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Secondary education

Sixth Form issues

24 replies

WillimNot · 28/02/2024 17:40

DD joined a new school for sixth form. They were miserable at their secondary school and had to deal with serious homophobic bullyinh.

Anyway, new sixth is smaller. Didn't offer all the courses DD was interested in and they picked three they liked the look of, including two they had already chosen from their original school. They also had to resit maths.

Started well. Head of year is good. One teacher very good.

School recognised that DD struggles with self esteem and confidence educationally after covid and not doing as well as they wanted to in GCSEs (they failed 4 subjects).

After the first term they asked to swap one subject which wasn't for them. School allowed all of year 12 to do this if it was by the end of September.

They then struggled with the replacement subject. Mental health was at an all time low.

So they were given permission to stop that subject to concentrate on resitting maths for the second time after failing again.

Here is the issue.

We travel quite some distance to get them to sixth. We've never been late. Not once.

DD did the school panto, and had a great time. They also took part in some community volunteering which is expected of the whole year group. They've never complained about it.

They have been off, but when this happens it's usually due to huge mental health issues where they are so down they cannot get out of bed. We asked for cahms to see them, cahms said no as they haven't attempted suicide. Ridiculous but not unexpected.
However I always call in to let them know.

They had some tracking tests before Christmas. These didn't go too bad despite them being scared witless. They got pretty much what the rest of their peers got.

We got a report this week- first one ever at this placement, which I find unusual. No parents evening either for 6th.

Report is a joke. 7 unauthorised absences. 2 lateness. Attitude to tutor time is requiring urgent improvement!

When I looked at their key, the tutor time is because they don't contribute to school activities and fail to get positive comments from staff! Also says they are constantly late for everything. They fail to have pens and equipment.

I am livid. DD is inconsolable after the no positive comments from staff bit! They've said they have never been late or they'd be on report, and they always have their pens and notebook - they even showed me their bag with notebooks in full of notes.

To do this to a pupil they know is struggling with mental health issues is disgusting.

I queried- apparently they didn't take part in a year 12 fundraiser and they would have been emailed their job. I've checked their email, there is no such email. I asked them why they failed to consider the school panto, or voluntary work? Where the lateness dates are- one is from after they had dropped a subject at the end of Sept! They said they have been late last week- yet their brother in the year below wasn't and they walked in together and DDs mate said it's rubbish. The 7 unauthorized is because 'they" decide if they accept my call! They also said I failed to call on 3 occasions yet refused to give dates so I can prove different from my phone log.

What do I do? DD now doesn't want to go to sixth anymore. They're now in a spiral. They have autism. Surely school should understand that?

I am so angry! They've entirely ignored the panto and volunteering over some silly week that they never received an invite to. They're also "disappointed " that DD doesn't go to sixth form socials- these are organised by year 13, and take place in a nightclub with alcohol, in a city centre we live nowhere near. The club it takes place in recently was closed due to a stabbing. My DD is 16, I don't feel comfortable with them going to a nightclub under age and I'm far from the only parent who feels that way. DD said it really isn't their thing anyway, they're alternative and into music that would not be played at a nightclub.

Should I just remove them? Let them start again somewhere else in September?

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TeenDivided · 28/02/2024 18:13

Would your DD be better off going to college to do a Level 3 BTEC / T-Level rather than whatever your DD is doing now?

How is your DD actually doing in the courses?

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Bluevelvetsofa · 28/02/2024 18:28

I agree with @TeenDivided

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WillimNot · 28/02/2024 18:29

TeenDivided · 28/02/2024 18:13

Would your DD be better off going to college to do a Level 3 BTEC / T-Level rather than whatever your DD is doing now?

How is your DD actually doing in the courses?

Edited

They're doing OK for this stage in A'level.

We looked at the local college and it wasn't for them. Too big, too impersonal. They got very upset and overwhelmed and the whole evening wasn't organised that well which didn't help it give me faith in them at all.

I would like them to pass maths then consider work based training as they have no interest in uni and their chosen career isn't going to be unavailable to them without uni. But the maths tutor gives them sheets then buggers off out the room and leaves all three of the resit class to their own devices. They get no feedback or instructions.

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LIZS · 28/02/2024 18:47

But if they are still struggling with maths gcse and only now taking 2 , it seems unsustainable.

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WillimNot · 28/02/2024 18:50

@LIZS they need a pass in maths for their chosen career, so they have to pass. We've organised an online tutor starting from next week because the one at school is useless. Their grade did slightly improve this time around so they can grow in the subject.

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Octavia64 · 28/02/2024 18:57

Very few schools put money into resit students because although they have to resit, the results for resit students are rarely good.

