Triple science gcses. Pros and cons please.

(43 Posts)
Spidermama Thu 17-May-12 23:14:38

My daughter's being encouraged to take triple science for gcses. I don't know much about this. They warn it would mean lots of hard work and she's already working really hard and getting stressed. Any experience anyone?

BackforGood Thu 17-May-12 23:25:21

Depends what her options are. In many schools, if you take 3 sep sciences then it means you lose a language or a humanity.
In ds's school however the top set (set and a half?) did the triple science in the same timetabled space as other sets did the core, or additional - it was just felt they could move along quicker.
ds hasn't exactly done much hard work and is predicted good grades - difficult for us to know if your dd would find it lots of hard work or not though, as all children are different.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 17-May-12 23:29:10

I've no experience yet - DDs in yr8 and they all do triple science at her school so I guess I'll find out. (Don't remember 3 science O-levels being unduly onerous)

I guess it depends whether she's into science, also whether she's good at maths, and how many other subjects she'll be doing and whether its 'extra' or she'd have to not to something else she wanted to.

gelatinous Thu 17-May-12 23:38:42

Pros:
1) May make A-level sciences a little easier if she chooses to do any.
2) Tends to be taken by more able students and so has acquired a certain status.
3) A relatively easy GCSE option for a scientifically minded child (who may achieve a better mark in it than the alternative).

Cons:
1) If done instead of another option may leave a less balanced set of GCSEs.
2) If done in addition to existing options means extra work.
3) A harder option than others for a non-sciencey child.
4) For a child who has a weaker science subject (say Physics), they can avoid getting a lower mark in Physics than they would in Core and Additional science (where the Chem and Bio would hopefully pull up the weaker Physics result).

wordfactory Fri 18-May-12 11:03:10

DD has been told that the girls in her set, and only her set, will do triple science. And that this will be timetabled alongside the other pupils taking double, so no extra time for it and more work for sure.

I must admit to being a tad nervous....it sounds a tough gig alongside all the other things.

gelatinous Fri 18-May-12 11:27:05

How many other GCSEs is she doing? Does she like science and might she want to do any science A levels? Presumably she is good at it or she wouldn't be in that group - does she have any predicted grades yet? Is she currently year 9 or 10?

I don't think it's a huge amount extra work - in terms of syllabus there seems less needed across all the subjects than the amount needed for either core or additional science (though they are supposed to be equally weighted), but it will be hard if she struggles conceptually with it. Usually there isn't any extra CA/ISA work either as although one more is submitted, for double they usually do them in each subject and then submit 2.

I assume it's the top set, so presumably to not do it she would have to move down a group which isn't always a good thing, but equally, if it will stress her then it may not be worth it.

BackforGood Fri 18-May-12 13:10:16

wordfactory - that's what ds has done (doing his final exams now). Trust me, he hasn't overworked! It's just about the pace they move at in lessons.

PooshTun Fri 18-May-12 13:14:52

A friend works in Admissions at a leading London university and she was saying that they expect science applicants to have triple science.

She accepts that it doesn't make those applicants any cleverer. Its just that it is perceived that schools only allow its cleverest kids to take triple science. Therefore the triple science grade As kid must be clever.

BackforGood Fri 18-May-12 13:39:03

That's interesting poosh. I heard something similar about French not long ago. They (he's an employer) said that almost everybody ends up with English and Maths, but they've no way of telling from an application form how much support or how many retakes they've had to take to get them, but to see French (as we were talking about it, but insert any MFL) on the application form, shows him that the applicant was amongst the 'more able' at school.
I don't know how accurate this is in terms of statistics, but it's an interesting point to note in terms of employers perceptions.

Slambang Fri 18-May-12 13:45:09

Frankly why would you not do it if you're offered? Much more interesting than double science. Universities want it and if you want to have any chance of a vaguely sciencey career it's essential.

Ds doing it at the mo. Really not a lot of work (especially compared to art confused).

BackforGood Fri 18-May-12 13:59:22

IME, the school will only offer it to those pupils they feel can manage it. It's not in their interests either to be setting children up to fail.

wordfactory Fri 18-May-12 16:25:19

I'm heartened to hear that triple isn't too much extra grin.

eatyourveg Fri 18-May-12 20:52:19

this is very interesting reading - can I ask then if anyone knows whether BB at double would be considered better, on a par or not as well good as CCC at triple?

ds3's school make science compulsory and traditionally the top set do triple and the other two do double. He's down for triple at the moment but not particularly academic and probably going to go for BTEC sports in the 6th form. Wondering whether to switch to double

gelatinous Fri 18-May-12 23:09:13

I would say for sure eatyourveg that BB was better than CCC. But I also think a child who is likely to achieve BB at double would be able to achieve BBB at triple.

