Double science v. triple. Has DS blown it?

(246 Posts)
Erebus Tue 05-Mar-13 18:49:36

I will be absolutely honest and say that, at parents eve tonight, the bomb shell was that DS1 is being considered for 'top set double science' not triple science- though which 'set' is rather neither here nor there!

I am rather 'taken aback' that he's not in the top 3rd of his 270 strong-year group (Y9), tbh! I acknowledge that his school is the county's top performing comp, academically so, yes, the competition may be a bit stiffer than completely 'average', but! In Dec his level was 6.2 or 6 low as they call it, and it was the only report he's every gotten a '2' for effort ('usually tries his best, but not always'). Always had a '1' for everything to date.

His 'in class' work has let him down, he got a 4.8 for his last experiment (she only looked at the last 2 or 3 marks, but of course will have an overall overview of DS, won't she?), and when asked why tonight, he said that the 2 other boys he works with were mucking around and they got no experimental data to work with... but he got 76% for the exam they did last week in class (certainly top quarter of the 3rd group in science, there being 2 A groups, 1 B group, his, all 30 DC apiece). Do not misunderstand me- I know DS wouldn't the beacon of diligence trying to pull it all together in class!- but I do sort of think they really haven't given their more 'OK, enough coasting, time to knuckle down boys children' time to show that they now 'get it', and that playtime, as such, is over. I think he had his first real shock tonight, actually. The level 2 'for effort' didn't do it (but his achievement mark was well in the upper half of the school's expected level).

The teacher said 'it's better he gets As or A* in double science than does less well in 3', which is undeniable. BUT DS is capable! My 'complaint' about the school would be they let the kids coast in Y8, no homework, no pressure; then 'wham!' Y9. MUCH more homework, much more focus. I readily concede we are half way through Y9 but I sort of feel DS only got his first yellow card, in Jan, with his report for science, but has just been told, 7 weeks later (today), he has 2 weeks to change their minds for double v. triple science. That's 2 lessons (though the teacher says she will rearrange the prac. groups). He was almost in tears (the teacher didn't see) as we left her as he knows that he needs triple science to be allowed to do science A level at Peter Symonds in Winchester (High performing 6FC). Until tonight he was harbouring a dream of 'maybe science or Engineering at uni'- but, well, he's blown that, hasn't he? A DC who is only allowed to do double science at a school that offers triple isn't 'Science At Uni' material, is he?

Sorry, really, for the ramble but I really, genuinely thought that DS's 'science' future was 'on course'; that is B grade English/humanity performance and possibly even C grade MFL (yet, oddly, A at Maths?!) was counterbalanced by 'solid science'. But it would appear not.

I don't really know what I want you lot to say. I don't know what I'm 'asking'. I just feel, well a bit pole-axed by tonight's revelation, I guess. And I know they aren't really likely to change their minds.

wordfactory Tue 05-Mar-13 19:29:41

Isit a final decision?
Is there any wiggle room?
If so, I would make an appointment wiht the Head of Science and explain that your DS wishes to puruse science at tertiary level and see what they say.

creamteas Tue 05-Mar-13 19:32:34

The main issue to consider between double and triple is what is required to study sciences at A level.

So if he is unlikely to want to do science A levels this is a non-issue. Double is perfectly respectable for everything else.

If your DS's school (or other post 16 provision) allows you to chose science A level with double then I don't think you need to worry about it either.

But if you need triple and your DS might want to study science A levels then it is worth talking to the school about this more.

I agree. Go back and talk about the A level situation and see if you can get them to try. I have to say though (and I don't want this to sound like a stealth boast because it honestly isn't!) that my dd1 is doing triple science with an A* target (which irritates me because poor lass either gets on target or as she sees it fails, no room to exceed expectations). Her end of Yr 9 target was 7B. If your ds is likely to end the year as he currently is then maybe the teacher has a point about him struggling with the triple. The A in maths in fantastic though. Try not to stress about this now. Lots of praise for the Maths and solid English performance and then see what can be ararnged. You really don't want him to feel he's letting you down or that you're really upset by this.

chicaguapa Tue 05-Mar-13 20:17:00

I think there'll be quite a few parents in the same situation tonight. I was hovering outside this evening to speak to DH and heard him have the exact same conversation with some other parents. In fact I was relieved to see you'd written she wink.

