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"F is not a fail"

136 replies

MrsBombastic · 14/05/2013 21:53

This is what my DD's maths teacher told her class yesterday.

DD is 15, she is not gifted in the maths department but even she (and I) was shocked and frankly devastated that she got an F in her mock GCSE.

She was not the only one, apparently the entire class failed this mock and when my daughter became distressed along with another pupil her teacher told them all to stop complaining that;

"This is not America, F does not mean fail and you should be satisfied with what you've got"

Needless to say I have contacted the school to make an appointment to discuss this poor attitude and to find out why my DD got this mark, why she has actually dropped a set since she has been in this school and why, despite repeated requests for more support she is not getting it.


OP posts:

Mamafratelli · 14/05/2013 21:55

Your dd will need a c if she wants to go on to college and for most courses, I'd get a tutor and hopefully it will click in time for her real exam.


HollyBerryBush · 14/05/2013 21:57

F is a grade. A*-G are grades. C or above is desirable. With the grade boundary going through the roof again (amazed no one commented that it went up 15 marks in March) it is increasingly unobtainable for some students.


noblegiraffe · 14/05/2013 21:57

F isn't a fail at GCSE. What is your DD's target at GCSE?


kilmuir · 14/05/2013 21:59

what percentage correct do you need for an F?


AMumInScotland · 14/05/2013 22:00

I guess the "attitude" issue depends on whether the teacher felt they were being over-dramatic about their results. Teens do wind each other up, and if the room was full of wailing over-reacting teens going on about how "F means Fail" then the teachers reaction doesn't seem that terrible.
But yes I'd want to know why they all got such a low grade - are they a year away from the real exam? Was this meant as a check of what they do and don't know yet?


HollyBerryBush · 14/05/2013 22:01

Depends on the board, tier, whether its linear or modular. Never as cut and dried as 'what do you need'.

If an 'f' was gained in a mock it indicates foundation tier, and you can only gain a maximum of a C grade on that. With the higher tier you can go from A*-E


MrsBombastic · 14/05/2013 22:02

Thanks for your responses.

I am aware that "technically" it is not a fail but my DD wants to be a teacher and no uni in the country will take her with an F?

I also think the teachers attitude is unhelpful frankly. She clearly couldn't care less.

This is the same teacher who sings and dances in the classroom, eats in the classroom (pringles apparently) and demands to know the pupils personal lives and if they refuse she asks "why not? are we not friends anymore?" Hmm

I haven't been told her target grade.. something else I need to look into.

I will have to get her a tutor, not sure I can afford it but what choice do I have?

OP posts:

Smartiepants79 · 14/05/2013 22:03

F is not a fail but it isn't very good! Especially in a core subject such as maths. It will Preclude her from most further education and lots of career opportunities. Very surprised at the reaction from her teacher.


MrsLouisTheroux · 14/05/2013 22:04

A* B C D E F G are GCSE grades. An F is not a fail.
Why would you go into school to complain about this teacher who is trying to get the message across to his students that all grades = a GCSE pass? He's trying to motivate them surely?
As for her not being good at Maths and needing more support, why don't you just ask what can be done to help your DD improve? FGS


MrsBombastic · 14/05/2013 22:04

Thanks Holly.. that rings a bell, I think she will be put in for her foundation tier next year. x

OP posts:

LessMissAbs · 14/05/2013 22:06

Being a part-time university tutor, by far the most common reason for failure at tertiary level is the failure to do enough study. Is it possible this is what may have afflicted your dd? Or perhaps that the work is now more difficult?

Do you consider an "F" a fail? Do you think a potential employer or university would consider an "F" a fail?

Personally, I would consider it a failure grade. Its use surely lies in that it gives a grade to a mark of 50% or less, and indicates that a pass might be possible if improvements are made.

I think a C now requires 55% or more, and an "F" is somewhere around 30%. Please correct me if I'm wrong.


MrsLouisTheroux · 14/05/2013 22:06

So talk to the head of maths but don't get personal. You obviously don't like this teacher (based only on your DC's description of her.)


Bunbaker · 14/05/2013 22:06

"F isn't a fail at GCSE."

The public perception is that is is a fail. Why do you think that schools want their pupils to get a C or above if anything below a C isn't a fail?

I would be extremely worried that your daughter has a very incompetent teacher. I would also be trying to get a tutor for her.


