AIBU poor GCSE options?

(77 Posts)
hornetgirl Thu 26-May-16 20:32:10

Short story, I invested a lot of time and emotional energy on trying to get DS into a good school. He passed 11+ in a neighboring borough but we didn't get a place as we were too far away. He didn't get into the very super selective grammar in our borough.

Eventually we got offered our 6th choice for secondary school. It is a previously failing school but now an improving academy. I have decided to run with it as we have no other options and have focused on the positives, which there are many (sports/ close to home etc).

I thought I as doing well until I was browsing the website today and realised that the year 8 GCSE options are really poor. There is no option for triple science offered at all! They do not require a modern foreign language as compulsory and the children only get three options for GCSE above the compulsory ones (one of which is PE) . So basically I ended up stuck in doom again.

This time last year I was hoping for at least a school where he could get 10/11 good GCSEs, now he is stuck in a school where he can only do a max of 9 and is extremely limited in his options. He is quite into his science, will he face trouble later in life with A levels and University if he only can choose double science?

So fed up with this whole sodding business :-(

hornetgirl Thu 26-May-16 20:37:36

Also as they choose options in February of Year 8, it basically means he could end up giving up languages/ history/ geography/ music all by the start of year 9. How is that a 'good' education?

TeaBelle Thu 26-May-16 20:40:47

I did double science but our school still taught each science as a single subject iyswim so it was fine to do any of them at a-level. Also these days there are many many more routes into careers than a straightforward path

Decorhate Thu 26-May-16 20:46:42

Lots of people here will tell you that it won't matter if he does double rather than triple science. That may be true if your child is an all-rounder. However I agree that for a child who is better at science than other subjects, it's a shame they are effectively losing out on a good GCSE. My ds would find it far easier to get a good mark in Science than an essay based subject

LIZS Thu 26-May-16 20:49:30

Many schools don't determine double/triple science until end y9/10. They all study the same until then . PE seems an odd compulsory subject unless it is a Sports Academy but does include human biology.

catslife Thu 26-May-16 20:56:14

They do not require a modern foreign language as compulsory That's because taking a language at GCSE isn't compulsory nationally. Compulsory languages isn't a good ideas as it mean pupils could end up taking this subject who don't want to.
dd is an an outstanding comp, most pupils (only) take 9 GCSEs. The most important thing is getting good grades not the number of subjects taken.

bojorojo Thu 26-May-16 21:10:55

He could still opt to do a language if he wanted to. I agree this is rock bottom education. Doing GCSEs over 3 years tends to say most children need lots of teaching to get the good grades and there are not enough science oriented children to make triple science worthwhile.

It is, of course, perfectly possible to be "outstanding" and only offer limited subjects; as long as the students get good grades. However, I am with you, OP; this is dumbing down and the school is not offering a broad enough education. I guess there are no vacancies elsewhere so I would hang on in there and change for 6th form. There are young people who do science A levels with double award science so all is not lost.

With the new harder GCSEs, 9 will be fine but for bright children triple science should be offered, as should two languages. I pity the children who are forced to do PE GCSE but are useless at sport! At least a language is some indicator of intelligence. No wonder language courses at university mostly get students from independent schools these days. Other students do not stand a chance when languages are so devalued.

TeenAndTween Thu 26-May-16 21:18:08

Are you on the waiting lists for other schools? If not put your name down and then if you get to the top of the list you have the option to move.

I wouldn't be happy with a school that doesn't offer triple science, not one with compulsory PE GCSE.

bojorojo Thu 26-May-16 21:19:42

I meant to add that some universities do give a weighting to GCSEs when considering applicants but it is not universal. It is not universal for schools to offer triple science either, so I would be surprised if he was in a worse position for university applications due to double science. The main expectation will be A levels at the required grade and a strong desire and aptitude to do the course he applies for. Good luck.

