revision techniques. It's in their interests as well, after all!

Threeschools Thu 17-Nov-16 09:14:55

He basically told me to and send me a few information sheets about revision. big sigh. there are a couple of useful things in there though that I was telling DS all along but that he resisted, hopefully he will now see that this is the way to do it. If I compare with DD outstanding state school, I think private selective schools just assume the kids are bright, the parents are pushy, the kids will end up having good results because of external tutors etc (since we obviously all can afford this), and that's all they care about. not impressed. this being said his friends are lovely and the atmosphere at the school is really good.

TawnyPippit Thu 17-Nov-16 13:29:34

Its interesting, because we have had a similar situation and a really good outcome. DS is at an independent selective/academic London day school. His personal organisation has always been a bit iffy - not shocking, just not great. It became clear that he was not, dunno, "marshalling" his work properly. He did not do well in his Y8 end of year exams (he failed a good few of them and was clearly floundering), partly as you say because he just was not effective in working out how to learn properly.

DH and I realised that some sort of academic support or intervention was required. We emailed the person listed as head of academic support on the school website to ask if any support was available. So far, so similar to you OP.

She emailed back within the day, and then spent 30 mins or so on the phone with DH the next day, by that stage having looked at DS's profile/results and also spoken to a couple of his teachers in subjects where he had failed end of year exams to try and understand the problem. Interestingly independently of this, his HOY also contacted us to say it may be needed (she was doing his report and it was quite obvious looking at the position overall that there was something out of kilter).

The head of academic support also supports learning programmes for academic scholars, and does learning plans with people who miss chunks of schooling, so seeing her is pretty neutral, which was great. DS was not in the slightest embarrassed about needing to see her - there was no stigma that I could see, she was just an available resource.

He had fortnightly sessions for a year, and is pretty much on track now. She has said she will see him intermittently, and I believe will be laying on additional "structuring your work" classes, particularly around exam time, for "invited guests" in addition to the usual ones the school lay on. But it was all very positive from our perspective.

So I think yr school is being a bit rubbish, tbh.

Threeschools Thu 17-Nov-16 14:15:47

I am glad it went well for you Tawny in the end. Maybe the difference here is that DS has not failed anything yet, so the school think I am a neurotic parent. He is average or above average in his assessments, but I am sure could do much better with a bit of support. Changing school now would be more traumatic and not at all helpful, and as I said before he has made good friends and is happy there, but I agree with you, school could do better. He was offered mentoring support by an older pupil, I am not overly exited about this nor is DS, but I accepted it as apparently this is all they can do hmm.

MarshalTheTroops Thu 17-Nov-16 14:57:06

Hi Threeschools,

I read your thread after starting my own about my yr 12 daughter struggling with independent study. I asked how common tutoring is, but I think our issue is the same.
I have 3 friends with children at independent schools and they are all paying for tutoring as well.
The link to the humanitiesManchester site posted above is fantastic. I think it will really help my daughter, especially the Cornell notes. Thanks for that Fourcorneredsquare

MaisyPops Thu 17-Nov-16 16:54:31

Learning support bases are usually there to support children with additional needs, not spoon-feeding basic revision skills.

Almost every teacher I know tells students how to revise for exams and we do lots of prep in class too. Most schools in my region also have evenings for parents and students to make sure we're on the same page with revision. Its not to do with students knowing how to revise. Often if revision isn't happening at home it has nothing to do with teachers, school or parents and almost everything to do with the student not being bothered/lazy. Sounds harsh, but kick in the right direction and "it's YOUR grades" chat sinks in eventually.

ElizaSchuyler Thu 17-Nov-16 17:02:20

Ds is in year 8 of a private selective school. He has an asd so learning support are there to supposedly help him with his particular needs.

However all the class teaches ran in class revision sessions, gave revision topic plans, some teachers were better than others & different methods work for different children.

Threeschools Thu 17-Nov-16 19:57:13

There is definitely some laziness involved here or a reluctance to step up a gear compared to what he was used to in primary school. But the school is not insisting enough IMO. I spoke today with a mum from a girls private secondary and she said the girls ALL have a private tutor as well. That's crazy because state schools (not grammar, comprehensive) top students don't usually feel the need for a tutor. DS actively wanted a maths tutor which I agreed to, I started another thread on that not so long ago sad.

Mrssjo Fri 18-Nov-16 18:15:27

Just a thought OP, could you not help him to revise yourself?

Threeschools Fri 18-Nov-16 22:27:53

Just to end on a more positive note and give some credit to the school, DS had a meeting with his form tutor who is going to give him some heads up on revision and saw the school counsellor about his stress/anxiety, he seems happy with that and will see both again next week. I will try to be more involved too, hopefully this will be profitable

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