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Year 9 work during lockdown.

(14 Posts)
MrsAvocet Sat 25-Apr-20 01:11:38

My youngest child is in Year 9. He submitted his GCSE options last term, and it was confirmed by email that he is able to do the subjects he requested. Parents evening was cancelled so we didn't get to talk to any of his subject teachers about his choices, but he had just received a written report that was glowing for all subjects and we were also told that parents would be contacted if there were any concerns around an individual pupil's choices. We heard nothing, so assumed all was well. However, this week he has discovered that he is one of a handful of pupils who has been set extra work in one subject because it is felt they "need a confidence boost before starting the GCSE syllabus". I am a bit upset about this as it is a subject he didn't want to do in the first place, but our school insists that virtually all pupils take the EBacc subjects. Had I been aware that there was a problem I would have at least discussed whether he ought to have opted for the other subject of the same type. But his report was very good so its a bit confusing. Anyway, we are where we are, and obviously I am grateful to the staff for providing the additional input now. I will make sure he does it, I just feel we didn't really make an informed choice.

Today he was complaining about the fact that he is still required to submit the same amount of work for the subjects he is dropping as the ones he is doing for GCSE, plus this additional work. He asked me what the point was in him spending time completing a revision exercise in a subject he is dropping and in all likelihood will never have another lesson in, when he could instead be doing his remedial work or spending more time on his GCSE subjects. Under normal circumstances he would have started the GCSE syllabi in Maths, English and the 3 sciences this term so he feels these subjects plus his options should be where most of his time is spent. Normally I support the school completely, but on this occasion I think my son's reasoning is hard to argue with. The more I think about it, it really does seem pointless for him to be spending precious time on subjects he is dropping, especially when we now have a problem to address in a subject he is actually taking.

Would it be reasonable of me to raise this with the school? It also seems a waste of the teachers' time to be marking work done by pupils they will probably never see again, as I am sure they have enough on their plates. What is happening to Year 9s in other schools? Are your year 9s still being set work in subjects they are dropping? Maybe I could just ask what the rationale is for setting equal amounts of work in all subjects, rather than explicitly asking if DS can stop some of it. I don't want to annoy or upset any of the staff at this difficult time. What do you all think? (I find it difficult to complain generally and am currently being treated for some mental health issues so apologies if I am making a mountain out of a mole hill.)

OP’s posts: |
poshme Sat 25-Apr-20 08:34:34

My DS is in year 9.
School emailed over Easter to say they would not be setting work for pupils in their non-GCSE subjects. It was a massive relief as we were struggling to get him to do the work in some subjects. (Esp art)

They've basically started the GCSE syllabus early I think.
He is now only set workin the subjects he will be taking. He's far more motivated.

lanthanum Sat 25-Apr-20 11:19:46

My year 9 DD has been overwhelmed by home learning. We've told her she can ignore the subjects she's not doing next year. Nobody has yet complained (and I've told her that if they do to let me know and I'll email in to explain our decision).

ExpletiveDelighted Sat 25-Apr-20 11:33:54

Ours are carrying on with the normal y9 timetable. They are doing a real time school day but no homework, which is working really well for DD as it keeps the familiar structure and at the end of the school day that's it till tomorrow. Not dropping any subjects till the start of y10.

MissTheodore Sat 25-Apr-20 11:43:36

I don’t think your so should have to do extra work, but non-GCSE work isn’t pointless; it’s education rather than qualification.

RedskyAtnight Sat 25-Apr-20 11:55:26

Most schools don't start GCSE work the term after picking options - they carry on with the range of subjects. It's a general problem that many DC won't want to bother with subjects they know they are about to drop! (i.e. not lockdown related). I would agree that he should continue to do the other subjects to broaden his education and to keep his brain working.

The answer to your DS's argument is that if he "drops" subjects, then he needs to spend the equivalent time doing extra work on the ones he is continuing to study. I'm guessing your DS won't be too keen to do that either ...?

Re the confidence boosting classes - schools run a range of intervention groups and this is as likely to be a "he's doing pretty well, but could do even better group" as a "we have concerns about him" group. In fact, if the latter, you would most likely know!

