Science BTEC compared to GCSEs - I don't believe it can be worth 4 GCSEs

(61 Posts)
bargainmad Thu 17-Sep-09 12:50:46

My son is in year 10 and is just starting his science GCSEs (2) or so I thought he was. I phoned the school last week as he told me he has been put in a lower ability group with disruptive pupils and I wasn't happy, neither was he.

I have just received a phone call from his teacher to say she can move him but he will be in a BTEC science group where potentially he can get 4 GCSEs.

This is the same teacher who last year told me if my son didn't pull his socks up he would be doing BTEC science which, and she said this to me on the last parents evening "has the same stigma as doing CSEs in the 80's compared to doing O levels".

When I heard this I made him work his socks off for the end of year exam and he did a lot better than expected.

She denied she said this and I am absolutely fuming they are now backtracking.

In my opinion they are doing this to "cook the books" and have more children leaving the school with a higher number of GCSEs.

I have told them I want my son to do 2 straight science GCSEs.

siouxsieandthebanshees Thu 17-Sep-09 23:13:34

Go see the school.
Because -

BTEC Introductory Diploma - Level 1 qualification, roughly equivalent to 4 GCSEs at D-F grades or a Foundation GNVQ
(from wiki)

So yeah, I agree its CSE over O Levels like she said.

2shoes Thu 17-Sep-09 23:16:56

i thought a BTEC WAS WORTH 2 GCSE'S

TheFallenMadonna Thu 17-Sep-09 23:18:00

It may be the BTEC First Diploma in Applied Science, which is indeed the 'equivalent' of 4 GCSEs at grade C or above, but is not a preparation for A level sciences.

And yes, it does help the schools numbers. But for some children, it is a more appropriate course. What is his target grade for GCSE? And what are the 'low ability' group studying for? IME these are the groups that do BTEC, although it's not the group targetted by the exam boards for it.

TheFallenMadonna Thu 17-Sep-09 23:18:42

Depends on the BTEC 2shoes.

siouxsieandthebanshees Thu 17-Sep-09 23:23:25

I copied and pasted my statement from wiki.
But, I had a discussion last week at dd's school about what BTEC's are equal too.

KembleTwins Thu 17-Sep-09 23:23:31

But there are also BTEC firsts (Level 2 qualification) and BTEC Nationals (Level 3) which can be, and are, taught alongside GCSEs & A Levels. BTEC firsts are the equivalent of 4 GCSEs, and it is possible to get the "equivalent" of A/A* grades. I have taught BTEC firsts and BTEC Nationals, admitedly in Performing Arts, and the qualifications ARE seen as just as good - within the right contexts. What I mean is, sixth forms would accept that a BTEC First in applied science is as good as a GCSE in Double Science, and would understand what the grading system means. So your DS would not be at a disadvantage. IME, the prolem is with perception, and often parents do not get the full story, and therefore assume that the BTEC is not as good a qualification. In your case, OP, it seems that the teacher herself has been unfairly misleading, and is clearly now trying to backtrack. If I were you, I would make an appointment to see the head of science, and get all the facts about the two courses, what they mean for your DS and how he is likely to perform in both cases. Then make the decision based on what is best for him - in terms of qualification AND teaching group.

TheFallenMadonna Thu 17-Sep-09 23:28:39

Hmm - While schools may recognise the equivalence for the purposes of entry to the sixth form, I would say again that the BTEC First Diploma is not a preparation for A level Sciences. I am a Science teacher and I teach the BTEC First Diploma and A level. But yes - you need the full info before he moves sets.

ravenAK Thu 17-Sep-09 23:28:58

Depends on his (realistic) target. If he's likely to get a C or above, I'd be unhappy at seeing him entered for BTEC.

They are a very good way for schools to bean count - our current Y11s are doing a BTEC in 'Work Skills' which has been sold to them as a) 'equivalent to a grade B GCSE' hmm & b) 'just putting lots of stuff you do anyway into a folder'.

If he is currently in a lower set for GCSE Science then the question should be 'Can he be moved up, & if so what are the targets he needs to hit to show that he could cope in a higher set?'

