GCSE Options - information from school

(66 Posts)
louisea Wed 19-Dec-12 22:53:13

When are the parents in your schools given information about your DCs GCSE options? DTs are in Year 9 and have so far had a couple of assemblies giving them information about some subjects. So far no information has been sent home to parents. I contacted the school to find out when the parents information evening will be and was given a date in mid January.

Other schools have already sent home booklets with the DCs and have given guidance. Should I be concerned that the school is going to give us a very tight deadline to make choices or is this time frame normal? These are my first children going through secondary school so we're all learning as we go.

Jux Wed 19-Dec-12 22:59:38

We're in the same position as you. DD is in Y9 and o info has come home. The school is operating paperlessly so I keep going online to see if ere is any info there. What I found was a leaflet which was sent home last year, and which talks a lot about the EBacc, and which has no relevance to current Y9s.

So we have no choice but to wait for mid-Jan. Meanwhile, I have no idea how to help/advise dd, and all I know is that they are expecting her to take 3 science GCSEs at the end of this academic year.

I suspect that the exams have been in such a state of flux thanks to Gove that no one really knows what's happening.

BackforGood Thu 20-Dec-12 00:09:59

dd is in Yr9 and not heard anything yet, so you are further on than she is.
When ds was in Yr9 (different school) we had a GCSE Options evening just before Feb 1/2 term, then they had their Yr9 parents evening just after 1/2 term, and then the options had to be in at the end of that week, or the next week.
In reality, there's not a lot of choosing to be done, IME so far - by the time they've got the complusory ones, then there are the ones they are never going to do ina million years, and then you've realised thay have to choose one from each option block - it's not exactly a free choice, then it kind of falls into place without too many decisions having to be taken, IME.

ibizagirl Thu 20-Dec-12 06:14:26

Dd was told about gcse options just after Christmas in year 8 and had to pick them by early Feb i think it was. She is now in year 9 and is doing gcse work. Don't understand why your dc's are in year 9 and options are not in place.

bruffin Thu 20-Dec-12 06:23:03

Perfectly normal. They really shouldnt be starting gcse until yr 10. Dcs school dont make decision until around end of Feb/march yr9. Options evenings,paper work etc not until the new year in year 9.

BellaVita Thu 20-Dec-12 06:47:53

Agree with Bruffin DS1 is now Yr11 and in Yr9 his Option Evening was March - was given paperwork a couple of weeks before this. Choices had to be in after Easter.

WynkenBlynkenandNod Thu 20-Dec-12 06:57:38

Options evening is 21 March for us with the booklet coming home a bit before. That's fine with me as I'd like a little longer to see how she's doing in various subjects though we've started discussion it in general terms.

OddBoots Thu 20-Dec-12 07:04:27

I'm not sure if it was different 'in my day' or if I was wandering around in a teenage cloud but for my ds in Y9 it seems like it isn't simply a case of selecting options. It appears that at the school now before he is being given the choices he may make there is streaming and banding going on to decide which things are open to him and which aren't.

At his last parents' evening he was told that he will be taking triple sciences and he is in the 'baccalaureate' group so he has to take Geography or History and at least one MFL.

bruffin Thu 20-Dec-12 07:13:27

At Dcs school the dc put in a sort of wish list, then the school sorts out a timetable and puts together option blocks, from which the final choice is made.
Dd was one of the few whose subjects clashed.

bunjies Thu 20-Dec-12 07:13:28

Same here. DS is in Y9 & options evening is end of Jan. From what I understand he will do core subjects (maths, English lang, English lit, 3 sciences) plus a language, a history or geography, RE (which is compulsory in his school hmm) which so far gives him 9. Plus I know he wants to do drama as well.

bigbluebump Thu 20-Dec-12 07:35:48

How many GCSEs does a pupil normally take?

bruffin Thu 20-Dec-12 07:41:30

Dcs school
Maths
English language
English literature
It
Science double or triple science
1/2 re
Citizenship
All compulsory

Then choice of a further 3, and a twilight if they want

lljkk Thu 20-Dec-12 07:59:41

Bigblue I think the modern thing is for them to plan to complete 8-14 GCSEs/BTECs, but it depends a fair bit on the scheduling and the ability group child is in.

