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Best way to supplement an average secondary education

(19 Posts)
Fruitflylady Wed 09-Jan-19 11:21:04

My DS is in year 8 at a small-ish secondary, which has had a bad reputation in the past but is trying to improve. He’s very happy there, with a nice circle of friends. I’m just not convinced that the teaching/organisation is brilliant, but we don’t want to move him.
Given this, what would you be doing in this situation to ensure he’s receiving the education he needs? Im thinking of giving him extra work to do at home; am I best looking at home-Ed resources, or would you look into a tutor? His DF and I are both well-educated so I’d like to think we could cover this ourselves.
Any ideas gratefully received!

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SnuggyBuggy Wed 09-Jan-19 11:23:11

Is there a particular lesson that is a problem, lots of messing around or a crap teacher? I'd focus on that, my DM ended up having to get curriculum resources and helping to teach us some subjects for this reason.

leightonupman Wed 09-Jan-19 11:27:50

Hi you might want to check out my post titled "Shout and Scream or Coffee and Tea". It may well address some of the thoughts you've here. It's a recent post. It's been a real learning experience for me courtesy of the fine people who took time out to contribute.smile

ManchesterBees Wed 09-Jan-19 11:29:13

Finding out which subjects your DS enjoys the most and which aren't being taught properly and then invest in a tutor for an hour a week. We did this for my DD and used Love2Teach and they are fab. We picked someone for science who was a qualified teacher and really helped her understand the subject better. We then found resources on TES to add to the experience

Fruitflylady Wed 09-Jan-19 11:34:03

Thanks Leightonupman; just found your thread after I posted and now having a read.
Snuggybuggy; it’s not just one lesson, it’s more a general thing, with a lack of consistency in homework and marking across the board, together with a lack of communication between school and parents, which leads to a general feeling of unease. Looking up curriculum resources is a good idea, thanks.

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SnuggyBuggy Wed 09-Jan-19 11:37:09

I would focus on the basics then, I don't know what it's like now but at my secondary there was little mention of spelling and grammar and I had to very quickly learn this in my first job.

Other than that maybe just try to ask what he is doing in lessons.

redyawn Wed 09-Jan-19 14:42:15

Encourage him to read, take him to museums, encourage him to watch documentaries on TV and informative YouTubers or TED talks (my v academic DD folllows lots of YouTubers who vlog about science). I would say that my DD spends hours each week educating herself with all this.

There are constant tv programmes about history. For example, last month There was a great programme about the Cold War that covered the same material as GCSE history.

Fruitflylady Wed 09-Jan-19 16:20:50

Thanks redyawn, I’d forgotten about TED talks, good idea. He does read and watches science-y youtubers, but they tend to be things like the Slo-mo guys, which he watches for laughs!

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MaisyPops Wed 09-Jan-19 16:55:12

Lack of written marking isn't always a concern point. It can be to some parents but there is limited evidence to suggest it improves outcomes. Some schools have reduced the amount of marking required for this reason. (E.g. I've just read A set of y10 responses after school, noted key points strong/weak and will reteach misconceptions and they'll improve).

What would bother me more is the amount of work and presentation in books as that can tell you a lot more (e.g. some of my books get marked once a fortnight to 3 weeks by me, but there's peer marking, self editing, huge amounts to neat work and the progress is clear)

Equally (probably less conventional as a teacher to say this) homework is only effective if it's a certain type of task. It might be that some staff aren't setting it because there's no point setting a pointless task emg. Research the ancient Egyptians. Again, what I would judge is when homework is set, is it purposeful? Does it add to their learning? Are they gaining anything from It? They're better questions than thinking no homework is bad. I give less homework than some of my colleagues but then I think some of the tasks they set are bollocks and a waste of student time.

Don't want to derail, but in themselves neither would automatically be an issue (although they can be).