Definitely speak to the teacher and explain the science A level problem. Tbh I thought you still could do A level sciences without having to do triple science, but maybe BP and PS have different requirements.

It might have been a 'buck up your ideas' tactic designed to shock to your DS into sorting out his class behaviour. If you explain to his teacher, she might accept that he's capable of doing triple science and now he knows what's at risk, he might work harder in class. Or despite all that, she might still feel he's not capable, but at least you'll know either way.

I'll see what DH says when he gets home. Assuming he can still string a sentence together by then. grin

Erebus Tue 05-Mar-13 20:25:34

Thanks, guys- I'll be honest and say that unfortunately- ahem- I think DS already knows we're disappointed, as is he. His teacher asked DS what he wanted to do, (before the double science wham) and he said, quiet and shy though he is, 'science or possibly engineering'. There is a tiny bit of not very relevant back story: Towards the end of Y8 we got a letter home telling us DS was borderline for a second MFL- not a cert, did we want him to do one? (20-odd% of DC get the offer at the end of the day). We had a sit-down chat, and DS stated he really didn't like doing languages (he's right!- he'll probably get a B at GCSE) though he is 'ok' at Spanish (otherwise the 'offer' as being borderline would not have been made!). SO we 'agreed' that he'd just do the one MFL but he'd 'bloody better get triple science' (lol etc- it wasn't 'heavy'- but that was back when I'd had no reason to assume DS wouldn't be offered triple!) which he agreed was where he'd be at. So yes, I think he has a pretty good idea of what we think- and he knows he's goofed!

BUT a combination of immaturity; shyness and an unwillingness to stand up and be counted in class (trying to make 2 other boys 'behave' in a prac whilst appearing to be compliant himself in class); a really slack Y8; a bit of a 13 year old's 'near enough is good enough' approach to homework, though all the decisions seems to have been based on quite recent work; a '2' level in effort last term have all conspired to really, in the big picture, quite suddenly lost him a change to do science A level at our local 6FM (And, dare I say, it's been MN that's taught me that the knowledge chasm between double science and A level science can be very hard to bridge!).

It would be different if there were some way to prove himself on the double science course: 2 A*s might do that BUT all it would mean was a great boost on their league table but the fact those 2 A*s might have been 3 A*s in triple had he been allowed to go there will never be known.

So we've talked to him; he will decide tomorrow if he wants us to pursue it- though in reality, I imagine every child was told tonight of their double/triple decision so they aren't likely to change- are they? It must be 'bums on seats in classrooms'. Is there anything we can do other than beg?

Erebus Tue 05-Mar-13 20:35:45

chica- your DH may of course just want to look at a blank wall for a bit when he gets in from parents evening grin.

I loathe myself for saying this but at times like this I do wonder whether we'd've been better off sending DS to a no-prisoners private (though we'd be on baked beans if we did, being NHS workers, an' all!). A good friend's DSs go to one, and there is no question of the slack Y8, no acceptance of 'near enough is good enough' homework (redone in school whilst the teacher oversees). But I totally understand that if you have 30 DC to oversee in all, as opposed to 200, you can do that. In a big comp, it can be every man to himself, and in a school like Th, who rest heavily on laurels, they can afford to only let the A and A* DC even sit the exam when there's a lower standard alternative - our fault- we chose the school. And I get that maybe 90 DC didn't slack off to quite the extent that DS1 must've, it now seems, in Y8 -though the HoY in Y8 apparently bollocked the teachers for not setting homework!-in order to make their decision.

Should I call the 6FM colleges to discuss what they'd expect to see in a prospective science A level candidate? I know that's really pfb- he's 13, fgs! But 13 is where these decisions are made!

titchy Tue 05-Mar-13 20:40:16

Does it make any difference timetabling wise? Could you make a deal with school - start him off on the triple option and if by the end of yr 9 they still think double is better you agree to it? Could give him a term to really prove he's up for it.

Erebus Tue 05-Mar-13 20:43:58

I don't know. The school certainly devote the same amount of time per pupil for 'Science' be in double or triple.

He won't start double or triple before Y10 though the teacher did sort of 'hint' 'they start GCSE course work toward the end of Y9...' so not sure!

NewFerry Tue 05-Mar-13 20:44:15

Hi Erebus sorry to hear the disappointing news.

