Science GCSE - confused!

(76 Posts)
lexie01 Sat 23-Feb-13 07:20:16

I have another thread running about EBacc and as part of this I have been looking at a number of senior school websites in my area and specifically their GCSE results.

On a complete tangent I noticed quite a difference between the type of GCSE's taken at state and independent schools. Specifically in the Science subjects. I looked at 3 state comps and a very small number (2 for example at one very good school) took separate science GCSE's (ie biology/chemistry & physics) and most took a single science exam (which I assume is a combination of all 3?). In the independent schools however this was reversed and most of the children seemed to take the individual science subjects. I know that this Is probably a bit of a generalisation as I only looked at about 8 schools within my area but there was an obvious difference.

Does anyone know the reason For this? My dd1 is in yr5 so we are just starting to look at senior schools so all this is quite new to me. Thanks

Snowfire Sat 23-Feb-13 08:29:01

I know that at our local state school, they encourage able scientists to take the 3 separate GCSE's but it is their choice whether they take all 3 or opt to take the double award (still covers all subjects in a little less detail). At our local independent, the triple award is compulsory so would inevitably have a higher number achieving this at GCSE.

potatoprinter Sat 23-Feb-13 08:34:09

In DD's grammar it is compulsory to take "triple science" where you end up with separate qualifications in Biology, Chemistry and Physics. There are three papers for each.

I believe that "science" just consists of one paper for each science and double science two papers.

Most schools offer a choice. The boys grammar near DD's does. My younger daughter's comp didn't offer triple at all last year.

At DD's grammar no one is allowed to do A' level without having done triple, however at DD2's comp you can.

Needmoresleep Sat 23-Feb-13 08:45:45

Triple science is standard in most private schools, at least those or a reasonable size and academic standard.

This does not mean everyone does it. Some children want to focus on arts subjects or language and are content to only have two of their options in science subjects. Some very academic schools will encourage the less gifted scientists to only do two, often using the same classtime as those doing three, and focus on achieving better grades.

Another difference that you may not have spotted is that many Indies do iGCSE rather than GCSE, with science teachers arguing that these, whether harder or not (a different debate), provide a better foundation for A Level study.

Provision for science, languages and music/art/games/drama probably marks the biggest overall difference in provision between state and private (though happy to acknowledge there are lots of exceptions).

Why the difference? Others will know more but at a guess:
1. science labs are expensive
2. good science teachers are in short supply
3. science somehow got a reputation for being "hard" and so in the target driven noughties, kids were steered towards media studies etc.
4. links between science qualifications and future employability are not known or not understood, in the way say that business studies, media studies or law are seen as gateways to future employability (which at GCSE level is almost certainly not true)

Almost by definition parents of private school students are likely to have parents who are successful professionals. Basic expectations are a good crop of GCSEs in a range of traditional subjects, a good choice of A Level subjects, which should then lead to a place at RG or similar University. Private schools know their market.

State schools with a cohort of professional parents will face the same expectations. Hence the angst about finding the secondary school which can deliver. Otherwise pressure comes from the need to meet Government targets. Presumably why Gove has changed targets to include the concept of eBACC.

Machadaynu Sat 23-Feb-13 08:47:38

warning - might be out of date

The combined science exam is designed to fit into a 2 subject slot in the timetable - this leaves more time for the other subjects but gives the kids chance to experience something of all three sciences, albeit in less detail than if they did three separate qualifications.

Most schools that do three separate papers 'squash' them into the time it 'should' take to do two, so they only let the most able students do it.

Having separate qualifications might look better on your CV when it comes to A level / University applications.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 23-Feb-13 09:16:47

It would also depend on how selective the private schools are. like grammar schools, they will have students who are more likely to cope with three GCSE subjects in a very limited curriculum space.

However, two thirds of the course is absolutely identical between the two courses (AQA) and so the actual difference between the two routes is much less than you might think.

