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School saying Y8 won't pass GCSE maths

(73 Posts)
MarmiteChocolate Sun 08-Mar-20 10:56:42

DS is in Y8 at a big local secondary. She has always found maths tricky and this is becoming more and more obvious as they go thru the curriculum.... she got 11% on her end of Y7 maths paper and 12% on her Xmas Y8 paper. She has been having an hours tutoring once per week for nearly a year and started right at the basics with her tutor, who she enjoys seeing.
At parents evening last week her maths teacher told us that DS won't get a 4 for her GCSE and has basically written her off already. I asked about whether the school would run extra lessons for those inthe bottom set or what they can do to help DS - basically nothing according to the teacher.
I'm wondering how I should deal with this. Should I ask them to assess her for dyscalcula or a specific maths learning need? Which might give her TA support or extra time? Just stick with the tutoring and hope for the best? I'm useless at maths so can't help her at home. How do I tackle the school? Surely they should be supporting all kids to get a 4 at least in maths?

OP’s posts: |
AStarSoBright Sun 08-Mar-20 11:00:25

Are there any bits of maths she finds easier than others? Getting a low percentage on a test must be so disheartening for her and her teacher's attitude is awful. What does the tutor think?

MarmiteChocolate Sun 08-Mar-20 11:02:09

She hates all of it and feels so crap because she consistently gets rubbish marks. Tutor feels she is making progress but is currently functioning at Y5 level at most. Totally agree that the teachers attitude stinks!

OP’s posts: |
Pipandmum Sun 08-Mar-20 11:03:37

Can she take the functional math GCSE? My son failed his (even though he passed his mocks) and is retaking in May.
The school certainly should be doing whatever they can - not only does everyone need to pass math but it will reflect very badly on the school. Take it higher - speak to the head of the department and head of the school.

Lindy2 Sun 08-Mar-20 11:05:52

The school should be offering suitable strategies.

Is your DD currently going to take the standard maths paper? Would the Foundation paper be better? It covers the more basic part of the syllabus with I think 4 being the maximum possible grade.

My DD has SEN and maths is a problem for her too. At her school they use the Foundation level maths exam and children who find maths difficult also take a functional level maths paper in year 10 to gain confidence, exam preparation and also, hopefully, a valid maths qualifications.

owlmummy Sun 08-Mar-20 11:20:25

I'm sorry, your school doesn't sound like they are being very supportive.

I would definitely ask for an assessment for dyscalculia or other maths learning need. I think you need to understand why he struggles with maths in order to access the appropriate support/interventions.

I would talk to a SENCO at school to ask for an assessment, and also to ask what support would be available if you get a formal diagnosis. If they won't push for an assessment, but will offer support if you get a diagnosis then I would go for a private assessment if that's possible.

My son has learning difficulties and an EHCP but we needed to have a private assessment to confirm a dyslexia diagnosis so he could get extra specialised literacy support. He also struggles with maths and probably has dyscalculia but he has one to one maths classes using strategies that have worked for him so we haven't needed a formal diagnosis, so far.

Numicom really helped my son get to grips with the basics in maths, I bought a set for home so we could practice here too. There are also online resources that he found very helpful, I think one is called number shark.

owlmummy Sun 08-Mar-20 11:21:42

Sorry I'm saying 'he' in my post, my mistake!

fiddledefiddle Sun 08-Mar-20 11:23:17

The school are being ridiculous and saying they are not going to be able to do their job properly if they can't get your DC to GCSE pass standard in 3 years. I'd be asking them what they are going to do as you are doing a lot at home already and the school need to step up and do their bit.

RedskyAtnight Sun 08-Mar-20 11:37:59

I presume she is in a low set with those results? Is this a fairly small group (lower sets for maths generally are) - if so, she's getting reasonably small group support at school and it should be pitched at her level. You should definitely check what support she is getting at school.
Does the school run after school support? She could attend those sessions?
What does the tutor think? If she had dyscalculia or similar, I'd have expected them to notice. I'd also have expected the school to notice tbh. What reason does the school give for her poor performance?

Sadly, a fair chunk of the year will fail GCSE maths, but Year 8 seems very low to write her off! Are you sure the teacher was not just setting your expectations?

