When does your child choose their GCSE options

(27 Posts)
treas Wed 28-Nov-12 21:58:52

Found out that ds who is 12 y o and in year 8 is expected to select the subjects he wants to do for GCSE at the end of this year.

He will just have turned 13 y.o. many of his friends will still be 12.

Apparently, the new head of the next school sees Yr 9 as a wasted year and wants to start the children on the GCSE's early although they will sit their exams at the usual time as the school do not let even the GandT children sit exams early.

Personally I think it too early as the childen are still young and don't necessarily know what they want to do in the future or what career options there are available with the subjects they select.

So when does / has your child choose/chosen their GCSE subjects? And what do you think of the idea of choosing them earlier?

Remotecontrolduck Thu 29-Nov-12 01:30:29

When mine were at school it was 2/3 through year 9

Year 8 is too young!! What is the head doing here?! I can't imagine this being the normal thing to do?

What happens when they (inevitably) change their mind about stuff mid way though year 9? At 12, they shouldn't be making decisions like this, there's a big difference between just 13 and nearly 14 I think!

circular Thu 29-Nov-12 07:54:01

DD1 in yr 11 now, but she chose in the Feb/Mar of yr 9. Being one of he youngest, she was only 13.5 which was bad enough, so a year earlier must be awful. Although she knew what she wanted to do (and has not changed her mind since) she was still very stressed about possibly closing doors to other things.

All I can advise is to choose as broad a range of subjects as possible to keep options open. And ask at the options evening or next parents evening if there is room to swap in yr 9 if mistakes are made.

bigTillyMint Thu 29-Nov-12 08:00:46

DD chose last year in Y8 - she is now in Y9 and has started her GCSEs. It is not that unusual as many secondary schools feel that Y9 is a wasted year and there is a lot to cram in to the GCSE syllabus.

She did feel she was too young (she was still 12 and is the youngest in her tutor group), but with the compulsory subjects and the range on offer for the options, she still has a very broad and balanced curriculum. We were told that they can change subjects if they find they really don't like something that they have chosen, and there is a definite option to continue/change one of the options at the end of Y9. Luckily she seems fine with all her choices so far!

lljkk Thu 29-Nov-12 08:08:20

Currently in local schools they choose in Feb-May of y8 (DD school) or same months of y9 (DS school). All this may change with Gove's reforms, though(!!!). Like every local parent I chat with, I have come around to thinking that I tend to approve of doing GCSEs over 2-3 years so am fairly peeved about Gove's proposals.

The school DD has chosen, it has highest VA-scores, highest GCSEs in the area (almost in the county) and the only one of our choices with an Outstanding Ofsted report (others struggle to get to Good rating). And they do GCSEs over 3 years, too. 2 options each year and 4-5 get final assessment in final year, so 10-11 (as target).

AFAIK, there is some flexibility in the system if it seems children have made mistakes in their choices; more than when the children had to choose in y10. Also, the way the timetables work they children have to do Geography & History in different years; I want DC to do both so they have to do them over min. 2 years.

chloe74 Thu 29-Nov-12 14:51:04

Seems to make sense to me, that you choose in Y8 and can then spend 3 years really learning the subject (GCSE). Wouldn't that help all children get better grades? What is the point in wasting another year studying subjects you will never take further (to exam).

zandy Thu 29-Nov-12 14:53:40

DS in y9. He had to hand his options letter in last week. Don't know how long it will take for them to get back with confirmation though.

treas Thu 29-Nov-12 15:07:23

chloe74 - fine with the 3 years of learning GCSE subjects but seems v young to make decision that effects your future when you don't know what possibilities and limitations there are to your choices.

Ds love maths but hasn't a clue what he can actually do with qualifications in the subject.

To be honest ds knew what GCSEs he wanted to do last year based on the next schools prospectus. However, timetables may have changed since which then effects choices as well.

mumsneedwine Thu 29-Nov-12 18:30:06

We start GCSEs in year 9 but don't ask the kids for options until the May of that year, so they have a good idea of what they enjoy. Means they can take some early if want but also have a bit of a taster of GCSE stuff for all subjects. Seems to work well. Dropping subjects at end of year 8 seems very early.

mumsneedwine Thu 29-Nov-12 18:30:14

We start GCSEs in year 9 but don't ask the kids for options until the May of that year, so they have a good idea of what they enjoy. Means they can take some early if want but also have a bit of a taster of GCSE stuff for all subjects. Seems to work well. Dropping subjects at end of year 8 seems very early.

crazymum53 Fri 30-Nov-12 08:49:17

At dds school they choose options in Y9 in about May. Think that Y8 is too young to choose and definitely too early to start "dropping" key subjects such as MFL. In practise KS3 does link to GCSE in many subjects, so it is very likely that many dcs could be trying out GCSE level work in Y9 and this would put them in a better position to work out what areas would be best for them and achieve better GCSE grades.

HeathRobinson Fri 30-Nov-12 09:19:30

My middle dc started one GCSE in year 8, which was modular.
Finished in year 9 and then used the rest of that subject's time to do an AS level, alongside the rest of her GCSEs.

So I think it can work well.

ashley69ly Fri 30-Nov-12 16:18:07

My DD is now in year 12 and started her GCSE's in year 9. I don't know about how other schools do it but at her school, because they had an extra year, they were allowed to take more subjects than friends children in other schools that don't start until year 10. We found this was great for our highly academic daughter as it meant she could take options that she enjoyed such as drama and food tec which she would have been discouraged from taking in favor of academic subjects. Yes she lost a few subjects a year early, but on balance, kept more subjects for longer and had a better balance.