It is possible to do science A level from double science, my DS did this. But, this was because his school only offered the double, and Y12 took up from where the double science syllabus ended.
So, perhaps another 6th form college might offer him that chance.

Otherwise, your DS could look at taking a foundation year at uni before starting the full engineering degree, if that's what he still wants at 18. These are designed for students who don't have the correct combination of A2 exams.

NewFerry Tue 05-Mar-13 20:47:39

Actually, if there's no time tabling issue, then maybe the head if science would be prepared to reconsider on the basis of end of year results.

cricketballs Tue 05-Mar-13 20:47:55

maybe rather than pushing for triple science you should trust the judgement of the person who teaches your DS and is more than aware of his capabilities.

Whilst you want him to do triple science, most students are not capable of this to the grades that they can achieve in double. Reality check?

lainiekazan Tue 05-Mar-13 20:51:57

Ds goes to Th.

His friend wanted to do Triple Science - put it on his Options form - and was given Double. His parents contacted the school and he is now doing Triple. I'm sure if you expressed your strong desire (er, rather your ds's strong desire!) to do the Triple option they would accommodate you.

Ds chose to do Double, a decision which his quite pleased about as the Triple Science people have all their exams at the end of the two years, as opposed to the easier continuous assessment which the Double people have. From what I've read on MN Double Science does not preclude the taking of science-y A Levels.

Don't sweat about the second foreign language. Ds dropped Spanish like a hot brick after a year as he said he'd rather concentrate on French and not dilute his results. I did three foreign languages for O Level and I wish I had focused on just the one.

By the way, ds hardly did a stroke of homework up until Year 10. Now he has a lot!

chicaguapa Tue 05-Mar-13 20:56:30

He's still not back (has been there since 7.30am FFS and not had any dinner angry) but I will mention it to him and whether it's set in stone.

mam29 Tue 05-Mar-13 20:59:29

My comp only offered double and many of my year went onto successful science degrees and careers.

the private schools offered triple.

Is it money thing? is it state comp?

could you offer to fund exam fee?

does seem harsh at such young age.

Is he picking his gcse options now?

hes on year 9?

surly theres more time another 6months left of school year yet.

good luck hope yo work it out.

nextphase Tue 05-Mar-13 21:01:01

It sounds like it wouldn't be a possibility with the timetabling, but is there any way he could do Physics and Chemistry, and not the Biology. Still only 2 GCSE's, but with his strong maths, that would leave a real possibility of engineering at Uni.

It is possible to jump from double science to science a'levels, but it will be much harder if he is in a group where everyone else has done more GCSE science than yourself.

feynman Tue 05-Mar-13 21:30:40

If it helps I'm a science teacher (HOD) and am having similar conversations with students at present. If you/him really want to do it then I would ring school in the morning and speak to the HOD, stress that he really wants it for A-level, is prepared to work hard etc. In my experience I think school will often bend if there are supportive parents being students who they know will push them at home.
However, I would also be aware of the following.
Triple science is harder than double; it’s not just more of the same.
The knock on effect of this is that it is the further units (what makes it triple) tend to pull down the earlier units (that they do for double).
If the school is studying triple in the same amount of time as double this effect is greater.
His teacher may well be correct in that double (core/additional) would give him 2 solid A's for example but triple may result in 3 B's. This may or may not be the best outcome for the student.
Whilst triple is undoubtedly better preparation for A-level, than core/additional, A-level colleges generally accept any students with suitable grades (usually B plus) in core/additional onto A-Level courses as not all schools in the UK do triple. (I say most as there may be exceptions).They may also be more likely to accept higher grades in additional than lower ones in triple.
Finally if it helps, my daughter is in Y10 and had to make similar decisions at her school last year . She is predicted good grades and had the option of doing triple. Whilst I feel she is very strong in this area and I obviously would like her to do the separate sciences, I would probably have suggested she didn’t if there was not an appropriate amount of teaching time allocated to it.
In my experience even with bright capable students, trying to do 3 years’ worth of GCSE in 2 years is never going to give the students the best chance of securing their very best grades. In addition we find it can actually switch students off as the lessons can become very didactic and it is a lot of work, practical’s tend to get squeezed a bit and I worry that a lot of the things that people fall in love with science over gets almost shoved out in an effort to 'get through the specification'.
Anyway just some thoughts, might be helpful.

chicaguapa Tue 05-Mar-13 21:34:21

erebus Speak to the teacher. Though 'in class' attitude in Y9 has a huge bearing on a DC's ability to cope with triple science in Y11 and that's what the decision will have been made on. Good luck!