Roisin Sat 23-Feb-13 09:40:06

Yes, each science has three 1 hr papers: C1, C2 and C3 etc, plus an internal assessment.
If you pass C1 + P1 + B1 = science GCSE
If you pass C2 + P2 + B2 = additional science GCSE
If you pass C1 + C2 + C3= Chemistry GCSE

At a selective school all students are capable of doing the triple science programme, so they can arrange their timetable accordingly. In non-selective schools, it's more complicated.

The real issue to look out for is the percentage of students doing BTEC science, because this is a much easier qualification than the GCSEs and is in no genuine sense 'equivalent'. Many schools use it appropriately to suit particular students, but some schools use it to make their results look better, or just because their science teaching is not very good!

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 23-Feb-13 09:51:26

I would agree with that Roisin.

And add that two excellent GCSE science grades are a better A level preparation than three poor ones. Quality is definitely better than quantity.

So many schools with a tight timetable restriction will focus on the double award rather than pushing for triple and risking the students not becoming well grounded in the concepts because they were rushed through.

Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 23-Feb-13 10:01:49

The mention of 'combined' science takes me back 20 years.

Of GCSE, started in 2010, Science, the majority of students should have the opportunity to get certificates in three sciences, by two pathways:

B1 + C1 + P1 + CAT = (core) Science
B2 + C2 + P2 + CAT = Additional Science
B3 + C3 + P3 + CAT = Further Additional Science


B1 + B2 + B3 + CAT = Biology
C1 + C2 + C3 + CAT = Chemistry
P1 + P2 + P3 + CAT = Physics

Both pathways cover exactly the same modules, teaching, controlled assessments and exams. Exactly.

They key difference is in the first pathway. The Further set of modules is optional, and the core exams can be taken and certified at the end of Y10. No decision on taking Further modules needs be taken until end of Y10/beginning Y11.

Whether a school goes for the first pathway (Science/Additional/Further) pathway, or the second (Biology, Chemistry, Physics), the students will be taught and will be learning separate sciences, ie they will know whether the lesson is biology, chemistry or physics, and will (hopefully) have a different, specialist teacher for each one. They will likely be timetabled to have all three sciences in the each week. It is perfectly truthful for a school to say that they teach separate sciences to all pupils, regardless of how they administer the exams.

lexie01 Sat 23-Feb-13 15:17:21

Oh gosh this is so confusing and all a complete surprise to me. Why was it ever made so complicated. I don't remember ever having a Science option. Admittedly it was some time ago (late 80's) but it seemed much easier to simply select biology, chemistry or physics. I hated physics for example but quite liked the other 2 sciences so took those at o level (I am showing my age now) but not physics. I would not have wanted to take a Science GCSE that included physics as well as the others.

It was interesting that at the 2 state schools I looked at (both rated as Ofsted outstanding with very good GCSE results) in one school there didn't appear to be an option to take single subject GCSE's and in the other only 2 children sat single subject qualifications but 100+ plus took the combined subject.

Does it not cause them problems if they wish to study these subjects at a level?

Tbh I found it all a little depressing looking at these results. I assumed there would be a difference between state and inde in terms of results (selective, small class sizes etc) and breadth of subjects available but not such a difference in what I class as core subjects. Moan over.........

webwiz Sat 23-Feb-13 15:31:36

The constant changes to science GCSEs is one of the most confusing things that I've had to get my head round to do with school exams.

DD1 did double science GCSE (two gcses covering all three sciences) and went on to do Biology A level and is now at university studying Biology, DD2 did the core science and additional science mentioned further up the thread and went on to study Chemistry as one of her A levels. DS is in year 11 and does the three separate sciences (I'm not sure how may take it at his school - just the top set of 30 I think) he has no intention of taking any science A levels and has been thoroughly put off science!

Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 23-Feb-13 15:41:25

Additional Science modules should be sufficient preparation for A-level.

The Further modules teach 'factoids' IMO. They don't really add to skills or attitudes.

