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DS (year 11) can't get any revision done due to homework

(36 Posts)
Kazzyhoward Thu 19-Apr-18 11:06:19

DS is currently getting 3/4 hours of normal homework per evening, and about 10 hours each weekend, and hasn't been able to do any revision since Easter. Last weekend was the DofE Bronze assessed expedition so he couldn't do anything. Last weekend this month is the DofE Silver practice expedition, so that's Friday-Sunday out of action.

Is it reasonable for the teachers to continue giving "normal" homework of such high amounts when they are so close to the GCSE's? They don't get any "revision" leave as they're still in school to the Friday, with exams starting the following week. What's worse is that teachers are giving it one day to be handed in the next, so DS can't even try to schedule it, so every time he "plans" to do some revision, he gets another long homework which takes up all his time.

Main culprits are History, Geography and Res Mat where the teachers seem to be panicking that they've not finished the course and are suddenly giving loads of homework, when over the last couple of years, they've had virtually nothing (maybe an hour per subject per week) - some of the homework is very time-consuming such as projects and all of it has to be handed in for marking at very short notice (typically next lesson which is often the next day).

He's starting to think about just not doing it and doing revision instead, his rationale being that he'd be better simply not being able to answer the odd question that they've not yet done/mastered, thus losing minimal marks, as opposed to not being able to revise another subject at all (such as biology) and potentially losing marks on most questions due to lack of revision.

Any opinions as to whether to prioritise revision over all subjects or follow teacher homework on selected topics only?

OP’s posts: |
Malbecfan Thu 19-Apr-18 11:18:09

Y11 form tutor here and this is very concerning. I would be asking the Head of Year why he is getting so much homework as it seems completely unreasonable to me. My tutor group seem now only to be given practice questions or revision activities for h/w and rarely is anything required for the following day.

I would tell your DS to spend only the minimum time per subject on h/w tasks and email his form tutor informing them what is going on. The rest of the time should be spent on revision. This will sound bad but if it is a subject that he will not be taking further (and not English/Maths), I would say revision of key (A level) subjects is more important now than some poxy h/w to gain one or two more marks in something he won't need.

TeenTimesTwo Thu 19-Apr-18 11:27:34

I agree with Mal but also don't understand how/why he is doing Bronze and Silver DofE simultaneously?

teenagerparent Thu 19-Apr-18 12:17:24

I've pulled my DD out of DofE during May, they had set up the silver for both bank holiday weekends. They have til they are 25 to finish the gold, missing it for a few weeks now won't make any difference.
All out of school activities have been told she will be there if she feels like it for the next few weeks, and if she feels like she should be revising she won't be.
Mine doesn't seem to have any homework now, I'd be thinking the same as your DS if he doesn't do his homework what are they going to do?

Kazzyhoward Thu 19-Apr-18 12:43:07

I agree with Mal but also don't understand how/why he is doing Bronze and Silver DofE simultaneously?

The school didn't start the bronze soon enough last year and ran out of time as they're not allowed to do it through the winter months. (It wasn't until around March last year that they even started the preparations for it and didn't do the practice expedition until June, with the assessed planned for September, but they didn't start soon enough once back in September to plan it, and couldn't organise it in time!).

OP’s posts: |
AChickenCalledKorma Thu 19-Apr-18 17:47:06

We have a similar issue with conflict between homework and revision, but the majority of the homework is at least revision-related. It's just not the revision DD1 wants to be covering. I'm monitoring it and will only contact school if she's really struggling.

The amount your son is getting sounds ridiculous and I would be in touch with his form tutor to highlight that it's undermining his ability to plan a proper revision schedule.

How important are History, Geography and Res Mat to his future plans?

I also think doing both DofE expeditions at this time of year, and in such quick succession is nuts. DD1's school scheduled Silver practice for November and Silver assessed for July, after their exams are finished. There is no way on earth the head of year 11 would have agreed to expeditions in the middle of peak revision time!

Acopyofacopy Thu 19-Apr-18 17:58:14

Are you sure that the homework given is not actually exam relevant? We are under very strict orders not to give “busy work”.

Sometimes what looks like “totally pointless rubbish, Miss” (yes, I am looking at you, my Year 11s) is actually really important. Can you query why he has to do certain pieces?

LadyLance Thu 19-Apr-18 20:02:21

I can see why your DS thinks the way he does. However, it can be easier to get the first half of the marks for each question than perfect marks in half the questions. I'd suggest trying to allocate an even amount of time for each subject and checking the syllabus so that he can see how much of the course he is missing for subjects where teachers have not finished the course.

I think it does depend a bit on which subjects are most important for his future- what is he doing next? It might also depend on how reasonable the teachers are (unless you would support him in not going to detentions for missed work? Which might be problematic if he's returning for sixth form).

I do think he might need to knock DofE on the head until his GCSEs are over- GCSEs are obviously way more important to his future compared to what is essentially a hobby. I can't see teachers being hugely sympathetic if he's struggling to fit things in due to spending time on DofE expeditions.

