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Can anyone help? What to do with a Year 13 who won't work?

(35 Posts)
AtWitsEndwith6thformer Wed 20-Sep-17 16:54:38

Hi there. Sorry that this is a long post but I'm hoping that some users may be able to give me some perspective and guidance. DS is my eldest and neither DH or I did 'A' levels so I feel out of my depth.

Background: DS has always been bright but unfocussed. Nice boy, teachers like him, knows his stuff when pushed but too chatty / not enough effort / rather be doing sport / can't be arsed. Eventually got 11GCSEs (3 A, 6 B, 2 C) in Year 11 through a combination of tutors, bribery, us putting our lives on hold and a bit of effort on his part.

Roll on Year 12... delighted he got in, teachers impressed with him... translated into no effort, bare minimum of work, hardly any revision for AS, resulting in D, D, D, E. Still met the requirement of 3 Ds for Year 13, but had to drop subject he really liked as only got E. He wasn't particularly bothered - just pleased that he got in to Year 13.

We are now 2 weeks in to Year 13.. he's already had detentions for being late - not handing in work or not handing in work that's hand enough effort etc. Its a very good school. Teachers are supportive and he's been put on a support / structure programme. I feel sorry for the school that they've got such a difficult pupil who is ignoring their efforts. I'm going in tomorrow to speak with them (at their request).

I have many questions, I suppose, but some are:

Is it possible to get reasonable A Level grades from 3 x D at AS? Is there any point in continuing if he can't?
Should I suggest he leaves school and does something else? College? Apprenticeship? Job?
Should I just leave him to fail (or thrive - small chance but who knows)

I know there's no magic answer but wondering if anyone could give me any guidance or suggestions... my instinct is to leave him to it, but it feels like too big a mistake to allow him to make :-(

Thanks for reading.

TeenTimesTwo Wed 20-Sep-17 17:04:07

What does he want to do after college?
He won't get to university with no work ethic in y13 as resultant grades won't be any good.

Why does he say he's not working?
What does he do when not working?

He could, at a pinch, restart now at college and spend 2 years doing a Level3 BTEC, but you can't leave it too long to make the switch. And he would have to work to achieve the BTEC.

What A levels is he doing? We might be able to suggest a BTEC instead.

Lily2007 Wed 20-Sep-17 17:21:59

What does he want to do? Even if he doesn't know a rough idea would help you plan. Maybe discuss with the school what he's realistically capable of and what outcomes that could lead to.

I would be tempted to leave him put in the absence of a better plan though would anticipate similar A Level grades unless something dramatically shifts.

Foxyloxy1plus1 Wed 20-Sep-17 17:23:31

It's possible to improve grades, but would require a change of mindset and some very hard work. Does that seem likely at present?

Does he have a leaning towards any future career? It might be that 6th form and university are not for him, but he needs to have some idea of what interests him, especially after the efforts you have made.

noblegiraffe Wed 20-Sep-17 17:32:40

It's possible to improve grades but not by being a lazy arse. In my subject (maths) which is still decoupled, it would require resits and extra tuition.

What was he like when he got his results? If he shrugged and tried to pass them off as 'I didn't really try' and is now continuing in the same vein, it's probably a bit of a lost cause. If he was hoping for university, teachers will be predicting UCAS grades soon and they won't be predicting much (if any) higher than his AS results.

Is he coming to the meeting too? I think I would see his attitude in the meeting and then if not impressive, tell him he needs to find something else to do as you'll no longer be supporting him through his A-level studies as he's taking the piss?

JamieFraserskneewarmer Wed 20-Sep-17 17:35:24

No advice but just to say that you aren't alone! I have a v bright year 13 DS with absolutely no inclination to put any work in, doesn't have any idea what he wants to do with his future, resisting looking at university/vocational training. Got his second detention of the term yesterday for homework not being up to standard. He has no interests apart from going out with friends, watching TV and going to parties - none of which really adds to his personal statement. I am at my wits end - all I can keep saying is that he needs to have a plan for next year and sitting on his @rse while I run myself ragged as the main wage earner is not an acceptable plan. This made interesting reading teens. I feel your pain flowers

AtWitsEndwith6thformer Wed 20-Sep-17 17:40:39

Thank you all. Jamie - honestly, if I didn't know better I'd say we have the same child..