It has been traditional (pre-NC) to study for two science subjects alongside everything else. This contributes towards a broad and balanced curriculum. If a third science is taken, it may remove the option of another important subject, or dilute everything.

I don't think colleges or universities care whether you have 2 or 3 science GCSEs. They may care about the overall balance, and most do care about the number of high grades.

I would personally lean towards two science GCSEs and make sure you have the full compliment of language/humanity/arts. The only exception in my book would be if the school makes the top set do triple, and puts you in a lower set if you don't want to do this.

Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 23-Feb-13 15:44:35

Science GCSEs change about every 4 years - much the same as any other subject.

They have to respond to current issues and emerging technologies, so must be dynamic subjects.

LeBFG Sat 23-Feb-13 15:50:15

I was assured during teacher training at a local grammar school that the separate sciences was a bit of con and they only kept it as an option to please the middle class parents. In terms of uni access, the double award is perfectly acceptable. Much more important are the A-levels taken.

LeeCoakley Sat 23-Feb-13 15:51:13

Haven't they just changed?

Dd3(yr10) is taking end of year 11 exams in Physics, Biology and Chemistry (if I've understood her Physics teacher correctly) and there is none of the learn-a-bit-then-take-a-module-in-it which my other dds did in Science throughout yr 10 and 11 iirc. Disclaimer: I might have this completely wrong!

webwiz Sat 23-Feb-13 16:05:42

Yes it has changed again so that year 11 can take the modular version but year 10 have to take a linear version.

worley Sat 23-Feb-13 16:05:58

ds1 is in yr9 and started his GCSE's this year. he is in top set and doing triple science, but he has an extra lesson after school for this. only the children doing triple science get this extra lesson. so others in top set and not wishing to do triple don't have to go to the extra lessons (also has extra tutorials during holidays - all run at the school by his teachers) he has his first exams in June I think...
his teacher explained it all to me at parent evening.. but I got a little los tbh... all changed since I did mine!

happyAvocado Sat 23-Feb-13 16:16:58

I was assured during teacher training at a local grammar school that the separate sciences was a bit of con and they only kept it as an option to please the middle class parents.

what did he mean by that?

I haven't looked into how much different is double science over triple but surely - there would be different depth and breadth to subjects studied by those kids?

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 23-Feb-13 16:21:21

The thing is though, in the 80's you chose Biology, or Chemistry or physics. And if you were a natural scientist and likely to take them further...then you did two or all three.

the then Tory Government decided that this was specialising too early and that all students should keep on a mixture of all sciences.

This is why we have either a general science GCSE path or you do all three as separate sciences.

I agree with the poster who said they had been advised that separate science was a bit of a con to keep middle class parents happy. That's probably another reason its offered at private schools so much.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 23-Feb-13 16:24:42

btw I am a science teacher who teaches at a state comprehensive where we run equal numbers of separate science classes to double award classes.

its the question that we are asked most commonly...will our son/daughter study separate sciences? Even in year 7 parents want assurance of this! I have never really understood why really.

but then i suppose I have an insider perspective on it all..

happyAvocado Sat 23-Feb-13 16:32:16

why is it a con?

Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 23-Feb-13 16:34:48

But we don't have a general science path.

GCSE qualifications are made up of Biology, Chemistry and Physics modules.

As someone who did just Physics and Chemistry in the 80s, I think it is a real benefit to learn all thee sciences, but I am not a big fan of giving up an option to do this. I don't think it has anything to do with the last Tory government being nasty. It's a good thing, and I notice that Labour didn't want to change it back.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 23-Feb-13 16:37:59

sorry, knows, did I imply it was a nasty decision? I didn't mean to, I was just stating what has happened historically to explain the current system to those posters who are, rightly, confused.

Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 23-Feb-13 16:39:17

I hope to ease confusion you do not refer to general science to your parents.

happyAvocado Sat 23-Feb-13 16:41:17

ShipwreckedAndComatose - could you please explain why having 3 separate sciences at GCSE is a con?