If his form tutor is sympathetic and neutral, would they be able to help him prioritise?

Walkingdeadfangirl Thu 19-Apr-18 20:54:29

First off your crazy letting your DC do DofE expeditions this close to GCSEs.
Is the homework revision or actual uncovered curriculum content? My DS has massive amounts of homework every night from all subjects, its a mix of content and revision.
Rightly or wrongly if its required content I dont see what choice there is, you have to do it or accept he might fail the subject.
As for revising the other subjects you are left to help him cram, you really should not have left it this late.
So its late nighters every night for the next month, 3 hours content 3 hours revision.

Kazzyhoward Fri 20-Apr-18 09:12:24

First off your crazy letting your DC do DofE expeditions this close to GCSEs.

It's the school's decision unfortunately. As I said up-thread, they cocked it up last year as the bronze should have been done in year 10. If he doesn't do Silver in year 11, he won't be able to do it at all - school won't let them do it in the "wrong" year. So, if he (and everyone else currently in year 11) want both bronze and silver, it has to all be done now (a month before the GCSEs start!). Though lots have dropped out of silver - DS wants to do it, but I'm starting to think we should insist he drops out too!

OP’s posts: |
WhatsGoingOnEh Fri 20-Apr-18 09:24:28

school won't let them do it in the "wrong" year

You can ask the school for permission to let your DS do the silver next year, and if they try the "wrong year" crap you can point out that they're happy to let him sit the Bronze in the "wrong" year, so...

Good luck to your lovely DS! Hope everything goes really well. 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻.

Kazzyhoward Fri 20-Apr-18 09:25:48

As for revising the other subjects you are left to help him cram, you really should not have left it this late.

It's content, not revision that he's being given. He/we were on top of things right up to Easter. He's never had this much homework before, never had homework given one day for handing in the next, etc. and has been doing revision ever since Christmas. It was all planned out on a spreadsheet that he prepared over Christmas holidays and which he was following, but it's all gone pear-shaped now and he's getting really stressed about it. Stupid thing is that neither his history nor geography teacher have given much homework over the past couple of years, and it seems they've only just realised how far behind they are, hence giving stupid amounts of homework at far too late in the day. I think if it had been just one subject behind, it's cope-able, but 3 all giving enormous amounts isn't.

I think he's resigned himself to sacrificing ResMat and Geography and just concentrating on history. In fact, he's asking about completely dropping Res Mat as they have only just started making the project and the teacher has dropped the bombshell that they're expected to go into the tech rooms every lunchtime and a hour after school every day to actually make the thing. (I first emailed the teacher in January asking when they'd actually start making it, and have emailed a few times since as I was in growing despair as every week passed and they still hadn't been given any materials to start making it!)

I just don't know how the teachers could have messed up their planning so badly. It's not as if any of them have been off ill etc. In all his other subjects, they finished the syllabus by Christmas and have been doing revision since the first week back in January.

OP’s posts: |
Kazzyhoward Fri 20-Apr-18 09:28:46

You can ask the school for permission to let your DS do the silver next year, and if they try the "wrong year" crap you can point out that they're happy to let him sit the Bronze in the "wrong" year, so...

Yes, we've tried, but no, they won't budge.

OP’s posts: |
Kazzyhoward Fri 20-Apr-18 09:34:59

I can't see teachers being hugely sympathetic if he's struggling to fit things in due to spending time on DofE expeditions.

The teacher who is leading the DofE, is the geography teacher who's behind and giving shed-loads of homework. (Then again, he's also the one to blame for the DofE foul ups last year). He's also the same guy who refuses to let them do the silver in the "wrong" year. The only concession he's made is moving the Silver assessed expedition until after the GCSE's have finished - his original date was the start of June right in the middle of the GCSE's and he only moved it because a few of the entrants actually had exams on the same Friday as day 1 of the expedition (he didn't realise anyone had any exams that day and was quite prepared to go ahead with pupils having exams on Monday, the day after!).

OP’s posts: |
teenagerparent Fri 20-Apr-18 09:35:37

He doesn't have to do DofE through the school, there is no age limit just that you have to stop at 25. Find another group he can do it through ( probably cheaper too ) The local Scouts/Cadets etc may let him join them for his expeditions.
Log in to DofE online make sure the rest of his stuff is being signed off correctly then do that bit with someone else.
Schools are rubbish at providing DofE and rarely do any of it correctly, and tell parents all sorts of incorrect infomation. DofE themselves may be able to help you find a local group he can join to get it finished after his exams.

Oratory1 Fri 20-Apr-18 09:40:26

Agree drop a subject (res mat) or even two. DS dropped graphics after mocks to focus on other subjects and gained loads of time and also lost stress ! And focus on those he needs for future A levels etc. We are focusing on those he needs to pass but is in danger of failing (English) and those he wants to take for A levels. The others have been sacrificed and he is just doing enough to ensure a decent pass.