DS school does GCSEs over 2 years so options choosing is from Feb-May of y9, with GCSE work to be completed yr10-11; other local state schools have them choosing in Feb-May of yr8 to do the GCSE programme in y9-11.

But because of sweeping changes from central govt. it's not clear how these or other schools will reschedule, if at all.

Something I wondered... is it the middle ability pupils who tend to do the most GCSEs & BTECs? I'm thinking weakest academically do the fewest because that's what they're up for. Top ability do fewer than average too, but do the more rigorous options. It's the kids in the middle who might do more of a scatter gun sampling, maybe, because their potential is unclear?

Vagaceratops Thu 20-Dec-12 08:06:12

ibizagirl

Our school also chooses options in year 8 and then starts GCSE work in year 9, but I dont think this is the norm.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 20-Dec-12 08:27:33

DDs in year 9, options sometime next term except for their tech subject which they started this year (they are allowed to drop it though).

They'll all do the core subjects inc triple science and are expected to do at least one MFL and history or geography for the EBacc. They don't have to do RE so as they do 11 GCSEs (+0.5 citizenship + twilight MFL/Latin/BTec Dance if they want) they've quite a lot of choice. AFAIK the only things they can't do are 2 techs or some combos of the 'fun' subjects -Art, Music, Drama,PE. (I don't mean by 'fun' that those don't entail a lot of work!). I'd guess they can't do both Computer science and ICT but don't know.

Jux - 3 science GCSEs at the end of yr9? Why? How? confused My dd is good at science, no way could she do that yet, they can't possibly have covered the syllabus yet.

BellaVita Thu 20-Dec-12 08:36:17

DS1 picked to do

Media
Music
IT
Double Science

Has to do half RE, English Lit, Language, Maths, Citizenship and PE.

phlebas Thu 20-Dec-12 08:49:13

dd's school do 10 or 11 GCSEs + 1 BTEC for most of the students - a BTEC is compulsory for all & the 11th GCSE is a twilight MFL. I imagine the BTEC thing will change with the new exams. Of the 10 maths, English x2, MFL, a science, RS & a technology are compulsory which leaves them with 3 or 4 options. They have three different streams for science - some single award thing I've never heard of (might be 20th century science???), a double GCSE or three separate & if they opt for that they do the 20th century science exam in year 10 so they get 4 science GCSEs. dd's only in year 7 though & obviously no-one has any idea what that cohort will be doing hmm

creamteas Thu 20-Dec-12 11:48:00

My DC's school also ask for outline plans just from the kids and use this information to timetable option blocks.

They do English Lang, Maths, double science, IT, RE, PE as Core

They have 3 option blocks to fill, and if you want separate sciences this takes up one of them.

The top sets take English and Maths in Year 10 and Lit and Stats with FSMQ in year 11. But if they are not on track to achieve target grades they drop down to lower sets and just focus on Lang & Maths

creamteas Thu 20-Dec-12 11:50:24

Posted too soon... Option evening & booklet out usually just before Feb half term, parents eve just after then a week to decide.

bigbluebump Thu 20-Dec-12 15:07:35

Thanks. If they take about 10 and of those about 8 are compulsory, then there aren't really that many 'options' to choose from, are there?

chloe74 Thu 20-Dec-12 15:35:05

Are these not matters others consider before choosing a school? When deciding a secondary for my DC, exam options etc was a huge influencing factor. You can hardly pick the school unaware of these?

Where changes to be made which I was not previously aware of I would take the matter to the board. You also have the option of refusing to sit any exams you don't think are appropriate. 10-13 exams seem way to excessive to learn them all properly. 7-10 seems a much better amount to learn in depth.

creamteas Thu 20-Dec-12 15:52:41

chloe exam options change regularly at my DCs school, and much of this is due to outside pressure. I have 4 DC (two now adults) and I don't think a single one had exactly the same options to choose from, and they were all different from when they started in Year 7.

The only choice you have is to stay or move school, complaining won't achieve much. Schools can't run individual timetables for each child!

lljkk Thu 20-Dec-12 16:09:01

Are these not matters others consider before choosing a school? When deciding a secondary for my DC, exam options etc was a huge influencing factor. You can hardly pick the school unaware of these?