Malmontar Sat 25-Apr-20 12:04:07

I kind of see his reasoning from a teenagers point of view. However, there's much more to education than just GCSEs and I think kids in this country lose some core subjects way too young. It sounds like he is getting a bit too much pressure tbh. He has ages till his exams and he should enjoy learning things even if he isn't taking them further. Explaining that to a 14 year old is easier said than done I'm sure but I would just encourage him to crack on without much pressure. There's very few times in the state education system that you get to learn, not for the sake of an exam, he should make the most of it.
As for the booster classes, this could be so many things as per previous post. It's impossible to know without asking the school. I would just ask.

MrsAvocet Sat 25-Apr-20 13:00:01

Well you are guessing wrong Redsky How on earth can you make that assumption about someone you have never met and know nothing about?
He is perfectly happy to work hard at the subjects he is interested in (science mainly) and in fact has already found himself extension work in several of his GCSE subjects. He has asked for sessions with his elder brother's maths tutor, though I had no plans to do that until next year at least. He's also teaching himself to play the guitar, has been working on night sky photography and reading up on meteorite showers and Elron Musk and his satellites. Plus he is an official Young Volunteer at his sports club and has been doing things like recording and posting online exercises and drills for the younger kids to do at home, and contacting pro players for advice. So plenty of brain (and body) work going on here - he isn't lounging around trying to avoid learning.
But he is kind of struggling to see the point in spending hours drawing a tin of beans when he has no aptitude for or interest in fine art and is unlikely ever to set foot in the school art room again. And I think he has a point.
As for the extra work, yes, I suppose it is impossible to know the precise intention, but the names of the other kids in the group plus the different ways other friends have been treated does give a very strong clue!

OP’s posts: |
RedskyAtnight Sat 25-Apr-20 13:29:50

Well you are guessing wrong Redsky How on earth can you make that assumption about someone you have never met and know nothing about?

My apologies. I was mostly thinking of my DS and others of this friends who were extremely vocal in the "why do we have to keep doing this subject, there's no point" but would have been horrified if they'd been asked to do more work on something else. But I shouldn't have assumed. You are lucky to have such a dedicated DS.

I think the point that he should keep doing the subjects still stands though - it's very rare in life that you get to focus solely on the things that you are interested in, and most of us have to do things that we would rather not, but are deemed necessary. If you do raise it with the school, I would definitely focus on the fact that he will be spending the time freed up on some of the educational activities you mention above, or they may well make the same assumption that I did!

CrocodileFrock Sat 25-Apr-20 13:42:44

DD is in Yr9 and is still being given work to do for all subjects.

I don't see anything wrong in you asking your school for clarification about the issue. They should be able to set your mind at rest - either by explaining the reasoning behind the decision or by freeing your DS up a little to do his extra work for the subject he wasn't so keen on.

Launching straight into a complaint would probably be annoying for the teachers but I don't see why a query would be an issue.

Good luck.

KoalasandRabbit Sat 25-Apr-20 14:10:24

One in year 9 and she is just focussing on ones will take to GCSE - school have said that's OK though preference is full syllabus. She is taking an extra GCSE though so school are putting her in for 12 subjects anyway so a very heavy workload. She's also doing extra things like painting her room, trying to lay a floor, in touch with air cadets etc.

School Head said in video that their preference is children do all but if children prefer just to do ones will take to GCSE to reduce stress / workload that's OK as well. I wouldn't complain but just e-mail tutor and explain what he's doing and that he feels stressed and would it be OK if he just does GCSE subjects. Or say that's what he's doing and why if you think it's best.

MrsAvocet Sat 25-Apr-20 15:38:47

Apology accepted Redsky
I probably overreacted but had also just been reading a series of moans about "lazy teenagers" on Facebook which had already irritated me. Mine are all pretty hardworking, but my youngest in particular is constantly on the go. He is involved in masses of extracurricular stuff at school including volunteering, being on the school council, in lots of clubs and teams and is in the top set for everything bar the one subject so I would be disappointed if they assume he is work shy. I will point out what other stuff he is doing though, to be on the safe side.
I had already had the "it is good for you to study other stuff" conversation with him but when he was given extra work to do on top of what the majority are getting my sympathies changed.

OP’s posts: |
underneaththeash Sat 25-Apr-20 16:19:05

My year 9 is also being set some work for non-GCSE subjects - he starts his GCSEs in June.
We spend very little time on the subjects that he's not doing for GCSE. I don't consider "drawing a shoe" to be a very good use of his time and I did his theatre studies piece on Wednesday.

Malmontar Sat 25-Apr-20 17:04:48

Tbh it sounds like they're pushing him to get ahead as he is likely to be a student that will get the top grades.

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