LongHardStare Thu 26-May-16 21:21:21

Would it be possible to top up with textbooks or a bit of tutoring and sit the science exams independently? It does seem crap that something like GCSE choices, which will have such a big effect on their next steps in education, is so dependent on where you happen to go to school rather than you abilities and interests.

Hikez Thu 26-May-16 21:30:12

I can't see having double instead of triple award science causing any problems for him at all. Does he want to go on to a science based subject at uni or is that your plan for him? He is still young. This is not me having a moan in case anybody think it is by the way!
I do think the PE being compulsory is odd however as another poster has said if it's a sports academy...

Decorhate Fri 27-May-16 06:06:23

Bojo, lots of schools are starting a three year GCSE cycle now due to the changes being brought in, even outstanding schools. It's not necessarily a sign that the majority of pupils are low achievers.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Fri 27-May-16 06:22:08

Doing double shouldn't cause problems for a levels or uni. The unis are quite aware that not every school offers triple science so don't penalise kids for only having double, even for courses like medicine.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Fri 27-May-16 06:25:22

And remember his ideas may change totally between now and options.

He sounds similar to dd, even down to passing eleven plus and not getting a grammar place. She loved science, was sure she wanted to do science at uni, etc. In the end she chose to only do double science as by then had found so many subjects she preferred. Your ds hasn't done mfl, geography, history, etc it's possible even if he had the choice of triple he may not have gone for it.

If he's bright and motivated he can read round the subject more so that the transition to a level is easier.

ChopsticksandChilliCrab Fri 27-May-16 06:33:24

The universities might not be bothered but any students doing double award are likely to be less well prepared for A level science courses than students who have done the triple award. I would be very concerned if I were the OP.

I would be interested in the A level science outcomes for double v triple students at GCSE and in the difference in take-up of A level science courses between schools where everyone does double award v those with the triple option.

Abraid2 Fri 27-May-16 06:37:20

My daughter did double science IGCSE and is now doing Chemistry and Biology at A level. It depends on the double award sat, I suppose, how wide/in-depth the syllabus is, but it is fairly common at her school, even though triple science is offered at IGCSE too.

SnowyDeer Fri 27-May-16 06:58:34

Lots of my DDs friends did extra GCSEs outside of school. If you're worried about Science then I suggest he take a course in the summer between year 11 and 12. That's all I can think of.

HPFA Fri 27-May-16 07:12:44

Three year GCSEs are not confined to low achieving schools - DD's excellent comp does them. The Royal Latin, a grammar school in Bucks, does them.

RalphSteadmansEye Fri 27-May-16 09:14:09

Lack of triple science is not necessarily an issue in itself - lots of students go on to science A levels and science degrees from ds's independent school after double at GCSE, because they have do many other subjects or extra-curriculars they want to do, too. However, it does suggest a weak cohort or a lack of science teachers (not unusual anywhere, sadly).

Simon is also right: you not only don't know how interested ds will continue to be in sciences, you also don't know how able he will continue to be. At primary age, a child can seem very able in a subject, but that can drop off. At primary, ds was considered exceedingly able at science, also in maths - he won gold medals in UKMT etc and thought he would take A level maths. Now, although he's predicted top grades for maths and science, still, he's hit the peak of his ability and interests and will take arts/humanities A levels.

The one thing I would be apoplectic about would be compulsory PE GCSE (as I would about RE which is common in many schools). PE is really hard to get a good grade in and wouldn't suit most students. Extra sports lessons? Not a problem. Compulsory testing in it? No, thanks.

Tigerblue Fri 27-May-16 09:58:08

Whether you're doing triple or double science at my DD's school you get five classes a week in science, so if doing triple science you don't have to take it as an extra option. This may be the reason it's not listed at the school's website. If science is concerning you, phone the school and speak to them - they may be able to reassure you.

My DD is at a school who offer 10/11 GCSEs (depending on whether you're doing triple science as an extra). At a recent meeting they said they're acknowledging the new GCSEs could be harder (although unknown at this stage) and therefore from September onwards all students will only be doing 9/10 GCSEs, more schools may think this way, I don't know.