Actually it is extremely easily done.

You are 200% more informed than most parents if it crosses your mind to ask these questions when looking. DD is y6 so I have just done the beauty tours; none of the official presentations talked about these issues, it was only when I asked specific questions to teachers about GCSE schedules that I got a clue. I am 99% sure that most other parents on tour never asked any similar questions. Most parents just assume it's kind of like when they themselves were at school, they don't realise the complexity of the options and possible implications of the modern choices. I'm only so well-informed because of A) MN and B) I am foreign, so I know I am clueless.

Plus sometimes you're looking at very few viable choices, and all of them run similar schedules or other factors are so compelling in the choice, that you just have to lump it for what you get. Around here you only get choice in state secondary if you can pay £300-£600/year in transport fees.

I don't know what happens if you sign your child up for a school and then try to stand firm and insist they follow a GCSE programme of your choosing. I imagine that they can't actually turn the child away, or can they?

chloe74 Thu 20-Dec-12 16:29:11

I guess many other parents don't then, I am surprised. I wouldn't have thought a school had to offer a course just because you demand it but they cant force you to sit a particular exam just because they teach it and they couldn't exclude your child for doing so.

I don't believe the English stiff upper lip attitude of 'there is no point in complaining'. If parents don't complain then change doesn't happen. The school board have the authority to make changes to the subject choices. Have you tried making representations to them, asking why they have made the choices they have, or even standing for the board yourself.

If parents don't tell the board what they want then how do they know your views? Stand up and be heard.

I also wonder at the validity of forcing options different to what you were told upon entry. I wonder would there be a case against the school for misrepresenting what they offered. If it happened to me I would find out my legal options.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 20-Dec-12 16:43:31

>I don't know what happens if you sign your child up for a school and then try to stand firm and insist they follow a GCSE programme of your choosing. I imagine that they can't actually turn the child away, or can they?

I don't suppose they turn the child away, but they certainly can't be expected to 'follow a GCSE programme of your choosing' - they have only so many teachers/labs/ etc etc and timetabling must be a challenge as it is.

We absolutely checked what options would be available - and what results the various schools we looked at got in the subjects which we guessed DD was most likely to want to do. As to the number of subjects - well, that depends on ability. DDs is a GS so they all seem to manage 11 (and more if they want to do twilight extras) and get good grades. 7 or 8 subjects wouldn't nearly enough for them especially now there are computing and worthwhile tech subjects to throw into the mix.

lljkk Thu 20-Dec-12 17:25:23

Is there such a thing as "the school board" in England? I know what those words mean in California, but not in UK. Who or what is "the school board"? I imagine that school GCSE options mostly depend on LEA policies which depend on national guidance, how much leeway does any local school have in varying the offerings?

How many GCSEs do kids in private schools usually do? DS was in aprivate school & they encouraged GCSE completion for some yr9s & yr10s.

I thought that I read on MN that computing was a pretty low value GCSE. But maybe that was wrong.

whistlestopcafe Thu 20-Dec-12 17:34:37

Choose a school?

It doesn't work like that around here. In order to get into a school you have to live very close to it. There is no choosing. You can choose where you live I suppose but not always that practical to move house.

creamteas Thu 20-Dec-12 17:37:47

I'm assuming 'school board' = governors.

Apart from anything else, outside of the core subjecs GCSE subjects can vary depending on staff interest and expertise!

My DCs school currently offer Astronomy. It was introduced by a particularly enthusiastic teacher and whilst it is popular, I can't imagine that it would stay very long if he left!

Jux Thu 20-Dec-12 18:08:13

Ibizagirl, GCSE choices in Y8???!!!shock

DD's lot chose pathways last year; I'm not entirely clear what purpose pathways have, as dd chose the one which had music, art and drama, and it looks like she won't be able to do any of those at GCSE at this rate, well, maybe one.

louisea Thu 20-Dec-12 18:30:32

We didn't really have a choice. We contacted 3 schools while still overseas and went with the one that offered first. Who was to know if either of the other two would have spaces when we got back to London.