Erebus Tue 05-Mar-13 21:35:34

Thanks everyone.

Lannie please can you ask your friend what persuasive 'argument' the parents made to Th? Did they go and see the Head of Science? A letter? A DC's personal 'plea?

JUST had another, calmer discussion with DS, the 'emollient one'; a 'double science isn't the end of the world' one- but he sees his own 'direction' as being blown out of the water with this! And I fear though I am a bit dramatic, that he may be right- esp the gulf between double and A level.

In some ways, it's worse for DS1 being put into double as his school offers triple. It did piss me off a bit when the young woman telling us this said 'Don't worry I only did double though that's all that was available at my school '- like that was a comfort! I think I could bet my rear that a DC coming from a local, well-regarded comp that did triple would not be held in particularly high regard, academically, turning up with a double!

There's no option to do 'bits' of science any more. It's -ahem- what are the terms? I readily confess I didn't take much notice on the options booklet as I believed DS1 was a dead cert for triple- 'Science A' (end of Y10) and 'Additional Science' (end Y11). It's 'science-lite(r)' - for the less able. There's be no point in paying exam fees- he won't have studied the right curriculum.

Yes, his GCSE options will be signed and sealed very soon. His science teacher said he had '2 weeks to prove himself' which is fairly obviously meant as 'our decision is made'. Doesn't it?!

I am about to post a Q about double science and triple and the 'leap' to A level! But responses on here monitored in a hawk-like way!

NewFerry Tue 05-Mar-13 21:38:52

DS2 had the option of triple science, but it used 1 of his options slots, so it wasn't being done in the same time as the double science.

Startail Tue 05-Mar-13 21:40:16

This a massive bug bear in this house DD1 is doing double science and yes we did try and lean on them, but her tutor is the head of science.

Anything I write about him is liable to be libellous, suffice to say he likes an easy life. DD1 is dyslexic and it's not easy to get how bright she is beneath the slightly immature dizzy exterior. She is undoubtably a better scientist than, set one for everything, very conventionally academic DD2.

She wants to do A'level science and has a very technical hobby. I expect fun with sixth forms and strongly suspect she may have to go to one of the local colleges.

chicaguapa Tue 05-Mar-13 21:40:49

Feynman DH agrees wholeheartedly with what you have written and thinks you might be his HoD. Though he doesn't think she has a DD in Y10/Y11. grin

Startail Tue 05-Mar-13 21:47:30

The leap to A'level doesn't exist in this house. Most science DD1 knows is already A'level and last night it was first year undergrad chemistry.

I know this because DH explained something that I only knew the first 3/4 of. DD1 followed this quite happily.

Even triple science appears to be fairly simplified as one of her BFs is perpetually stressing her science teacher by wandering beyond GCSE.

Erebus Tue 05-Mar-13 21:47:53

Again, thanks everyone- the last 2 came in (after 'nextphases's' )whilst I was typing my last! Thought I ought to stop MN about DS's problem long enough to talk to DS about the problem! grin

I guess need to be convinced by the school that their decision is based on their genuine belief that DS wouldn't do well enough at triple rather than what I suspect which is that he might not get A*s at triple that has informed this decision.

I'd feel less worried if I felt that double science was a good solid, science prep for ongoing science in later study, but I sort of regard it, maybe wrongly, as 'science for those who need proof of a bit of science, like Foundation Maths, or Foundation English but taken in small, manageable, bite sized blocks so as not to frighten the horses' Especially as I know several great, lovely young people from Th who are now studying very vocational artist-based subjects at college, who were borderline C/D maths and so forth- but who did double science. I am over-doing that double science description a bit for dramatic effect, sorry! (I said I was prone to dramatics!)

ShipwreckedAndComatose Tue 05-Mar-13 21:52:25

I would echo what Feynman says..

Two excellent quality GCSE grades obtained through the core and additional science are much better preparation for A level tha three poor grades at triple.

And I would also echo the poster who said you should perhaps listen to the advice that the teacher is giving you about your son's progress this year.