MrsBombastic · 14/05/2013 22:07

Excuse me MrsLouisTheroux but if you had bothered to read my post PROPERLY you would have read that I have been down the route of asking for help already and nothing has materialised.

And no, she is NOT trying to motivate them, she was whining that by them complaining they were critising HER teaching, which, when a WHOLE class has F grade or below, I think that's a reasonable thing to question actually?

OP posts:

kim147 · 14/05/2013 22:07

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MrsBombastic · 14/05/2013 22:08

I don't like her now, no. Wink

OP posts:

noblegiraffe · 14/05/2013 22:08

She won't be allowed to become a teacher if she doesn't get a C in maths and English, it's part of the entry requirements into teaching.

I would definitely speak to the teacher, find out her target grade, find out what sort of mock it was (if it was a full GCSE paper then she wouldn't be expected to get a C with a year to go, if it was a paper based on what was covered in Y10, then she should be getting around her target grade).
If her target grade is lower than a C then it is possible that she is in a group not aiming for a C and to improve her chances she will need to move up a set. What does she need to do to do this?
I would also be looking into hiring a tutor if she is not expected to get a C on her current course.


MrsLouisTheroux · 14/05/2013 22:08

Ask again then. Also, were you there in the classroom? No? Go in calmly and leave the attitude behind and you may get somewhere.


HollyBerryBush · 14/05/2013 22:10

I don't know if this link will work as it is a PDF:


2012 GCSE results by subject (if it does not open just stick JCQ GCSE 2012 into google and it will come up at top of the pile)

58% gained a C or above last year. So 42% were below. Not everyone can attain a C Grade. The boundary will move again this summer. The grapevine rattles that English is on for another 8 mark shift.

Mock papers are usually done on old papers with historical grade boundaries. Most teachers don't think of that.

The school will undoubtedly have intervention measures. This will mean pulling pupils out of other classes and intensively hot housed over every half term and Easter and after school for the best part of a year. Our Maths looked horrendous at the beginning of the year. 2/3rds of the cohort were input in March, despite the 15 mark shift, 85% got a C or above and the best splatter of A*'s ever. So all is not lost.


MrsBombastic · 14/05/2013 22:13

LessMissAbs thank you, I agree.

She does study, every day at home and she used to go to extra classes after school but the school discontinued it.

She had seemingly good grades until she went to Upper School. Then it all went to pot. She was intimidated by her maths tutor who was aware she was struggling but offered no extra support and I was unaware until they had an end of year exam to set their classes for the following year.

I have spoken to her tutors and they have promised me several times they will give her extra support but nothing has materialised and this year she dropped a set.

I'm getting a tutor, I'm kicking myself, I should have done it sooner Sad

OP posts:

FreyaSnow · 14/05/2013 22:14

An F is not a fail in the sense that you can write down on any future form that you have a GCSE in maths. Some employers and FE courses may say they only want people with a C, in which case you have failed to meet their standards but you have not failed to get a GCSE.

If you get a U (ungraded) at GCSE, you have failed in the sense that you cannot claim to have a GCSE qualification.


MomOfTomStubby · 14/05/2013 22:16

Whether a 'F' is technically a fail or not is an irrelevant discussion. I mean, if it isn't a A, B or C then whether it is D, E or F doesn't really matter as far as employers and the course admission officer are concerned.


HollyBerryBush · 14/05/2013 22:18

Is it a good school? or an underperforming one?

Try HoY first - and ask to speak to the Deputy Head in charge of Attainment - that is the real power - demand (nicely of course) intervention measures are put in place. She may well just be under radar at the moment because the focus is on Y11 - believe me, come September and the data crunchers start turning their stuff out, the whole focus will be on Y11.


MrsBombastic · 14/05/2013 22:20

MrsTheroux, I have 3 teenagers in this house, they all go to the same school and they ALL agree that my DD's description is correct, as do several of their more sensible friends.

My DD is not a drama queen and has been casually imparting these little snippets of info all year so this woman's behaviour is not exactly news to me and why you are determined to defend this woman and make me the issue is beyond me?

And please, can you stop patronsing me, I'm quite capable of behaving myself thank you, I really don't need advice on how to present myself to other adults.

My "attitude" is reserved for venting on MN.

OP posts:

specialsubject · 14/05/2013 22:21

if the entire class got a bad grade then either they are all messing about the whole time or the teacher is useless. And if they are all messing about then the teacher is useless as she can't keep control.

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