(67 Posts)
MrsBright Sat 11-Jan-14 11:02:32

Okay .... can someone guide me through BTEC vs GCSE?

DD is bright but finds written work difficult (very left-handed) so we are suggesting subjects more 'practical' as a good move. But how are BTECs actually regarded by employers etc? Are they seen as 'CSE' and therefore as only for the 'thick'?

JeanSeberg Sat 11-Jan-14 11:05:53

I thought BTECs were post-16 education, how old is your daughter?

senua Sat 11-Jan-14 11:05:54

Eh? I'm very left-handed - doesn't stop me writing things.confused

LIZS Sat 11-Jan-14 11:06:50

Depends what level they are and how relevant a subject.

No, BTECs are well-regarded by employers who see the benefit of vocational qualifications. They are particularly useful if a student knows the career area that they want to access, providing the student also has Maths & English GCSEs at grade C+.

The problem with BTECs is that they often take up more that 1 subject option in Y10-11, so limit other options. For a student who randomly picks BTECs at level 2, they may not have many options at Level 3. This needn't be a problem if they want to continue their subject on to Level 3, assuming that the course is available in the 6th form, or at a local college.
So for example, Level 2 Engineering, with Maths & English could lead onto an apprenticeship in Engineering, or a Level 3 Engineering qualification at college, which could then lead onto an Engineering degree/ Foundation Degree.
But, if the student has no interest in Engineering or technology careers & could have chosen a subject that they might be equally good at e.g. History, their A level options would be wider.
An engineering employer would almost definitely prefer the engineering qualification route than GCSE and A level History though...

Hope that helps a bit?

lljkk Sat 11-Jan-14 11:41:58

yeah, BTEC = 2 GCSE options at DS school and only 1 BTEC encouraged therefore. I think it depends so much what you want to do. Forestry and conservation or game management aren't offered at GCSE but they are offered as BTECs. What BTECs are offered to your DD, MrsBright? And how easy are they to access (how much travel involved)? I know a dad driving nearly 4 hours/ 2 days a week for his son to access BTEC course.

cricketballs Sat 11-Jan-14 13:15:56

BTEC comes in a range of sizes - at my school I deliver the 1 GCSE and 1 A Level equivalents. They are an excellent qualification that test the student's knowledge by applying what they have learn to real situations.

It is worth noting that the Level 2 BTEC now include an external test on a unit so it is no longer all coursework and there is no longer a fail as if you do meet the criteria for a Level 2 pass you can gain a Level 1 pass.

If your DD is unsure of what she wants to do after school then a subject like Business is an excellent choice as it covers so much within the business realm.

Before anyone jumps on the usual MN band wagon - you can go on to A levels in the subject (need Merit or higher), you can get offers from excellent universities with BTEC's on your CV (for instance an ex student of mine who undertook the 4 GCSE equivalent when I still offered it has just received an offer from Cambridge and my own DS studies the 3 A Level equivalent, unsure what to do when he started and is now in receipt of 5 offers for Marketing which he has fallen in love with after completing the marketing units grin)

hench Sat 11-Jan-14 13:36:05

You won't avoid written work with BTECs. They are practically-based and have no exams, but there is a lot of coursework, so it is constant assessments all through the course, many of which (especially the bits required for the higher grades) involve a fair bit of writing. For some subjects BTECs probably require more written work than GCSE imo.

In terms of workload, for GCSE you can get away with a lower effort for most of the year, with intensive bursts of very high effort before exams (and for controlled assessments where appropriate), but with BTEC the amount of effort required is high throughout the course - not as high as pre-exam GCSE workload (unless you are disorganised and leave many assessments to the last minute), but higher than normal GCSE workload.

I would say the key difference between them isn't less writing, but the absence of exams. In terms of respect from employers, they are generally a bit less respected than GCSEs. If they are done properly they are good qualifications, but it is very easy for schools and students to cheat at BTECs and since cases of this have come to light employers can't really know if a student has actually achieved the qualification legitimately so they have lost respect.

Lottiedoubtie Sat 11-Jan-14 13:38:43

Ask yourself why the most successful schools in the Uk do not offer BTECs.

If DD is bright do GCSEs.

Some Btechs are hard, time consuming and rigorous. In a way, that makes it worse, because they aren't respected as such.

hench Sat 11-Jan-14 13:39:59

x-post with cricket. Didn't realise the latest incarnation now does include exams, which is probably to try and safeguard against the cheating issues.

