Double science v. triple. Has DS blown it?

(246 Posts)
Erebus Tue 05-Mar-13 18:49:36

I will be absolutely honest and say that, at parents eve tonight, the bomb shell was that DS1 is being considered for 'top set double science' not triple science- though which 'set' is rather neither here nor there!

I am rather 'taken aback' that he's not in the top 3rd of his 270 strong-year group (Y9), tbh! I acknowledge that his school is the county's top performing comp, academically so, yes, the competition may be a bit stiffer than completely 'average', but! In Dec his level was 6.2 or 6 low as they call it, and it was the only report he's every gotten a '2' for effort ('usually tries his best, but not always'). Always had a '1' for everything to date.

His 'in class' work has let him down, he got a 4.8 for his last experiment (she only looked at the last 2 or 3 marks, but of course will have an overall overview of DS, won't she?), and when asked why tonight, he said that the 2 other boys he works with were mucking around and they got no experimental data to work with... but he got 76% for the exam they did last week in class (certainly top quarter of the 3rd group in science, there being 2 A groups, 1 B group, his, all 30 DC apiece). Do not misunderstand me- I know DS wouldn't the beacon of diligence trying to pull it all together in class!- but I do sort of think they really haven't given their more 'OK, enough coasting, time to knuckle down boys children' time to show that they now 'get it', and that playtime, as such, is over. I think he had his first real shock tonight, actually. The level 2 'for effort' didn't do it (but his achievement mark was well in the upper half of the school's expected level).

The teacher said 'it's better he gets As or A* in double science than does less well in 3', which is undeniable. BUT DS is capable! My 'complaint' about the school would be they let the kids coast in Y8, no homework, no pressure; then 'wham!' Y9. MUCH more homework, much more focus. I readily concede we are half way through Y9 but I sort of feel DS only got his first yellow card, in Jan, with his report for science, but has just been told, 7 weeks later (today), he has 2 weeks to change their minds for double v. triple science. That's 2 lessons (though the teacher says she will rearrange the prac. groups). He was almost in tears (the teacher didn't see) as we left her as he knows that he needs triple science to be allowed to do science A level at Peter Symonds in Winchester (High performing 6FC). Until tonight he was harbouring a dream of 'maybe science or Engineering at uni'- but, well, he's blown that, hasn't he? A DC who is only allowed to do double science at a school that offers triple isn't 'Science At Uni' material, is he?

Sorry, really, for the ramble but I really, genuinely thought that DS's 'science' future was 'on course'; that is B grade English/humanity performance and possibly even C grade MFL (yet, oddly, A at Maths?!) was counterbalanced by 'solid science'. But it would appear not.

I don't really know what I want you lot to say. I don't know what I'm 'asking'. I just feel, well a bit pole-axed by tonight's revelation, I guess. And I know they aren't really likely to change their minds.

lljkk Sat 16-Mar-13 13:47:36

I had no idea that double-triple could be so complicated.

Erebus Sat 16-Mar-13 09:35:36

Well, that just about wraps this up, thank you for various contributions.

We will indeed be keeping a close eye on how things pan out over then next term- and certainly if DS is offered triple but if his performance in Science drops off, we may have to revisit this! And of course, upon discussion with all of his tutors, it may be decided he really should be doing double. But at least we know that they won't be dumping him off triple without a thought. Maybe then they do actually have the ability to get a good but not 'brilliant at science' DC like mine to A-A* in Triple rather than my assumption they just didn't let less-that-stellar DC onto the Triple course....

