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Not able to get an apprenticeship because no English GCSE

(79 Posts)
Oliversmumsarmy Tue 11-Dec-18 13:29:36

Ds who is diagnosed dyslexic and has dysgraphia left school with 1 GCSE in maths.

He is now at college studying a trade. The total course is 5 years.

2 years in college, then a year as an apprentice to qualify. Then another year doing college and apprenticeship combined and then a further year doing just the apprenticeship to qualify in another part of the trade.

Ds because of some work he has done previously was moved into the 2 nd year of the course instead of the first year. So next year he will be working as part of his apprenticeship.

The problem which I have just been told is that if Ds fails the English exam he will not be able to continue with the course. Because he won’t be able to do the apprenticeship.

Ds is doing functional English and is failing even that.
No one expects him to pass.

Ds is very eloquent and intelligent and can talk at length on politics or the workings of a cars engine but give him a pen and paper and he wouldn’t be able to read what he has written, he couldn’t punctuate a sentence and capital letters mean nothing to him.

However on the actual course he is doing he is top of the class. Despite being almost 2 years younger than anyone else.
He loves the lessons and between the assessments and exams his average score is 97.5%.

It seems ridiculous that someone who has shown to be excellent at a subject cannot continue to train for it because he hasn’t got an exam that has nothing to do with the subject.

There is no need for him to pick up a pen and write anything.

Has anyone else come across this problem.

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Oliversmumsarmy Wed 12-Dec-18 10:19:47

Has no one ever come across this

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Oliversmumsarmy Wed 12-Dec-18 10:20:38

Or does anyone know of an alternative way round it.

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MrsPatmore Wed 12-Dec-18 10:38:38

Can't offer much advice but would a specialist 1-1 tutor be able to help if you can afford it?

LIZS Wed 12-Dec-18 10:45:01

Does he get access arrangements for tests and assessments? Scribe, laptop, extra time?

woolduvet Wed 12-Dec-18 10:52:07

Mine managed to pass with a scribe and using a laptop in class
Have they made special arrangements for him?

Oliversmumsarmy Wed 12-Dec-18 10:52:46

We have tried the tutor route (3 tutors)

I have also sat down with him. Hours and hours of trying to teach him about capital letters and punctuation even when he does the work on a computer and it just doesn't go in.


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Oliversmumsarmy Wed 12-Dec-18 10:56:10

Yes special arrangements were done for his GCSE.

They did a few mock exams at his previous school. (Online school) and he was getting between 4-7%

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Oliversmumsarmy Wed 12-Dec-18 10:58:30

He got a U in his GCSE.

FWIW not one member of our family has ever passed an English Language exam.

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AlexanderHamilton Wed 12-Dec-18 11:01:17

I'm sorry Oliversmum I have no solution but lots of sympathy.

Ds is currently predicted Grade 8 for music and maths and Grade 2 for English. He is a talented actor and musician, articulate, reads brilliantly but cannot write and cannot organise his thoughts in an English essay format to write.

He will not be able to get onto a Btec performing arts/music course at an appropiate level without his English or indeed an apprenticeship.

Peaseblossom22 Wed 12-Dec-18 11:01:32

We had this but maths not English , we got s one to one tutor , to be honest he failed so many times and we also favs up completely at one stage but he we miraculously had a breakthrough .Also he moved from the college day time sessions to the adult learning evening ones which were quieter and he had more one to one . It is really hard because it felt ridiculous , I was more excited with that Functional Skills result to be honest than any other exams my fiscal have taken .

AlexanderHamilton Wed 12-Dec-18 11:03:31

Ds has had a 1:1 English tutor for the past 12 months now. He has great conversations with her about playscripts but he cannot forumulate an answer to a question in the exam board format.

RandomMess Wed 12-Dec-18 11:06:36

As his dyslexia is so extreme I wonder if he can get exemption on the grounds of disability, after all it's something that will always impact his day to day life?

I wonder if the dyslexia institute could help you with this, have you ever contacted them?

Shamalamalam Wed 12-Dec-18 11:07:10

We have apprentices at work

If they hadn’t passed English and Maths GCSEs they had to start on level 1, and either retake the GCSEs or do the functional skills courses.

They can’t move onto level 2 until they’ve passed.

Our apprentices (carpentry) need Maths, but not English particularly and we’ve had the same issue with one of ours failing the English functional skills course. The college will not take them back to do level 2 onwards without the pass. We’ve kept them on as he’s really good, but he can’t get the official qualification as he can’t go back to college

Peaseblossom22 Wed 12-Dec-18 11:08:12

We took 5 years to get it , yes you read that right and at leSt 3 different tutors. It changed when we quite by chance found a tutor who had taught ds3 who is doing A level maths and said he would have a go . Tbh I thought he was mad , but the first thing he said to ds was do you want to learn maths ( he has dyscalculia ) or do you want to pass this exam . Ds immediately said the latter . And that’s what he did , frankly he didn’t need to do the difficult bits just get minimum to pass on each question, exam technique all the way. Bizarrely his maths confidence increased as well .
Also we applied to do the exam on paper , he simply coukdn’t Cope with reading and maths on computer . College complained but we stuck to our guns, computer may be best for you .