However, you may have to accept that he wouldn't be able to access the work in a higher set: in which case it probably is most appropriate that he's in the lower GCSE set or the BTEC group. It would be helpful for you to know what the average GCSE target for his current set is - if he's likely to exceed it then he has a fighting chance of moving up.

bargainmad Fri 18-Sep-09 13:14:31

From his tracking (which I don't believe is accurate and would be for another discussion altogher!) he is a straight A student.

I think he realistically should get a mixture of As and Bs. I don't see any reason why he shouldn't at least get Cs in science.

I really do think that BTECs are for pupils who can't pass GCSEs.

I really don't think he would want to study any sciences past GCSE level but it is the principle of the matter.

They are pushing students to do BTEC so it makes their figures look good.

The ridiculous thing is the school has "specialist science college" status.

He is doings straight GCSEs in all his other subjects except music which is a BTEC also (and which again we have been told is worth 4 GCSEs).

He could fail everything and get excellent results in science and music BTEC come out with 8 GCSEs. This says it all.

VulpusinaWilfsuit Fri 18-Sep-09 13:43:13

I would absolutely refuse if this happened to my kid. Insist on the separate science GCSEs, and consider ways of getting him re-streamed?

Specialist science college doesn't necessarily mean they are good at science; in fact it can (and often does) mean entirely the opposite...

TheFallenMadonna Fri 18-Sep-09 17:44:07

If he is getting As then BTEC is not the course for him. I wouldn't necessarily insist on separate sciences (although someone with As predicted should certainly give it consideration), but certainly dual award GCSE, and not Applied anything.

TheFallenMadonna Fri 18-Sep-09 17:46:45

What group is he in now BTW. You said 'low ability', which someone targeted an A certainly isn't, but I do know from experience that that can mean quite different things in different schools. What is the range of target grades for the group he is in?

mumeeee Fri 18-Sep-09 21:34:40

a Btech first diploma is worth 4 GCSE's at A-C level. The qualifications are just as good as GCSE's. They are not just for pupils who can't pass GCSE's but may be better suited to those who struggle with exams. There is still a lot of work but it is on going assesments rather than big exams at the end.

KembleTwins Fri 18-Sep-09 21:39:21

I find this all a little distasteful - it's no wonder that newer qualifications have such a poor reputation when supposedly educated parents are so down on them. Is this how it was when GCSEs replaced O Levels? BTECs are assessed in a different way, but are not for thick kids who can't manage GCSEs. How helpful do you think it is for your own children if parents are condemning the courses they are taking? It's the sodding Daily Mail exams-ain't-what-they-used-to-be crowd.

TheFallenMadonna Fri 18-Sep-09 22:27:44

I teach the BTEC. In fact, I've introduced it to my school. I'm not 'down on it'. It is not the right Science course for a child who has a target grade of A, because it isn't good preparation for A level Sciences, and the beginning of year 10 is early to be closing those doors unecessarily.

KembleTwins Fri 18-Sep-09 22:33:45

I teach BTEC too - but Performing Arts not Science, so perhaps my experienes are different. I think more and more schools are moving towards it, though, for a variety of reasons, and therefore really do think that parents have to get away from the idea that it is a sub-standard qualification. Several of the students I have taught BTEC Higher PA to are off to perfectly credible universities this week or next. It didn't seem to affect their ability to get in. I will say again, though - I fully accept that Performing Arts may simply be a more appropriate subject for BTEC.

TheFallenMadonna Fri 18-Sep-09 22:37:16

I think its a great course for many students. But not for a child with a target grade of A. Not in Science.

KembleTwins Fri 18-Sep-09 22:51:37

I disagree that it's not a great course for A graders. Not if you're talking in general terms. Again, I admit I do not know the ins and outs of the Science course.

TheFallenMadonna Fri 18-Sep-09 22:57:18

It isn't a good course for students targeted an A because it doesn't lead well into the A level Science courses. Now of course that might not matter if a child is absolutely certain that they don't want to take A level Sciences. But that is a big ask of a child just starting KS4. I know that in my school the situation with Art is quite different, and so am not surprised that Performing Arts would be the same. But the OP was talking about Science.

KembleTwins Fri 18-Sep-09 23:03:02

Fair enough. Just got hmm about the posts which seemed to imply that BTECs are for numpties. Or just so schools can try to artifically up their A*-C figures.