I confess I was amazed at how 'easily' DS doing triple was countenanced by the HoS. I had assumed we'd been given the box and dice about how very, very difficult it was, how colleges see no difference between double and triple students, how doing triple over double was of no advantage to a science-heading DC at all etc etc (pretty much the rhetoric of what's been said on here, actually!) but no, she didn't seem to think that at all. She recognised (as do I) that the school does have a lot of very clever DC who will sail through triple but that doesn't mean a less brilliant DC can't do well in triple with the correct support (which they seem to offer). She thinks DS should be doing triple if he can handle it with his future plans in mind. I asked about why they didn't offer 'normal track' triple to which she said that in her opinion, schools do too many GCSEs, they only 'need' about 8 so using up one option (the third science 'time') on yet more science closed the door on another subject that could demonstrate depth in education. I am still not sure I entirely agree with that! She also said they'd looked at core, additional and higher additional to make up the 3 but felt that colleges/ universities didn't understand the distinction and didn't recognise them as being the equivalent of bio/chem/phys Triple. She also mentioned that whilst core was obviously part of the curriculum it wasn't ever going to be a tool to open further science-doors beyond school (in response to why colleges want a B in additional or applied but aren't interested in your 'Science A' mark).

She said that yes, there were 3 exams per subject at the end of Y11, but said that sounded scarier than it actually was, how they were spread out a bit etc, and asked how DS was in exams, which is a tiny bit rich as the simple response is that in a modern, touchy-feely comprehensive, the DC don't do 'exams' as such til they're facing mocks, ie the 'sit down/shut up/invigilator walking up and down' exams we had every end of year and which privates do all the time, they have 'assessments'!

It has, of course, yet to be seen how they will accept DC like mine onto their course and wring an A or A* out of them!

I have to say that speaking to the HoS who obvs didn't get to where she is today without experience and judgement was a rather different experience to talking to a young, eager 23 year old teacher 'doing it by the book' on parents eve!

Whathaveiforgottentoday Sat 16-Mar-13 08:25:37

When I teach the triple science, some bits you have to skim over and I set a lot of the easier topics as homework without covering them at all in class. I sometimes think my double science kids end up with a a deeper understanding of concepts in science than those who did triple. You can do well in GCSE science by just learning the revision books well, without really fully understanding it.

I teach Biology A level and I don't notice a great deal of difference between those who did double and those who did triple in how they cope. It may well be a different case for A level chemistry and Physics.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 16-Mar-13 08:23:43

I'm happy that you have felt better informed by the school and that you are more convinced that they do have the interests of your DS at heart rather than their league tables.

Again, good luck to your DS and I hope it does work out for him whichever way the decision ends up going.

wordfactory Sat 16-Mar-13 08:06:30

OP it's good the school have explained things more fully.
I often think this is all that is needed.

And yet so many schools and teachers come across very badly. The high handed 'trust me.' Perhaps it comes with being the adult all day in a room of DC?

I think it sometimes comes as a shock to come into contact with intelligent, analytical parents who expect to enter into a discussion as opposed to being told how it is.

I think a couple on this thread simply don't know how they come across. They're trying to be helpful, yet their manner smacks of the classroom grin.

However, I would say as a parent, nt a teacher, that fast tracked science is fast. And both my DC started their program in year 8.That's not to say it's not doable for your DS, but you need to ensure he understands how its going to be. For one thing there will be a lot of homework. And a lot of end of unit tests.

Coconutty Fri 15-Mar-13 23:25:08

Glad you're happier with the school now.

If he does get to do it and then finds it too much, at least he has the option of changing to the double.

How does he feel about the meeting?

Glad the meeting went well and that your trust in the school has been restored.
I hope your ds does well in triple science smile

chicaguapa Fri 15-Mar-13 22:54:11

Tbh I'm glad you are happy with your chat with the HOD and think it's the mark of a good school that they were able to rise above the accusations you've made about their agenda and priorities and they did indeed put your DS's needs first.

EndoplasmicReticulum Fri 15-Mar-13 22:27:32

I don't think you got 10 pages of denigration. I think you got some of that, certainly, but there was some useful stuff there too, no?

