GCSE options - different in state/private?

(39 Posts)
Mumtogremlins Sat 11-Jan-14 20:54:26

I'm a bit confused about GCSE options. I am going to apply to secondary for my eldest DS and yet to decide on state or private

Do most state schools only give 3 options and these are quite restrictive? For example, my DS loves science, history, geography and languages. From what I've seen, he wouldn't be able to choose geography, history and a second MFL? Why do they do this? It happened to me at school and affected me at the time as I had to drop German, which I loved, to take an Arts subject which I was rubbish at

Are all state schools the same? And do all year 7s have to choose which MFL they take then (the year is split). Are private schools any different ie more choice?

Thanks

TeenAndTween Sat 11-Jan-14 21:10:39

All state schools are not the same.

DDs school there are 5 options. But science and an MFL are included in the options. Some schools mandate these but then only give 3 options. You need to look at your local schools and ask to see their most recent options choices to get an idea. But them remember it may all change before your child gets to that point.

Similarly MFL. Some schools only provide one in y7. Some split the year and you take pot luck on the language. Some you get to select the language. Ditto starting a second MFL. Some start in y8, some only offer it for GCSE options.

I very much doubt there is de fcato more choice in private schools. These tend to be smaller and may actually in some ways have less choice at GCSE or earlier than state schools.

Your DS would be able to do the options you listed at my DD's school. But there again just because they like things at primary level it doesn't mean they will like them at secondary!

You need to ask these questions of your possible schools, state or private.

IME state schools all differ, they do not all do the same number if GCSEs and MFL provision varies enormously. The DDs school is on it's third system in 5 years.

DD1 got the choice of Four optional subjects (on top of English Lang/lit, maths, double or triple science and RE).

I guess you could do two MFL, you'd have to be brilliant or mad given we only seem to keep the teachers no one likes.

DD1 is dyslexic and got let of MFL, thank goodness.

Her dyslexic DF, who goes to a private school managed to get them to let her do Latin rather than annMFL because she's, weirdly, much better at it.

There's not one rule for private and one for state. Each school will have its own options system. If that's what is most important to you then that's what you should ask about when you go visit them.

titchy Sat 11-Jan-14 21:37:56

Private schools as a very general rule if thumb do fewer GCSEs than state (10 rather than 12) so private probably less choice. Choices pretty limited in either case tbh, 2 English, maths, double science, 1 MFL and 1 humanity are usually compulsory, so only 3 or 4 other choices left, which may included ones that school considers compulsory.

Rosencrantz Sat 11-Jan-14 21:38:42

It's different school to school... Nothing to do with state or private.

Leeds2 Sat 11-Jan-14 21:47:35

Some of the state secondaries round here only offer double science. Some of the privates make triple science compulsory. That might be worth checking, if it is likely to be important.

Mumtogremlins Sat 11-Jan-14 21:55:29

Can someone explain the science thing? He's obsessed with science and can't see that changing so might be important. Is triple science studying the 3 sciences separately = 3 GCSE's? Does dual science = 2 GCSEs? I've also seen a core science!

NotCitrus Sat 11-Jan-14 22:24:07

Dual science generally involves studying the sciences separately, but only 2 of the 3 modules that the kids doing separate sciences do for each subject. Core science would be only 1 module of each of bio, chem, physics to make 1 GCSE.

Some sixth forms won't let you do science a levels if you only did dual science, though presumably schools that only offer dual manage it.

happygardening Sun 12-Jan-14 08:14:46

Your problem OP as stated above is that there is no hard and fast rule for either state or private ed. At my DS"s school they do 9 IGCSE's, history and Eng Lit are studied up to yr 11 daily but not taken at IGCSE's, although both are offered at Pre U. So they have to do Eng Lang/maths obviously, Latin, 2 MFL or Ancient Greek and 2 MFL are the norm but not compulsory I think, some do three and the majority also do triple science.
The other two problems you have especially if your choosing a school for 11+ entry is. that you just simply don't know what they will want to do when they choose their GCSE's (my DS 's 2nd choice of MFL was not what we would have predicted when he was 13 yrs old and starting at the school and one of his Pre U choices is even more surprising I wouldn't have predicted this even 1/2 a term ago) or what the school will be offering the year you have to choose.

RiversideMum Sun 12-Jan-14 09:11:47

You need to find out about the schools in your area. You can't generalise from one to another. Although private schools may be likely to be more stable as they wont have a twerp of an education secretary (of any persuasion) mucking around with the system continually!

Lottiedoubtie Sun 12-Jan-14 09:17:14

At an independent pupils tend to do 9-10 GCSES.

At some State schools they are encouraged to do 12.

Although in an independent they are much more likely to look at the options and make them 'fit' the pupils as opposed to putting the subjects in blocks and making the pupils fit the boxes.

So your DD might end up with 9-10 subjects she really wants to do.

As opposed to 12 best fits.

Obviously not quite as bad as that as some subjects are core everywhere.