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 23-Feb-13 16:41:17

the con is in parents thinking that only separate sciences will allow you to follow onto A levels. And I have had plenty of parents frantic that their children study separate science because they think it would prevent them from accessing A levels in the future if they didn't

in fact, the original A level science courses were designed to lead on from double award general science quite easily.

As I said up thread. It is all about the quality of the GCSE science grades you get.

happyAvocado Sat 23-Feb-13 16:42:16

thanks for explaining that - why is this info not given to anyone as in school prospectus should have that written for everyone

BackforGood Sat 23-Feb-13 16:43:06

Lexie I did my O-levels in 1981. We had sep Physics, chemistry and biology lessons through the 5 yrs at school, but were only allowed to take a Biology O-leve and a 'Physical Science' o-level. We were led to believe that, as (what would now be called) a superselective grammar, they wanted all pupils to have the chance to have exams in a range of subjects (eg, you had to do at least 1 MFL, and everyone did Latin, as well as humanities, and what are now known as the core subjects), without anyone ending up doing more than 10 o-levels. Sorry, long winded way of saying it's not new to do a combined paper blush

ds did 3 sep sciences in the same timetabled time as some of his peers did the 'double science' GCSE.
dn is taking hers this year, and hasn't go a clue what she's actually taking / going to end up with - that's how clear things are, she's a bright girl but it gets very complicated the way they change things year after year.
My dd is in Yr9 and we are about to go to her options evening this week. First we were told she could take 3 sciences without using one of her option blocks, then we had a letter come home 'correcting' or updating that information and saying the only way she can do 3 sciences is by using one of her options (none of which she wants to drop / not choose). Seems completely random, that dd can't do as many GCSEs as ds did, even though dd is far more academic than ds ever was/is confused

BackforGood Sat 23-Feb-13 16:43:23

ooh, sorry, that was long blush

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 23-Feb-13 16:45:00

no, I refer to core and additional sciencee.

You seen quite aggressive towards me Knows... I am just trying to provide information here.

Thats ok, Happy!!

Its bloody confusing grin.

Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 23-Feb-13 16:48:21

Happy, the further science modules offer more breadth, to be sure. I don't think they really add any depth though.

There may be some topics that come up in A-level, but they are very easily covered for the first time in A-level as they tend to be basic facts rather than learning skills.

There is nothing wrong with learning facts, of course, but you should consider it carefully before giving up the opportunity to study another foreign language or an arts course, for example.

I don't think you will get many curriculum specialists telling you to study triple if you want to do science A-levels. Most will tell you to do subjects you enjoy, and keep your options open. You might get science teachers trying to drum up more numbers in their subjects, just as options teachers do.

happyAvocado Sat 23-Feb-13 17:03:19

BackforGood - I think nothing wrong with changes as long as people are informed

in modern society people are exposed to continuous changes so I wouldn't worry about that

BackforGood Sat 23-Feb-13 17:12:03

I'm thinking more from the pov of 2 candidates going for a job / applying for a course.
Say it was my ds, and my dd unlikely that they would ever be applying for the same job but just for this point you would look at what exams they had taken, and assume from their certificates, that ds was the brighter / mare capable / more academic / however you want to phrase it, rather than dd, as he will end up with more GCSEs. However, this is only because of what he was given the chance to do. In truth, my dd is far more academic than he is (he has other qualities wink), but it won't appear so if a prospective employer were comparing their qualifications at this level.
That's my concern for the changes.

happyAvocado Sat 23-Feb-13 17:21:48

I see your point. in tat respect if it was me - I would look at Maths grade first as all kids take it and English for that matter + (that would have been my choice) some simple numerical/logical test if I needed someone to read instructions and work on their own

Talkinpeace Sat 23-Feb-13 17:26:53

I did combined physics/chemistry O level at a private school in the 1970's - Cambridge exam board.
Our school also had each of the sciences, separate Nuffield physics and a combined Biology/Chemistry O level.

strange combinations of science at 16 was ever thus

Talkinpeace Sat 23-Feb-13 17:27:50

PS I then did Physics A level and then a BSc

Needmoresleep Sat 23-Feb-13 17:52:06

BackforGood, I would not worry.

