Help - DS2 has been given the 'dumbos' set of GCSE options!

(42 Posts)
OneMoreMum Thu 24-Jan-13 16:41:28

Poor DS2 has come come today with his GCSE options sheet, coloured bright yellow which marks him out as non - English Bac material (what a great idea to make it so obvious that all the other kids know who's got the 'dumbos' form - other kids words not mine!)

He is down to do Maths & English, BTEC science instead of GCSE, some sort of BTEC IT thing, lots of Citizenship-style rubbish and has only 2 proper options. The only language on offer (as one of the 2 options) is German, which he dropped last year when they came up with the great idea that you chose a language a year early so you could concentrate on it!!!!

He's only 12, they are choosing options in year 8, I am gutted that he has been written off so early.

He's never been very academic, his English skills were behind for a long time, due in part to a disastrous start to school before we moved him to a private primary who really helped but he's struggled to catch up, I think he's progressing much faster since he started senior school (good state comp).

Anyway, realistically do we have any chance (and should we) challenge this? He is currently working at a high level 4 maths, a middle level 4 english and a high level 4 science, is forecast to be at low 5 for maths and science by the end of year 8 and a high 4 in english, mid to high 5s in practical and art subjects.

racingheart Sun 10-Feb-13 17:51:20

OP, it's way too early to limit his options in this way.
You really need to get his English sorted. Once he's growing in confidence in that, all the humanities subjects will rise accordingly.
What are his difficulties with English?

JoanByers Thu 07-Feb-13 22:30:16

It's very complex. Parents want to know that their little darling is going to get 18 A*s, even if they are as thick as two short planks.

So they look at GCSE stats, which actually contain non-GCSE qualifications.

Personally I think they should scrap the 5 A*-C nonsense, and instead go for net progress, or something of that kind.

teacherandguideleader Thu 07-Feb-13 22:26:07

You are right - I don't think they should be seen as 'equivalent' as that's when they get seen as the easy option (which to be honest they probably are). I think they should be seen as an entirely different set of qualifications and not constantly being compared to GCSEs as its not a fair comparison. However tis will never happen until the way success is measured changes and the government accept that GCSEs don't suit everyone.

socharlottet Thu 07-Feb-13 19:33:52

equivalent in whose opinion, that is the point!

teacherandguideleader Tue 05-Feb-13 22:45:28

I hate the way children who are given btec routes are described as being 'written off'. I teach btec and love it. I love working with children who are not academically gifted but their eyes light up when they are told the award they will achieve is equivalent to a grade C (or higher)

Many of the children I teach have discovered that their btecs have enabled them to go on to further education, not held them back because it has helped them achieve level 2 qualifications that they may otherwise not have got. A level 2 is GCSE grade A-C equivalent.

I won't deny that some schools use them to manipulate league tables, but often the league tables are similar to college / sixth form entry requirements so the child benefits too.

Btecs are a good thing as not every child learns at the same rate or in the same way, when organised properly and taught by teachers who don't see it as 'being stuck with the thickos'

Sorry - rant over!

Sparrows12 Tue 05-Feb-13 08:37:43

I'm horrified that he is forced to make these choices so early. Michael gove has a lot to answer for.

JoanByers Mon 04-Feb-13 23:03:08

No doubt. A very cynical exercise. They have to do the GCSE Maths and English for the league tables, but then they do 'equivalents' for everything else.

It's always worth checking on the DFE website average number of GCSEs per pupil by low/middle/high achievers group.

socharlottet Mon 04-Feb-13 17:15:57

Yopu say it's a good school, but it isn't.
They are putting their stats in front of the best interests of their pupils

FreckledLeopard Mon 04-Feb-13 17:00:25

Choosing options aged 12? I had no idea that schools did this. We chose at the end of Year 9. A lot can happen between aged 12 and aged 16....

If I were you I'd move him. Drastic, but better than being written off so early on. I had some dyslexic friends and some people in my year (private school) who were not terribly bright, but all managed to get at least Cs in 9 subjects.

If you can afford private, or can move to a state school where he has more time to choose options and get him a tutor, then I'd give that a go.

RichardIII Mon 04-Feb-13 16:54:07

What grade is he in the instrument he played?they need to be grade4/5 standard as a minimum.
I think DT would be the best of the 3 choices

OneMoreMum Mon 04-Feb-13 16:46:07

Basically German is the second language option, included in the option blocks for everyone, but since DS has not been given a first language option it looks very strange.

If they agree he can do French it will be in place of some sort of basic skills certificate that really doesn't look like it's worth the paper it's written on so I'm not accepting that.