Sounds like you are doing the right thing by getting her a teacher but I'd expect the school to tell you what they are doing to support her as well.

Lindy I presume you mean the "higher" maths paper and not the "standard" maths paper? I can't imagine the teacher has any aspirations that OP's DC will be taking the higher paper!! At DC's school more than 50% take the foundation maths paper - there is no way that higher should be considered "standard".

TeenPlusTwenties Sun 08-Mar-20 12:28:37

What did she get for y6 SATs?

I would say keep plugging away at the basics.
A little and often can be really good at helping reinforce things.

Porcupineinwaiting Sun 08-Mar-20 12:52:28

I dont think that saying she wont pass GCSE maths in Y11 should be seen as "writing her off". If she is currently Y5 level she probably wont. But she can work towards passing it in Y12 or Y13 if she can make steady progress.

wibdib Sun 08-Mar-20 13:05:50

Ds (y7) struggles with dyslexia and has appalling spelling - last year his school tried him on a spelling application called Nessy which really helped. I wonder if there’s a maths equivalent that could help your dd?

Ds loves a maths game app that goes through primary school to about age 13/14 called Prodigy that would be worth a shot because you could start her at y3 or 4 maths where she can do stuff and reinforce it, then she can gently work it through and it’s supposed to only move on with the child so will let them practice until they have it rather than moving on when they don’t understand it. The bit ds was doing was based around a cute story about magic and wizards (and girl wizards - not sure if they are different from witches!) rather than being obviously maths based.

There’s also the khan academy stuff that suggests everybody starts at the very beginning so that they can teach people everything rather than jumping in half way and having some problems that become bigger problems later on.

It’s a shockingly dismissive attitude from your dd’s school at y8 to write her maths off. For comparison - ds in y7 with his dyslexia and also dyspraxia so appalling handwriting - even though he doesn’t have an echp, school run mini spelling groups that he gets pulled out of normal lessons for, they’re sorting out using a laptop in lessons and a number of other strategies to support him - all with an eye on gcse exams in y11 so that eg using a laptop will be normal practice for him so he can use it in his exams. They should be making plans to support your dd in a similar way, not dismissing her in y8 when there’s still plenty of time to do stuff.

Fingers crossed that they will reconsider and do something to really help your dd.

Pieceofpurplesky Sun 08-Mar-20 13:07:33

There are many children who won't pass an exam in maths or English or science etc. regardless of how hard the teachers work. @fiddledefiddle not every child is going to reach standard whatever is done to help them.

It is the education system that fails them not the individual teachers or schools. (Although obviously some are not great)! There needs to be provision for all pupils (spoken as a mum and a teacher)

wibdib Sun 08-Mar-20 13:18:40

Forgot to say - ds just uses the free version of the prodigy app not the paid for version, which is fine to get going on it and see how it goes.

It’s supposed to be done in small chunks daily - about 10 questions at a time to make it manageable - although you can do more if you want (ds will do 100’s if he’s left to play in his tablet and I forget to limit his time!).

LangClegsOpinionIsNoted Sun 08-Mar-20 13:21:45

Someone has to 'fail' the GCSE or it's not worth having a pass / fail boundary. Realistically if a DC is in the bottom set they will be stand a high chance being one of those who can not attain higher than grade 1, 2 or 3.

I would be wanting the school to concentrate on raising her self esteem - what can she do in maths? Where has she made good progress? Not focusing on the GCSE right now.

Catapillarsruletheworld Sun 08-Mar-20 13:23:45

Unfortunately with the best will in the world some kids will not reach the required standard to pass. DPs niece is one, she’s a hard working girl and has taken the maths GCSE 3 times now, once at school and twice at college, she never managed to pass it, she just can’t do maths. It sound like you’re already doing all you can, with tutoring etc.

The teacher shouldn’t write her off this early though. Did she actually say won’t? Or was it more of a ‘your dd is unlikely to pass if she carries on making the same level of progress’?

I’d say carry on supporting her with what you’re doing, but focus on her strengths, you don’t want her to become too disheartened and feel she’s failing because she isn’t a mathematician.

LynetteScavo Sun 08-Mar-20 13:53:51

How did she do in her Y6 sats? That will give an indication as to whether she should get a four or not, but having said that her GCSES are 3 years away, so she shouldn't just be written off. Lots of DC go onto achieve decent GCSES after low Y6 SATS because a lot can happen in 5 years.

