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Taking a year out for A levels?

(7 Posts)
Pendlegirl Thu 02-Nov-17 13:36:52

Daughter with dyspraxia is a few weeks into A levels at private school and not doing well. She is bright, works hard, but finds it hard to focus. Two teachers have obliterated her confidence, predicting an E and a U for subjects that she is used to getting high B's in. She now feels wholly demoralised and unworthy of being in these classes and no longer wants to continue in her favourite subjects. I can take this up with the school but there have been so many meetings that I no longer see this school as a viable option or a healthy place for her to be. Does anyone know if it is possible to take daughter out of school, coach her for a year then start A-levels afresh at local state school next September? I've never had to consider anything like this before and am feeling a bit out of my depth.

TeenTimesTwo Thu 02-Nov-17 14:21:28

In the state system you can spend 3 years in 6th form so I don't see why not.
However are you sure A levels are going to work for her? The reason I ask is she a) has dyspraxia, and b) you say used to getting high Bs in. Does this imply she is doing A levels in subjects she 'only' got Bs in for GCSE?
There is a big step up with many A levels, and if she got the Bs through grit and determination then it may be that won't be enough to see her through the A levels.

(My DD has dyspraxia).

Might it be better to stay at school (how much notice will you need to give anyway?) and see whether things click (in which case good), or don't (in which case switch schools && subjects after the year)?

Pendlegirl Thu 02-Nov-17 14:55:00

Thanks for the insight - I didn't know that about the three years in 6th form. Yes - she 'only' has high B's as her best GCSE marks. While I'm not certain that A levels are going to work out for her, I am even less sure that alternative options would be a good idea. She did not get those results through hard work and grit at all. She is a very young 16. There has been (slow) improvement in attitude to work as she gets older, and I am hoping more improvement will come in time. Her teachers recognise that she is bright (physics teacher thought she could be the next Maggie Aderin-Pocock - and he should know as he taught her), but her intellect isn't transferring into results and other teachers are unsupportive. When she discusses her work, she sounds great, when it comes to coursework/exams, the results are mediocre. I take your point re keeping her at school but her confidence is all but destroyed and what interest she had in her subjects is hanging by a thread. Walking into class every day feeling that this teacher thinks the best you can expect "if you work hard" is an E or a U would be demoralising for anyone.

TeenTimesTwo Thu 02-Nov-17 15:04:44

The problem with your suggested approach is that if it doesn't work she may end up with having used up her 3 years and being 19 with nothing to show for it or 'just' something like DEU which maybe won't be helpful to her future.

But you know her capabilities better than I do!

The alternative would be to look at BTECs which are mainly ongoing assignments and much lower % going on the exam. My DD started with BTEC & A level but failed the AS so ended up just doing the BTEC Diploma, but even that she found a struggle for various reasons. (5Bs 3Cs at GCSE).

What A levels is she doing and what GCSE grades did she get for those subjects? Other people might be able to advise better than I can.

catslife Thu 02-Nov-17 15:09:10

In Science subjects there is a big jump between GCSE and A level and this has become slightly bigger with the new Linear A levels.
For Physics GCSE the exams are tiered so you can only obtain grades A*-C. This can mean that pupils can obtain a grade B with only approx 50% of the actual (raw) marks.
A levels on the other hand cover the whole grade range A*-E. So A* is 90%, A 80%, B 70%, C 60% and D 50%. Below 40% would be U.
So exactly the same mark would be a lower grade at A level if that makes sense.
In sciences it isn't unusual for low grades at the start of the course but agree that the school should be being a bit more supportive.
Having said that my dd is taking some A level subjects (non Sciences) with Bs at GCSE and is obtaining B forecasts at A level so it could work out with different subjects.
Not all sixth forms do take pupils who are repeating 12, but some do. So the first thing to check is which ones offer this close to you.

noblegiraffe Thu 02-Nov-17 22:33:51

I'm not sure it's the teachers' fault that they're predicting her Es, or that they're doing it to demoralise her, simply they are giving a realistic assessment of her ability based on her performance to date.
A high B at GCSE might get you onto an A-level course, but the chances are that if you got a B at GCSE, you won't be looking at particularly high A-level grades for hierarchical subjects like Physics.

If it's a private school, what are they doing to improve her grades? You are paying after all. In my state school, for maths, B grade GCSE students would be given booster lessons, lunchtime support sessions and a buddy to work with to help get them up to speed.

stillcrazy Fri 03-Nov-17 21:06:21

A dissenting voice here. Age and maturity can work wonders. If your DD is open to taking an extra year -- and maybe also finding a more supportive educational establishment -- I would go for it; though if you were planning to take her out of school for the rest of the current academic year you'd want to get her doing something social with other kids her age.

As for GCSE results being predictors of anything much at all, for some kids all the exams really measure is ability to stay calm and perform under pressure at age 15.

DS managed Es in chemistry through year 10 and most of year 11, before getting a solid B in the GCSE. He was delighted, but was put off doing the subject at A level because he was stronger in other. His maths performance was pretty abysmal.

He taught himself a bit of chemistry on the side -- and managed to get into a BSc programme at a good university where chemistry and maths are required, without having done either beyond GCSE. He now in his second year and is getting top grades in the chemistry, which he still loves, and respectable grades in the maths.

DS is not a genius but Nobel prize winner Sir Gurdon probably is. He was considered too stupid for science at school. Thankfully, he didn't let assessments made when he was 15 and 16 get in his way!

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