Erebus Fri 15-Mar-13 21:12:50

forgotten actually, thanks for your response in among the tumbleweed of non-responses following effectively 10 pages (how I sort my MN!) of denigration, 'how very dare you'/ 'how presumptuous'! - of much of the rest of the response. I GET how people might assume I am Alpha Mummy, My Child is being Done Down, desist!- but the reality is I feel a bit vindicated now that the Head of Science at a good school, a person of experience, has indicated that, at this stage, DS may be Triple material. I have already stated that I now trust that the school is responsive to what DS and I would like. I now feel that DS might be very able in getting good grades at GCSE in Triple. I allowed stuff to distract me, the fact that I am not a scientist (as such, tho my job requires 'science') yet passed GCE physics and maths. I have read endlessly how GCSE doesn't equate with GCE, but largely how GCSE is easier . I don't think that but I don't believe it's necessarily harder.

Erebus Fri 15-Mar-13 20:36:34

No, I didn't get 'the outcome I wanted'. DS may get the one he wants. It's not yet sure.

The remark 'fast track science is very fast' is entirely subjective. Fast for whom? I am maybe tiring, just a bit, of the teeth-sucking, the nay-saying, the 'I told you so's' - before DS has even sat down in a triple science lesson! Maybe, just maybe, DS is more able than even I think. I mean, I am not 'clever' as delineated by MN, but I do have a Physics O level, among others. And some post-grad science. DH is bristling with science degrees. We are now far more confident that if DS is selected for Triple, he'll be OK.

Whathaveiforgottentoday Fri 15-Mar-13 20:03:41

Good to see you got the outcome you wanted. You may find the very fact that they questioned your son's ability to cope with triple might help him focus. Fast tracked triple science is very fast.

Anyway wanted to add a general comment about why dept's don't offer both fast track and slow track triple science. Most schools just wouldn't be able to timetable it. You can't fit all options in and by putting triple science in as an option limits the other options students can take.

I have to say that you do realise that when we give advice to students, we do in their best interest in the vast majority of cases. Sometimes, decisions aren't easy and in my 18 years of experience, yes we do take into account the students and parents wishes to help come to the right decision.

I have allowed students to take courses that I felt they would struggle with and sometimes (at gcse and A level) and I have been proved right and sometimes i'm proved wrong. We do not have crystal balls but we do try to advise the best course of action for the student even if its not what they want to hear.

Erebus Fri 15-Mar-13 18:11:37

Well, that was interesting.

The long and short of it is the Head of Science feels DS should be capable of triple science (fast track as that's all that's available). We knew that no decision was going to be made tonight- final day for Options in was today, but she said that once all the options were in, they'd go through all the Triple requesters (via email she told us to put triple down for DS) and review them one by one.

In no particular order she asked:
If DS wants to do triple, how he'd reacted to the double news,
If we want him to,
Why did he want to do triple,
What future direction does he want to go in.

She agreed that it would be more advantageous for DS to do triple if he can (she thought his current grades and assessment results were 'encouraging'...), she emphasised that double wasn't the end of the world, but I'd already said that I was rather more 'relaxed' about double than before! She said that from a professional and personal point of view (3 older DC herself) she did think the gap between double and 'A' level could prove challenging but said the school do provide 'additional' support to all students, having just come from such an hour's class this afternoon, for Triple DC. So she also pointed out the need for such commitment but we as a family have no problem with that. And apparently they allow triple DC to drop back to Double in the first half term in Y10 if need be, tho very few do.

I am now far happier that they will take DS's needs, ability and desires into account but that's far easier to believe now I know this school believe DS capable of Triple, I have to say!

So we have left it that they, the school can have the final say- they won't need to call us in if they decided double really is DS's best option, we will accept it, but the Head of Science believes he will most likely be doing Triple.

chicaguapa Fri 15-Mar-13 12:29:53

horrible grin Maybe all the teachers could use it in their classes too.

Hopefully OP will update us after her meeting with the HOD today.

HorribleMother Thu 14-Mar-13 07:36:52

Well this thread is good for me. Will be another tool in my armour in convincing DS that he can't leave it until yr10 to pull his finger out.

