Saturday, June 16, 2012

Today's the day ....

......that we find out if Leo will have to do resits at the end of August.
Italian secondary school is complicated and stressful...on the whole I don't think it is a bad system but then we have spent the last few years going through it with Thomas - one of those kids who is lucky enough to have his father's brain and my work ethic - school with Thomas has never caused us any problems at all.
With Leo it has been a bit different - he started off at primary school right slap bang in the middle of the separation turning really nasty - and his teachers (well one in particular) 'labelled' him - child from broken home/poor family/foreign mother/southern father etc etc (oh, and it was a church school too - get that?) - he had a really unpleasant maths teacher who, with her attitude towards him in general has scarred him for life where maths is the middle of his third year there we decided to move him - mid term, mid-week, it was the best thing we ever did but we should have done it ages before.
Once he moved schools his smile came back, he started to enjoy school again and he began to realise that in fact he is perfectly bright - but his fear of maths has continued. He finished elementary school, went right through middle school and has now just finished the 1st year of secondary school - and he has always had good, fair, patient, understanding maths teachers - all of whom tell us he is perfectly bright, and he can do maths - but when he has tests he simply goes into a tail spin.
And the here in Italy tests and marks are the be all and end all of school. Tests are marked out of 10 with 6 being a pass, each term (the school year is divided into 2 terms of 4 months) the kids have at least 3 written tests and 3 oral tests in each subject, at the end of the first term the marks are looked at and if you are below 6 in any subject you have a 'debt' which you have to 'recuperate' - he got to the end of the first term and, as we expected, had a debt in maths (unfortunate because he had 7 orally and 5 written - if that had been now in June they would have given him an overall 6) - he studied and managed to recuperate - but then he was already into the second term - this term we have had written marks like 2.5 (ie he just about managed to write his name correctly), a 4+, a couple of 6's and then 8.5 and 8+ (part of me thinks he is really confusing his teacher.....).
They finished school last week and the teachers will have sat down all together to decide on the kids' final marks - and boy is that interesting (having sat in on a lot of these meetings over the years) - there is so a lot of bartering, if a kid has say 5.6 the teacher will decide whether to bring it up to 6 (pass) or down to 5 (fail) and it is also the time when they decide whether to make a kid 'pay' for not having studied, been well behaved etc . It is also the when they decide if anyone has actually failed the year (if they are below 6 in more than 3 subjects) - this is common practice - in most classes there are always 1 or 2 kids and maybe even up to 12 who actually fail the year and are held back (one of Thomas's best friends has just failed the school year for the third time over the last 4! - so instead of going to university in September he should theoretically go back into the 3rd year with 2 more years to go - btw I think he's being sent to work by his parents now - there's only so long you can flog a dead horse right??) .
Anyway, today all the results of all the subjects for Leo's year will be published - ie stuck on a wall at school for everyone to see (ouch) - if you have finished the year with a debt there are no marks up for you - it simply says 'decision pending' (how awful is that) - then you get a letter telling you in which subjects - at 11 .00 Leo will go down to see - based on our calculations of his marks he should be ok, his teacher has been very good with him and she has told me that she knows he studies, does his homework, pays attention in class and basically puts in the hours but he just has this block when he does the tests - this means that the chances are that even if he was just below 6 she will probably have brought him up (if he hadn't studied or made an effort she probably would have left him his 'debt') - anyway, in a few hours we will know.
If he has a'debt' he will have to do a catch up course in July, study all summer and take resits in August - this would be disastrous for Leo - he doesn't have the stamina that Thomas has and school here is exhausting and, like I said, stressful - he needs a break - if he has to spend all summer with this hanging over his head (because if the kid fails the resit they can theoretically fail the year - and I have seen that happen).
 I admire Leo because school doesn't come easy to him like Thomas but he has never given up or walked away - which is our big fear - he has battled on regardless and he has always seen that despite the difficulties he has always managed to come out on top - but others in his place would have walked away - today is important for him and for his self -esteem - please think of him at 11.00!!!!!


  1. Well, now it has happened and you are either relieved or working on a plan. Who would want to be that age again, poor kids. The whole system sounds very strict and complicated. Kids don't fail here until 16 really. Not necessarily a good thing but it saves much stress. Fingers crossed for Leo but come 6 it's our job to just be loving, accepting and supportive. Take him out for pizza regardless!

    It's worth noting that more than 70% of my daughters primary school were from split/divorcing/poor homes if the teacher tried to label them all she'd have run out of stickers. Some people just shouldn't teach.

    1. You are so right - the ridiculous thing is that Thomas was in the same school with different teachers who actually looked at him, saw a little boy going through a difficult time and then went above and beyond to help and support him - they were such a big help to Thomas (and to me) - I will never be able to thank them enough - and then Leo's teachers looked at the same 'circumstances' and behaved in a completely different way!! But......he has passed the year with an overall average of 7.4 - so we are MEGA relieved - pizza it is!!!!

  2. Oh my! I'm confused just reading how all this is figured out! I know what you mean about teachers ruining a subject for someone. Our oldest had a horrid math teacher in high school. She hates math to this day. And YAY! for a pizza celebration! :-)