Sorry, another Y9 Options advice thread ...

(21 Posts)
moosemama Wed 23-Mar-16 11:34:34

Ds1 had options evening last night and we're struggling to make sense of how to hep him choose which GCSE's to choose. For context:

He has ASD and is at a small independent secondary .
He is probably looking at a mix of B's and C's in core subjects.
He suffers from high anxiety and slow processing, which means he can't cope with a very heavy workload.
His Science teacher has recommended Combined/Double Science, based on the workload.
He has very definite views on the field he wants to find work in, ie computing, more specifically gaming and has a particular aptitude/strength in this area.

Options have been offered as the following blocks and they have to choose one from each. (I have indicated the ones ds is interested in by putting them in bold.)

A:
Food Prep & Nutrition
Geography
Photography
Product Design
RE

B:
Art
Computing
Geography
History
PE

C:
Drama
French
ICT
PE
Psychology
Spanish

D:
Business Studies
Drama
History
Music
RE

Without looking at the blocks, his reaction to the question, "What subjects would you like to study?" was Computing, Geography, History and RE.

Computing is obviously a given, teacher agrees.
RE teacher was very keen for him to choose that and he achieves very well in the subject - which I am surprised at, given the need to see and discuss things from other peoples' perspectives. I'm a bit concerned the increased demand for this at GCSE could be an issue for him.
History and Geography he does OK at in both, probably would be looking at B's at best.
Geography includes two field trips that I am sure he would enjoy, but I am not convinced the school would necessarily support him properly for - and I am concerned that, from what I've heard, the workload might be too much for him.

Dh and I are concerned that choosing RE, Geography and History, might be too heavy a workload for him, particularly when it comes to revision. It's also impossible to get them all in across the four blocks.

Block C is a problem:

French/Spanish - He's not doing MFL at all, having had to drop them in Y8 (long story, but right decision for him).
Drama - he enjoys and is doing OK in, but teacher agreed it would be hard for him, from the perspective of teamwork. It would be good for his social/communication/teamwork skills, but I feel this wouldn't necessarily be fair on the other pupils on the course if it made teamwork harder for them too.
ICT - this would be a walk in the park for ds. Easy pass?
PE - a definite no.
Psychology - he's expressed an interest in doing it in the past, but this seems to no longer be the case. I am concerned that the amount of self-analysis and assessment/understanding of others' behaviour would be useful, but will also make the subject itself a lot harder for him for achieve in.

Dh and I are wondering whether he should just choose ICT, despite already doing Computing. It would be an easy subject for him, give him some space from heavy academic workloads and also be good for his self-confidence, as he would pretty much be guaranteed a good grade, with little effort. Essentially this option would then be used to lessen the load and therefore, hopefully, keep his anxiety in check.

So we're left with

A: Geography OR RE
B: Computing
C: ICT?
D: History OR RE

Any thoughts/advice would be appreciated.

redhat Wed 23-Mar-16 11:38:18

How does ICT differ from computing?

moosemama Wed 23-Mar-16 11:55:48

ICT is more basic computer literacy. It covers phone apps, web page design, social networking, digital developments/marketplace and the basics of computing, etc.

Computing is more in depth, covers how computers work, how to build them, programming in different languages, etc.

TeddTess Wed 23-Mar-16 12:20:16

A: Geography OR RE
B: Computing
C: ICT?
D: History OR RE

definitely do ICT. Why wouldn't you? The field he is interested in and he is good at it. you'd be mad not to take it.

then a choice of 2 from history, geography, RE. just go for the two he likes the best. what % of these are coursework? is that a consideration?

moosemama Wed 23-Mar-16 12:48:58

ICT isn't useful for getting into the career he wants, it's superceded (sp?) by Computing and generally considered the poor relation to it. Ds' year is the last year they'll be offering it because of this.

Geography has three exams, RE only has one.

I couldn't make it to options evening, unfortunately. Dh said something about them having to write up two field trips as part of their final result, but the details in the school booklet say it's assessed by 3 exams, which represent 35%, 35% and 30% of the GCSE.