Arty subjects are DT, art and music, even though he gave up learning an instrument a few years ago, he's still quite interested, plus they can take the technology rather than performing path if they wish. Not sure which of those will be most rewarding / difficult for him.

Still waiting to hear about the French, any advice on the other subjects gratefully received.

Snazzynewyear Mon 04-Feb-13 10:55:25

Making him start a totally different language doesn't make any sense! Either he's not suited to languages so shouldn't do any, or he is and so should carry on with one he's already started! All sounds odd.

socharlotte Mon 04-Feb-13 10:51:37

what are the arty subjects? and if he does a language will that leave him one 'arty' option

socharlotte Mon 04-Feb-13 10:50:26

German is much more difficult than French, why on earth would they make him do that!

OneMoreMum Thu 31-Jan-13 17:57:53

Ok thanks for all the comments, very helpful.
Bit of an update, Science have said he's fine to go in for double GCSE, it appears that it's his low English score that is barring the language option and a few other things, so we are in discussions about that.

Hopefully we will be able to convince them to let him do French and not the silly lifeskills-type certificate and all will be well.

Now just need to work out how to fit the three arty subjects he want to take into two choices......

cardibach Sat 26-Jan-13 19:53:59

Child not cold. Stupid phone.

cardibach Sat 26-Jan-13 19:53:35

I'm an English teacher. A cold getting high level 4 in the middle of Y8 is likely to make it to level 5 by the end of KS3 and as such would be capable of a C at GCSE so I disagree with some earlier posters. The thing I think is bad is making these big decisions so early. It's a prime example of the sort of policies which are formulated with the school's best interests in mind not the students'. On this basis I would want to move him if he were mine.

TheFallenMadonna Sat 26-Jan-13 09:36:46

A C grade in GCSE Science is important. An F isn't. That's why you need to pick the right course.

Sorry to be late replying OP. I expect BTEC and GCSE classes will be timetables together, but yes, they are likely to be following a different curriculum if they have decided now. I would ask them what their timetable is for teaching and assessment of each course, and whether they have identified any points at which students could move from BTEC to GCSE. We also allow students who have achieved well in BTEC by the end of year 10 to cash that in then and do a Science GCSE in year 11. Our system is complicated, but it is flexible and allows for students who progress later in KS4 to widen their options.

sashh Fri 25-Jan-13 04:04:01

The only thing I would challenge is the science. GCSE science is a gateway to a lot of things including teaching.

If you have the money to go private get a tutor and tel the school that is what you are doing.

All anyone needs are 5 A* - C including maths and English with science being useful.

CocoNutter Fri 25-Jan-13 00:06:44

Minor point - don't write off philosophy and ethics - it's very like RE and it's a good subject for developing written skills in evaluation and extended writing so it may help his English too.

noblegiraffe Fri 25-Jan-13 00:00:05

The headline figure today was that only 16% of students nationally achieved the Ebacc, so your DS is unlikely to be disadvantaged by not being offered it. However I agree that 12 is too early to select options and if he has particular subjects in mind then a meeting with the school about his limited selection would be useful.
Citizenship (PSHE I assume, not a GCSE) and ICT are compulsory so the ebacc students will be doing those too.

OneMoreMum Thu 24-Jan-13 23:31:53

Yes they are the same levels as at primary, they continue on until they start working on their GCSEs when grading (predicted, working at etc) moves to the GCSE grading system of A to G, a damn sight easier to understand!

The Norwegian system sounds like a better option, perhaps we should move there.....

Can I just ask a question? My son is in year 6, so this is not relevant for me for a couple of years. But when you are referring to level 4, does this mean that the levels start again from 1 when they enter secondary? Or do they continue on from levels set in primary?

Forgive my ignorance, but being Norwegian and never had any experience of UK secondary schooling, I am keen to understand.

It seems awfully early to start closing off options at the age of 12. For us, this happened age 16 when you more realistically would know if you had interest or aptitude really.

OneMoreMum Thu 24-Jan-13 22:08:12

Madonna honestly what would you suggest I do / say to the teachers?
It seems to me you are timetabled as GCSE or BTEC science so I bet it's not possible to change once you start yr 9.

He's a summer baby so very young and immature compared to many in his year.

Startail Thu 24-Jan-13 21:12:55

12 really feels too young, DDs don't choose options until after they do their Y9 CATs (basically IQ tests).

They also get given one of 4 different coloured booklets and I really felt for the DCs carrying the lower ones on options evening. The codes on the web site so all the parents know your ~IQ too.

All you can do is talk to the school and talk to the private school too. That sounds a horribly limited set of options and I have no patience with PHSE/Ethics etc.

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