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Awkward letter to parents.....

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by milliemoo321, Jun 11, 2019.

  1. milliemoo321

    milliemoo321 New commenter


    I'm a Computer Science NQT with a student in year 9 who is very low ability and really shouldn't have been allowed to pick up CS as a GCSE - the poor thing is really struggling and sits doing not much every lesson. I've tried various ways of supporting and scaffolding her but my HOD and I have now come to the conclusion that she would be better off dropping my subject in favour of something less complex - maybe ICT.

    The thing is, I have to email her parents and suggest this to them and I have no idea where to start - any ideas/experience in this area please?

  2. NIHistoryTeacher

    NIHistoryTeacher New commenter

    Personally, I as your HOD would be meeting your parent and guiding them and the child to the correct decision so that it looked like their idea all along. You would be there learning how to have these difficult conversations and contributing when appropriate. In short, face to face with the evidence in front of you will work best.
  3. diddydave

    diddydave Established commenter

    Firstly I'd say run anything past your HOD before sending it. You are an NQT and this isn't (normally) a class-teacher level decision.
    Secondly find out what your school's policy is on students changing GCSEs, many don't allow it and most subjects are not happy picking up new students when they are a half (or a third in your case) through the course - particularly when they are academically weak and not inclined to catch up!
    Put the student's needs first - what are the actual alternatives and what realistically can they expect to achieve? If the best they can get in another subject is the same as in yours then why should they be moved.
    The changes to the ICT courses have made them much more rigorous, there aren't any 'less complex' ECDL type courses that get the school 'points' - but again perhaps this is an area where the needs of the student should come first and if such a course is to their advantage should you be offering it.
    border_walker likes this.
  4. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    I think it should be a meeting, not an email, and someone more senior should be involved - preferably taking the lead, so they can see that it's not just you giving up on her. It would also be worth running it past form tutor / HoY / SenCo (if relevant) - maybe she's struggling with other subjects too, and I don't think decisions this large should be made by departments in isolation.. Some schools have an option for students to drop a subject and have some study support for other subjects instead.
    Kim2284, border_walker and Piranha like this.
  5. averagedan

    averagedan Occasional commenter

    Rule 1 - Never leave a paper trail if you can help it.
    Rule 2 - Never deal with things above your pay grade, you're an NQT, this isn't on you bat it higher.
    Rule 3 - Always meet in person with difficult convos with a witness and make it clear to the parent that you're having the convo because you, just like them, want their child to be happy at school.

    Rule 3 trumps all - personal 1-on-1 time with a parent solves most things once they realise you're a decent human being.
    MissGeorgi and harsh-but-fair like this.
  6. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    The HoD is ultimately responsible for all the students pursuing their specialism- in theory it’s their experience that equates to their pay grade and the fact that, on occasions, nettles have to be grasped - cones with the territory.
    border_walker likes this.
  7. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

    If the student will grade in CS, then you need to keep them on the course, even for a Grade 1.

    If they won't grade, find an alternative qualification within your specialty like the AQA Unit Awards.
  8. Happygopolitely

    Happygopolitely Established commenter

    Why is your school doing gcse in Yr9? And when did the gcse course begin?
  9. binaryhex

    binaryhex Lead commenter

    Agree with the above; get the HoD involved and taking the lead, and for goodness sake, talk to the parents ideally in a meeting, don't do this by email - this very suggestion shows your inexperience! It's a human you are dealing with!

    The HoD should know the right way to approach this, should clear it with any other people in school who need to know and may have a comment e.g. her other subject teachers, tutor, SEN, switching policies, timetablers etc, should have a clear alternative plan ready including how the child will be able to catch up with what ever they've missed, and most importantly for you, you can watch and learn.
  10. yodaami2

    yodaami2 Lead commenter

    Don't most schools start GCSEs in year 9 now?
    Kim2284 likes this.
  11. Happygopolitely

    Happygopolitely Established commenter

    Nooooo not in my experience- Ofsted have questioned 3 yr gcses.
  12. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

  13. 50sman

    50sman Lead commenter

    The graded for GCSE are 9-1

    If all the student is capable of is achieving a grade 1 they must be allowed to achieve it.

    You will find this student will achieve Similar grades as Ross all subjects.

    Because of the intellectualisation if GCSE with the expectation that all can do it we no longer have a curriculum that is fit for purpose

    Solving that one is way above your pay grade!!!
  14. Happygopolitely

    Happygopolitely Established commenter

    This does not prove that many actually do three year courses - just that they would like to. In my experience, many don't but wish they could. Ofsted spells fear and panic remember for many hts which filters onto staff..
  15. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    So, a low ability girl has aspirations to know more about computers. The course probably does not suit her. Maths is probably a nightmare for her, History and geography is boring, English is compulsory, Science is too complicated, Languages are a no no. How is she going to find anything that fulfills her needs ? Forget about whether she passes the stupid exam !!
    I knew two girls that desperately wanted to be nurses but did not have a hope in hell of becoming an SRN. They just needed guiding to another similar role where they could care for people.
  16. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    However, the link I provided says "ASCL says around half of its members lead schools that run three-year GCSE courses." That probably accounts for quite a few.
  17. Happygopolitely

    Happygopolitely Established commenter

    Not many then?
  18. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    OK, many if you prefer. Assuming it is a representative sample, half of all school which do GCSE is many. But not quite most.
  19. averagedan

    averagedan Occasional commenter

    As part of my role at a previous school I visited a large number of secondary schools a few years back and every single school was running with three year GCSEs, some only did it for core subjects but most were across the board.
  20. Happygopolitely

    Happygopolitely Established commenter

    All schools I have worked at have refused point blank to do 3 yr GCSEs. Why? Because it would be incredibly dull and boring. Also of course because of Ofsted.

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