Double award is by no means the end of the world and if a wake up call is needed to kick start GCSE effort then this is not a bad way to get it.

QuiteOldGal Tue 05-Mar-13 21:53:52

DS chose to do Double Science not Triple, and was level 7 in year 9 SATs. He wanted to do 2 languages and various other subjects and triple science took up too much of the timetable, also he was not at all interested in Biology. He then went on to do Physics A level, did not feel disadvantaged at all and is now doing Physics at a RG university.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Tue 05-Mar-13 21:55:04

Are you aware that Core and additional science and exactly the same course as triple?? I mean exactly

The triple just has an extra unit of work for biology, chemistry and physics each which is a third more work.

Startail Tue 05-Mar-13 21:55:18

However, I do agree that shoe horning 3 lots of written work into two slots of time she'd find difficult.

A reasonable HOD would just not worry and accept come the exams the knowledge would be there, but that needs imagination and a knowlage of your pupils, hmmmm not likely.

Erebus Tue 05-Mar-13 21:56:49

But are they? I've read many posts on MN telling me that double isn't good prep for A level! And I'd be looking a bit suspiciously if I were an admissions tutor at a 6FC if one of my top feeder comps had decided this DC was double, not triple material.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Tue 05-Mar-13 21:58:14

As. Science teacher, I would say any student with decent Core and additional grades can manage very well at A level. It was always designed to be so.

Erebus Tue 05-Mar-13 21:58:16

Sorry, I meant my last post to reply to ship; as in IS double 'good prep' for A level?

feynman Tue 05-Mar-13 22:00:40

Hi Chica, maybe so, are you in the Yorkshire area lol!
I know there have been a few questions regarding double/triple- A-Level, my experience of this is as follows. There maybe some 'highly flying' 6th forms who have their own admissions criteria different to all of our local colleges but every one of our local 6th forms (including all the schools with a 6th form) take students with Sci A and Additional science, regardsless of whether the school does/does'nt do triple. Grades will generally be more important than whether they've done 2/3 GCSES.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Tue 05-Mar-13 22:01:36

By all means, contact the school and discuss through with them in detail (they know your child better than I) but I really think an A/A* in core and additional beats B grades in triple. and any less than that, he wouldn't get on the course in the first place.

feynman Tue 05-Mar-13 22:16:34

I think the question you maybe want answering is not so much is 'double' good prep for A-level, but is triple better? I really think that depends on so many factors. I teach A-Level students who've come from double, who've worked hard/enjoyed the course and are outperforming students with similar grades who took triple. So much depends on work ethic of the student. I also know of students who were considering A-level science who changed their mind after 'rushing' through triple in y11. Similary we also have students from double who were never going to do science at A-Level but secured good grades which gave them the confidence to do it, and who are doing very well. I really think the time issue is a big thing.
I would ring the HOD to dicuss but I would also ring around all the colleges you have in mind and ask them so you know for sure what the situation is.

Waitingaround Tue 05-Mar-13 22:23:39

Peter Symonds does not demand triple science- check their website

webwiz Tue 05-Mar-13 22:26:20

DS(year 11) is in the top set for science so he takes triple science in the same time that the set below take double science. As feynman says its been a rush and he isn't taking any science A levels despite being one of the highest achievers in year 9. Its a lot of work and as we go into the final stage for GCSEs one less "exam" to work towards would be a good thing.

In contrast both my DD's took core and additional science GCSEs and went on to take science A levels (DD1 is studying Biology at university). They both retained a love of science whereas DS has had his killed off!

CointreauVersial Tue 05-Mar-13 22:39:59

DS's school does not offer triple science at all. I find it hard to believe that not one person is therefore equipped to continue onto A level science.

mindgone Tue 05-Mar-13 22:40:21

My friend's DD did duel science and is now in her second year at uni doing medicine! I think it may be worth speaking to a tutor at the sixth form college to check the facts out. Good luck.

Copthallresident Tue 05-Mar-13 22:43:42

DD was advised by her indie that though she was perfectly capable of triple Science at GCSE, that if she did double to enable her to keep up History, Geography and two MFL along with the compulsory Maths and Englishes and the recommended practical relaxation subject she would appear more rounded even, or maybe especially, if she was going to go for Medicine.