BackforGood Thu 20-Dec-12 19:17:25

I'm assuming Chloe74 you don't have a lot of experience of education in the UK ? grin
Firstly, the idea of 'choice' of schools is very much a theoretical idea for a lot of the population.
Because I live in a City, I do actually get a choice, but things change very rapidly in education - not by choice of the schools, I can assure you. Schools are such a political football, nothing ever has time to 'bed in' before it gets changed again. It is not the schools fault, and if it's changing in one school, it's very likely to have to change in the next school to.
I have dcs in Yr12, 9, and 6 currently, adn, although I asked all the right questions when we looked round for each child in both Yrs5 and Yr6, so many things change before they take their GCSEs, it's untrue!
My ds took his in the Summer, using a very different format from what dd1 will be presented with, which is again going to be different for dd2. Not the schools' choosing, but political interference again.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 20-Dec-12 19:27:14

>How many GCSEs do kids in private schools usually do? DS was in aprivate school & they encouraged GCSE completion for some yr9s & yr10s.

The ones I know of 10 or even only 9, AFAIK done in Yr11. Nearly all trad academic subjects.

>I thought that I read on MN that computing was a pretty low value GCSE. But maybe that was wrong.

ICT is low value - I meant Computer Science - totally different thing.

chloe74 Thu 20-Dec-12 20:10:54

I know many parents don't get a lot of choice of school, sadly. Its the school Board, of Governors, that have the authority over which subjects are studied, obviously informed by the head. If you don't like the choices the school offers, get on the board and get it changed.

The idea that they offer Astronomy because a teacher is 'interested' in it is ridiculous. That's bad management, what happens to the kids when that teacher leaves.

Computing/ICT is a waste of time at GCSE for most kids.

WynkenBlynkenandNod Thu 20-Dec-12 20:21:15

I had a bit of a choice with DD and went for the one where I thought she'd be happy over the one which offered German. I would have loved for her to have the option to do this as I have German family we visit but felt that her happiness was more important (she'd been bullied).

We're a term in now as thy all start a new school Year 9 and her grades have soared way beyond what I could have expected at this point. Am very glad I didn't push on the basis of options.

titchy Thu 20-Dec-12 20:34:16

I wonder where Chloe gets her ideas from too - certainly not experience! The national curriculum pretty much determines the subjects kids study, not parental pressure on the governors. There'll be a bit of tinkering around the edges - some schools with a performing arts specialism might offer dance and drama, others a wider choice of languages, or business studies. Larger schools clearly have economies of scale and can usually offer more subjects than a smaller one can.

Time tabling and the choices of the rest if the cohort will also influence what your child is able to do - no school will offer a subject if there is only one child that chooses for instance. It will probably also be impossible for a child do to 2 languages, both humanities, art, music an drama as well as their EBacc subjects.

Oh, and GCSE computing is pretty rigorous and highly regarded. GCSE IT isn't - they are two separate subject!

titchy Thu 20-Dec-12 20:39:22

Oh yeah astronomy sounds fab! I'm fairly sure that when the teacher leaves the school woul make sure those that had picked it as a GCSE option would continue to be taught! (Quite ironic you Chloe you say complain to the board, whoever they might be, if you want something to be taught, whilst mocking a school that response to demand!)

creamteas Thu 20-Dec-12 20:44:30

The majority of subjects are in the national curriculum, so up until recently state schools didn't get get a lot of choice. Academies and free schools can opt out of this, but are unlikely to deviate much from the core subjects so they will all cover English, maths, science, history, geog, MFL, IT, PE, RE.

There is more flexibility around areas such as technology and performing arts, so for example some offer dance and some don't.

Why is offering an interesting subject like Astronomy ridiculous? My DC love science, and they would rather do an extra science (so 4 sciences GCSEs in total) than subjects they are not interested in like art, drama or business studies. What is so wrong with a school using the expertise of the staff they have?

lljkk Thu 20-Dec-12 20:56:08

Ah, in USA "the school board" is very different thing, more like the governing board for the LEA, and they are elected from general population.

Thanks for explaining difference between ICT & computing GCSEs, very helpful.

