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Is anyone else's Year 12 child having terrible troubles with A levels? DD is really unhappy and struggling.

(22 Posts)
GetOrfAKAMrsUsainBolt Thu 01-Nov-12 13:15:32

It always was a debate whether dd should go to college and do a vocational course, or stay on and do A levels in 6th form.

She decided at the beginning of september to take A levels. She got decent results and GCSEs, however she is not academic naturally, and she has to work her socks off. She is also dyslexic which doesn't help, and takes a significant time to read. She had her 25% extra time withdrawn (she is being retested this week, apparently it needs to be redone for the examining boards) and is in a panic about the workload.

She started off with 4 A levels, and now has reduced to 3, and done some subject swaps in the beginning of term. But she is deeply unhappy, very upset all teh time and is panicking about the workload. I have spoken to her tutor, head of sixth form and teachers and they are helping as much as they can, but I can't bear the thought of dd being so unhappy for the next 2 years. She is very stressed and panicky, and finds it so very hard.

Would it be worth getting a tutor for a few hours a week? i am prepared to throw money at the problem if it would help at all. She wishes that she took to vocational option, but I would think it is far too late to swap to a different course now. The poor thing thinks it is the end of the bloody world.

Is anyone else in the same boat and can offer any advice, because I am stuck.


vicster44 Thu 01-Nov-12 13:23:31

I am a Course Tutor in an FE College and deliver vocational courses. You are right it is too late to swap now as lots of Course work will have been covered.
However please tell her it is not the end of the world. She could try and continue for one year and get her AS results and apply for College early next year for a start in September 2013. I get lots of students who go back to school for one year and then realise it is not for them. She just needs to chalk it down to experience. But I do understand exactly how stressed she must be feeling atm. Hope this helps smile

vicster44 Thu 01-Nov-12 13:24:14

Oh also yes perhaps a tutor would be advantageous to help her achieve the AS's.

HeathRobinson Thu 01-Nov-12 13:26:35

What are her long term goals? Could she do 2 A levels instead and then follow up with the third (if she needs it)?

Would it be worth her just doing 1 AS level this year and also get a load of experience in whatever she wants to do? Slow and steady might be the way to go, so she doesn't panic.

Can you get any of her textbooks or wider reading in audio format?

TheFallenMadonna Thu 01-Nov-12 13:27:34

Not me, but a few of my students! What subjects is she doing? Will she be taking modules in January?

I think some if my students have unrealistic ideas about workload (and think they're working hard when they're not) and some of them are not doing the right work, despite putting in lots of time.

And a few of them are genuinely not cut out for A levels.

sassythebloodFIRSTy Thu 01-Nov-12 13:36:28

Can I also add my experience - one I regularly share with my students at this time of the course?

I very nearly gave up A levels and got a job in the February of yr12. I was constantly struggling, felt out-of-my-depth and never achieved better than a D grade on anything I handed in. At the end of feb, something clicked for me - I went on to get ACC (plus A in General Studies) - very respectable grades indeed at the time (1990).

The old adage about the 'jump' from GCSE to A levels remains true. A levels are far more rigorous and the method of learning is vastly different (more traditional, like we were taught, not all-singing and dancing as teachers in 11-16 schools have to teach these days). If she is at a sixth form college/FE college, the jump will feel even bigger as the teaching is typically more lecture-style and less pastoral than at a school 6th.

Tutoring to help confidence may help in the short term - if she's still hating it come the spring, I'd suggest getting through yr 12 and re-sitting tjhe yera, perhaps with a more vocational focus.

Poor love, it's miserable.

GetOrfAKAMrsUsainBolt Thu 01-Nov-12 13:38:56

Thank you - I know she is pinning her hopes on being able to go to college and I have told her I don't think it is possible at this stage (she knows one of the tutors from her volunteer work, and he said last month she could have swapped over the college course, but at that time she decided to persevere with a levels, and now could kick herself).

She is doing History, Geography and Citizenship, and maths GCSE retakes. The workload seems very high, but she is disciplined, spends all her free periods at school working and stays at school til 5 working. And spends hours on Sunday.

She wants to be a copper, or join the RAF or work in a prison. She was looking to join the forces at 18 initially (or try the police).

I don't think she is cut out for it either. It's a bloody nightmare.

GetOrfAKAMrsUsainBolt Thu 01-Nov-12 13:41:01

Oh sassy I will tell her that - that is very useful, thanks.

And thanks everyone for your help.

She has got so many essay heavy subjects. The citizenship she absolutely loves, and she really enjoys history as well, but she is finding Geog a particular bind, it has been her favourite subject for years but she is finding the a level so hard.

Does anyone know how the hell I go about finding a tutor?

Lancelottie Thu 01-Nov-12 13:44:10

DS is in a state of utter panic too, not helped by having a cough, cold chest infection or all at once for the past four weeks. They really laid in on them thickly about never slacking off and so forth at the start of term, and he feels like he'll never catch up on the past few weeks.

It's hard.

Puddlet Thu 01-Nov-12 13:49:10

Just a different thought - does she tend to find it difficult to manage stress and panic easily? She might find it helpful to go to a yoga class regularly or something else with a focus on relaxation. I started yoga as a teenager and it was a really helpful thing to learn. Whatever path she takes later on there will be occasional stressful times and having some tools to cope with them will stand her in good stead (reminds self to step away from the chocolate...!)

vicster44 Thu 01-Nov-12 13:51:28

Ask around a lot of tutors come recommended by other mums. Also look in the free papers and shop windows.

GetOrfAKAMrsUsainBolt Thu 01-Nov-12 13:56:00

She is generally not a stressy kid - she had panic at exam time, because she always worries about running out of time.