Both my DC are at Private schools which consistently come within the top 50 nationally. Both limit GCSE (or more normally iGCSE) subjects to about 10, believing that at this stage it is quality, plus a good spread, that matters. Of that 10, both schools look for pupils to take a "fun" option, whether it be music, art, drama or even Ancient Greek.

Universities apparently are likely to look only at the best 8 grades. Their cousin, who was in a reasonable, but not selective, state school, was instead encouraged to take 13. She will have helped the school's A*-C stats but her grades for her top 8 subjects were not as good as my son's, and she has struggled to get the University place of her choice. Once you have A levels and a degree few employers will worry about GCSEs or the number, other than if you don't have a reasonable spread.

Back to OP, I wonder what the difference between iGCSE and GCSE is in terms of preparation for A level. We were probably looking at secondary schools at the point when the syllabus was being reviewed as a constant theme at Open Days was a planned switch to iGCSE as science teachers felt the proposed GCSE syllabus was too shallow.

Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 23-Feb-13 18:03:31

The IGCSE Sciences have the same program of study as GCSE Sciences.

The difference is that there is no Controlled Assessment.

Although students of IGCSE do plenty of practical work in class, they do not do a separate exam on any investigations. They tackle questions about practical work and investigative skills in their final exams.

BackforGood Sat 23-Feb-13 18:19:13

Thanks Needmoresleep. I guess I know you are right, deep down, but it's just annoyed me this week I think as I feel they've 'taken away' her chance to do what she wanted for her GCSEs, and now, somewhere along the line she's going to have to miss out on one that she wants to do smile

mumslife Sat 23-Feb-13 18:58:41

at my daughters school a local comp you can only take 3 seperate sciences if you have a level six or above in english at beg of year 10 and you have to use an option up to take all three Many do core and additional as they dont want to use an option up i know for a fact at the grammers thought they dont have to use an option and do all three squashed int o the time it would take to do two hence not needing to use an option presuming because they are more capeable

creamteas Sat 23-Feb-13 21:13:46

At DC's school most kids take core and additional science (double award) and if you want to take triple it counts as an option block.

DS is hoping to take (options next month) triple and Astronomy so will have 4 science GCSEs. I think if it was possible to choose all science options, that would be his preference......grin

As far as I know Astronomy doesn't count as a science for Ebac purposes though, not sure why confused

Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 23-Feb-13 21:34:11

It really makes me quite cross that people keep referring to science GCSEs as "combined" science, "general" science and "double award".

If anyone is confused, this is why.

It's really not that complicated.

What we have is a selection of Biology, Chemistry and Physics modules that can be accumulated to give either 2 or 3 GCSEs. There is nothing general or combined about it. The GCSEs are not combined, but 2 or 3 stand alone qualifications.

I really don't understand why there are so many misconceptions about Science GSCEs.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 23-Feb-13 21:34:38

Cos no one important has thought that one through grin

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 23-Feb-13 21:35:28

Sorry...that was aimed at creamteas

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 23-Feb-13 21:38:30

Because you and I work with it every day, knows, and most people are trying to get their heads round it based on what they remember from their distant school days.

I find that very understandable, actually.

Talkinpeace Sat 23-Feb-13 21:41:49

From what I can gather from DDs work, there is
'core science' - single GCSE : her set have completed that in two terms
'second module' - additional work in each of the three subjects that will add up to 2 GCSEs : her set will complete that by the end of year 10
'triple science' - more additional work to complete the full single subject GCSE syllabus in each : a stack of exams in year 11!

Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 23-Feb-13 21:53:29

IDK, ship. I feel a lot less confused than you appear to be. I communicate this lack of confusion to parents by never referring to general or combined. It is pretty easy to stay focussed on reality, IME.

It can take a while for a teacher to understand fully the qualification, but this is how to administer modules, enter them and do cash-ins. Understanding raw to UMS is also something that can take a while to appreciate. This strategic element of exams has all but disappeared with the advent of linear only exams thank the lord.

I like to think that my parents are confident and content with the choices we recommend for their children. I hope none feel the need to come to Mumsnet for clarification.

I don't know why Science is such a mystery, and don't really feel the need to perpetuate this myth.

As a mother to 4 older children (GCSE options and above), I have my fair share of learning about how other subjects (and schools) work. There is plenty of complexity and change in those subjects too. Science does not hold a monopoly. Plus, Science is 2/3 subjects so should be twice or three times as complicated (but it's not).

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 23-Feb-13 21:57:40


Night night knows.

sherzy Sat 23-Feb-13 22:12:33

I teach double, triple, a-level and the old and new Btec courses and I'm bloody confused. confused

BackforGood Sat 23-Feb-13 23:34:26

Well, Knows to me, it's a mystery, because my dd will study 3 separate, individual subjects for two years, but is only allowed to take (and I'm not sure if the correct terminology is) 2 GCSEs (or) a double GCSE, which, for some reason combines elements from 3 subjects

She's taking French and German, but not going to end up taking an "MFL" GCSE.
Some people take music and drama, but don't end up taking a "performing arts" GCSE
Some people take History and Geography, but don't end up taking a "Humanities" GCSE

etc., etc.
As Ship says - I think some confusion is only natural.

nailak Sat 23-Feb-13 23:43:21

I went to a grammar school, we took double sciences, it did not make it difficult for anyone to study at a higher level. Many became drs and so on.

Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 23-Feb-13 23:58:15

Sounds like you don't want to get a grip

Roisin Sun 24-Feb-13 07:37:55

The "combined" or "Dual" and "triple" are usually the ways schools refer to it; because they need an simple way to talk to the students. ie in an assembly there might be an announcement "There's a mock exam this afternoon, but only for triple science students."

It's also confusing because of the way it is taught. In many (most?) Schools triple science will be taught by three different teachers (in three different labs) who will hopefully be subject-specialists. But - particularly because of the dearth of physicists in schools - students not doing triple science, in many schools are taught by just one single teacher for all three sciences. And some do it in blocks, some do a couple of lessons of each science each week.

I think there's clear grounds for confusion.

Knowsabitabouteducation Sun 24-Feb-13 07:52:14

I can understand some school doing blocks (which I interpret to be a carousel) under the old modular system, but surely they don't this with a linear qualification??

Roisin Sun 24-Feb-13 08:54:16

It can be an effective way of teaching.
ds1 has done a completely bizarre course in science:

Autumn Term - 6 lessons per week of C1
Spring Term - 6 lessons per week of B1
Summer Term - 6 lessons per week of P1
But simultaneously
Sep - Mar - 3 lessons per week of C3
Apr - July - 3 lessons per week of B3

Right through - 2 lessons per week of each of C2, B2 and P2.
Sep - Feb - 3 lessons per week of P3.

It seems completely bonkers to me, but they seem to be covering the syllabus.
And he's certainly getting astonishingly high marks.
Obviously the oness is then on the students to do efficient revision, particularly for the subjects (like C3 for him) that he studied ages ago.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sun 24-Feb-13 11:41:01

Personally speaking, as a science teacher for twenty years, I have noticed the two key areas that cause confusion for parents are

1. Its been subject to many changes since the GCSE exams were introduced and particularly in the last twenty years. As each government has tried to 'fix' the problems of each preceding course.

2. Parents are unfamiliar with the course in its present form because it is not what they recognise from their own education.

It will be interesting to see how going to linear system will impact on the current confusion felt by many.