On back of that I managed to find Options Booklet for DS1's high school which is juicy reading. He's in yr8 now, do I assume he will do "old" style GCSEs or new style EBC?

gelo Thu 20-Dec-12 21:28:52

You can distance learn astronomy GCSE anyway, so if the teacher left part way through there is always the option for existing students to continue that way. Or any reasonable physics teacher should be able to cover it. It would be a great shame if minority subjects like that were removed entirely even if most children don't get the opportunity to study them - it's the kind of thing that makes school fun (for those that way inclined).

chloe74 Thu 20-Dec-12 21:48:47

I accept most Board of Governors are patsies in state schools, but never the less they still have a legal duty to run the school. In the public sector you always get the same answers 'we cant do that because of this'. If you tell schools what to do, and don't give them the option to moan, they will find a way to make it happen. Parents shouldn't leave these things up to head teachers, stand up and make a difference!

Astronomy does sound good, the problem here is what happen if the teacher is sick/leaves? Is there another great astronomy teacher waiting to take over, what if there isn't? Its a gamble just to teach niche subjects on a teachers whim. Obviously if a school has a strong long term commitment to the area its different.

creamteas Thu 20-Dec-12 23:07:02

Personally, I would run a mile from any school that was dictated to by parents. I object to both academies and free schools for that reason. I trust my DC's school, and they wouldn't be there if I didn't.

I don't want my child's education to be decided by whichever twit parent shouts loudest.

chloe74 Thu 20-Dec-12 23:13:10

I would accept an honest disagreement with creamteas. I think parents know best she hates that idea, choice is a good thing.

gelo Thu 20-Dec-12 23:22:33

If the teacher leaves, the school signs them up with a distance learning provider such as star learner which some schools use to offer the option in any case. Another teacher can be given a supervisory role and it gives the children (who are likely to be quite keen anyway) a chance to work independently too. I would say it gives a school less of a problem than if the physics or latin or spanish teacher leaves. The schools job is to manage such eventualities and it's really not that difficult.

ravenAK Thu 20-Dec-12 23:26:12

IME, if you tell schools what to do, they won't bother moaning - they'll just suggest that you try a different school if you don't like what's on offer. Or HE.

Quite often the courses on offer are dictated by staff expertise. We do Latin because a recently retired Deputy Head was a Classics teacher - he hired me, mostly I think because we'd shared the same Greek tutor at Uni, albeit 25 years apart!

There are now two of us qualified to teach Latin, & the one who isn't me is now nearing retirement herself. When she leaves, the idea is that I'll take up the torch. It's a very popular subject. Hopefully, we'll be able to tweak my timetable in order to find space for me to offer it.

But if I fell under a bus, the school would advertise for a replacement English teacher & 'must also be able to teach GCSE Latin' would not be a realistic requirement.

chloe74 Thu 20-Dec-12 23:27:25

I would not be happy if my DC ended up at school being taught by a "distance learning provider", can you believe this is even an option. Point made.

gelo Thu 20-Dec-12 23:41:33

Well I know several children for whom this scenario arose. They came out with good grades and learned a lot more than just astronomy from the experience. Excellent result for them I'd say.

chloe74 Thu 20-Dec-12 23:54:50

well good for them gelo, but I would not go to a school (I pay for as a tax payer) to then have them distance educated. I can do better than that at home.

gelo Fri 21-Dec-12 00:03:42

I'm slightly confused as to what you think is wrong with distance education? We're only talking one subject here, not the whole set. Personally I'm all for variety in learning experiences, but each to their own. And these situations can arise whether you like it or not however it is paid for. Good life lesson to learn to make the best of non ideal scenarios imo.

Jux Fri 21-Dec-12 00:21:56

RavenAK, I am so envious! Are you teaching at a state school? DD wanted to learn Latin. In Y7 the head teaches Literacy and he included a bit of middle English and Latin. DD loved it, and even started trying to read some of my dad's old Anglo-Saxon books too. We asked if she could take Latin at GCSE, but the HT said they don't do it because it's not on the NC. I got the impression he would love to be able to include it.