A lot of sixth forms now won't take anyone who has failed English or maths because of the whole resit issue.

The lateness and absences are minor issues and I'd suggest ignoring them.

They've let your DD change subjects. At sixth form while they do need to make reasonable adjustments there is a step up in the amount of independent work etc done and she will be expected to parallel that.

If there are no other alternatives then work out what you care about and try your change that.

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LIZS · 28/02/2024 19:06

Don't they have to resit maths regardless until 19. Would Functional Skills suit their thinking better? What career do they hope to follow?

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WillimNot · 28/02/2024 20:00

LIZS · 28/02/2024 19:06

Don't they have to resit maths regardless until 19. Would Functional Skills suit their thinking better? What career do they hope to follow?

They'd like to be a specialist classroom assistant, working with children with SEN.

They do need to resit now, yes. We did flag to the lead for the subject that the teacher was next to useless and were told although others had complained or raised a concern, due to timetable issues it wasn't possible to change teacher. Hence organising tutoring outside of school.

With regards the lateness, it just irritated me because they've not been late, even though it takes us an hour to get to school each day. They're literally eating breakfast in the car!

The thing that really annoyed me was the accusation of no teacher having a positive word for them, and complaining about their joining in with an event they ever received an invite to join in with. It seems petty. It also raised a red flag for my DS, he said next year he wouldn't want to join in with a play or talent show or such like, and he's very shy, having a very small group of friends. If this is the attitude to a pupil who would have joined in if they'd been invited to, I worry, as does DS, that they won't respond positively towards his saying no to anything to do with singing, dancing or a "talent".

My view is they should be concentrating on education. If a pupil joins in or otherwise with something outside of that, should have no baring on their performance report.

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DelightSquish · 28/02/2024 20:44

It sounds like she is struggling and with that in mind just because she physically makes it into the building on time does not mean she is making each lesson on time. Her having equipment to show you now does not mean she hasn't been missing equipment in lessons. She may have deleted the email about the year 12 fundraiser.

You have come at this from a very protective stand point and kindly you are not in that school in those lessons with your DD. Post 16 education is not compulsory so she can leave at any point and depending on circumstances they can ask her to leave too.

At my child's sixth form they list out all the conduct points both positive and negative on the school report of which we get 4 a year so for Ds it is participation, professionalism, positivity, attitude to learning etc and negatives of attitude, respect, commitment to additional study etc. Plus a whole college ethos thing too. I know it may be hard to hear but if your DD's attitude sucks then they would struggle to say anything positive. I think it is shit that they didn't consider her mental health in all of that but some colleges aren't great.

I think you need to help your DD find a way forward, resitting the maths to pass, so if you can get hold of any of the previous exam papers she has sat then look at where she needs help. Mark schemes are online with the papers if school hasn't provided one. Don't just leave it to the tutor, sometimes we as parents have to take matters into our own hands to help our children. Just get her through this year and then have the summer to see how she feels about continuing there or at another college if that's what she wants.

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idontlikealdi · 28/02/2024 21:25

What's with all the 'they' and 'dd' makes it really hard to follow

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NeverDropYourMooncup · 28/02/2024 21:33

There are many, many 6th formers who go in through the gates on time but don't make it to their lessons or registration - the difference between them and the lower school truants is that nobody is going to be out searching the toilets, storerooms and backs of stages/large trees at the back of the field or round the back of the art huts looking for them. Because they're 6th formers, not 12 year olds.

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WillimNot · 29/02/2024 06:43

idontlikealdi · 28/02/2024 21:25

What's with all the 'they' and 'dd' makes it really hard to follow

DD identifies as they them.

I fail to see how it makes it hard to read Hmm

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WillimNot · 29/02/2024 06:49

Regards the possibility of the email being deleted, this isn't possible. I have their email inbox on my phone screen, with notifications, so any time an email pops up I can see it.
If something's had of popped up about their role in the fundraising week, I would have checked it to make sure it was something DD would feel comfortable with and that if it was something like a cake sale I had made cakes. Considering I have now requested clarification of the alleged email, including what DDs role was assigned and why the school didn't ask them why they didn't turn up, yet received nothing by explanation, is very telling.

It also tallied that this is not the first time they've wrongly accused DD of absence without permission. They've twice had to apologise before. Now it seems they've decided to do this because they're miffed for being called out before. The admin woman was very snotty about it when pulled up on inaccuracies.

At this point because of the maths GCSE being a necessity, they have to be somewhere, college isn't an option and we picked this sixth due to it being small. I have now suggested doing maths with the tutor who has an excellent success rate, then quitting and doing an apprenticeship instead.

