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A level - legal rights

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by gergil4, Oct 2, 2019.

  1. gergil4

    gergil4 New commenter

    Hello. Not sure if you can help me, but here goes.
    My son is finding an A-level quite hard. He attends lessons and is well behaved. Can school force him to drop the subject? This would leave him with only 2 A-levels so little hope of university. I would rather he carried on and at least tried. He is having help outside school too. Thank you.
  2. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    I am not a head but I have been in this situation as a parent. It is my belief that if your child has met the entrance criteria for year 12 and has attended and behaved the school should provide a place for them and if they achieve a low grade and that is the best they can do then so be it. If I had my time again I would argue that the school also has some responsibility for the poor progress and I would ask very specifically what measures had been put in place to help the child progress in line with those with similar ability. I did threaten legal action and the school relented. The problem is that there is nowhere else that lower achieving students can continue with A level courses as colleges rarely do these now so a transfer is not possible. My child did eventually go to uni and is now doing well in a career that she loves. I still feel angry with the school because of the way they wanted to throw her on the scrap heap when she was a good pupil who had some issues in year 12. Thankfully these were only minor and we chose a uni where she got help and where the assessment regime suited her better. The whole 6th form thing was just a blimp however if she had been thrown out I think a great deal of damage would have been done. The school should never accept pupils in the first place if they feel these kids are not able enough to pass the course but it is a money issue and in my view unacceptable to use kids to increase their budgets in this way. As a teacher I accept that there are timewasters and non attenders who deserve to be asked to leave but nice weaker pupils deserve a chance to get a grade even if it is a low one.
    sabrinakat likes this.
  3. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    I forgot to add that this was an ordinary state comp. If these schools do not accept such kids who does?
  4. gergil4

    gergil4 New commenter

    Thank you for that - sounds very familiar. Little extra help given in school. I just want to know where I stand before I speak to them. Thank you for your time. I'm glad your daughter is now doing so well.
  5. install

    install Star commenter

    There was a school in the news - near Orpington I think, where the parents challenged the school's decision to kick Sixth Form students off their A level Courses. The parents won the case. Approx 2017/2018 if I recall.
  6. gergil4

    gergil4 New commenter

    Thank you. I remember that. I don't know if the parents won due to legality or PR!!
  7. install

    install Star commenter

    I have just checked - so a slight correction here. According to the Guardian (1st Sept 2017) , the school backed down as a result of parent threats to take legal action and along with the growing media pressure. So it seems no legal action was needed in the end, but the threat of it and the publicity caused the U turn ..

    And the parents got what they wanted as a result because students were finally allowed back in and to finish off their Sixth Form Courses. The school had tried to reject them half way through much to parent and student upset.
  8. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    St Olave's Grammar School, Bromley, Kent. The official investigation report is here. There were many other things going on there that the report concluded were improper, it wasn't only Y12 to Y13 progression.

    Parents had instructed lawyers to begin Judicial Review proceedings against the school on the grounds that its policy of preventing Y12 progressing to Y13 if their grades weren't high enough was illegal. It had got as far as a formal Letter Before Action being issued before it became a major scandal and the head departed and the policy changed.

    It needs to be distinguished from OP's situation though. St Olave's policy was to remove pupils from the school if their Y12 grades weren't high enough. In effect they were being permanently excluded and the report concluded that was illegal. Schools cannot legally exclude pupils for academic performance, only for disciplinary reasons.

    Requiring pupils to take a different qualification, or fewer subjects, in Y13 is a different matter. Exclusion law is irrelevant to that as the pupil isn't being removed from the school roll. I don't know if anyone has ever taken this situation to court, and there is nothing specific about it in education law or DfE guidance, but most commentators seem to think that the school has the discretion to decide what courses it allows pupils to take providing it has published policies that set this out.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2019
    ScienceGuy likes this.
  9. gergil4

    gergil4 New commenter

    Thank you. I really appreciate the efforts people go to on here to help others.
    install likes this.
  10. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Dropping a subject could be more acceptable depending on the grade the student is heading for. If they're heading for DDU, then the suggestion of dropping one in the hope of making that CC might be sensible. However the cynic in me suspects that some schools may be tempted to suggest dropping subjects that will reduce the school's A*-B rate, and that seems like something that benefits the school at the expense of the student.
    gergil4 likes this.
  11. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    But, is there any purpose in one continuing to study for a qualification one has no chance of attaining?

    Drop an A Level and ask to pick up an additional vocational course in its place maybe?
  12. install

    install Star commenter

    All good to know - in terms of what is legal and what is not when it comes to A Levels. Some schools clearly play games. Remember they get money for bums on seats.
  13. sooooexcited

    sooooexcited Established commenter

    To me the only deciding factor is whether your child wants to continue with the subject or not. Nothing puts more pressure on students than doing something because they "have to" but nothing builds resilience by doing a subject because they are passionate about it.

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