I can't find a Latin tutor for her round here (probably couldn't afford it if there were to be one anyway).

chloe74 Fri 21-Dec-12 00:41:08

gelo - There is nothing wrong with distance leaning. The problem is when you pay a school, p2p teachers, to educate your DC then you support abdicating that responsibility to a third party. That is messed up.

ravenAK Fri 21-Dec-12 00:44:25

Yep Jux, we're a proper comprehensive. The only one for miles that does Latin, admittedly!

Your dd could probably get stuck in to Cambridge Latin with some help from you at home?

Taking a GCSE or equivalent in Latin is bloody hard work, especially as not all exam boards are Ebacc approved so schools won't consider the easier ones such as WJEC any more. But she can make an awful lot of progress independently - I did Greek GCSE self-taught & the resources are far better now so much is online.

It's well worth it without necessarily gaining a qualification; huge help with English & other languages.

gelo Fri 21-Dec-12 00:51:07

No, I don't think so. Certainly not in exceptional circumstances and for a non core subject. The school can of course can provide extra supervisory support from their end and it's such a good way for a child to begin to learn independently that it's worth it on those grounds alone, let alone that it means schools can think about offering a wider range of subjects.

I'd far rather that than never offering any minority subjects that your child might have a keen interest in. You may as well never venture outside in case the proverbial bus hits you.

lljkk Fri 21-Dec-12 07:18:53

It takes more discipline to do distance learning, I don't have that kind of discipline, either.

Our local state high school (with the most mediocre GCSE results) offers latin GCSE. It's a (?)twilight option; one hour/week outside of normal school hours. Tag-on to the Classics for All programme, because the school has loads of starters who will have had 1-2 (?or more) years of Latin in local primaries.

creamteas Fri 21-Dec-12 08:31:23

I would accept an honest disagreement with creamteas. I think parents know best she hates that idea

That Chloe is exactly my point, as you can see on MN regularly, parents rarely agree on what a good education is, how could you run a school with that sort of conflict at its foundation?

wordfactory Fri 21-Dec-12 08:42:35

Here's what's happened in DC's schools so far:

Both have been told they will be taking English x2, Maths, Science x3 and an MFL. This is non negotiable.

They were then sent home with a booklet about what courses were available and what they entail. DD's booklet in particular was excellent. Very very detailed.

We were asked to discuss the situation with our DC and (if possible) give an indication of what other thre subjects our DC's would liek to take so that, if at all possible, everyone can be accommodated.

For those unsure, or indeed for any pupils/parents that want help/guidance/clarification there is an evening in January to discuss with the individual subject teachers and pupil tutor.

We will then be asked to make final choices in the summer term. Presumably for those DC whose choices cannot be accommodated, there will be another meeting to discuss second choices.

BackforGood Fri 21-Dec-12 11:56:52

Excellent post by creamteas ^ ^
Personally, I would run a mile from any school that was dictated to by parents. I object to both academies and free schools for that reason. I trust my DC's school, and they wouldn't be there if I didn't.

Chloe I attend parents forums at all 3 of my dcs schools. Whatever the subject being discussed, you will find there is a conflict of views even amongst the tiny minority of parents who attend the groups - uniform, homework, trips, reports, you name it. Just the same as on MN. The idea that you, as an individual parent can waltz in to your dcs' school(s) and dictate what they should do is clearly ridiculous. By all means, become involved, offer opinions, offer criticisms and praise, and offer realistic suggestions, but you have to understand your child is one of anything between about 600 and 2000 pupils at that school, and the school has to look at the population as a whole.
I find it amazing that you can't see that a school can't just "get another teacher out the cupboard" when one leaves. I was very disappointed when my ds had to give up German as a 2nd MFL after just a year, as the teacher left, and they were unable to replace him, but that's the way of life sometimes.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 21-Dec-12 12:01:10

Distance learning seems wonderfully apt for astronomy grin

chloe74 Fri 21-Dec-12 13:01:03

you cant equate the debate on mumsnet to running a real life school. Their are no objective appointed 'experts' on here, there doesn't have to be agreement either. In real life you have informed discussion about the specific issue and in the end if a board cant agree you have a vote. Ultimately the parents will decide if they agree with decisions made by whether or not they send their child to that school.