TheFallenMadonna Fri 18-Sep-09 23:04:58

To be fair, they are much-loved of SLTs for that reason...

KembleTwins Fri 18-Sep-09 23:06:56

True. grin

Bigboots Fri 18-Sep-09 23:28:37

I teach the Performing Arts Btec First and as a course, love it! Brilliant for the kids, great to teach. However my friend is head of science and was considering it for those who struggle with the applied science course - she was told on a course by the Edexcel tutor that (as KembleTwins has said) it DOES NOT equip students for A level - despite the 'equivalent to 4 GCSE's' statement. She has disregarded it for this reason. Make an appointment with his teacher!

TheFallenMadonna Fri 18-Sep-09 23:31:28

But the applied science course doesn't prepare for A level either. We've replaced our Applied GCSE with the BTEC First in Applied Science. We've kept triple and dual award for those who might conceivably do Science A level. I much prefer it to 21st Century Addtional Applied - that really was awful.

Bigboots Fri 18-Sep-09 23:42:17

Sorry, I'm just a dance teacher talking science and possibly have got it wrong, but my point was just to back KembleTwins up about it not leading into the A level syllabus.

Loshad Mon 21-Sep-09 22:46:15

i teach btec science as well - we would not accept a child onto AS/A2 courses with BTEC science - end of - they could do a BTEC level 3 but many of the better universities will not see that in the same light as A2's. And not unreasonably - i've taught kids(lots of them) who wouldn't have got more than c at very best push in core and additional science who end up with the equivalent of 4 A grades at 16 - with the best will in the world, in science they are not equivalent qulaifications.

bargainmad Tue 22-Sep-09 13:03:28

The deputy head of science called me yesterday to say she had looked at all of my son's previous tracking and as he should be aiming for A grades they are moving him to top group for science.

I said wasn't this going from one extreme to the other - one minute moving him to BTEC and then the next moving him up to top group?

I am never happy - I am now concerned it will be too difficult for him. My son seems happy enough about it and they have said they will monitor him.

Apparently it's all in modules and they are assessed at every stage.

bargainmad Tue 22-Sep-09 13:07:28

The deputy head of science called me yesterday to say she had looked at all of my son's previous tracking and as he should be aiming for A grades they are moving him to top group for science.

I said wasn't this going from one extreme to the other - one minute moving him to BTEC and then the next moving him up to top group?

I am never happy - I am now concerned it will be too difficult for him. My son seems happy enough about it and they have said they will monitor him.

Apparently it's all in modules and they are assessed at every stage.

muddleduck Tue 22-Sep-09 13:07:49

FYI some unis do not currently accept BTEC science in place of gcse science.

southeastastra Tue 22-Sep-09 13:14:33

my ds is doing a btec though not in science. shouldn't schools be sorting this out if they're meant to be so degrading then?

muddleduck Tue 22-Sep-09 13:22:13

not sure what you mean by "degrading" but I agree that there is a lack of clarity about the different qualifications. Parents and students need to be able to make informed choices based on accurate info about what options will be open/closed to them in the future. I work in uni admissions and sadly it is often the students from the "weaker" schools who seem to be getting bad advice that comes back to haunt them in a few years time.

southeastastra Tue 22-Sep-09 13:26:04

sorry but you know what i mean hopefully! i even asked on here when he was taking his options but even on here people seemed confused by it all.

lazymumofteenagesons Wed 23-Sep-09 15:56:01

To the OP, don't close any doors re A level science in YR 10. DS(1) had no intention of doing a science at that stage and in fact dropped Physics ( did single chemistry and biology). He is now doing Biology A level and loves it (got A in all AS modules).

If your thinking re university check the UCAS website for entry requirements and see how Unis regard BTECs.

thepumpkineater Wed 23-Sep-09 17:30:27

Yes, I agree southeastastra. Schools should tell parents that some qualifications are more 'acceptable' for university admissions. Some children are ruling themselves out before they have even started, by taking the 'wrong' courses.

Obviously there is a need for different qualifications and not everyone is able to take the higher level examinations but parents must be informed of the reality of how these qualifications are perceived by the universities.

As muddleduck says it is the weaker schools whose pupils presumably need proper advice more than those pupils from high achieving schools (and who usually have pro-active parents, and who are generally more informed), who are being let down.

