Is single biology gcse (ie drop physics and chemistry) educational suicide?

(16 Posts)
trampolinequeen Sat 04-Jan-14 17:45:17

Just wondering what the implications would be?
My son is in Year 10 - he's dyslexic but paradoxically struggles with maths and science and is better with English and arts subjects. In addition to moderate dyslexia (plus dyspraxia) his Dad died in September so he's been angry and grieving - missing bits of school and not managing to complete homework all last term. He's currently doing 9 gcses inc separate biology, chemistry and physics but next year, as a science struggler, he'd be demoted to dual science anyway giving him 8 gcses.
He'll never be a doctor, vet or chemist as he hates science - particularly chemistry - and as he's buckling under the pressure since his father died I had the thought of him just doing biology gcse (dropping physics and chemistry) which makes a total of 7 gcses and less homework.
Would this be madness? And would it stop him having choices at university?
He is considered bright - superior IQ and top 2% verbal IQ but won't ever achieve academic marvels due to his SEN. I am cool with that.
He is predicted A* drama, A art, A/B English, A rsp, b maths - and total rubbish grades for science - so if he does go to uni he'll be doing arts subjects anyway, but is more likely to go to art school or something vocational.
He's my only dc, so I have no experience of the GCSE maze. What does anyone think?
Is it best to have less gcses with higher grades (bearing in mind dyslexia and dead father - need to take the pressure off him asap)?

nkf Sat 04-Jan-14 17:48:14

Can you do this? I thought students could do double science but still covered all main sciences.

I don't think the school will be able to accommodate this as they probably run the lessons together - so he'd still have to attend all of the lessons, pick out what he needed for the exam and after all that work only have one GCSE instead of two. I think it might be a better idea to see if you can get him some extra support with the science. Possibly a student doing a-levels or at university (and who wants to be a teacher) who could work with him one evening a week (for pay) and give him some support?

nkf Sat 04-Jan-14 17:49:00

And his predictions are good you know. Good for him hanging in there despite his father's death.

Coconutty Sat 04-Jan-14 17:55:07

I agree with taking the pressure off him, speak to his school and see what they suggest.

I think he will have to do double rather than just biology, which could be difficult to accommodate.

noblegiraffe Sat 04-Jan-14 18:00:25

No, students usually have science lessons, during which they do the three on a rotation, even for dual science. If he is struggling with triple science, double science might be easier. Or could the school drop him to BTEC?
What are his predicted grades for science? He must have done quite well in Y9 to have been offered triple science.

trampolinequeen Sat 04-Jan-14 18:33:08

Thanks for your answers. It's an independent school so triple science is done in 3 separate subjects in year 10 - they all have to do it. Then the strugglers - like him - get dropped down to dual science in year 11. As he is grieving and under such pressure now, I am thinking why wait til next year, why not just drop chemistry and physics and stick with biology so he at least has one science. If they offered dual science now, we'd jump at it but it's only on offer next year.
So it is theoretically possible at his school. But is it a terrible idea? and will it impact on his university choices? I've had a quick google and most unis and colleges specify maths and english gcses, but science only a must if you're actually going to study science. He hates it and will never go near it again.
Likely to be a graphic designer, or set designer, or photographer or something non academic like that. Though he's not stupid and don't want to limit his options. What do you think?

lljkk Sat 04-Jan-14 18:39:34

Would school let him do that? I suspect they'd rather he went for double.
One science pass would be helpful for some interdisciplinary degrees, but not needed otherwise except for science degrees.
Is he sure he even wants to go to Uni? Those careers don't sound like Uni would necessarily be best path.

TeenAndTween Sat 04-Jan-14 18:42:07

I don't think it would be educational suicide, but I too think it is unlikely that the timetable / teaching structure will allow for it. Better to drop to double (or even core science only if that is an option??). The harder stuff is in the paper 3s. To be starting with triple, he really can't be all that bad at science, so going down to 1 seems a bit drastic, though I appreciate these are exceptional circumstances.

Hi trampolinequeen,

I'm so sorry to hear about your DC's situation. You both must have been going through hell these last 4 months.

Your son would be most unusual if he decided to only take Biology GCSE. It would mean he would have a depth of knowledge in one area, rather than a good breadth of science knowledge, but without the depth by taking double science.