I am protective of DD of course but seeing a notebook with dated notes that they carry everywhere, they always have this bag with them full of stuff, I think they've got this wrong and done serious damage to my teens already fragile self esteem.

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TeenDivided · 29/02/2024 06:55

You could do GCSE maths out of school, as you could find an external exam centre (ask your local Home Ed group).
However if your DD leaves school/college they would no longer be in 'full time education or training' and you may well lose child benefit.

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Octavia64 · 29/02/2024 07:03

In schools, and sixth forms, people make mistakes.

I worked in education for 20 years, mostly as a teacher.

Often a student in sixth form might not be in a lesson - they might have a meeting with the careers coach or be going through their ucas application or just be accessing pastoral support.

I had to mark them not there as they weren't physically in front of me, but the people running the meetings didn't always remember to update the register.

Your DD is not being "wrongly accused" of absence, there is just a (very minor) admin error happening.

It is absolutely not appropriate for you to be contacting sixth form staff and following up in detail on this. Normally if it needs correcting the student can just email,

I think that your DD's mental health issues may be impacting her experience of the school. She (and you) seem to be focusing on minor issues like absence records when what is more important is how she is doing in her main subjects.

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WillimNot · 29/02/2024 07:25

Octavia64 · 29/02/2024 07:03

In schools, and sixth forms, people make mistakes.

I worked in education for 20 years, mostly as a teacher.

Often a student in sixth form might not be in a lesson - they might have a meeting with the careers coach or be going through their ucas application or just be accessing pastoral support.

I had to mark them not there as they weren't physically in front of me, but the people running the meetings didn't always remember to update the register.

Your DD is not being "wrongly accused" of absence, there is just a (very minor) admin error happening.

It is absolutely not appropriate for you to be contacting sixth form staff and following up in detail on this. Normally if it needs correcting the student can just email,

I think that your DD's mental health issues may be impacting her experience of the school. She (and you) seem to be focusing on minor issues like absence records when what is more important is how she is doing in her main subjects.

I don't agree

This isn't just one wrong date they've marked down. It's 7 and two late marks. This is the third such incident of poor admin keeping, in a very small school with an event smaller sixth form cohort.

The comment that there has been no positive comments made is cruel. It's completely unnecessary and if there were concerns it could've been handled far more sensitively. It's also incorrect as I had an email last week from one of their tutors who said they had done so well in their recent tracking tests and she had noticed a difference since they dropped the other subject.

I cannot abide poor admin keeping. When it happens with my DS, I could be fined due to it so I've always queried it and had mistakes rectified.

To outright lie as well about a charity week that offered no educational value but seems to be so important as to feature as a negative on their report is a joke. They were never given a role. It feels very much like bullying.

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Neurodiversitydoctor · 29/02/2024 07:34

We have a Dd in year 12 as well and have just had the first report. Kindly- this isn't about you, your Dd is in 6th form and needs to take responsibility for their own learning. 7 unauthorised absences and 2 lates doesn't seem too bad to me. The main things are : are they generally happy in school ?, are they progressing well in their subjects ? All else is really window dressing at this time. Good lick with the resits 💐

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DelightSquish · 29/02/2024 07:55

When you say you call them to let them know she will be off is that what is meant to happen? This isn't school, it is sixth form so it is usually the responsibility of the student to do this, Ds has the option of ringing in or emailing from his student email. As a parent I am not allowed to do this. Maybe this is why she is down as unauthorised absences. Plus again, it is sixth form, non-compulsory education so no fines.

You say you are protective of your DD and we all are but you are coming across as combative rather than trying to resolve issues, it all seems to be about proving them wrong rather than asking them to work with you and your DD going forward. Using words like "to outright lie" you don't know they have lied, they may be mistaken, there may have been an issue with the mail box sending it out. As you have never worked in a school you don't know what things go on day to day with computer systems and registration.

I had a phone call last week telling me Ds wasn't in the lesson he was meant to be in (year 13) I said he isn't in maths he is in the hall for the presentation thing, he had scanned the QR code on entry to the hall but it hadn't registered him, as he wasn't in maths he was marked as absent for maths. I didn't froth about it, I knew it would be sorted out and it was. Someone checked he was in there.

Sixth forms are not school, issues with your child are dealt with with them, not you, they don't contact you for missed homework, there is no planner for you to sign, they assume at 16 that children are responsible for themselves. I have never been to a parents' evening at sixth form because you only get invited if there are issues to iron out that haven't worked with the child.