Nobody needs more than 9 GCSEs for anything. And it's far better to have 9 good grades than 12 mediocre ones because you were spread too thinly.

SanityClause Sun 12-Jan-14 09:34:42

All schools are different, and you are wise to be considering this when choosing a school.

At DD1's school, it is possible to do all three sciences at A level, having done dual science at GCSE, provided you get A for all the modules. So, if you want to study Chemistry, you would have to get an A for the two chemistry modules.

As I understand it, triple science is not "harder", there's just more of it!

However, if your DS loves science, I would look for a school where he can do triple science, as it is always best to study the subjects you enjoy.

SanityClause Sun 12-Jan-14 09:36:11

I should also point out that private schools get mucked around just as much by Gove's experimentation, unless they offer only IGCSEs, perhaps.

happygardening Sun 12-Jan-14 10:15:29

I've no doubt that Gove mucking around with GCSE curriculum affects both state and independent schools. But IME state schools seem to change GCSE options on a regular basis I'm assuming reflecting current trends, teachers etc.
I also agree with Lottie there is absolutely no need to do 12 GCSE's DS1 (state comp) had todo 12 he would have done better if he'd only done 9 like DS2 (independent school) is currently doing. This particularly supplies to those with dyslexia processing problems etc.

State school here.

They all do:
Maths
English language
English literature
German, French or Spanish

Then 75% of them do Biology, Chemistry & Physics (iGCSEs).
The other 25% do Core Science & Additional Science.

They have to do one out of History & Geography.

Then two out of:
The other one of History & Geography not already chosen
A second MFL
Latin
Music
Drama
Computing
Classical Civilisation
Economics
RS
Art (choice of specifications)
Technology (Food or Product Design)
PE
There might be some others I've forgotten.

So it's possible to do three sciences, history and geography and two languages if you want to.

Eastpoint Sun 12-Jan-14 17:47:13

GCSEs will be different by the time your child does them, more of them will be linear. Have a look at the different school options, presumably your son is in year 5 now and see what you think - some schools do half GCSEs in subjects like RE, others offer extra languages as twilight subjects (taken after school). Private schools vary enormously, some offer BTecs in the 6th form, most don't. Lots of research & visits needed sad.

HSMMaCM Sun 12-Jan-14 17:52:19

DD could have done geography history and 2 languages.

She had 4 options to add to her compulsory subjects (2 English, 2 maths, 3 science and ICT).

HSMMaCM Sun 12-Jan-14 17:52:40

Sorry ... Should have said ... State school

eatyourveg Sun 12-Jan-14 17:59:05

dc's school will also let you do 3 sciences, along with History Geog and 2 languages.

Only 3 options available as compulsory subjects are 2 Eng, Maths, 3 Science, French and Philosophy

Mumtogremlins Sun 12-Jan-14 20:36:10

Thanks. Sometimes its difficult to see from their websites how many GCSEs they are allowed to take and which options, so need to visit and ask. As he's still in year 5 I guess things will change a lot. Just wondered why they can't choose what they want!

Hahah. Year 5?! You've got loads of time to do the research!

Surely the reasons they can't just choose what they want are obvious though? Timetables in schools are complicated enough without offering 2/5 of the pupils free choice over what they study!

MillyMollyMama Mon 13-Jan-14 00:09:40

Most universities and employers want to see a breadth of subjects so that is why there are core subjects which must be studied, Maths, English, (usually Literature and Language) Sciences (often double or triple). Young people are then encouraged by the best schools to do a humanity, an art type subject, eg music, art, and hopefully a modern foreign language plus another subject they enjoy eg another language, PE, computer science etc. As Chris Woodhead writes in today's Sunday Times it should be about quality not quantity. If someone is talented at languages they should be able to do an additional one, if they are good at humanities they should be allowed to do Geography and History, for example. Doing more than 10 is not recommended and the state grammars around here used to insist on 9 only! My DD did 12 at an independent school, partly because they insisted on adding RE and ICT into the mix, but 9 or 10 was their normal expectation. It is important to avoid doing too many because, frankly, no-one cares. It is better to study a managable number of subjects and get good results rather than loads and get mediocre results. Schools are all different and it is definitely worth asking what their GCSE policy is when you look round.

tom2468tom Mon 13-Jan-14 23:09:22

IMO, I don't think the GCSE choices matter that much.

Obviousl, everyone would do some English, Science and Maths and then a few others. I thik anything from 7 - 9 would be enough.

I think A level options are much more important.

Are AS levels still going to be scrapped next year and, if so, will GCSE grades maybe matter more?

BackforGood Mon 13-Jan-14 23:14:05

They can't "just do what they want" as some subjects end up being timetabled against another one that they might want to do.

All schools do it differently, and many schools do it differently one year from another, so you are not going to get a definitive answer on here. Also, what they like / seem to be good at in Yr5 isn't necessarily what they like / are good at in Yr9.

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