The final exam is Geographical Applications. The course content section of the booklet does include 'Fieldwork' under Geographical Applications though, so I'll need to clarify that.

moosemama Wed 23-Mar-16 12:57:22

Forgot to say. He can't choose between History, RE and Geography and is equally good at all of them. He has issues with making choices at the best of times, if there's no concrete reason to make a specific choice it causes him massive anxiety and he just can't do it.

From just reading the booklet again, it looks like RE is a lot less work and only one exam, so would be the easier option than either History or Geography. Geography seems like it potentially has the greatest workload of the three.

History I would have thought was a good choice, but he's stalled a few times this year because of difficulty considering the motivations etc of historical characters. (Issue with ASD and struggling to look at situations from other peoples' perspectives.)

Geography may be more fact-based and analytical and therefore suit ds better than something that requires him to consider the thoughts/emotions/motivations of people.

Thank you for your thoughts and questions, it's definitely helping me think it all through.

Noitsnotteatimeyet Wed 23-Mar-16 13:00:51

Hi moose

I also have a ds with ASD who wants to go into computing, preferably in some games-related capacity

He's in Y11 and is doing computing, RE, and history. He was doing geography but dropped it earlier this year as he just wasn't coping and had already stopped Spanish at the end of Y10. He spends the free periods in learning support having extra English support and consolidating stuff from that day's lessons

Does your ds have to choose from all 4 blocks? I think it would be pointless to do ICT as well as computing

Ds is also surprisingly good at RE despite having enormous difficulties seeing other people's points of view. He is, however, very good at constructing arguments!

Noitsnotteatimeyet Wed 23-Mar-16 13:03:12

Also - depending on the exam board he might find geography pretty dull as well as having a lot of coursework - ds couldn't cope with the combination of heavy work load and tedium which seemed to be involved with geography!

RalphSteadmansEye Wed 23-Mar-16 13:10:37

My ds also has ASD and is at a small independent. His strengths are art subjects, however...

Is there any flexibility for your ds to have one fewer option and have some time off timetable? At ds's school, one of the option blocks is only languages and a small number of students - including ds - are allowed to give that a miss altogether. He has study skills teaching in one free period and time to do homework in the other. Would something like this be a possibility? Flexibility is part of what you're paying for, after all.

If so, I would go RS, history and computing.

If school insist on something out of the other block, then ICT seems the obvious choice as it would be a high grade for him - or maybe persuade him to consider psychology? I think it's quite scientific really so he might like it.

catslife Wed 23-Mar-16 13:39:01

Are you sure RE is only one exam? dd is taking RE GCSE this year and it's 2 exams.
It should be OK to take both Computing and IT, but some schools gives priority to pupils with the highest levels/ predicted grades at maths for Computer Science.

moosemama Wed 23-Mar-16 14:37:00

Notitsnot yes, he has to pick one from each block. Which I am frustrated about, as last year's SENCO suggested a reduced GCSE timetable might be best for ds, but he left in September. That would free up time for additional support and doing work at school, rather than home, which is something he has always had issues with. His statement also requires him to have mentoring sessions, so they could be worked into that free block as well.

I suspect you're right about RE - ds is also a master at constructing arguments.

He's just arrived home after breaking up at lunchtime and says he wants to do Geography because he likes the teacher. His old form teacher had a chat with him just last week about not choosing a subject because he likes or dislikes a teacher, because there's no guarantee which teacher he'll get or if the ones he likes/dislikes will even stay at the school. There have been big staff changes over the last couple of years and there are often surprise departures over the summer break.

I have just checked and out of all of the options Geography is currently his lowest grade, whereas he's doing well in both History and RE, so they do seem the more logical choices.

Ralph, we aren't paying, so don't have as much sway. Ds is in an out of area placement, paid for by our Local Authority, as there's no ASD provision in our area at all.

Again, I agree, he'd be better having one block free for support and study time, than choosing a subject for the sake of it. I think I will raise that with school as soon as he goes back. We will be meeting then anyway as his Statement/EHCP transfer is due after Easter.