He's doing History, Religious Studies and Business Studies.

AtWitsEndwith6thformer Wed 20-Sep-17 17:43:04

He doesn't want to go to university.. he says he doesn't enjoy education / studying (which is fair enough i suppose).

He doesn't have any real idea what he wants to do. I got him work experience in an industry that's reasonably interesting.. he enjoyed it but didn't love it.

He is an 'I'm gonna' type... full of <pie in the sky> ideas of what he's going to do (eg - 'gap year' in Australia, playing sport and doing bar work...)

AtWitsEndwith6thformer Wed 20-Sep-17 17:48:34

noblegiraffe.. when he got his results, he said something along the lines that meant "If I can get D's at AS Without working, A levels will be fine as I'll put the effort in at some point"...

His main fear was that he wouldn't get the Ds.. (due to lack of effort, not ability). when he did, he thought he was the bees knees.

noblegiraffe Wed 20-Sep-17 18:02:53

He didn't put the effort in at any point in Y12, why does he think he will in Y13? Now is when he needs to start putting the effort in as he has done badly in his AS's.

I think it's shit or get off the pot time. I was trying to think of how to put it more delicately, but couldn't think of a suitable expression!

AtWitsEndwith6thformer Wed 20-Sep-17 18:12:59

noblegiraffe... I completely agree (and I use that phrase a lot too!).

He's a procrastinator of the highest order. Everything is 'in a minute', tomorrow etc. Not obviously the only teen with that attitude but still .
I truly believe he thinks "I'll start putting the effort in at X point", whenever that may be.

His birthday is 30th August.. he's actually the youngest person in his whole school year - not an excuse I know, but he just seems a lot less mature than most of his friends and really doesn't have an expectation of reality.

We've told him that once he leaves education he'll have to start 'paying rent' here - he geniunely thought that was laughable and that no-one does that.

He is properly in cloud cuckoo land.

BossWitch Wed 20-Sep-17 18:16:45

Part of me thinks that the best thing to do long term is let him coast and fail. Sounds like you dragged him through gcses and got him middling grades, and now you feel like you're still responsible for getting him decent a levels too. At what point does he learn to be responsible for himself?

SavoyCabbage Wed 20-Sep-17 18:20:53

Could you give him a minimum wage lifestyle for a while? Walking instead of lifts in the car, plenty of lentils, baked beans and eggs etc. It's bloody hard.

AtWitsEndwith6thformer Wed 20-Sep-17 18:31:49

BossWitch - you're right - we did drag rather than push him through his GCSEs ...

I do feel reluctant to let him fail...It's not really in my nature but equally - spoon feeding isn't going to help him long term (and it's not even working short term anyway).

SavoyCabbage... I could give that a go - good shout

I'm out for a whlie now so apologies that I won't be responding..

Lily2007 Wed 20-Sep-17 18:35:32

Would he consider getting a part time job he can do alongside college? Around here David Lloyd take staff his age to help with kids sports clubs after school and they also get free use of all facilities, something like that. I wouldn't be opposed to a gap year if he can self fund it.

ragged Wed 20-Sep-17 18:41:14

I think I would encourage him to find something to do that he enjoys (for now) & can see a future in. Doesn't sound like he enjoys college or sees any future that follows from A-levels, so why waste his time on them.

TeenTimesTwo Wed 20-Sep-17 18:42:18

Do you fund him as in pay an allowance or pay for him to go out?
If so, maybe stop that / make it conditional on a certain level of work being done?

TeenTimesTwo Wed 20-Sep-17 18:44:48

If he's not going to university, then switching now to a BTEC could mean that in 2 years he has a vocational qualification rather than rubbish A levels. Which might be more helpful.

Or let him fail / do poorly in A levels, and then maybe he'll be more mature and he could look at some kind of apprenticeship?

GeorgeTheHamster Wed 20-Sep-17 19:36:01

I think a part time job might open his eyes to the world outside school and get him to wise up a bit.