BTECs almost entirely coursework and no exam. Despite what schools will tell you they are very different to GCSEs, and as others said not as well respected.
If your DD is not academic they offer a good choice of vocational subjects such as childcare and car mechanics, but if she is academic she should choose GCSEs.
Both of my DC are very academic and did 10/11 GCSEs but both chose to do a BTEC in a practical subject as a bit of a contrast. They found it very undemanding and it served it's purpose in lightening the revision load. The BTEC was all done and finished by March of Y11 leaving some lesson time free to utilise on other subjects.

cricketballs Sat 11-Jan-14 16:03:40

secret - the new spec has an exam in every subject; it was the only way that they were passed by the QCA.

I will also refer you to my earlier comment about previous students and their uni offers...

noddyholder Sat 11-Jan-14 16:05:40

My ds did a level 3 btec after dropping out of A levels and had an unconditional offer from top arts uni 700 applicants for 60 places based completely on his portfolio and interview.

MillyMollyMama Sat 11-Jan-14 17:59:07

There are Uni offers and Uni offers though. It is rare for Oxbridge to like BTech although it can happen. How many people applying actually have taken this qualification though? Hardly any would be my guess. I think it is therefore obvious why grammar schools and most selective independents do not offer this qualification. Bright children should do the standard route and not take easier options. I don't think many Marketing degrees require AAA at A level so it all depends upon if a child is bright (academic) or bright (prefers practical subjects) and what course actually suits them.

southeastastra Sat 11-Jan-14 18:10:26

for the 'thick' lordy this site makes me laugh sometimes.

lljkk Sat 11-Jan-14 18:58:07

WTF is a "bright" child? Given that Oxbridge only educate tiny % of each yr's 6th form leavers, I could imagine that the "bright" label applies to such tiny percentage of the population, so almost NO ONE should plan their lives according to that advice.

Please come up with a sure-fire definition of "bright" and Maybe i can make sense of these attitudes.

I assume it doesn't just mean clever. It needs to include lucky, hard-working, emotionally stable and ambitious. Also at least open-minded to certain kind of career path that can only be achieved by going to university. Oh AND rather clever. Few people get into "top" university courses and perform well without all of those features.

Fantastic for OP if she knows her offspring ticks all the boxes. ONLY then the advice to avoid all BTECs might make some sense.

TheFallenMadonna Sat 11-Jan-14 19:02:22

Depends entirely on the subject. From 2016, schools will be judged on all student's achievements across 8 level 2 qualifications, of which at least 5 will need to be GCSEs. How much flexibility is the school prepared to offer your dd with respect to options?

cricketballs Sat 11-Jan-14 19:06:00

Millymollie - [ this article]] shows that marketing isn't as low down as you think and thanks for rubbishing my son's choice

ihatethecold Sat 11-Jan-14 19:24:40

I think it's a good thing that there are other options apart from gcse's
My ds13 is at a very high achieving state school but I think he will be better suited to a more practical career.
I for one will be very supportive if he takes some BTECS.
I really just want him to enjoy learning and to get the most out of it. Rather than picking subjects because he has too.

I also think it's unfair to say its for thick students.

I think that everyone that has posted here has a point, & represents the different opinions of society, with different values, leading to judgements about what is "best".

This is why it is so important to look at every DCs choice as an individual one for that child. What are they good at & what do they enjoy doing/ learning about? Just as it's the rare person who is good at EVERYTHING in school, most students will be drawn to certain subjects or areas...

Going to the extreme of stereotypes, there are practical students from middle-class homes who may be automatically expected to follow the academic A levels and then degree route, who MAY have been better advised to consider the BTEC apprenticeship/ degree route instead. The BTEC route might lead to exceptional success & brilliant grades, with the advantage of no student debt, and a job on graduation...

Similarly, academically bright students from households with no history of Higher Education might be persuaded into the practical, vocational route when they could have been outstanding at university.

Either way, it's a shame if the student feels that expectations push him/ her down a road, without being aware of the other routes that can be taken & how these might affect his/her future...

noddyholder Sun 12-Jan-14 00:10:10

Yes there are uni offers and uni offers and ds house mate a girl also from our home town needed 3 As at A level for same course Agree te attitudes here are dreadful from some posters

noddyholder Sun 12-Jan-14 00:11:32

It is not neccesarily easier either you are mightily ill informed Millie

horsetowater Sun 12-Jan-14 00:15:01

Level 3 btecs are highly respected and hard work to get through. You can get into an RG university on one of them.

Tweasels Sun 12-Jan-14 00:33:52

You need to be clearer OP. What subjects are you talking about. Please be less ignorant with this talk of "left handedness" and "the thick" also.

I'll be happy to talk you through the difference but some context is needed.

For the record, BTEC's do not only come in subjects such as childcare and car mechanics, what nonsense! And as for University, the OP isn't talking about level 3 quals, she's talking about level 2. Let's not confuse things.

noddyholder Sun 12-Jan-14 00:38:36

My son is left handed too doomed grin

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