Advice on ds' Options choices, I need the wisdom of MN

(23 Posts)
northender Mon 08-Feb-16 17:41:49

Ds is 14 and in Y9. He has just received his options booklet and has to make his decisions by the end of the month.

He is very bright but doesn't apply himself well or do anything above and beyond what he has to do. Despite this, he is in the top set for everything and so has 2 choices to make,
1. Take triple science & go down the EBacc route (with French & Geography as his MFL & humanities choices) & 1 other option which would be engineering or PE
2. Take combined (double) science & 4 other choices which would be Geography & 3 from Engineering, PE, ICT, Business.

He doesn't really want to do a language so isn't keen on the EBacc which is the only choice if he does triple science. Maths is one of his favourite subjects, he enjoys science but the physics side much more than biology (with chemistry in the middle I think). He really enjoys design tech, resistant materials etc & definitely wants to do geography.

He doesn't really have much idea what he wants to do career wise but we have tried to encourage him towards the STEM subjects. This lack of direction is probably because all he has ever wanted to be is a professional cricketer, something which is still a possibility but not a particularly strong one. This is why he is considering PE as an option.

I suppose what we are struggling with is how much of a limitation is doing double rather than triple science if he then decides he would like to do say, physics A level. Also dh & I are from "O" level era when there weren't so many subject choices. Are subjects like PE, engineering etc "softer" subjects or are they fairly rigorous? I thought I'd ask on here as well as at school as I am unable to make any sort of decision without consulting the combined wisdom that is MN I think teachers can have vested interests and so won't always give a truly neutral view,

Heirhelp Mon 08-Feb-16 17:46:34

The second group can be very course work heave, not recommended for a lazy student. Many students pick 'new' subjects eg business studies and engineering and then regret the reality. Does he know how much course work/controlled assessment is involved and really know what the courses involve?

Lancelottie Mon 08-Feb-16 17:50:00

DS did A-level physics with double science at GCSE, so I think it depends on the sixth form. It's well worth checking at this stage what the entry requirements are at the next stage, however awful that sounds.

LIZS Mon 08-Feb-16 17:52:08

If he wants to pursue a stem subject based career he'd be better with triple science. Engineering may not be at a high enough level to be worthwhile longer term. Maybe 3d or dt would be an option? Language might be beneficial too.

Lancelottie Mon 08-Feb-16 17:55:31

DS was the sort of child who loathed biology enough to avoid doing triple science for that reason, despite that meaning missing the extra physics.

northender Mon 08-Feb-16 19:43:55

Thanks for your comments. LIZ that's what I wondered about engineering but the only other choice along those lines is Resistant Materials. The problem is that he really doesn't want to take a foreign language at the moment. We've got a parent's meeting on Thursday so it will be good to ask more questions then.

errorofjudgement Mon 08-Feb-16 19:46:54

My DS took Resistant materials at both GCSE and A level. Really useful for the engineering degree he is studying.

northender Mon 08-Feb-16 20:10:35

error that's good to know, thanks

PettsWoodParadise Mon 08-Feb-16 20:13:29

You could be closing doors if no language is done at GCSE level. I know it may be even further in the future to think about but some universities insist on at least one language to GCSE or equivalent.

caroldecker Mon 08-Feb-16 20:28:11

The ebacc route is much better for a good university in any subject - the other subjects in option 2 are all 'soft' and not helpful in the future.

titchy Mon 08-Feb-16 20:35:01

No university insists on a language GCSE or the EBacc so don't worry about that aspect of it. They won't for at least another six or seven years either given the decreasing number of 18 years olds.

However given that he will only do 9 GCSEs (which is actually very sensible imo), having only 6 'traditional' and 3 'soft' isn't that great for a fairly bright kid.

nonamenopackdrill Mon 08-Feb-16 20:39:01

I'm not convinced that the EBacc is a very real thing for Unis.

senua Mon 08-Feb-16 20:56:43

2. Take combined (double) science & 4 other choices which would be Geography & 3 from Engineering, PE, ICT, Business.

If he decides not to go down the STEM route, what A Levels would he be doing from this launchpad?