To the OP your son should probably stick with the higher level now!

Chillstress Sun 24-Jan-10 11:49:43

My sons school put him on BTEC with no consultation - I thought it was higher as it was said to be =4Gcses. I was not given option of GCSEs, now he is interested in Medicine and they are saying he is not elligible for A level studies. I think it is clear - BTECh equivalence is a complete lie. I have a battle coming with School. Has anyone else been through this? I believe BTech provide an advanced course to bridge the gap in Year 12. I think schools can either choose or refuse to allow BTech students to study As.

Slinky Sun 24-Jan-10 12:07:04

I'm going through the same thing with DD1 (currently in Year 9). She has already picked her options at the end of Year 8.

Received letter home stating that after recent assessments (she got a C), they were moving her from GCSE Science to the BTEC First in Applied. I have sent an email to the Head of Science expressing my concern.

DD1 is in the 2nd set for Science (out of 4) so was very surprised to discover that she may not sit GCSE (is sitting GCSES for everything else). Unbeknown to me, only 2 in her class have been picked to do GCSE, everyone else BTEC. Also unbeknown to me, every set of parents of the BTEC children have complained.

Consequently, there has been a meeting and DD1 is staying where she is. As I said, she got a C in recent assessments so in my mind she should stay with GCSE - would be a different story if she had got an F etc.

My main concern was that she wants to go into Primary teaching and she will need GCSE Science A* - C.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 24-Jan-10 12:12:55

If your DD was consistently scoring a C, then in my school she would do GCSE. We offer BTEC to students who are targeted a D or below. This is however not the group that EdExcel say the course is aimed at. A C grade target would be just right according to them.

Chillistress - my school is fairly low achieving int he great scheme of things, but even we (!) ask for at least a grade B in order to do an AS in any subject. The students who do BTEC Applied Acience in our school would not be candidates for AS Science. If they were, they would be doing triple Science GCSEs.

Loshad Sun 24-Jan-10 16:02:23

in ours (another fairly low achieving state comp!) they don't have to be the triple scientists - we'll take the doubles provided they get 2 B's, but we would not take btec'ers onto AS courses, they'd have to do the level 3 btec if they were staying on in the 6th form. chillstress your son will find it a huge junp from btec to as, if he really wants to do medicine he needs to ask the unis now if they would consider him with his current crop of qualifications before he decides what to do next.

Chillstress Mon 25-Jan-10 12:20:25

I only discovered the issue last week. My son's school gaily informed me at parents evening that, no he could not consider A levels in science because he is on the btech. I was never consulted or offered GCSEs for him: I thought they must have dropped them in favour of BTEC and it was better! Shocked and furious. Our school starts GCSEs in year 9. He is now started year 10 and obviously not likely to be allowed to change courses even if he had the nerve to do so, which he doesn't. I want them to open the possibility to A levels if he gets his (predicted) Distinction. They even did SATs in year 8 and he scored a 5. I know it is not great but it was in the top half of the results. The VA for the year 7 and 8 was non existent. I think he could have done GCSEs and was not offered. Someone made a casual decision regarding his future. And for many other kids too.

Chillstress Mon 25-Jan-10 12:24:33

Loshad, Thanks for reply. Unis won't take BTec for Medicine. Some do a foundation year for good As in different subjects. It is as someone said more the principle of the thing. League tables are more important to them.

Chillstress Mon 25-Jan-10 12:28:12

Slinky, it looks like your child had a lucky escape. My older boys did GCSEs in science and got Cs with little or no effort. So good luck to your daughter teaching.

violetqueen Mon 25-Jan-10 17:17:44

Chillstress ,that's terrible.
Can quite believe it - some schools ,especially those "turning around " a struggling school seem to concentrate 120% of their effort on lower achieving students.
This seems to involve offering Btechs because they improve their position in the league tables .
In my experience ,any real communication, let alone dialogue ,with parents goes straight out the window.
Don't know if much help but in my research into university courses it does seem that for science degrees some offer a foundation year for those that lack science qualifications.

