GCSE Options - information from school

(66 Posts)
louisea Wed 19-Dec-12 22:53:13

When are the parents in your schools given information about your DCs GCSE options? DTs are in Year 9 and have so far had a couple of assemblies giving them information about some subjects. So far no information has been sent home to parents. I contacted the school to find out when the parents information evening will be and was given a date in mid January.

Other schools have already sent home booklets with the DCs and have given guidance. Should I be concerned that the school is going to give us a very tight deadline to make choices or is this time frame normal? These are my first children going through secondary school so we're all learning as we go.

Jux Wed 19-Dec-12 22:59:38

We're in the same position as you. DD is in Y9 and o info has come home. The school is operating paperlessly so I keep going online to see if ere is any info there. What I found was a leaflet which was sent home last year, and which talks a lot about the EBacc, and which has no relevance to current Y9s.

So we have no choice but to wait for mid-Jan. Meanwhile, I have no idea how to help/advise dd, and all I know is that they are expecting her to take 3 science GCSEs at the end of this academic year.

I suspect that the exams have been in such a state of flux thanks to Gove that no one really knows what's happening.

BackforGood Thu 20-Dec-12 00:09:59

dd is in Yr9 and not heard anything yet, so you are further on than she is.
When ds was in Yr9 (different school) we had a GCSE Options evening just before Feb 1/2 term, then they had their Yr9 parents evening just after 1/2 term, and then the options had to be in at the end of that week, or the next week.
In reality, there's not a lot of choosing to be done, IME so far - by the time they've got the complusory ones, then there are the ones they are never going to do ina million years, and then you've realised thay have to choose one from each option block - it's not exactly a free choice, then it kind of falls into place without too many decisions having to be taken, IME.

ibizagirl Thu 20-Dec-12 06:14:26

Dd was told about gcse options just after Christmas in year 8 and had to pick them by early Feb i think it was. She is now in year 9 and is doing gcse work. Don't understand why your dc's are in year 9 and options are not in place.

bruffin Thu 20-Dec-12 06:23:03

Perfectly normal. They really shouldnt be starting gcse until yr 10. Dcs school dont make decision until around end of Feb/march yr9. Options evenings,paper work etc not until the new year in year 9.

BellaVita Thu 20-Dec-12 06:47:53

Agree with Bruffin DS1 is now Yr11 and in Yr9 his Option Evening was March - was given paperwork a couple of weeks before this. Choices had to be in after Easter.

WynkenBlynkenandNod Thu 20-Dec-12 06:57:38

Options evening is 21 March for us with the booklet coming home a bit before. That's fine with me as I'd like a little longer to see how she's doing in various subjects though we've started discussion it in general terms.

OddBoots Thu 20-Dec-12 07:04:27

I'm not sure if it was different 'in my day' or if I was wandering around in a teenage cloud but for my ds in Y9 it seems like it isn't simply a case of selecting options. It appears that at the school now before he is being given the choices he may make there is streaming and banding going on to decide which things are open to him and which aren't.

At his last parents' evening he was told that he will be taking triple sciences and he is in the 'baccalaureate' group so he has to take Geography or History and at least one MFL.

bruffin Thu 20-Dec-12 07:13:27

At Dcs school the dc put in a sort of wish list, then the school sorts out a timetable and puts together option blocks, from which the final choice is made.
Dd was one of the few whose subjects clashed.

bunjies Thu 20-Dec-12 07:13:28

Same here. DS is in Y9 & options evening is end of Jan. From what I understand he will do core subjects (maths, English lang, English lit, 3 sciences) plus a language, a history or geography, RE (which is compulsory in his school hmm) which so far gives him 9. Plus I know he wants to do drama as well.

bigbluebump Thu 20-Dec-12 07:35:48

How many GCSEs does a pupil normally take?

bruffin Thu 20-Dec-12 07:41:30

Dcs school
Maths
English language
English literature
It
Science double or triple science
1/2 re
Citizenship
All compulsory

Then choice of a further 3, and a twilight if they want

lljkk Thu 20-Dec-12 07:59:41

Bigblue I think the modern thing is for them to plan to complete 8-14 GCSEs/BTECs, but it depends a fair bit on the scheduling and the ability group child is in.

DS school does GCSEs over 2 years so options choosing is from Feb-May of y9, with GCSE work to be completed yr10-11; other local state schools have them choosing in Feb-May of yr8 to do the GCSE programme in y9-11.

But because of sweeping changes from central govt. it's not clear how these or other schools will reschedule, if at all.

Something I wondered... is it the middle ability pupils who tend to do the most GCSEs & BTECs? I'm thinking weakest academically do the fewest because that's what they're up for. Top ability do fewer than average too, but do the more rigorous options. It's the kids in the middle who might do more of a scatter gun sampling, maybe, because their potential is unclear?

Vagaceratops Thu 20-Dec-12 08:06:12

ibizagirl

Our school also chooses options in year 8 and then starts GCSE work in year 9, but I dont think this is the norm.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 20-Dec-12 08:27:33

DDs in year 9, options sometime next term except for their tech subject which they started this year (they are allowed to drop it though).

They'll all do the core subjects inc triple science and are expected to do at least one MFL and history or geography for the EBacc. They don't have to do RE so as they do 11 GCSEs (+0.5 citizenship + twilight MFL/Latin/BTec Dance if they want) they've quite a lot of choice. AFAIK the only things they can't do are 2 techs or some combos of the 'fun' subjects -Art, Music, Drama,PE. (I don't mean by 'fun' that those don't entail a lot of work!). I'd guess they can't do both Computer science and ICT but don't know.

