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I don't think I'll ever understand this school... - dorsetgirl
May 20th, 2014
11:58 am
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I don't think I'll ever understand this school...
Youngest son came home a couple of weeks ago very pleased with himself, and announced that he had been invited "as one of the best mathematicians in the year" to take part in "some [external] Maths thing", and that he had told them he would go. We’re fairly accustomed to this sort of thing - despite apparently not qualifying as "Gifted and Talented", all three of them have on various occasions been invited to take part in external maths/science/computing things as one of the top ten or so in their year group - so I just congratulated him and put the date in the diary.

Yesterday I finally received the official email telling me about this outing. It confirms that only ten students have been selected (out of about 150 in the year group), but it is the stated purpose of the day that took me by surprise:

"...to encourage interest in Maths with a view to studying it at ‘A’ Level and beyond."

Well. This is a child whose parents and eldest brother muster between them - amongst other things - one Maths degree, five Maths ‘A’ Levels and a Further Maths ‘AS’ Level. And his other brother is in Year 12 currently working towards a Maths ‘A’ Level and a Further Maths ‘AS’.

This is seriously not a student who needs the idea of doing Maths at ‘A’ Level bringing to his attention. In our family the idea of not doing it would be more thought-provoking, and certainly at this stage youngest son is taking it completely for granted that at the end of next year he will go on to do Maths at ‘A’ Level. (I should clarify here that we listen[ed] with interest to thoughts on which ‘A’ Levels they want[ed] to do, but absolutely do not attempt to tell them which ones they "should" do.)

So while I’m obviously pleased on youngest son’s account for the recognition and the hopefully-interesting day out, and I'm definitely not going to stop him going, it strikes me that there must surely be more "deserving" candidates for this trip. For example students who are very good at Maths, but whose families are Arty and would find the idea of doing Maths ‘A’ Level as disturbing and "unsafe", if I can put it that way, as we find the idea of not doing it.

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Date:May 20th, 2014 11:54 am (UTC)
I'm curious: how would the school know that some students who are currently getting the highest marks in Maths would not consider doing it at 'A' Level? From what you've talked about with this school before, they don't seem terribly engaged with the individual students' home lives and individual preferences for things. Do you think they really would study the first 25 or so students (given that they are only sending 10) and ponder: "Yes, Billy/Beth is in the top 10 in Maths, but s/he's so obviously Maths/Science oriented that s/he's a sure bet to go for an A-Level, so we don't need to send him/her. Jack/Jane, however, is only has the 12th best Maths marks and seems to prefer Music, and might give the Maths A-level course a pass if s/he isn't encouraged; better to send this one."? I'm guessing that's too much thought for this crew; they probably just grabbed the names of the 10 children with the highest Maths marks and said, "Reward for good marks!" to them. Which is certainly how your lad reported it.
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Date:May 20th, 2014 12:13 pm (UTC)
Do you think they really would study the first 25 or so students...

I would certainly hope the idea would cross their minds, let's put it that way, and it's certainly how I would do it. Given that only the top set, ie about thirty kids, have any chance of being allowed onto the 'A' Level course, it doesn't sound too difficult. And given how much they boast about their levels of pastoral care, individual attention etc, you'd think they would be embarrassed to indicate so clearly that they don't know (or think about) these things.

While I don't expect them to know about students' home lives - because all indications are they couldn't care less - they certainly know that this particular student has two older brothers doing/did Maths 'A' Level in this school right now and two years ago!

(doing/did - sorry, I know that's horrible, I just couldn't get my head around rephrasing the damn' thing!)
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