She was a bit annoyed that she did find the jump from GCSE to A level was greater than if she had done triple, she had to cover some of the ground on her own, BUT she got A*/As in 4 Sciences at A level and the lack of Triple Science was never mentioned as an issue in relation to her applications for any of the Science courses she applied to at uni, including the top ones, and including places like UCL and Bath who are known to sift on GCSEs. In fact the second MFL which was a potential casualty is now crucial to her application for an internship.

So no DS hasn't blown it .............. not that I think he should be having his options closed down in Year 9. If my arty flaky DD2 can get A*s in Maths and Double Science it really can't require talent..........

Abra1d Tue 05-Mar-13 22:51:39

My daughter is doing double science IGCSE and has been emphatically told she can do three Sciences at A level. The IGCSE course is perhaps a bit more deManding but even so, there is no way in hell they would have let her do this if they didn't think double science was just fine.

QuiteOldGal Tue 05-Mar-13 22:57:07

How are the FE colleges and universities going to know that your DS didn't choose to do double science because of wanting to do other subjects. As long as he gets good grades in double surely thats what matters. DS was never questioned about why he didn't have triple science.

Erebus Tue 05-Mar-13 22:59:28

I do think the distinction between those secondaries that offer triple and the DC there who does double and those that don't offer triple at all could be made. So one could imagine that a DC who gets, say A/A* at double may have achieved A/B/B at triple... Is the latter considered worse than the former?

As for PS, their prospectus says:
"These entry requirements for A level science are under review but:
a 'B' grade in GCSE in Chem or Bio or Physics plus B in Maths, or
a B in Additional science plus B in Maths or
a B in Additional Science (applied) plus a B in Maths or
BB in Applied science (double award) plus a B in Maths"

Th's 2012 results in science tell of 'core, additional and applied science' GCSEs....
Of 270-odd pupils, 198 took Core; 167 took Additional; 31 took Applied (27 were girls!).

What's 'double award' then? The implication of that one is that you have to do better in that (two B's!) than a single B in one triple subject!

88 took the 3 separate sciences. The numbers won't add up and some of the non-triple science is taken in Y10.

Final point: this decision 'reduces' DSs potential GCSE tally from 9 to 8.

Erebus Tue 05-Mar-13 23:00:45

Ab IGCSEs are a different kettle of fish altogether. There's no way you'd be able to do 3 science A levels on a double science GCSE.

Erebus Tue 05-Mar-13 23:02:30

Quite- to be fair, the FE colleges would know what subjects he 'wanted' to do instead of triple science because there'd be a grade sitting next to an exam in it! As it is, DS can only do 9 GCSEs with triple science.

MechanicalTheatre Tue 05-Mar-13 23:03:31

My brother did biology at university with only two sciences. That was in Scotland though, where things seem to be a bit less, erm, strict.

We recently had a similar conversation with the HOD for Science at ds's school. He also used to teach science at AS and A level at 6th form college.

He said that if he had two places left to allocate on a Science AS / A level course and the two students were identical in all GCSE's except one had A* in both Core and Additonal Science and one had B's in Core, Additional and Further Additional Science he would give the place to the student with the two A*s.
He explained this was due to all the reasons feynman mentioned.

With two very solid Sciences in the bag your ds would still be perfectly able to do Science at A level and beyond.

Ds is currently in year 9. At his school the top set are expected to do Core, Additonal and Further Additional. However, they look at the pupil's science module results at the end of Y10 to determine who progresses through to Further Additional.
They only let the top 30 take it.
At the moment ds is very well placed as he has been consistently within the top 30. But I appreciate this may change and the explanation of his Science HOD about still being able to do it for AS / A level was very reassuring and took some of the pressure off smile

Erebus Tue 05-Mar-13 23:07:51

Copth- well done your DD but she's obviously in a different league to my DS. He isn't doing 2 MFL, or 2 humanities, as in he's doing just Geog, not history or RE. He is OK at language but turned down a second language when considered 'borderline' at the end of Y8; he is not an essayist- doing well enough in English but baulking at the essay-load of History.

Your DD's choices and grades shout 'a choice to demonstrate a well-rounded, all-rounder high-achieving pupil, something had to give and it was one more science'; my DS's need is to play up his better ability in right brain activity over a weaker left!

webwiz Tue 05-Mar-13 23:08:33

Why wouldn't you be able to do 3 science A levels after core and additional science? Quite a few of DD1 and DD2's friends did including a couple of medics.