Chillstress Mon 25-Jan-10 19:47:04

violetqueen Thanks for getting back to me. If only the school would phone back for an appointment for me as quickly.....

violetqueen Mon 25-Jan-10 20:02:37

Oh you have all my sympathies .
Would they respond better/faster to an email ?
Are you going to "flag this issue up " ,ie failure to offer appropriate curriculum /qualification to Parent Governor ?
Good luck .Your son's lucky to have you fighting his corner .
Though heaven knows this particular issue shouldn't need fighting !

firebird777 Tue 01-Feb-11 01:32:18

my dd wants to be an illustrator - she intends to do art at gcse, as and university level
she is also statemented SEN as she has aspergers
she is in year 9 and got her options today
she has been given 5 core subjects including phse and pe
one language i assume to gcse level
the rest of her options are btecs
she has not been given the option of doing art (or humanities)
the school - recently become an academy requires a b grade at gcse level to do as art
so basically she cant follow the career path she has stated
we recently had a meeting which covered her current grades and i asked then if they were good enough for her to have the full range of options at gcse and i was told she did
at this school the senco is in charge of the students learning plan
i really need to know what recourse i have to force the school to let her take art and a minimum of 5 actual gcse's which she will need if she followsthe career path she has requested
any ideas? im going to the senco with this but i suspect she is a cul de sac in the power chain and i am at a loss who to turn to this time

Renniehorta Tue 01-Feb-11 12:23:55

firebird777 Your post has me rather puzzled. What grade is your dd achieving in art? I assume that it must below b. If she wants to be an illustrator she needs to be really at the top of the class not just at GCSE but through AS/A2 to get a place at Art School or uni.

The reason being that it is an amazingly competitive field and many that emerge with degrees in the field do not have the necessary talent to make it.

If the school has doubts about GCSE, maybe it is a bit of a wake up call. On the positive side Art is a subject that can be studied at AS/A2 without a GCSE, if you can demonstrate talent. So there is nothing to stop her carying on with her art, gathering a portfolio and having that wonderful I told you so moment!

Talkinpeace Tue 01-Feb-11 14:41:08

btec science does not count as even one GCSE in Gove's brave new world.
Nuff said.

noblegiraffe Tue 01-Feb-11 14:42:21

BTEC Science won't count for the EBacc so hopefully all these schools which are shoe-horning kids onto the BTEC will reconsider if they're actually capable of a C at GCSE.

Schoolzone Wed 09-Feb-11 12:35:00

Your child will have been moved to BTEC because he seems unlikely to achieve success at GCSE. If you think he is likely to want to go on to do A-level sciences, you need to worry. If not, he may well be better off doing BTEC - it's a perfectly valid and useful qualifcation and of much more practical use than GCSE. I'm an ex Head of Science

mrswoodentop Wed 09-Feb-11 14:11:01

My son would probably only have been graded a C in year 9,hated science,artsy type not very mature ,typical boy etc.He got an A* and an A in science and Additional science and declared them proabbly two of the easiest subjects in his crop of 10 GCSEs.How ridiculous to make life changing decisions based on year 9 performance .

And clearly if it is not good enough for A levels and universities won't accept it ,then it is not that worthwhile a qualification .The point is what is it useful for ?

On the subject of SEN ,in my experience expectations are often too low.Our local school said that based on his statement they would not expect ds2 to do GCSEs,at his specialist school he is taking 6,admittedly at foundation level and heavily tailored to his needs but nevertheless he is a lot more capable than they would give him credit for

inspireddance Wed 09-Feb-11 16:31:55

Not a through enough preparation for A Level and is not highly regarded by unis. In my school is general only given to low ability/bad behaviour just to meet the requirement for Science in KS4.

Fabio93 Fri 11-Feb-11 21:45:29

i did GCSE science both core and additional and when i went into year 10 i was in set 1. i got into the wrong crowd and started messing about, not taking great care of my education and as a result, i got an E on my core and they moved me down to set 3 and thats when i took conscience and started working a little bit but not to my up most potential and found additional easy but i couldn't move back up to set 2 or 1 in order to get a B or A because it was near exams in year 11 so i sat the foundation paper and got a C. i got refuse for AS level biology and chemistry and my mum and i went to college asking for GCSE science so i can resit they said 'yeah, 'yeah this is the right course'. they didn tell us it was btec and i didn know nothing about because it was my first time doing btecs and now im getting distinctions but i cant do a levels biology n chemistry because not many colleges accept it, but they're still adamant that colleges will accept it and i really dont know what to do