BackforGood Sun 24-Feb-13 17:06:56

Really knows hmm
If I didn't want to understand it, I wouldn't be loitering around the education threads as much as I do, nor would I be going to the options evening this week, not parents evening the week after that, nor any of the Parents Forums I attend at my dcs' schools, I wouldn't have thought.
I can't see how you make the jump from someone not being clear about something, to somone not wanting too understand confused.
Thanks Roisin, Ship, and others who've tried to help. smile

Knowsabitabouteducation Sun 24-Feb-13 18:18:09

You may not have perceived me to help, but I have not added to any confusion by referring to general or combined science and I have laid out how qualifications are obtained in a coherent manner.

Have I wasted air space on you? It actually took me quite a while to type everything out. Gutted.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sun 24-Feb-13 18:30:29

Maybe you are unaware that you appear to have framed your 'help' in condescension and have come across as really quite rude in some posts.

In which case, I hope me pointing this out will not have been wasted air space either smile

Marni23 Sun 24-Feb-13 18:31:22

Nice Knows.

I suspect the confusion arises (whether it's the terminology you use or not) because science qualifications are referred to as 'single', 'double' or 'triple' when in fact all 3 cover all 3 sciences. But to different levels. Which is completely different to when most of us were at school.

If you can't see where that that's confusing...

Knowsabitabouteducation Sun 24-Feb-13 20:58:41

Don't worry. Stick with those who are matey. Go with the lowest common denominator. It's the fashion within the maintained sector.

If you really want to understand the exam system, then ask clearly. If you want to whinge, then again make this clear. There are plenty of people to address both needs.

Allow me to please apologise for and distance myself from my colleagues who relish indulging in a perceived complexity of and an anachronistic view of science education.

I am personally shocked that there are science teachers who come here to perpetuate notions of complexity. I don't really understand their motivations. I can somewhat understand parents who relay what they have been told.

I don't really understand why my views are not supportive of those mumsnetters who start threads seeking the kind of views I offer. I don't really understand why forthright views are inferior to empathetic ones, but there you go. Let the buyer beware. Let's hope that there is lots of conjutating off-board.

Abra1d Sun 24-Feb-13 21:03:18

Mine both do IGCSE double science award. Both have been told this is fine for going on to do as many science A levels as they want. My daughter might well be going to try for vet./medical school.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 24-Feb-13 21:08:17

I'm with knowsabitabouteducation (and I'm not always!!). Using outdated vocabulary doesn't help. If you do EdExcel or AQA, the simple 3 x 3 grid helps parents to understand IME.

If you do 21st Century Science, then it's admittedly slightly more complex. And you should change wink

lemonmajestic Mon 25-Feb-13 15:05:06

So long as there is the option of doing Triple Science should your child have the ability/desire to choose this option, then I don't really think that the pupil numbers taking Triple Science or Double award is a problem. It is the sort of question that you could ask about at school Open evenings for example.
I would also be wary about choosing a school based on which exam board the students follow as there are no guarantees that this will still be the case by the time your child takes their GCSE. For example, if a new Head of Science is appointed and they may change the Science teaching to fit their "favourite" exam board and specification.

BackforGood Mon 25-Feb-13 15:35:56

YOu need to keep in mind, of course, that things change so often in education, the repsonse you got when looking round the school when your child was in Yr5 or 6, will not still hold when your child is in Yr9 and taking their options, let alone in Yr11. They can only answer to 'what they are doing now' - no-one can predict what will be happening in 3,4,5,6 years time.

glaurung Tue 26-Feb-13 00:58:41

knows you have over simplified. For a start not all children take 2 or 3 GCSEs, they may only do one or none if they go the BTEC route, and you haven't explained how the applied science GCSE fits in either.