TeenAndTween Mon 08-Feb-16 21:04:20

PE can have quite a lot of biology in it, so watch out for that if it is his least favourite science.

You can do science A level on double science. But if almost everyone else has come from triple they might assume knowledge that has to be caught up on. If your school has a 6th form, check they permit A level science from double.

A possible advantage of an MFL is that it is more skill based and cumulative than some other subjects. So by the time the exams come round it will have in my opinion a lower revision load than for some other subjects. (That's what DD found, but she did have 60% coursework for her MFLs which helped too).

Route 1 probably keeps more options open. But not if he gets poor results because his heart isn't in them.

Balletgirlmum Mon 08-Feb-16 21:06:36

Personally I'd ignore the ebacc rubbish but I do feel that languages are a useful skill.

PE apparently contains quite a bit of science so would complement stem subjects. Many universities accept PE A level for science based courses & I don't think it's seen as a soft subject.

You need to find out about ICT. ICT GCSE doesn't exist any more, it's Computer Science which is more programming /coding etc & not a soft subject like ICT was. However some schools such as my dds schools still offer ICT but it's actually a GCSE equivalent level certificate which is more vocational than academic from looking st the spec & may be seen as soft.

Can he not take triple science, Geography then two other s from the list. Also you mentioned he liked design tech but that's not in his list of options. Do the school not offer it as it's seen as more of a traditional subject than engineering for GCSE?

northender Mon 08-Feb-16 21:10:05

senua good question, I don't think he is thinking beyond the STEM subjects as those are what he feels he has the best aptitude for. This is creating so many more questions, which is a good thing. Dh and I are so long out of education we feel out of touch.

Balletgirlmum Mon 08-Feb-16 21:12:39

It's really hard! We are going through the same with yr 9 dd. She's pretty set on what she wants but there's that nagging feeling of is this right.

northender Mon 08-Feb-16 21:17:03

teen and ballet girl helpful comments, thank you. I'll check back but I don't think the school offers DT. We have been told that if triple science is selected then the Ebacc route is compulsory but then DS has heard that if he has strong preferences including triple science but not a language, they may accommodate it. Lots of questions for Thursday's meeting

northender Mon 08-Feb-16 21:18:58

It's so hard isn't it ballet? We're trying not to put too much pressure on him, just making sure we talk through all the options with him

Balletgirlmum Mon 08-Feb-16 21:30:29

Dds school will be offering triple science for the first time & we only found out a few weeks ago so it's thrown a spanner in the works.

So for her it's either Triple Science, French, Music & either RS or Drama

Or double science with RS & Drama (we vetoed ICT)

Haffdonga Mon 08-Feb-16 21:52:39

If he's likely to want to go down the STEM A level choices, then onto a more 'academic' rather than vocational uni route (which if he's in top sets for everything it sounds like he potentially could) then I'd suggest he takes the EBacc course. This will leave more doors open for future options than the other route.

e.g If he wants to do mechanical engineering at uni he'll most likely benefit from physics A level (plus maths and another) and DT wont be enough. If instead he wants to do motor vehicle mechanics at FE college he wont need the physics, but a decent crop of any GCSEs and aptitude will see him through.

ICT and Business Studies teach skills that can be gained without a GCSE. (Most people in business don't have a business qualification. Most people taking maths or sciences can use a computer as well as someone with an ICT GCSE.) So basically, he'll not be closing any doors to himself by taking the first course, whereas he might by taking the second.

Haffdonga Mon 08-Feb-16 21:55:22

And most schools might say they insist he has to do the French if he's doing that combination, but if he's really crap hating it they would be very likely to let him drop it rather than force an unwilling student to take a GCSE in a subject he's going to fail.

senua Mon 08-Feb-16 23:25:28

Dh and I are so long out of education we feel out of touch.

I'm a fan of the EBacc for able children. It's a collection of academic subjects which showcase a variety of intellectual skills. The subjects have a long-term respectability - they were good 50 years ago, are good now and will be good in 50 years' time.

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