If all a parent does is politely express an opinion to a small group of other parents then they are leaving the decision for the school to make. A parent governor usually has to be voted onto the board so will be representing the collective views of many parents. They will be able to put any issue to the board and argue their point, which should be given due weight. If enough parents want a change made and their isn't a good enough reason why it cant be made then he board should accept it. Unless of course things aren't running the way they should.

So if enough parents want astronomy taught then the school should seriously look into it, the matter should not be left to teachers to just say "I like astronomy can I teach that".

gelo Fri 21-Dec-12 13:25:13

For me it's more a matter of whether some/enough children want to study it and if the teachers at school think it will give them a balanced curriculum that's important, not so much what the parents think. Undoubtedly if the decision to offer a subject is likely to be popular among parents (and so a selling feature of the school) then that will carry weight too. If it's an option rather than a mandated subject I can't see most people worrying too much either way unless their child is mad keen.

BackforGood Fri 21-Dec-12 13:49:45

Chloe - Parents Forums have the direct ear of the Head Teachers and SMTs, who, let's be honest do the actual decision making in running the school and the dozens of decisions that are taken every day, not the Governors. They are not a 'chat amongst parents'

chloe74 Fri 21-Dec-12 20:25:21

Backforgood - Amongst most parents all I ever hear is that the HT or SMT nod politely but then go to the staff room and moan about the parents, or there is no point complaining it never does any good. You are only listened to when you have some authority behind you.

Like I said a lot of governors are a waste of space, but they do have the authority to dictate to the head, if only they would use it.

ravenAK Fri 21-Dec-12 23:39:50

I entirely agree with you that 'if enough parents want astronomy taught then the school should seriously look into it'.

However, looking in to it will probably mean canvassing the Science Dept to see if anyone fancies going on a couple of courses to get up to speed & then doing it as a twilight session. Almost certainly using distance learning resources.

The governors' authority re: curriculum is centred on ensuring the NC is followed; not so much on strong-arming the HT into ensuring that individual parents get a bespoke range of subjects for their dcs.

BackforGood Sat 22-Dec-12 18:03:01

Chloe - that's not my experience on any of the 3 I attend. Well, one is fairly new - we will see / 'watch this space' for that one, but the one I've been attending at my ds's school and the one at dd2's school both take a lot of notice of what parents suggest, and changes made reflect it.
In a good school, every parent's opinion is listened to, if they choose to offer it - obviously that doesn't mean they dictate to the HT what should be done about x/y/or z, sometimes because there will be parents who hold opposing views, sometimes parents hold unrealistic ideals - or are looking at everything through the eyes of their situation, whereas the school obviously has to take account of hundreds of other situations - but they listen, and, where it is right to do so, they respond accordingly. Indeed, ds's school isn't just reactive to the Parents, it often comes and asks opinions from us when something is in the 'being considered' stage - the school finds it a very useful sounding board.
I can't agree that any individual governor can 'dictate' to the head though. As RavenAK says, a lot is dictated by other laws or regulations anyway, and of course, any decisions would have to take the whole board with them, not just one parent with an axe to grind.

BackforGood Sat 22-Dec-12 18:03:42

Sorry, OP - this seems to have gone off on a tangent blush
I hope you got the answer you were looking for first.

Jux Sat 22-Dec-12 21:57:55

Thanks RavenAK. DD is already doing a distance learning course in Egyptology, and I am loth to put more pressure on her at home, when she's about to get - or is already getting - quite a lot at school.

you have reminded me though, that I have a lot of the Cambridge Latin course books, and a ton of other Latin stuff, primers, Winnie Ille Pu, Catullus etc, from when I wanted to learn it and had to go to evening classes. That was in the days when the government believed in life long learning. DD doesn't like my helping her, but I'll put it to her, and dig the books out.

louisea Mon 24-Dec-12 11:18:11

Sorry, OP - this seems to have gone off on a tangent blush
I hope you got the answer you were looking for first.

Thanks. I don't mind. Has made for interesting reading. I did get the answer I was looking for. Seems as though our school is giving (or not) information at about the same time as most other schools. I find the lack of information frustrating but our boys seem to have more or less decided which subjects they want to take anyway. The main decision seems to be between History and Geography. I'll use the debate I started on the other thread to discuss the decision with them.

Thanks to everyone.

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