Appealing to the wisdom of mumsnet - looking for advice on Science GCSE for Special Needs teen

(16 Posts)
MIlesdavis Fri 21-Oct-16 10:06:25

Hi everyone - I am hoping someone brilliant can kindly help me with this as science is not my field and I don't want to make a mistake. My 14 year old son is back classed in Year 9 in a mainstream school. Last year he was told he would never take a GCSE and would definitely not make it in most mainstream schools. He's so kind and works incredibly hard despite very severe dyslexia and the school has now said he can take Maths, English, DT, Drama, RS and ICT short course as they believe his work ethic and a big investment in learning support will win the day. So pleased for him, but Science is the issue. This will never be his field, he has dropped Physics and struggles with Chemistry and Biology. The school is suggesting this as a replacement to GCSE double award: www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/science/elc/science-5948. A friend who teaches science says he'll likely pass it but it's basically for those who won't pass GCSE and is "just to get a bit of paper." We know there is a statutory requirement to teach science at GCSE, but we think our son should focus on the core and not waste time if it's ultimately not worth it. What would you suggest? Sincere thanks as I am desperate not to make a mistake.

TeenAndTween Fri 21-Oct-16 12:20:01

So to clarify
- he wouldn't pass GCSE science
- there is a statutory requirement for him to continue with science lessons
- he would probably pass the ELC science
(and learn some science along the way)
- you are wondering whether actually instead of doing a 'piece of paper' science qualification his time might be better off being spent on his proper GCSEs where he will get useful qualifications

If it is a statutory requirement will you get anywhere trying to argue he shouldn't do it? Could he start it and then depending on how his other subjects go you could review whether or not to continue? I kind of think that in the modern world the better understanding people have of science the better, but I do see where you are coming from.

Sorry, no help really.

catslife Fri 21-Oct-16 12:39:17

I would suggest that you try the classes and starting the qualification for now. As teen has said, it can always be reviewed at a later date if it doesn't seem to be working out.
I don't think that qualifications below GCSE are a "waste of time" by the way. I used to teach in FE and entry level qualifications do have their uses. He may not wish to do science but the more qualification he can get the better. Having a qualification even if it isn't GCSE may be better than nothing.
Science GCSEs are changing - the new courses are being started by the current Y10s (and some Y9s) so other options that were available in the past are not longer available.

MIlesdavis Fri 21-Oct-16 14:59:51

Thank you so much for you help. I'm torn between:

1) Trying to push through GCSE Science with more pressure and yet more learning support when he's already maxed out with English and Maths
2) Going for this entry-level paper (I've spoken to another science teacher who says it's just not worth it).
3) Trying to negotiate skipping Science altogether.

One other option, according to the school, is we go for triple award, accepting he'll fail Physics and just put all the focus on separate Biology and Chemistry as if he does try double award the Physics might make him fail both (as Physics is intrinsic, not separate, to double award exams).

Agreed an understanding of science is key, but he really must pass Maths and English at all costs to get to the next step. Many thanks for your help. :-)

mudandmayhem01 Fri 21-Oct-16 15:05:43

Is single science on offer?

catslife Fri 21-Oct-16 15:13:22

The minimum for the new GCSEs is Double Award *mud". Pupils cannot take just the Core (Single) Science any more.

mudandmayhem01 Fri 21-Oct-16 15:19:40

Some y11s are taking it in dds school, must be the last year then. This new curriculum is really aimed at narrow range of students.

TeenAndTween Fri 21-Oct-16 15:34:52

If he struggles with Chemistry and Biology then doing triple and dropping Physics doesn't seem very wise?

DD1's P2 paper was quite a lot of maths, very little actual physics content imo. If you could rearrange equations and substitute and solve there were a lot of easy marks. (2 years ago now, and equations were given at the front of the exam paper).
There was maths in the C2 paper too (relative atomic weights)

titchy Fri 21-Oct-16 15:40:08

Is BTEC Level 2 in Science possible? Or single award Biology (or Chemistry)?

It's a real shame single award GCSE is no longer available angry

TeenAndTween Fri 21-Oct-16 15:45:34

Is it really 'no longer available'? Or just not counting in Progress 8 measures? There is a difference.

unicornsarenotjustforchristmas Fri 21-Oct-16 15:47:02

I'd go with option 2. A "useless" piece of paper will still be more useful then a failed gcse. Plus a lot less stressful for your son. I don't know why you would even consider option 1, you will just be setting him up for a fail.

mudandmayhem01 Fri 21-Oct-16 15:55:40

Looking at the aqa site I think science A will still exist, but it just won't count to progress 8 without additional science. Also btec science will exist but again won't count to progress 8. Process 8"is about measuring/ bashing schools not about individual student's best interests

catslife Fri 21-Oct-16 16:56:20

The trouble with the exam board websites is that current Y11s and Y10s are now doing different courses. I attach link from the AQA website about which courses will be available for the new Science GCSEs
www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/science/new-science-gcse-specifications.
There is another potential "technical" qualification but the syllabus for this course is still under development. This could be more appropriate for the OPs son.
Core Science will definitely no longer available as a new GCSE. However it is possible that it could be available as an iGCSE instead (again syllabus still under development).
The new combined Science exams will be harder, I am fairly sure that formula sheets as described by teen etc. will no longer be available - other than the Periodic Table in Chemistry.
I agree that the system is a mess and that little consideration has been made (so far) for SEN pupils.
For those who are interested, there is a thread on this topic on the TES Science Forum which is quite informative.

MIlesdavis Fri 21-Oct-16 18:45:31

Thank you so much everyone. I've had more perspective and knowledge from you lovely people than I've had in three very long meetings with the school! I know they mean well but I get the sense that they are not really clear about what the system offers given all the changes. I'll check the technical qualification you mention, catsforlife.

Ollycat Fri 21-Oct-16 18:50:15

BTec Science is good and v structured. The new science GCSE is quite challenging. Maybe have a look online at the spec. I think the course suggested looks good.

Ta1kinpeece Fri 21-Oct-16 19:39:13

Sod the ebacc
sod the Progress 8
sod the league tables

get him to select options that will keep him in school (older kids bunk lessons they hate)
get him to take courses that will help him have life skills to be independent

it is SUCH a shame that in our new One Party State only high achievers are deemed worth anything
kick and scream and should and fight for your kid

FFS they want to kick out the Bulgarians who are taking the exact jobs he can do

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