MyChildDoesntNeedSleep Wed 13-Mar-13 19:58:35

Can you not just explain away the double by saying his love for science developed after he started studying his GCSEs? Surely most 13 year olds don't know what they want to do at university?! confused

wordfactory Wed 13-Mar-13 19:32:18

Our triple set was a mixture of first and second set girls. We were given an appointment after easter in year 8 to discuss it. A final decision was then made after the end of year exams. However a couple were bumped after xmas in year 9 as they weren't putting enough effort in.

Coconutty Wed 13-Mar-13 19:15:48

Mine are at private too, and they just offer the top set the option to take triple or not, but it is done as one of their options.

To take science A level, you don't need to have done the triple but you need an A grade minimum, in either double or the science you want to take (triple)

We don't get levels either or SATs but are given predictions based on YELLIS tests. Not sure how reliable these are?

wordfactory Wed 13-Mar-13 19:08:49

See I find all these levels a bit odd.

Both DC attend private school, so we're not told they're a level 5 or 6 or 23. They've never done SATs, I don't think.

The teachers at DS school have simply taken the decision that everyone is capable of triple. End of. But it's a selective school so...

DD's school made the decision as to who would do triple or double based on a mixture of things and the main one was definitely 'is this girl a grafter'.

Coconutty Wed 13-Mar-13 19:00:54

Maybe not word but if the child isn't at a high enough level, no matter how much they graft they are going to find it a struggle.

It's a shame if they get put off science.

wordfactory Wed 13-Mar-13 18:54:40

I don't think a pupil needs to be a star for the fast tracked triple.

DD is certainly not a science geek. And maths is by far her weakest subject.

From what I see, a pupil needs to be committed to a fair bit of graft. The pace is very fast. The information covered is not particularly difficult but it is broad. There are tests in each subject at the end of every unit. It feels like barely a week passes without a test in one of the sciences.

In DD's set a number of clever but lazy girls have been bumped.

Erebus Wed 13-Mar-13 18:48:08

The lack of 'normal pace' triple is our stumbling block.

I have already stated that I know DS is capable of doing well in triple science but I am under no illusion that he is super-clever or G&T, so fast-track triple could well be too much for him.

I too cannot explain the (link posted) '5.8 (or 'high') to 6.8 with a few at level 7 by the end of Y9' either, seeing as the school do get a third of their pupils to A-A* in triple every year. I do recall a mass letter home in Y8 warning us that our DC's science level may appear to have stalled or even gone back one sublevel in the next report as they we measuring attainment in science differently now as a result of the government's edict that different qualities were to be emphasised from now on. Which is also when level 8 disappeared. So possibly they are not measuring the same thing as others' schools on here.

Coconutty Wed 13-Mar-13 18:33:28

DCs school make them choose it as an option, much better if the child isn't a star at science.

Interesting post radical, pretty much what everyone has been saying. I think the main problem is that ops son would have to do it fast track, which would be far from ideal.

Hopefully for his sake, some of this excellent advice is heeded.

wordfactory Wed 13-Mar-13 17:00:18

radical my neice took triple as an option , which seems a good half way house.

At DD's school the triple set does it in the same timetable as the double, but they started at the beginning of year 9. The pace is fast.

At DS' school everyone takes triple (not as an option) and they don't seem to have started the curiculum yet...

radicalsubstitution Wed 13-Mar-13 16:53:33

Sorry - just realised that the last post probably comes across as aggressive. Was in a rush to pick DS up from school.

I utterly sympathise with your situation. At our school, students take triple science out of an option block. It is an open-access course - anyone can take it. We have some foundation students this year. Ironically, many students moan that they then can't take triple as it then narrows the option blocks too much to take other subjects. It seems you can never please everyone.

I, personally, think that your DS would really find triple in double time a struggle. It may be that he will mature a great deal over the next few years (I taught one student who was in bottom set year 9 who went on to be in top set in year 11) but may not be currently in a place where he could cope with learning science at that pace.

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