I agree that no positive statement about your child is shitty and hopefully that email from the teacher is a positive comment on your DD in that class. On Ds's report there is no personal comment section for them to fill in. We get 4 a year but in year 12 the first ones had no working grade as they needed more end of topic tests, but they did have the attitude to learning bit. It depends on the college, this is the same thing they had in the school which is part of the same MAT.

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ThePure · 29/02/2024 08:01

You can still be late for lessons during the day even if you walk in on time.

Could she not go to a stand alone 6th form rather than one attached to a school?
This all sounds very over involved for a 6th form pupil and more like school than college. My DD is loving the more relaxed atmosphere at college and no more petty uniform rules. They are treated more like adults which she responds well to

When she was marked absent in error for one lesson she sorted it out herself and had it corrected

We do get an attendance report for my DD but they have zero interest in what she gets up to in her spare time. I would not expect anyone to comment on her social activities it's not their business

Also we did have a parents evening too via Zoom.

I think she needs to go to a stand alone college with a more relaxed attitude. Maybe there is one less than an hour away. It sure helps my DDs attendance that she is 10 mins walk away.

In general it seems as though starting over in a less pressured atmosphere would be good for you both.

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ThePure · 29/02/2024 08:07

Also you have your 6th form child's email inbox on your phone?? My same age DD would hate me being that controlling of her. I have no access to her college emails and I don't want to. She shows me if she chooses to do so. I appreciate your DD has SEN but really you do seem like you are over monitoring very small stuff to a degree that isn't age appropriate. Doesn't she have to learn some independence in dealing with life admin things?

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TeenDivided · 29/02/2024 08:12

ThePure · 29/02/2024 08:07

Also you have your 6th form child's email inbox on your phone?? My same age DD would hate me being that controlling of her. I have no access to her college emails and I don't want to. She shows me if she chooses to do so. I appreciate your DD has SEN but really you do seem like you are over monitoring very small stuff to a degree that isn't age appropriate. Doesn't she have to learn some independence in dealing with life admin things?

When my DD started college with MH issues and some other SEN, she very much needed me to monitor admin and emails for her (and deal with absences). Just going to college and doing the work was overwhelming enough.

This school's attitude re extra curricular does seem a bit OTT. I suspect the OP has got used to having to fight and is maybe losing perspective over what is important and what isn't.

OP - the school has let your DD into 6th form despite needing to resit maths, and has allowed your DD to drop a subject entirely. Your DD appears to be doing fine in the actual academics. Your DD is hopefully no longer subject to bullying. Those are important. Lates/absences not so much.

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PaulGalico1 · 29/02/2024 08:32

I think the school has been accommodating - allowing your DD to study maths alongside A levels, change an A level and then drop an A level. Is the additional volunteering something they consider important for UCAS/CV's? Maybe the panto is considered recreational. I would encourage your daughter to finish the year and employ a tutor for maths. If you are really unhappy make an appointment and speak to them.

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Octavia64 · 29/02/2024 09:13

If you aren't happy with the school you can just remove her.

Technically all under 18s are supposed to be in education or training but in practice there is no follow up on this. My DD dropped out of a levels due to a major physical health issue.

Once your child is over 16 the levels of support from school/college drop substantially. Schools up to the age of 16 will offer pastoral support, counselling, intervention sessions etc etc

Over the age of 16 the culture is very different. If your child is not doing well then it becomes their responsibility to ask for more help. Extra lessons/pastoral support and so on do still exist but are much rarer and the expectation is that your child takes responsibility to communicate with the teachers themselves.

If your DD has autism she may find that transition difficult. As you say she also has mh problems that will not be helping.

You can absolutely take her out.
But it's worth being aware that the environment at other colleges and sixth forms is unlikely to suit her, and the sixth form where she currently it does not have to have her back.

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WillimNot · 29/02/2024 09:16

The fundraising week was just that, nothing serious at all, most of it was singing, acting and dancing on stage so not dissimilar to the panto. The only difference was DD gave up twice a week after school for an hour or more from the end of September until the end of December term. They had to put far more of their own time into it.

For those questioning about the fact they're sixth form but I have their email on my phone, I have my ds' account on there too. DD also has it on their phone. They are 16 but they are a very young 16, as I mentioned they have SEN issues which as a result means they are more like a 13/14 year old. I have always checked with things because they are forgetful, they once signed us both up to run a cake stall with homemade cakes and forgot to tell me until 6pm the night before. I've kept a check ever since as I didn't enjoy baking cakes and making posters until gone 10pm after being at work.

My main issue is they intentionally or otherwise have excluded DD from taking part and then bitched them about it, and the comment about having had "no positive comments from teachers". They now feel that where they previous thought they got on well with their teachers, the teachers slag them off. It's just how their brain interprets things. And school are aware of that.

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