Ted talks are good, events at local museums are good, reading books, literary festivals, trips out etc are all great ways to broaden their education. One thing I would say is aim to extend their cultural capital and give wider experiences as knowledge is like velcro and it sticks to existing pieces of knowledge. The more Velcro they have in their head, the more new content has to stick to.

leightonupman Wed 09-Jan-19 17:12:42

Some good stuff on this post - sorry but I'm nicking it grin

happygardening Wed 09-Jan-19 18:00:58

Let your DC have fun and enjoy life rejoice in the fact thats there's not loads of homework don't tutor the nuts of him do something unrelated to education go for a walk on a windy day, watch the sun set, walk on a beach and the eat fish and chips, eat a massive calorie filled desert with him in your local coffee shop one day after school, let him watch a crap movie in bed with a bag of pop corn or a bacon roll, people watch, dog watch in park try and work out what the dogs are thinking when their owners are talking to other owners; make life fun. If you can afford it go to the zoo, a theme park, pay for a riding lesson, go to that hideous tank museum he'll enjoy your boredom (my Ds's still tease me about my experience their), anything thats not related to education, do things just for the sake of it something frivolous. Im a greater believer in "cultural capital" but you also can't beat having fun doing something totally uneducational! Try to encourage your DC not to take life too seriously.
We have thing on the wall in one of our offices: "no one on their death bed wished they'd spent more time in the office". The older I get the more true this is.

Waspnest Wed 09-Jan-19 20:19:00

happygardening is it that museum in Wiltshire? I once took DH there for his birthday treat and spent a pleasant 3 hours drinking coffee and reading a newspaper in the café whilst he had the time of his life. totally off thread

happygardening Wed 09-Jan-19 21:13:22

That’s the place I fell asleep terrible place xxxx

Mummyshark2018 Wed 09-Jan-19 21:20:09

Is your son making progress? Some schools have bad reps and appear poorly organised and despite that there's always kids that do well (some extremely well!). Usually internal motivation, particular interests, a goal in life from early on. Unless your dc was not making progress then I would just encourage, support, take an interest in school work, keep dialogue open with them, support them in being able to ask for extension work, offer additional opportunities of tutoring (if you can afford) and keep communication good with teachers. The fact your dc is happy and has a good peer group, and a conscientious parent means that he is probably going to do ok!

Fruitflylady Wed 09-Jan-19 22:03:11

Thanks Maisypops for the teacher perspective; what you say about homework and marking makes sense. I don’t desire homework for homework’s sake, but I do feel it could help consolidate what he’s been learning in class. When I catch an occasional glimpse of his workbooks, they look informative and well-presented so that’s a positive, but then he gets a French homework which is simply filling in the blanks of a few sentences (takes 5 mins tops) or an English homework ‘to read for half an hour over the course of a week’(!) and I find that a bit concerning/disappointing.

Happygardening; I love your suggestions, thanks smile We have been to at least three tank museums that I can remember, each more boring (to me!) than the last. I am endeavouring to steer his enthusiasms in a different direction these days grin

Mummyshark2018; the progress thing is something that concerns me simply because I’m not sure how to tell if he is making progress. The school send out the target and achieved grades but no explanation of what they mean in practice and how we can work on them. I have a meeting arranged at the school tomorrow so hopefully more will become clear.

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MergeDragons Wed 09-Jan-19 22:14:54

The CGP books can be a good way to double check that he's covering everything in the curriculum. I teach languages and whenever I have to cover a new topic I use them to ensure that I have covered everything from the syllabus in terms of vocabulary and grammar. I always go far beyond them but it is nice to have a checklist.

Just stick CGP + KS3 + Science/Maths/English etc. into Amazon or the online bookseller of you choice grin

MaisyPops Wed 09-Jan-19 23:03:44

Fruitflylady
Happy to help. The homework and marking thing is something that parents can see and so often get the belief that homework = good and marking = good / lack of red pen = bad.
I entirely understand how and why parents think that though. It was the orthodoxy in my training year too.

From what you've said on the homework front that seems a bit lazy to me and I'm no big fan of homework.

If you want to help him improve I'm English then try to get DC to read A wide variety of texts and genres. The CGP books for ks3 are good.

Fruitflylady Thu 10-Jan-19 13:00:37

Hadn’t heard of the CGP books before so thanks for that; they look really useful.

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bigKiteFlying Thu 10-Jan-19 13:41:27

but then he gets a French homework which is simply filling in the blanks of a few sentences

Duolingo Might be worth a look.

Possibly www.memrise.com/ memrise.

Both free sites. Dulingo does get mine to practise - especially the younger two children who like to get lingots and streaks – it doesn’t do everything but does mean more practise is going on than otherwise.

We have some CGP book or similar style to those for some KS3 subjects.

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