Heratnumber7 Fri 20-Apr-18 09:57:21

Are you sure that the homework isn't the revision?
They won't be learning new stuff this close to an exam surely?
If they are, then thats the issue, not the homework.
And I'm pretty sure guy can't do bronze and silver DofE at the same time. Pull him out of the silver.

Kazzyhoward Fri 20-Apr-18 10:47:11

Are you sure that the homework isn't the revision? They won't be learning new stuff this close to an exam surely?

Yep, they are. In History, they've only just started an entire module, being Weimar/Germany. That's an entire exam paper in itself, 1 out of the 3 papers. It's as if the teacher forgot there were 3 papers. He spent the entire year 10 doing the first paper, then the first 2 terms of year 11 doing the second paper. Now he's trying to cram the work for the 3rd paper into just 5 school weeks, hence why he's giving them so much homework to try to get through the course. Not quite as bad with Geography but very similar situation.

It's not the whole year either. When I look at Show my homework, it's clear that the other teachers are far more advanced, and have been right through the last year or two, now just setting revision homeworks. I think he's just been very unlucky to have 3 teachers who've got themselves go far behind and now all expecting too much of their classes to try to cram in the last few weeks.

OP’s posts: |
LadyLance Fri 20-Apr-18 10:52:14

To be fair to his teachers, it is their first time teaching the new syllabus and in many subjects things have changed drastically. I don't think yours is the only school where teachers have struggled to finish the course content. However, it does seem like the resistant materials teacher has messed up, and if it's not a subject important to his future then it seems like madness to devote 10 extra hours a week to it. I think if you/he are serious about dropping it, then you'll probably have to approach the school about this BUT schools allowing pupils to drop GCSE subjects is pretty rare.

The problem is that while clearly some of this is down to his teachers, ultimately, it's him who will suffer if he gets poor grades so I think you/he have to work out how to make things work. If that means sacrificing certain subjects then fair enough but personally I would sacrifice DofE first- it is in no way comparable to GCSEs, and doing it or not won't have the real, serious impact on his future that getting less good GCSEs could.

I think you have to let go of ideas of blame and fairness at this stage and work out a plan to move forwards which will enable him to get the grades he needs to move on to the next stage of his education. However, if he wants to stay on until sixth form, you both probably need to be careful not to damage your relationship with the school too much.

brainmelt Fri 20-Apr-18 12:30:41

In History, they've only just started an entire module, being Weimar/Germany

shock and angry at this. I'm sorry OP but that's really bad of them. Weimar/ Germany is huge. I hope he can manage flowers At this point he should not do the homework that he feels doesn't help his revision.

stickerrocks Fri 20-Apr-18 14:47:47

Which subjects is he planning to take next? needs to prioritise these first along with English & maths to ensure he can move on from GCSEs. Then I would abandon DofE. He may enjoy it, but as others have said, his exams are far more important at this stage and he can do it elsewhere. Resistant materials could have been completed ages ago, so the teacher is being unreasonable. I would suggest you ask for a meeting with his H of Y to discuss your concerns. DD is still finishing the syllabus for physics, but everything else is pure revision.

Bluesmartiesarebest Fri 20-Apr-18 15:19:52

Your DS’s school has some seriously crap teachers - but you already know that. The priority has to be the GCSE exams above everything else and getting the best grades possible at the more ‘academic’ subjects.

I think you should tell the geography/d of e teacher that if DS can’t do his silver award next year that he is withdrawing from the whole scheme immediately. The d of e is not essential as none of my DCs bothered with it and they all went on to RG universities followed by professional careers. I agree with pp that the res mat subject can be dropped unless it is likely to be an A level choice in which case either history or geography could be sacrificed instead.

Does DS intend to choose res mat, history or geography for A levels? If so, could he change schools?

AChickenCalledKorma Fri 20-Apr-18 17:13:16

I'm absolutely gobsmacked to hear that a secondary school teacher even contemplated doing a DofE expedition during the actual exam season. That's seriously shambolic. I think in your position I'd be seeking a meeting with his tutor/head of year (whoever is your normal contact point), setting out exactly what's going on in history, geography and Res mat and not leaving until they have some constructive suggestions for damage limitation.

Annebronte Sat 21-Apr-18 09:50:46

Definitely pull him out of D of E. GCSEs need to be the priority now, especially in his circumstances.

DumbledoresApprentice Sat 21-Apr-18 12:52:27

I’m a history teacher. It’s not acceptable for them to only be starting Germany now. It’s 30% of the course and the only way to finish the course will be with huge amounts of homework. That’s hugely unfair on the students but at this stage it doesn’t sound like they have any other choice but to do what they can to keep up with the work as best as they can.
I’m in a couple of history teacher groups on Facebook and I’ve been shocked by number of people I’ve seen on there saying that they spent the whole of year 10 on just one of the three papers. I think a lot of schools and teachers have been totally overwhelmed by the changes to the specification this year. It’s really not fair but I don’t think your DS’s situation is that unusual this year.

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