Jux - 3 science GCSEs at the end of yr9? Why? How? confused My dd is good at science, no way could she do that yet, they can't possibly have covered the syllabus yet.

BellaVita Thu 20-Dec-12 08:36:17

DS1 picked to do

Media
Music
IT
Double Science

Has to do half RE, English Lit, Language, Maths, Citizenship and PE.

phlebas Thu 20-Dec-12 08:49:13

dd's school do 10 or 11 GCSEs + 1 BTEC for most of the students - a BTEC is compulsory for all & the 11th GCSE is a twilight MFL. I imagine the BTEC thing will change with the new exams. Of the 10 maths, English x2, MFL, a science, RS & a technology are compulsory which leaves them with 3 or 4 options. They have three different streams for science - some single award thing I've never heard of (might be 20th century science???), a double GCSE or three separate & if they opt for that they do the 20th century science exam in year 10 so they get 4 science GCSEs. dd's only in year 7 though & obviously no-one has any idea what that cohort will be doing hmm

creamteas Thu 20-Dec-12 11:48:00

My DC's school also ask for outline plans just from the kids and use this information to timetable option blocks.

They do English Lang, Maths, double science, IT, RE, PE as Core

They have 3 option blocks to fill, and if you want separate sciences this takes up one of them.

The top sets take English and Maths in Year 10 and Lit and Stats with FSMQ in year 11. But if they are not on track to achieve target grades they drop down to lower sets and just focus on Lang & Maths

creamteas Thu 20-Dec-12 11:50:24

Posted too soon... Option evening & booklet out usually just before Feb half term, parents eve just after then a week to decide.

bigbluebump Thu 20-Dec-12 15:07:35

Thanks. If they take about 10 and of those about 8 are compulsory, then there aren't really that many 'options' to choose from, are there?

chloe74 Thu 20-Dec-12 15:35:05

Are these not matters others consider before choosing a school? When deciding a secondary for my DC, exam options etc was a huge influencing factor. You can hardly pick the school unaware of these?

Where changes to be made which I was not previously aware of I would take the matter to the board. You also have the option of refusing to sit any exams you don't think are appropriate. 10-13 exams seem way to excessive to learn them all properly. 7-10 seems a much better amount to learn in depth.

creamteas Thu 20-Dec-12 15:52:41

chloe exam options change regularly at my DCs school, and much of this is due to outside pressure. I have 4 DC (two now adults) and I don't think a single one had exactly the same options to choose from, and they were all different from when they started in Year 7.

The only choice you have is to stay or move school, complaining won't achieve much. Schools can't run individual timetables for each child!

lljkk Thu 20-Dec-12 16:09:01

Are these not matters others consider before choosing a school? When deciding a secondary for my DC, exam options etc was a huge influencing factor. You can hardly pick the school unaware of these?

Actually it is extremely easily done.

You are 200% more informed than most parents if it crosses your mind to ask these questions when looking. DD is y6 so I have just done the beauty tours; none of the official presentations talked about these issues, it was only when I asked specific questions to teachers about GCSE schedules that I got a clue. I am 99% sure that most other parents on tour never asked any similar questions. Most parents just assume it's kind of like when they themselves were at school, they don't realise the complexity of the options and possible implications of the modern choices. I'm only so well-informed because of A) MN and B) I am foreign, so I know I am clueless.

Plus sometimes you're looking at very few viable choices, and all of them run similar schedules or other factors are so compelling in the choice, that you just have to lump it for what you get. Around here you only get choice in state secondary if you can pay £300-£600/year in transport fees.

I don't know what happens if you sign your child up for a school and then try to stand firm and insist they follow a GCSE programme of your choosing. I imagine that they can't actually turn the child away, or can they?

chloe74 Thu 20-Dec-12 16:29:11

I guess many other parents don't then, I am surprised. I wouldn't have thought a school had to offer a course just because you demand it but they cant force you to sit a particular exam just because they teach it and they couldn't exclude your child for doing so.

I don't believe the English stiff upper lip attitude of 'there is no point in complaining'. If parents don't complain then change doesn't happen. The school board have the authority to make changes to the subject choices. Have you tried making representations to them, asking why they have made the choices they have, or even standing for the board yourself.

If parents don't tell the board what they want then how do they know your views? Stand up and be heard.

I also wonder at the validity of forcing options different to what you were told upon entry. I wonder would there be a case against the school for misrepresenting what they offered. If it happened to me I would find out my legal options.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 20-Dec-12 16:43:31

>I don't know what happens if you sign your child up for a school and then try to stand firm and insist they follow a GCSE programme of your choosing. I imagine that they can't actually turn the child away, or can they?

I don't suppose they turn the child away, but they certainly can't be expected to 'follow a GCSE programme of your choosing' - they have only so many teachers/labs/ etc etc and timetabling must be a challenge as it is.

We absolutely checked what options would be available - and what results the various schools we looked at got in the subjects which we guessed DD was most likely to want to do. As to the number of subjects - well, that depends on ability. DDs is a GS so they all seem to manage 11 (and more if they want to do twilight extras) and get good grades. 7 or 8 subjects wouldn't nearly enough for them especially now there are computing and worthwhile tech subjects to throw into the mix.

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