Assuming he spends too long pissing about on the internet, can you turn it off (or just change the password) for a couple of hours a day?

catslife Wed 20-Sep-17 19:47:08

It depends on what the sixth form teachers say OP but it could be possible that if there isn't any improvement in his work ethic soon, he may not make it to the end of Y13.
If his main interest is sport there are BTEC type qualifications in sport that may interest him more or could he obtain a part-time job as a sports coach or life-guard or similar.
Does the sixth form have careers advisors that can help and do they provide help for those seeking apprenticeships or employment or do they just focus on university entrance?
Apprenticeships can be started at any time in the year and there are vacancies available where trainees can start as soon as possible.

TheSecondOfHerName Wed 20-Sep-17 19:54:43

He has no interests apart from going out with friends, watching TV and going to parties - none of which really adds to his personal statement.

This sounds familiar. DS1 (also Y13) went to three different parties last weekend (two 18th birthday parties and the 17th birthday party of a friend in the year below). Also seems to fit in a fair amount of Netflix.

noarguments Wed 20-Sep-17 20:19:07

I came on to write almost exactly the same tale of woe about my DS - I'm also pulling my hair out. Every time I try to talk to him about his plans, maybe looking into courses / apprenticeships etc etc. he just shuts down and stomps off. I feel I'm making matters worse, but can't sit around and watch him do badly in his courses, and end year 13 with no plans. Our school does tend to focus on university applications which doesn't help as I don't think he wants to go. I FEEL YOUR PAIN. xx

AtWitsEndwith6thformer Thu 21-Sep-17 08:37:07

Thanks all. Noarguments and Jamie - sorry that you have a similar situation :-(

We have a meeting with the head of 6th form later today which DS will also be attending.

We took this approach last night; sat him down for a 'calm' conversation. Told him that we've got a meeting with the school, and that both we and the school* did not think that there was value in continuing with the A level courses only to achieve Ds or Es at best (* the school hasn't said this - yet ). Ie - we intimated that the meeting was to discuss his future at the school and to ask the school for other recommendations such as college / apprenticeships.

He was worried. Adamant that there was no way he's leaving the school and going elsewhere. He said to give him a two week trial and see how much he's improved and go from there. Then he went and spent the rest of the evening in his room actually doing school work.

He does seem genuinely worried - good. But how that will translate to continuing performance, I don't know.

AtWitsEndwith6thformer Thu 21-Sep-17 08:40:14

The Second - we have the same situation. Parties galore. I can understand that parties are more fun than study - of course.. but it's just got out of hand.

Last night we messaged DS's main friends parents (who we know well through sport) and let them know that DS was only going to socialise on a Friday and Saturday evening due to school issues...

The number of times a friend comes round after school because they've driven him home and then hung out for a couple of hours has become ridiculous.

Crumbs1 Thu 21-Sep-17 08:52:50

One of ours was a bit like that. He had poor AS grades (not quite as poor admittedly). We got him work experience with the forces and he found where he wanted to go in life. We then saw he needed just three Cs at A2 and decided to encourage this ambition as a more structured environment than university to grow up in. The school wasn't amazing to be honest but at least let him stay.
We sent him to residential crammer courses at Christmas and Easter where he got 121 tuition for seven days for eight hours a day. Expensive but worth it. Several friends did the same with good outcomes.
We added in tuition at home two hours three times a week face to face and four hours online (which was brilliant- using Skype for lessons with very good tutoring).
We added in support to prepare for army board assessment with a practice weekend offered by a private company. Then we emulated what they offered and put him through lots of tough interviews with with friends giving firm feedback about eye contact, sitting straight, diction, clarity of answers. We played army top trumps so he learned all the facts and figures about the army. We got a personal trainer to make sure he was fit enough. He grew more excited and passionate as he found himself succeeding.
We then incentivised with £250 for every grade A nothing for less.
He got three As and a B and could have had his choice of university but went ahead with army and went directly to Sandhurst in the September following A levels. He's had some tough moments and teasing about his youth but really loves it. He'll get a funded degree.
University isn't the only way but what he does should be a choice not something he does because he hasn't the grades to do what he wants.
Careers advice might help give him something to aim for.

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