In terms of university courses, there are a few options that might be affected. First, Primary Teaching requires GCSEs in English, Maths AND Science. It would depend on the universities whether they would accept Biology instead of the usual "Science".
The other sorts of limitations might be if he wanted to incorporate some sort of technological aspect to his art/design interests, where a knowledge of physics to GCSE level might be required or useful.

The problem with giving advice about university requirements is that they vary from university to university, and can vary over time too. You can look at university entrance requirements for different subjects via

You mention that you don't think he will ever achieve academic marvels because of his SEN, but if his IQ is that high there is no reason why he shouldn't! Universities are VERY good at giving support to students with particular educational needs. If he is rubbish at exams, there are courses which are mostly project/coursework based (or vice versa).

I would suggest that you speak to the science/ pastoral staff at his school and see what they would suggest would be best for him. Having more time to dwell on his situation might actually not be helpful anyway. Can the school help with some counselling to help him to deal with his grief and to give him some additional support?

trampolinequeen Sun 05-Jan-14 09:31:21

Thanks for your answers. Sounds like it wouldn't be career suicide.
My reasoning in considering this is because if he gave up chemistry and physics now he would have 4 extra periods a week to use to get his homework done at school. He was doing 10 gcses and dropped history very soon after his dad's death and the 3 extra periods are spent in the SEN unit - one period on SEN help and the other 2 periods on catching up on homework in a semi-supervised environment (if he goes to the library he just reads comics). if he dropped chemistry and physics this would give him 6 free periods to do his homework at school - art is a super-heavy workload and he's v behind so could spend part of it in art dept. Art is one of his strengths. Dyslexia and dyspraxia mean he takes twice as long as everyone else to do stuff and need to reduce workload.
Reason I don't think he will achieve academically despite being bright is because, even before his dad died, he is v lazy and does as little as possible as he feels he's hopeless even though he knows he's bright. Since his dad's death I've had much trouble even getting him to school, let alone do any work. The more he can get done at school, the better. He is sociable and has masses of friends, so doesn't suffer that way. He won't go near any counsellors despite much persuasion - tho school counsellor has been v helpful to me with advice and listening ear.

trampolinequeen Sun 05-Jan-14 09:39:47

ps it's nothing to do with being bright he's doing triple science now. There's no choice - all students do triple science year 10, with strugglers offered dual science year 11. No other option and I need to reduce pressure on him now or I'll have trouble getting him to school again. He's never had any interest in science.
Thanks everyone and particularly careers dragon for help - will look up ucas and also about core sciences - never heard of those

Saracen Sun 05-Jan-14 12:02:42

I know this is a radical suggestion and I know little about the subject but - does he have to do science at all now? Perhaps if he later discovers that he needs science GCSE or equivalent, he could do it then, maybe at college. It's also possible to prepare for IGCSEs independently, maybe with the help of a tutor. That would have the advantage that he would know that he definitely needs it and so he would be ready to focus.

I home educate, and the people I know tend to use a wide variety of educational paths to reach their goals, often tackling subjects in a different order, at a different age or via a different provider. It isn't unheard of for people simply not to study a subject at all if they don't expect to need it, and go back later for it if needed.

Some people refer to a broad and balanced curriculum as the "just in case" model: study everything you might possibly need, just in case you will need it later. An alternative model is the "just in time" approach: focus on whatever you know you need or want, and make adjustments as you go along. True, that can mean starting college or uni a year later than otherwise, as they scramble to acquire a qualification they need, but that doesn't have to be the end of the world. It does mean that throughout the whole process the young person is totally engaged with what he's doing.

purpleroses Sun 05-Jan-14 12:04:12

Is single (integrated) science an option? That's what the less able scientists do at my Ds's school. I think it's just paper 1 from each science - the easiest paper.

Whathaveiforgottentoday Sun 05-Jan-14 12:12:42

In state schools you have to take all 3 sciences, either double, triple normally. He could just take the core exam which will give him 1 gcse but only studying bio gcse isn't an option.

trampolinequeen Sun 05-Jan-14 14:59:20

Thanks very much. Will request a meeting with his head of year to see what can be done. many thanks

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