GCSE options - History

(29 Posts)
toomuchmud Wed 20-Mar-13 18:17:23

I thought we had our daughter's GCSE options pretty much sorted out until tonight's parents evening. She wants to take GCSE History but is currently only working at a low Level 6. The history teacher we saw did a lot of teeth sucking and although didn't say an outright no her taking it as an option I think he was trying to put her off. He said that it is a very difficult GCSE and she should really be working at a higher level at this stage in order to get a good grade at GCSE. She isn't really interested in the alternatives offered - so we are a bit stuck. Anyone got an idea of whether a low Level 6 would be good enough or should we forget History?

mindgone Wed 27-Mar-13 00:28:01

My Y11 DS is really enjoying history, but it does seem to be a hard subject to get good grades in.

MiniSis Mon 25-Mar-13 22:44:27

Wow! I can believe the teacher is trying to put her off!! I'm a history teacher and many of my students that have chosen history are just a level 4 (this is year 8 however) the gcse spec advises entry level of L3 or above. This opens the course up for almost everyone, however not everyone finds it easy!

There are source questions on all units and controlled assessment and it is down to him to teach his students how to analyse sources at gcse level.

Tell your daughter she must go for it! I'd give an arm and a leg to have had a class full of L6s last year smile

out2lunch Sat 23-Mar-13 17:54:21

your dd should go for it if she loves the subject both of my dcs studied history for gcse and enjoyed it

Coconutty Costa Rica Sat 23-Mar-13 17:54:06

I know lots of year 10s who are really not enjoying history at all. What other options has she got?

BackforGood Sat 23-Mar-13 17:49:30

Corthrall - sounds like you've led an interesting life grin

elliepac Sat 23-Mar-13 17:33:41

I speak here as a Head of History in a truly comprehensive schoolsmile. The problem you speak of is something which makes me want to stab people and something I see happening a lot in our area.

There is no denying History, despite what Mr Gove thinks of current GCSE's, is a very rigorous subject and one of the more difficult GCSE's with a large knowledge base needed and also analytical skills. The pressure we are put under as teachers/departments to reach targets is phenomenal and therefore I see many a History department only offering the subject to the very top students on the basis it is difficult so they look good on results day. That is what makes me want to stab people.

The only requirement for taking History in my department is that you love it and are interested in it. I don't give a stuff about your target grades only that you have a passion for History and a willingness to do
your best, be that an F or an A*. We have 125 students studying History in Year 11 with a whole range of abilities and that is exactly how it should be.

Fwiw with a Level 6 in Year 9 your daughter is clearly an able young lady and I would predict capable of at least a B, and with hard work an A and if she loves history she should do it. As far as source skills are concerned, they are the most difficult skill to acquire and should be woven into the curriculum from Year 7. She will pick those up as she goes along so don't worry about that.smile

bruffin England Sat 23-Mar-13 17:30:57

Dcs syllabus i mentioned above is WJEC. Think the school can pick and choose the modules they want.

Roisin Sat 23-Mar-13 17:21:56

ds1 is doing History GCSE. His course (AQA History A) includes the History of Medicine (35%), The American West (40%) and a coursework piece on the industrial revolution.

He's enjoyed it more than any other subject.

ds2 will do History (at a different school). I think it's WJEC board and he will study Mao/China, Israel/Palestine and America c.1912-1928. Blimey!

Copthallresident Sat 23-Mar-13 17:02:55

BackforGood DD doing the same syllabus, I actually encountered Mrs Thatcher, she handbagged a project I was involved in so has been fun being historical. Haven't thought to discuss Barbara Castle, met her too, indeed swam to "moon river" carrying a large cardboard moon wrapped in silver foil in front of her, could that be relevant to an A level essay hmm

Should have added both DDs enjoyed their syllabus, Nazi Germany topic made relevant by Berlin trip and also civil rights in the US.

bruffin England Sat 23-Mar-13 16:43:34

My DCs did /doing Germany, Russia and 1920 US and both really love doing GCSE history.
My Dd yr10 is the opposite OP, we just got her report and writes excellent history essays but for some reason isn't doing the same in English.

LeeCoakley Sat 23-Mar-13 14:20:51

I was going to mention the syllabus. When dd2 took it it was Nazi Germany and the Vietnam War. Even I, as a history lover, would have baulked at that for 2 years.