wigglybeezer Wed 12-Dec-18 11:39:10

We had this problem but with maths, DS1 ended up joining the Navy because they would take him on an apprenticeship without one, however he left after basic as he felt too homesick to commit long-term. This meant he had to have another go at Maths, he signed up for distance learning but I effectively tutored him an he managed to pass, at 20! It meant so much.
I know this isn't strictly relevant to you OP but I wanted you to know others understand.
Incidentally, DS2 had real problems with reading and writing at school was years behind no school interventions helped, until I worked through the "Toe by Toe" workbook with him, it took over a year but worked. good luck to your DS, I feel for you.

woolduvet Wed 12-Dec-18 14:06:43

Are they teaching him as a child with dyslexia though or is he just getting help when it's exam time?
I definitely agree with the teaching to pass an exam in this case.
Lots of tips and tricks to get basic marks.

jessstan2 Wed 12-Dec-18 14:12:02

I feel so sad for your boy! I agree with the above poster who suggested a 1 to 1 tutor if you can afford it. He only has to scrape through English and tutoring might help him do that.

Oliversmumsarmy Wed 12-Dec-18 15:20:53


The college he attends is the only one we found that would take anyone without English and Maths.

The lowest qualifications to get into just Level 1 is 3 GCSEs 2 being. English and Maths at any other college in the area. When we went to take his GCSE results in there were so many others coming in with their parent who were explaining that their child hadn't got the required GCSEs to get into the other colleges but understood that this college would take them. I will have a word with the college and I will get in touch with the dyslexia institute to see if something can be done.

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Oliversmumsarmy Wed 12-Dec-18 15:46:09

Ds has had one to one tutoring with 3 different tutors.

He has been taught using methods for dyslexia but it just doesn’t go in.
Dd is dyslexic but her issues are different.
Her processing skills are very low and her spelling is abysmal. You get very good at anagrams when deciphering texts she sends. She decided to bypass any further exams and has started her own company whilst working 7 other jobs just to keep the money coming in.
I am unable to teach him because I have a similar blank spot when it comes to English. I took it 7 times and failed with a U 7 times
I also have dyslexia.

Dp has never passed English O level or CSE or any qualification to do with English Language but has a Law degree and 2 other major qualifications. One he did alongside his Law degree and qualified at 23 and the other involved 12 exams which people would spread over 6 years. He passed 11 out of the 12 exams in one go and passed the 12th 6 months later all whilst holding down a full time job and commuting 2.5 hours each way to work.

Today he wouldn’t have been able to do A levels and would have been considered a right off.

There is something very wrong with the system

I do wonder if this is the reason why there is a skills shortage in this country.

We have potential carpenters, plumbers, plasterers etc topping the classes but because they haven’t got one exam that has nothing to do with the career they can’t qualify.

Utterly ridiculous

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Shamalamalam Wed 12-Dec-18 16:04:07

The whole thing seems pretty mad. Especially as they’re now expected to remain in education or get an apprenticeship until they’re 18

My DD fluffed maths, fortunately her school took her on in 6th form to do A levels but she has to retake her Maths GCSE, but some of her friends struggled to find somewhere to go

DD has a tutor and he’s teaching her to pass the test - she needs a 4 so he’s teaching her exam technique as much as Maths if you see what I mean. Has any of his tutors looked at it that way with him?

I agree with you that there’s something wrong with the system - we have a young, talented carpenter who can’t finish his qualification and reach his potential because he can’t pass an exam that’s irrelevant to his apprenticeship - I could understand if it was Maths, but he did brilliantly in that.

I’m not sure if it’s the college putting the restrictions in place, or whether it’s the actual apprenticeship scheme

TeacupDrama Wed 12-Dec-18 16:11:26

I am sorry if I am being too nosy OP you can ignore if you like but what you have written so far seems to be spelt properly and arranged well in sentences, it does not read as if you are a failure at English exams.

do you dictate using voice recognition or do you use spell and grammar checking? you have obviously found a way to manage it which is hard would any of these methods including using a scribe help DS

dippledorus Wed 12-Dec-18 16:19:43

Can you access SEN support at his college and see if they can put different adaptations for exams in place? (that isn't the right word, sorry - but can they get him a scribe or allow him to record his answers for eg instead of a laptop)

Also definitely concentrate on doing enough to pass the functional english - don't worry about the mark, just get enough to pass the foundation skills.

Oliversmumsarmy Wed 12-Dec-18 16:23:28

No. I can spell perfectly and have even written letters to the court regarding my friends divorce but give me even a primary school comprehension test or ask me to write a story and I am flummoxed.

I wouldn’t know where to begin.

It is like my brain goes blank.

Dd brought home a piece of comprehension homework when she was about 8 and she couldn’t do it and I couldn’t do it.

I understood what the piece was about but I couldn’t tell you.

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Villanellesproudmum Wed 12-Dec-18 16:26:10

This was me at school! I wrote to every company I could think of explaining the situation and someone gave me the leg up I needed. Gift of the gab is needed.

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