My apologies catslife, just double-checked and there are two equally weighted exams for RE. Thank you for highlighting that for me.

Ds' school doesn't prioritise pupils for Computer Science based on Maths. It's a very small school and they don't have the need due to small pupil numbers. He wouldn't get into Computer Science if it was based on the top Maths pupils, but is on target to get the grade he needs to get onto the FE courses he's considering.

RalphSteadmansEye Wed 23-Mar-16 15:51:10

That's a technicality! Someone's paying - your L A.

I think it would be worth pushing for free periods. It's working brilliantly with ds to keep his anxiety levels down.

OddBoots Wed 23-Mar-16 15:55:44

What kind of qualification are they saying ICT is? GCSE ICT has been scrapped for the new GCSEs so it will be something else, that means it may be coursework based which may be a good or bad thing depending on your ds.

moosemama Wed 23-Mar-16 16:00:45

I will definitely explore the possibility of free periods.

Unfortunately our LA have effectively dumped their ASD pupils in the school and that's that - no further involvement or support. I did get them to attend an emergency AR in Y7, but they've not attended one since and ds has had no input or involvement from them since then either. So there won't be any back-up from them. Wondering if it's something we might possibly be able to work into the EHCP though.

chicaguapa Wed 23-Mar-16 16:01:17

If you know the exam boards, you can look up the specimen papers on the internet which will give you an idea of what is expected for each of the subjects for both coursework and exams. Doing that helped DD choose her options.

moosemama Wed 23-Mar-16 16:04:22

OddBoots, it says GCSE, Examination Board OCR.

There are two exams and two controlled assessments, both of which are done in year 11. Practical assessments would be a good thing for ds. There's very little he can't do with a computer.

I'm sure it wasn't this complicated waaaaay back when I chose my options.

moosemama Wed 23-Mar-16 16:06:11

That's interesting chicaguapa, thank you. Yes we have the exam board for each subject. That's another job for the Easter holidays then!

cricketballs Wed 23-Mar-16 17:16:58

Oddboots; GCSE IT is available for current year 9s

OP
please do not fall into the MN mentality that IT is an easy option whilst GCSE IT does require students to show their skills through a wide range of software this is only a small percentage of the coursework. The highest grades can only be awarded through the explanation, analysis and evaluation of their work, the exam also requires these skills.

Also, do not think that because your DS is capable of computer science that IT is easy; I have 2 very talented A level CS students who are completing enrichment by assisting with KS3 IT lessons; when we were doing a unit of work based on Python they were in their element. We have just done a unit that is a cut down version of the coursework type tasks of IT and they were completely lost; struggled with basic skills in publisher, word never mind video and audio editing!

moosemama Wed 23-Mar-16 17:46:19

cricket thank you for that insight, it's definitely helpful to know a bit more about what GCSE IT entails.

I do think ds will find it easier than Computer Science though. The skills you mention your A Level students struggling with are things ds already does at home on a regular basis. He's studied post-production as part of the school's photography curriculum and is quite proficient in publisher, photo-shop, video-editing, word/excel/powerpoint etc, as well as designing and writing games and apps and creating websites. I'm not just assuming he'll find IT easy because he likes computers, they've actually been a lifelong obsession for him. He's done all his school work on a laptop since primary school, so has had to be proficient in design, word-processing and presentation software from a young age.

He will also achieve better with subjects where explanation, analysis and evaluation of his processes is required, than he will with subjects that require him to for example, read sub-text or analyse character motivation. I think taking IT, if he can't drop a block in favour of free-periods, would be playing to his strengths, whereas the other subjects available in that block would be a struggle for him, given his particular presentation of ASD.

Coconutty Wed 23-Mar-16 17:52:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

redhat Wed 23-Mar-16 19:01:22

I would go for computing, history, RE and ICT. If he'll find ICT easy it will make a massive difference for him since it will effectively free up some time. On his CV it will just be another A/A*- nobody really cares what it's in after he's left school.

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