The term 'double science' is used in common parlance by parents, teachers and schools to mean two GCSEs in mixed sciences (usually core and additional), but its original meaning is when the 2 GCSEs are a single syllabus that is double the workload of a single GCSE and results in a single grade usually expressed twice (ie AA or CC) to emphasise it is worth double the usual GCSE. Most of these true 'double award GCSEs' no longer exist, but at least one is still about (in the applied form) so presunmably some children still take it. Arguably as the term is now in common use meaning something else one needs to explain carefully what is actually meant.

It is definitely complex and confusing for the non expert.

Knowsabitabouteducation Tue 26-Feb-13 06:45:23

I never claimed to be talking about anything other than current GCSEs. Btecs are not GCSEs.

TheFallenMadonna Tue 26-Feb-13 07:21:32

I think the fact that some teachers still use redundant terminology is one of the biggest problems!

glaurung Tue 26-Feb-13 11:44:47

(1) it's not redundant terminology - double award science still exists (albeit rare)

(2) it's a term that's never been used correctly even when true double award was more commonplace - it's time to accept that language changes and embrace the new meaning or you end up looking like those purists who celebrated the end of the millenium at the end of 2001 - technically correct but totally out of step with majority opinion.

knows, you can't ignore BTECS unfortunately since some children do both and many others are given the choice.

Tansie Tue 26-Feb-13 12:48:47

At DS's school, they give the same amount of lesson-time to science in Y10 and 11 whether you're studying for the 2 GCSEs or the 3. But here in Y9, he has to tick a box requesting that he be considered for the 3 GCSEs route or not as, once on the course/s, they're not interchangeable.

He will request triple; at his school (comp) a third of DC do triple and as he's in the top 1/3 of the cohort (I believe!!), that's what he'll do- esp considering that he won't be 'giving up' anything to do it- but will just have to work harder to learn more!

Knowsabitabouteducation Tue 26-Feb-13 18:06:04

I can ignore BTEC when the thread is about GCSE.

BackforGood Tue 26-Feb-13 18:28:23

For the same qualification (a GCSE, in each of Biology, Chemistry and Physics) my ds's school call it "triple science", (suggesting they do all 3) but my dd's school call it "single science" (presumably because they do each subject separate from the others) grin

Knowsabitabouteducation Tue 26-Feb-13 18:42:37

My DDs' school doesn't refer to Science at all. They call it iGCSE Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

But then they have separately timetabled Biology, Chemistry and Physics lessons all the way from Year 7.

glaurung Tue 26-Feb-13 19:24:28

But you ignored applied science too which is definitely a GCSE. Personally, I think a lot of the confusion surrounding science (which this thread has gravitated towards) is down to the plethora of options as well as the differnt pathways through those options, and the fact that private schools generally don't do BTECs/applied science when state schools are more likely to have them as an option is one part of the reason for the different emphasis between the two sectors.

Knowsabitabouteducation Tue 26-Feb-13 23:00:55

As TFM said, you have to stay focussed on current qualifications. That is the only thing that is relevant to DCs in they system now.

BTECs might have added to the confusion in recent years, but, afaik, they have also been simplified in that they are 1:1 GCSE equivalent and follow the same POS.

Many schools have built on and relished confusion, and really milked BTECs to enhance their headline statistics.

We have a much more simplified and transparent system now.

As for describing current systems to parents, I don't see any mileage in wrapping them in transient terms from 6 - 20 years ago.

Parents of my age who have children going through GCSEs are much older than the advent of the NC and 'double science', so it doesn't mean a lot to use those terms (other than to baffle us). It is really much better to speak in terms of the system that is in use today. There is no need to speak in terms of something that was quite fleeting. There is no need to compare - just speak in absolutes.

The majority of parents of 15 year olds will be in their 40s and have no need of a history lesson tracking through the various changes in science examinations. They just need to know what their LOs will be doing.

glaurung Wed 27-Feb-13 13:05:19

They just need to know what their LOs will be doing.

I do agree with this. But what they are doing might be BTEC or applied science GCSE. It might even be double science award, and even if it isn't people may use the term to describe what they are doing. Just because you don't want people to use terms in the wrong way won't stop them.

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