I am really worried about her, she is so very unhappy.

StarsGhostTail Thu 01-Nov-12 14:16:16

I think the right tutor might be a very good idea. I get the feeling that what she needs to learn are study skills.

She needs to know how to get the most out of her reading, how to plan essays and how to take notes. She needs some one to show her how to revise efficiently.

I'm dyslexic and no way could I have done all the written work I was supposed have done legibly and stayed sane. I was an expert at handing in the bare minimum and the getting good marks in the exams. But I am a scientist and science essays tend to have a logic and a structure dictated by the process you are describing.

Only as an adult have I seen hints of mind mapping, speed reading and other techniques that I feel might help your DD enormously.

eatyourveg Thu 01-Nov-12 14:40:48

I work in an FE college and here it is not too late to swap over to a vocational course. October half term is our review time where everyone is assessed to see if they are on the right course for their needs. If not then they swap. It sounds like your dd would probably choose to do a BTEC extended diploma in public services. Our college don't run that anymore but another one locally does though I have no idea if they take people joining late.

Try ringing your local college or the next nearest one just to confirm that a swap is out of the question. You never know they may be like us and happy to take on new students though there will be catching up to do.

The other option you might like to consider is taking the year out and volunteering as a special constable (can you do that at 16?) or something similar and starting college next year. The idea of a tutor is not bad but the work is only going to get harder so I would only do it if she was going to drop down to two subjects. Having AS citizenship would be useful and there would probably be quite a bit of overlap for some of the units on the public services course. History is heavy going so I would drop that too if she decides to go down that route

You can't make a proper decision until you know exactly what your options are though so ringing the college is the first step

mindfulmum Thu 01-Nov-12 17:53:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Theas18 Thu 01-Nov-12 22:50:13

Hugs to the year 12s who are finding it difficult.

Ds is academically inclined and pretty on the ball but he's very aware if the " gear shift" that has happened- for him it's just mosly a challenge to be overcome , but it is there for someone who is dyslexic or has other challenges in their learning skills then it must be so hard.

However hard they are finding the academic stuff, try to make sure they keep a balance and don't stop doing everything they enjoy out of school though. Down time , hobby and sport time is important too.

Theas18 Thu 01-Nov-12 22:52:09

And if it's making her terribly unhappy have a real chat about what eye ultimate goal is, if it's worth the misery, or is there a better path to get there, or may be to a reconsidered goal?

MedusaIsHavingABadHairDay Fri 02-Nov-12 01:17:32

If you are looking for a tutor for geography I can absolutely recommend

She teaches via skype.I was dubious at first but it's brilliant.. no travel.. work in her bedroom or wherever on the computer. My DD2 was really struggling after have glandular fever in her yr 12 and failed her Biology AS. ..E overall but one paper a U.

School wanted to kick her out but we persuaded them and Hannah took DD2 from an E to a B (with an A in the final paper!). She is young, and bloody brilliant.. her teaching was fantastic..she taught DD2 how to answer questions and DD2 is still using her notes now..first term at University. She alos gave me feedback after every lesson.She teaches Bio and Geography.

However if your DD is really miserable.. I agree with others that maybe starting again next year at college might be a nicer option. A levels are a huge jump from GCSE.. both of my girls found it hell of a shock sad

GetOrfAKAMrsUsainBolt Fri 02-Nov-12 21:54:14

Thank you so much everyone.

I have had an evening with dd in tears. Terribly unhappy and worried. She has spoken to the FE college about the vocational course, and the receptionist has said that all entries are closed, but hopefully when we speak to the course tutor we know we may well have a chance for her to get in, hopefyllu it will be like eatyoyrveg's college. I have tried to speak to her 6th form today with no luck, so will call Monday and arrange a meeting. DD has lost all confidence, I am very worried for her,

GetOrfAKAMrsUsainBolt Mon 05-Nov-12 20:01:04

Just a quick update - after several sleepless nights DD spoke to the course tutor today, and although they cannot accept her on the course now, they can take her in in January (and the 2 year course will run January - January 2015 which may be a bit of a bugger but is better than nothing).

She is very pleased. The sense of relief is immense, she was so stressed. She just seems to have had her confidence knocked out of her (looking back it started in the GCSE exams in June, then she had 2 subjects which were poorly marked and regraded, so the whole thing was a nightmare really). Then she had the whole having to be retested for dyslexia thing and having her extra time withdrawn for a period.

Anyway fingers crossed that all will go well in January, she is very much looking forward to it and she is so relieved.

eatyourveg Mon 05-Nov-12 20:18:35

Thats wonderful news - you must all be over the moon. May I also a suggestion? Please encourage your dd to go along to the ALS dept and ask what sort of package of support they can offer her. There are loads of IT resources available to help students with dyslexia manage their workload in a less time consuming way.

In our college most of the students presenting with dyslexia are given access to computers loaded with Dragon software which is a speech recognition programme. You speak and it types. It can save hours. With A levels the workload can be daunting and this really helps with things like essays. The other main programme loaded onto all computers within the department and available to all students registered with ALS is MindGenius. Students use it to create mind maps of ideas and links between things. Its amazing at helping students organise their thoughts. It also has the facility to transform the mind map into a word document or a powerpoint presentation. I really would encourage your daughter to investigate what resources are available at her place to make life a little less frustrating.

GetOrfAKAMrsUsainBolt Mon 05-Nov-12 20:21:31

Thanks very much eat - you posts were so helpful. I had given up her going back to college as I really had thought it was too late.

Those two programs sound marvellous - i had no idea that these would be available to dyslexia students. I will certainly get dd to investigate - I will show her your post. She needs something to help bring her confidence back up.

Thanks SO much.

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