Remember BB/BBB is quite a common threshold to be allowed to sit science A levels.

boomting Fri 18-May-12 23:36:42

Triple science is effectively double science, but with a bit extra tacked onto the end of the syllabus. This is the harder stuff, designed to stretch the more able, but there isn't a gigantic difference in terms of difficulty between the two bits.

Advantages include the fact that it will make the leap between GCSE and A Level science slightly easier (although the leap is still pretty big!), universities see it in a positive light, and doing triple science involves less workload than doing double science + another subject, but it still counts as three GCSEs. On the other hand, doing double science allows you to average out the marks from the three subjects, thus 'hiding' a particularly weak subject - but also dragging down the best ones. However, I think this is only really valuable if DC is likely to get less than a C in that subject.

eatyourveg BB + another academic subject at B grade will be seen in a better light than CCC. However, you shouldn't lose sight of that fact that once your son has 5 A*-C grades inc. English & Maths (at B, ideally) then he will have reached the GCSE requirements of just about everywhere (including Russell Group universities, with the exception of uber-competitive subjects like medicine, although it sounds like this isn't a route he's likely to go down). GCSEs should be seen primarily as a stepping stone to college.

eatyourveg Sat 19-May-12 15:53:52

thanks - I'm going to ask if he can swap then.

Mutteroo Sun 20-May-12 23:10:23

My son loves science but didn't want to in his words 'waste a subject'. He's completed most exams already in his Dual Science papers and is on course for 2 x A*. He was planning to take Chemistry & Physics at A Level & discussed the options with his science teachers before he even started his GCSEs. Although his teachers wanted him to go for individual sciences, not one of them could state it would be any more beneficial than the dual award. My son has studied each science in a block with appropriately qualified teachers & enjoyed what was on offer. He's now chosen to swap Chemistry with Computing & has added Double Maths to his list of A Levels & has a confirmed offer from a sixth form college. Can't say his decision has harmed him at all!

vj32 Tue 22-May-12 21:42:19

It really really helps if they plan to take A Level sciences. They don't need it but it would make their time at college much harder and put them behind their peers who have done triple science.

2rebecca Tue 22-May-12 22:23:26

I'm amazed and saddened that England have ditched teaching the 3 sciences seperately at GCSE level. My son has his biology standard grade tomorrow as the 3 subjects are still seperate in Scotland. At least he knows which subject is which for choosing his highers.
As a scientist I feel you wouldn't squish geography and history together so why squish the sciences together?

BackforGood Tue 22-May-12 22:48:14

It's hardly new 2Rebecca. I went to a top grammar back in the days of O-levels, and, because they wouldn't let anyone take more than 10 O-levels, we all took "Physical Science" and then Biology rather than 3 sep science O-levels. We'd had 3 sep lessons on the timetable right up to the exam, but weren't allowed to take them as 3 sep O-levels.
Many, many girls went on to do Science A-Levels and then medicine, dentistry, etc.,etc.

Hopefullyrecovering Tue 22-May-12 22:52:48

Triple science compulsory for both DCs. Good for DS who will do science A levels and probably good for DD, who will at least learn a little science along the way to her arty A levels.

I'd be interested to hear what university admissions people make of double science. Is it a hallmark of a less academic child? Would you look at it askance even if someone were to be applying for (say) History?

outtolunchagain Tue 22-May-12 23:02:43

My ds has dual science although at his school you still get taught separately for biology ,physics and Chem ,it's just that you don't take the third set of exams .He got an A and A* and did it because he wanted an extra humanity.

He had five offers from RG universities for a social science subject so it obviously didn't bother them.

2rebecca Tue 22-May-12 23:05:23

I did my O levels in England in the 80s and everyone in my state school did seperate sciences. I moved areas age 12 and neither school had a combined science option. My younger sibs had seperate sciences as well.

gelatinous Tue 22-May-12 23:13:20

I think double science (or more correctly, core and additional) is a really good idea. It stops children wanting to do only 2 science GCSEs for whatever reason (and there are lots of very valid reasons) having to choose between Physics, Chemistry and Biology. It still gives them each of the separate sciences, just a little less of all of them and critically gives them enough knowledge to study A level in any or all of them so keeping options open.

I think it is possible too to do a GCSE in humanities. I don't know much about it - it's certainly much less mainstream than science, but if it keeps more A level humanities options open then why not? At 14 it isn't good to be closing doors to future studies and 10 isn't a huge number of GCSEs to choose, especially when a lot are compulsory.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 22-May-12 23:19:10

From what I can see of my DD, they don't really 'squish them together' if they're doing triple. They report the Chemistry, Physics and Biology as 3 separate subjects on the GCSE lists, and they seem to be taught as such. The difference between now and when I did my O levels in the 70s(including 3 sciences) is that now all the girls in DDs school do all 3 sciences whereas in my day, of the girls in a mixed school I suppose most did biology, maybe half did chemistry and as to physics, well - that was just me and my pal (who I think in retrospect did it out of loyalty to me)

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