BackforGood Sat 23-Mar-13 14:06:36

Yes, I think it was the fact that dd's school are doing 'the history of medicine' that has put her right off- teacher said she was confident dd would be A - A* material if she chose it, but she just didn't think the course content sounded at all interesting. Fair enough - better to know now than discover once she's started.

Talking of feeling old, TooMuchMud , my ds is doing A level History at the moment, and studying things I lived through .... shock. I was watching the film about the Ford Dagenham Dispute (Equal pay for Women) and he came in and straight away spotted Barbara Castle, then started talking about Harold Wilson, and apparently he's doing about the Winter of Discontent and an essay on Margaret Thatcher is due in soon !!! How can all this be classed as History ??? shock

TeenAndTween Sat 23-Mar-13 12:07:23

What grade is she wishing to achieve?
My y9 DD is currently working at mid/high L5 and has selected History and has been told she should definitley be able to achieve at least a C. So maybe your department is too to concerned with A/A* percentage rates.

Do watch out for the syllabus though. The Wild West / history of Medicine is a pretty common choice for schools and it isn't everyone's cup of tea

seeker Sat 23-Mar-13 10:47:16

My dd loves history, particularly the source work, but she certainly found it harder than any other GCSE. Except Art, but that's another rant story. Oh, and chemistry- but that was because she hated it with a passion.

Copthallresident Sat 23-Mar-13 10:38:53

OP History has changed at GCSE. When I took it at O level it was just regurgitating facts the sort of useless exercise Gove wants to return to but now they are expected to use analytical skills in source work and to develop an argument in response to the essay questions. There is also a lot of content to learn. All this is why it is one of the more demanding GCSEs and of course a good one to have on their CV! It is also one of the most interesting in my entirely biased opinion and helps them to develop transferrable skills. English Literature requires similar skills in developing an argument in response to essay questions. If your DD is up for that challenge and will work hard she should go for it.

Phineyj Sat 23-Mar-13 10:26:08

I think she should go for it if interested but I am a little worried about the attitude of the teacher -- would this teacher be doing all the teaching or are there others? Definitely agree you can make a big difference by reading sources with her. There are lots of online resources such as Spartacus schoolnet. I tutored a lad having difficulty with sources and it turned out he was merely intimidated by the extremely long sentences the Victorians wrote in - once I showed him how to break them down and deal with any vocab he didn't understand, he could work with them very well.

nkf Fri 22-Mar-13 21:35:58

She's doing fine. If she likes the subject, she should go for it.

gobbin Fri 22-Mar-13 21:33:55

It's the teacher's job to teach her these skills over the two years...otherwise they'd be rocking up in the exam hall in Year 9 lol!

Sheesh, sounds like the Dept. isn't just keen to have a class full of A*-C kids but wants them all to be A/A* and for the staff not to have to do much work getting them up to scratch.

lljkk Netherlands Thu 21-Mar-13 19:15:03

If she is self-motivatd type then put her in for it, don't hesitate, shrug the whistles off. y8 DS is spending ages learning how to source materials in his history lessons and HATES it (whereas me as ex-academic thinks it's wonderful smile ). I think she can learn to do that better with your support.

toomuchmud Thu 21-Mar-13 19:11:18

Gobbin - your response was very refreshing - thank you.

toomuchmud Thu 21-Mar-13 19:09:48

Thanks for all your responses. She is Y9 and is a secure L7 in Literacy. The History teacher said that the understanding is there but that her source work is not as good. Having said that he did say that they have only just started source work so I'm thinking that with a bit of work she will get better at it. She is a hard worker and knows it's one of her weaker areas and is prepared to put the time and effort in. I have looked at past papers and the course content but it's so different from how I remember my History O level (that shows my age!!!). On reflection I should have questioned the teacher more about what we could focus on to help her improve.

Roisin Thu 21-Mar-13 18:55:56

History is quite demanding in terms of literacy skills. What level is she working at in English?

lljkk Netherlands Thu 21-Mar-13 18:46:55

ps: glad to read description of history as rigorous. smile

lljkk Netherlands Thu 21-Mar-13 18:35:50

Could you ask about specifically which targets she isn't meeting for history, I mean, what is she weak at (writing or analytical or what?). And decide for yourselves if you think she can make up those deficits.

TheWave Thu 21-Mar-13 10:20:40

Have you looked at the type of questions, or could you ask the school about what the content of the course is?

DD1 hasn't enjoyed history GCSE at all as it appears that quite specific analytical skills are required and she may not have as many as she thought. Looking at sources and getting the marks needed for good grades has been a struggle although she enjoys English and other "essay" type subjects.

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