I think saying you are poor at maths isn't the best approach. Sit down and learn with her. Sit in on her tutoring session if you have to. My DH is good at maths, but even he has to read up on a topic to remind himself how to do it of DD asks for help with her homework. If you can't do it, you can't really expect your child to be able to do it. I think you both need a boost in the self esteem department.

ZarkingBell Sun 08-Mar-20 14:00:08

Has she made any progress with her tutor?

I think speaking to the SENCO and looking at eg dyscalculia is a good place to start.

And do ask if the school has plans in place to allow this group of students to sit functional maths rather than foundation level GCSE.

Good luck. Try to keep calm with the school so you can get the most out of your discussions.

MarmiteChocolate Sun 08-Mar-20 14:54:45

Thanks everyone, and apologies for my mess up of DS and DD in my OP - I have a couple of each!

I've emailed the teacher to see if I can meet with her without DD present (kids attend the parent evenings and I dont think it did her much good to hear the teacher saying she was useless).

DD didnt pass the maths SATS, she wasnt too far off the pass mark tho so I'm surprised that she is not functioning so low.

I completely get that not all kids pass everything and am not a pushy parent at all - she needs to get a maths pass to do what she wants to do career wise and does well at pretty much everything else, which is what led me to think that there is just some block with numbers.

Thanks for all your responses, they've been super helpful xx

OP’s posts: |
noblegiraffe Sun 08-Mar-20 15:30:33

With a dyscalculia assessment, the general consensus is that it doesn’t exist. Yes, some people struggle with maths, but not because of some ‘maths part of the brain’ not working correctly, but because of poor/missed teaching early on leading to vital missing building blocks, and/or other learning issues such as poor working memory, slow processing speed impacting on the ability to learn maths (this will also affect other subjects).

Get the SENCo involved for an assessment of SEN, but don’t expect a dyscalculia diagnosis.

If she didn’t get the expected maths level in her maths SATs then she is statistically unlikely to pass maths GCSE. If she is going to pass then she needs to go from making below average progress in primary to making above average progress in secondary in a subject she finds difficult. Some parents really don’t understand this because they’ve been told ‘oh it’ll all click into place and then she’ll be fine’. Forewarned is forearmed. It is possible to beat the odds, but making back-up plans is also sensible.

Giroscoper Sun 08-Mar-20 22:42:14

@noblegiraffe at this stage would you recommend doing some maths every day to boost up knowledge, gain some confidence in their skills etc?

noblegiraffe Sun 08-Mar-20 23:35:31

Yes, 100%

Times tables - forwards, backwards, inside and out make such a huge difference to so many areas of maths.
Basic numeracy including written methods
Multiplying and dividing by 10,100,1000

A tutor once a week is great, but improving numeracy requires regular practice.

FiddleOnTheRoof Mon 09-Mar-20 00:06:42

Ok... slight crash here but @noblegiraffe where is a parent meant to get this info? Where does it state SAT results and expected outcome at GCSE?

noblegiraffe Mon 09-Mar-20 00:30:44

Here’s the 2019 KS2 to KS4 transition matrix for maths. I’ve highlighted the 4c column, which is a child who has just missed out on the expected level (obviously this is going to be different for the new SATs but we don’t have any GCSE data for kids who have sat the new SATs yet). I think it also uses an average of the SATs rather than just the mark for maths.

But as you can see, in 2019, 67% of kids who narrowly missed out on the expected level at KS2 didn’t pass their maths GCSE.

The data is all here: I used the KS2 to KS4 transition matrix 2019 spreadsheet.

How are parents meant to get this info? They’re not. It’s kept from them because schools don’t want to write kids off, or be accused of writing kids off. And parents will tell each other that SATs don’t matter, they’re just for the schools, and that kids will catch up at secondary.

honkytonkheroe Mon 09-Mar-20 00:39:49

Have you considered doing GCSE maths yourself at college in the evenings. You say you are bad at maths and can’t help. People have been giving you lots of good advice which I can’t top but on top of this, it could be a good idea to understand the curriculum yourself. I did an evening class and found myself amongst lots of adults. Some wanting to go into nursing, some for fun and others to help their children.

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