OddBoots Fri 30-Nov-12 16:23:20

Feb in Y9, they start some GCSEs in Y9 but not ones that form part of the choices, they start ICT, Science and RE.

BackforGood Fri 30-Nov-12 16:35:59

Spring Term of Yr9 for both my dcs schools.
that said, there's not a lot of choice to be made, tbh, by the time you have the 'compulsory' ones, and then the constraints of the option blocks.
Oh, and they don't know what they want to do by 1/2 way through Yr9 or well into the 6th form IME either, so that won't make a lot of difference wink

JugglingWithPossibilities Fri 30-Nov-12 16:43:08

Ooh, DD chooses in January or process starts then ... but there are so many chosen for them that it only comes down to 3 choices .... she's going to do History, Geography and Art "to keep me sane" smile for her options. So, we're all sorted I think smile

Myliferocks Fri 30-Nov-12 16:45:09

My DC go to a middle school so at the end of Yr 8 they switch schools to an upper secondary. Because of this they pick their options in yr 9.

treas Fri 30-Nov-12 20:10:09

Myliferocks - same for my son except the upper secondary want them to choose in Yr8 before they are even at the school.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 30-Nov-12 20:20:58

Somewhere around March/April of year 9, except for their tech subject which they had to decide on at the start of yr 9 (though they can drop it) and also dropped one of the 3 MFL at the start of year 8 (with option of doing all 3 with a 'twilight' class.)

I think they may have started the GCSE syllabus in some of the mandatory subjects which includes triple science. Its a GS so they all do 11 + citizenship. DD is in yr9, I'm glad she still gets to do nearly all subjects this year -she's still undecided between French and German, and the 11th choice (she knows 10 she definitely wants to do).

JugglingWithPossibilities Fri 30-Nov-12 20:35:03

< waves to Grimma >

Oh, you have a DD in Y9 too !
I think we've bumped into each other a few times on the boards (though I have a bit of a goldfish brain and don't remember very well what people have said, or what I've said to them !)
My DD is doing triple science too, and French - as her other language is Latin and she can't chose that as it's not a MFL (and she doesn't want to do two languages)
DD has enjoyed some of her tech subjects too - especially design related ones, but sadly I think they'll all be squeezed out as she seems pretty sure she wants to do both History and Geography, as well as Art.
I'm a bit ambivalent about the compulsory RS just because there are other things she might like to do more (such as a design and tech), but it is a faith school so I guess it goes with the territory. And I feel she could actually be quite strong on RS as she's thoughtful and has thought around the issues quite a bit through our Quaker involvement.
What are your DD's subject dilemmas ?

GrimmaTheNome Fri 30-Nov-12 20:46:03

Well, she's definitely doing Geography and Electronics and almost certainly Computer Science (not ICT, hurrah) and she only wants to do one mfl so that leaves one subject for fun - hates history so RS (which isn't compulsory), Drama or Art. Depends what the RS syllabus is - if its heavy on the philosophy and ethics side she'd enjoy it. That's certainly a choice she couldn't have made at 12 when RE was still mainly learning about various faiths and (unfortunately) rather being discouraged from expressing her worldview.

JugglingMeYorkiesAndNutRoast Mon 10-Dec-12 18:20:59

Ooh electronics sounds interesting and useful Grimma !
My DD finds aspects of RS interesting but says it's a bit Christianity biased - at her school anyway. But is compulsory as a faith school - I'm hoping the humanity aspect of it will carry her through as she's always been interested in that side of things, history and geography etc.
Which do you think she might choose of those 3 choices Grimma, or is she pretty un-decided as yet ?

lljkk Mon 10-Dec-12 19:01:22

I think in the local schools, most children would have a hard time dropping MFL without the school's support. School would pressure all those they thought capable to get MFL GCSE. They might get choice of dropping history or geography but probably not allowed to drop both.

I think the sorts of subjects that get dropped are sewing, art, DT, cooking, "studies".

GrimmaTheNome Tue 11-Dec-12 09:03:18

Juggling - not sure - DH thinks she should do Drama because he reckons its a good thing for a techie type to do something 'extrovert'. She likes performing but doesn't really have time to do any out of school.

The nice thing about DDs school is that while it has all the 'academic' subjects it very much encourages the girls to do a tech (electronics, DT or food) - used to be mandatory to do one until this year. DD was a bit annoyed they were only allowed to do one, she'd have quite liked to do DT too.

JugglingMeYorkiesAndNutRoast Tue 11-Dec-12 09:31:58

I wish DD could do DT ( as she is good at art and design, and they have some fun kit ! ) and probably food tech too, but perhaps we could go to some veggie cooking classes together instead for that. Just going to be hard/ impossible to squeeze everything in, particularly with so many compulsory subjects.
I think, ideally, I'd like the opportunity to at least discuss taking a more individual approach. But "rules" have always annoyed me rather !

derekthehamster Tue 11-Dec-12 09:44:59

My ds chooses in May of yr8. TBH it's not really much of a choice, they have to take 3 science, 1 mfl and 1 humanity, maths and english lang and lit. It then leaves 2 'choices'

GrimmaTheNome Tue 11-Dec-12 09:49:19

One criterion to consider when choosing options is: 'can this be done outside of school or picked up later'. So while food tech might be useful for a child who for whatever reason can't learn at home its not so important for those who can; DT can't really be done at home- how many people have their own laser cutter? Electronics can be done as a hobby I suppose, if the person is keen enough. On the academic side, its probably a lot more feasible to learn eg history outside the classroom than physics.

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