As said before, at this stage you don't know what your son will be interested in doing for GCSE. My DD could take five options at the time and she only chose one that I'd have expected.

hellsbells99 Fri 27-May-16 10:39:35

My DD2 (now year 13) 'only' did 9 GCSEs. She was also supposed to do a half GCSE in PE but we spoke to the school in year 11 and said we didn't want her entering for the exam and they were fine about it. Everyone had to do either half GCSE or sports leadership award - but this was taught in normal PE time which is compulsory anyway. She also didn't have to take a language or humanity but chose to - and I think this is how it should be as it is unfair to make pupils take an option is they won't succeed in it. The only difference is she could choose to do triple science. DD was offered an interview at Oxford this year (which she turned down) so her GCSEs were fine.

hornetgirl Fri 27-May-16 11:15:42

Thanks for all the feedback. I am a bit of a tiger mother, I was a high achiever myself and ds is bright but not as much as I was at the same age. My dh says I have been obsessed with secondary school for 2 years and that we just have to accept that life has given us this deal and we have to live with it. I am struggling to accept that the school will stifle his choices so early in life.

Is is rubbish that a 13/14 year old can give up history, geography, languages, music, art, computer science so early in life. But has to do PE and RE.

Compulsory GCSEs are Eng lang, Eng Lit, Maths, Double science, RE and PHSE/PE. (it was a Sports academy before it changed hands)

I appreciate that at age 11 an interest in science and maths may wane so that he doesn't end up down that path but I am so ANGRY with myself for failing him. If only I could pay for private schooling Grrr!

He is on waiting list for other schools but my DH has had enough and says he has to just suck it up and doesn't want any more change for DS. I agree that you can do GCSEs outside of school but really how realistic is that?

Sorry for rambling, just wishing we had more options

tiggytape Fri 27-May-16 12:19:33

R.S is a compulsory GCSE at many schools because it is compulsory for schools to teach it right up to Year 11. Many therefore take the view that they may as well gain a qualification out of it. The school may feel the same way about P.E.

In addition, taking options early is something many schools choose to do including some selective and also some independent schools. There are many Year 9 children studying a fairly limited number of subjects in all kinds of schools. The same applies for studying only 9 subjects - some independent schools actively encourage this to improve results for each pupil. There is no real benefit to having 11A* instead of 9.

However I do agree with you about triple science. It isn't a disaster in terms of A Level options but, for a child who excels at science, it is useful if that ability counts towards 3 GCSE grades rather than just two and it is useful to study the subjects in greater depth.

In terms of MFLs, they may not require one as an option but may encourage all top set children to take one. There will be some children who will not be able to get a grade C (or a grade 5 as it will be then) in an additional language so there is no point making it compulsory only to have many fail it. But that's not to say that your son won't be able and encourages to to a MFL.

I know it's hard but you have to try to separate what the school can offer your son as an individual from what it offers overall to pupils of very varied academic abilities. Apart from science, the rest isn't really a problem at all.

PurpleDaisies Fri 27-May-16 12:24:08

I would be interested in the A level science outcomes for double v triple students at GCSE and in the difference in take-up of A level science courses between schools where everyone does double award v those with the triple option.

Literally no difference in outcomes for A levels, unless they were made to do double because they were in a lower set (so less able to start with) rather than actively chose double or had to do it because the school didn't do triple. I've got three science a levels and two science degrees with double award at gcse and now teach science.

tiggytape Fri 27-May-16 12:32:26

I hope this might help a bit.
At Eton E block boys (Year 10) study 10 subjects but can drop to 9 subjects in D Block (Year 11).
They do 2 or 3 sciences and 1 language which leaves 3 options to take them up to 10 (one of which may be dropped later).

In addition, many selective schools around the country do a "condensed KS3" to spend more time on GCSE subjects. In other words children pick options in Year 8 so, although Year 9 is much more limited, they cover their chosen subjects more thoroughly (that's the argued advantage anyway).

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