feynman Tue 15-Feb-11 00:44:06

Neither the Btec nor the applied science route equip students for traditional A level science courses. They are therefore a bad choice for any student who is not absolutly certain that they do not want to go down that road.
Not sure about the performing arts BTEC but in science it is substandard to G.C.S.e, parents may not want to accept this, but it is.
It is a travesty to be honest, as pupils who haven't a hope of getting a c at G.S.C.E science very frequently get the equivalent of a c in BTEC. This is why some schools enter so many pupils for it.
It'S NOT equivalent, teachers know it, Universities know it and the govenerment know it. It might not be what people want to hear, but it is reality.
OP your son should not be doing BTEC uf he is a grade A student. You need to challenge this.

milliejayne Tue 24-Jan-12 14:05:30

To my annoyance The confusion between btec science worth 4 gcse`s isn`t going away.
My daughter is a bright child, she has gained a grade c gcse in maths after taking exam early. She was entered into btec science , worth 4 gcse`s as we were told by school . She is now coming to the end of the course and is now looking at colleges/uni to further her career in a nursing field.She has been predicted the 4 grade c or above to get on her course. The college has informed me that as well as enrolling on her full time health and social course she will have to enrol in a science subject to gain a gcse ( c or above) because most universities dont accept btec science !
So annoyed ! what a waste of her time and effort.
Is this a case of the school trying to increase their pass rates at our childrens expense?
Heads are gonna roll !

EvilTwins Tue 24-Jan-12 15:09:56

As a Head of VI Form, I can tell you that the college is talking bull.

I have had students this year and last (wasn't Head of VI before then) get to uni to take nursing and other related degrees with BTECs at both KS2 and KS3. If you go to the UCAS site and do Course Search (on the left) you can see exactly what universities do and don't accept - choose your subject, and it will give you a list of all related courses at all universities - you can then select Course Requirements, and it will give you the specific info. SOME might not accept BTEC, but certainly not MOST.

IME, the most important thing for any student applying for nursing (or related) at university is experience. One of my Yr 13s has had two of her applications for paramedic science courses rejected because her application did not clearly demonstrate a good understanding of the profession compared to other candidates. In contrast, one student who successfully applied for nursing last year had been working in an old people's home for a year or so, and had done work experience in a hospital. She was taking BTEC Health and Social (double) and BTEC Performing Arts at VI Form, incidentally.

If your DD can get some experience - even if it's voluntary, in the field that she wants to study, then that will help. If I were you, I'd check the UCAS details for the courses she wants to take, then take that evidence to the college to prove that she doesn't need to take GCSE Science.

milliejayne Tue 24-Jan-12 23:27:11

Thanks eviltwins for your reassuring imput.I am looking forward to going to the college with the evidence, i just wished the college was as knowledgeable as yourself. Thanks too for the advice on gaining experience.

sashh Wed 25-Jan-12 05:41:45

If he was told to pull his socks up then he is not a straight A student, he has been put in a group you are not happy with.

You really have been given a choice her - 2 GCSEs in a group you don't like or BTEC (probably level 2) which is equivelant to 4 GCSEs.

If he wants to do sciences at A Level then he not only needs GCSES but be passing with a minimum of a B, and in 'propper' science not applied science GCSE.

Even with a B grade GCSE he would still struggle at A Level.

This is for SScience, I am a big advocate of BTEC (you can go through levels from level 1 to HND), but not for science.

If he absoloutly will not be doing A Level science then put him in the group he will be happier in.

lilsopsop Sat 07-Apr-12 19:39:50

Hi, im a b-tec student in year 11 and I'm nearly finished my b-tec course. If I finish with a distinction thats equivalent to a A* ( so thats equivalent as 2 GCSEs). On the other hand b-tec is for those who can't do exams not for those who are dumb, just to make things clear. No one has the right to say that B-tec is for dumb people.

RosemaryandThyme Sat 07-Apr-12 20:29:51

Enough said Lilsop.

BackforGood Sat 07-Apr-12 23:18:04

Sashh - the ds in the OP will now be in the 6th form, or will have left school - it's from Sept 09 grin
It seems this thread was revived in 2011, and now again this week.

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