Erebus Tue 05-Mar-13 23:12:21

Behind- god, now I'm confused! At DS's school now, the less able as lifted from DS's Options booklet, seem to do a thing called 'Science A' (end Y10), and 'Additional Science' at the end of Y11, or the 3 named sciences, Physics, Bio & Chem as 3 separate subjects at the end of Y11.

'Science A' doesn't even feature in the 6FC's list of acceptable qualifications!

NewFerry Tue 05-Mar-13 23:13:10

I second webwiz, DS1 did 2 science A levels after the double science GCSE, he could have taken all 3 if he had wanted to.

Erebus Tue 05-Mar-13 23:13:43

Bedtime, now- thanks for the input, I'll check-in again tomorrow!

Loshad Tue 05-Mar-13 23:14:20

Erebus, Iam sorry but your last statement is utter rubbish. some of my DC attend a high achieving school which only offers double GCSE, from that many pupils go on to take 3 science A levels (often with a fourth) and achieve all A/A*s.
In the school i teach at i have a considerable number of students in my y12 biology classes who i taught last year in double, several of them are doing a lot better than the ones who were in my triple set hmm.
I am very surprised to see they accepted applied science at all as an entry requirement, tells me they will definitely allow a double award kid on their courses.

TheWave Tue 05-Mar-13 23:16:03

I also wonder if the triple science classes will be full of the more academic children and therefore he will be pulled along by the ethos of working in that set. Rather than continuing with the element of slacking that you mention, to his disadvantage in the double science set.

Loshad Tue 05-Mar-13 23:16:31

sorry slow typer, referring to your fifth last statement!

teacherwith2kids Tue 05-Mar-13 23:18:25

DS's (excellent) comp, mysteriously, only offer double BUT they have a very healthy proportion of 6th formers doing all 3 science A-levels - so they clearly accept it as the foundation for A-level. Other schools where only 'less good' pupils do double might be sniffier, I suppose.

creamteas Tue 05-Mar-13 23:31:39

Science is now usually:

Core (1 GCSE) B1 C1 P1
Additional (2nd GCSE) B2 C2 P2

Taken together some people still call this double

You can also do

Further (3rd GCSE) B3,C3, P3

If you do seperate (triple) it is the same units but in a differrnt pattern

B1+B2 and B3 to get a GCSE in biology
C1, C2 and C3 to get a GCSE in chemistry
P1, P2 & P3 to get a GCSE in physics.

QuiteOldGal Tue 05-Mar-13 23:39:04

The thing is different schools seem to have completely different time tabling options for GCSE and OPs DS school only has options for 9 GCSE's, 8 if her DS does double instead of triple, whereas at my DS poor performing secondary you could fill in the gaps with other subjects, and he did want to do French and German which he sees as more of an achievement than the extra science, especially as he disliked biology.

Also there seems to be several different sorts of double science, as OP as mentioned and some are I think better exams than others. I think there is a BTEC that is sometimes called double science though I may be wrong.

DS did AQA science and additional science.

feynman Tue 05-Mar-13 23:45:17

Science A and Additional science are 2 seperate GCSE's that together make up what is commonly being refered to as 'double'. Taking the seperate sciences involves doing Science A and Addtional plus some extra units. They are then cashed in seperatly as Bio Chem Phys. To try and clarify there are in total 12 units of work in science GCSE's, 3 bio, 3 chem, 3 phys, 3 controlled assessments (coursework). They are generally refered to as B1,B2,B3, C1,C2,C3 and P1,P2,P3.

If a student does Science A they are doing B1,C1, P1 plus a CA
Additional Science is B2,C2,P2 and a CA
Furthur additional is B3,C3,P3 and a CA.

Students can do Sci A on its own and get 1 GCSE. Or can do Science A and additional and get 2 GCSE's (commonly known as double). OR can get 3 GCSES in science by doing, Sci A, Additional and Furthur additional OR they can cash in the B1,B2,B3 together plus a CA which would give a GCSE in biology etc etc.

Whichever route your son takes he will do B1,B2,C,C2,P1,P2 plus 2 CA's. If he does triple he will also take B3,C3,P3 and another CA.

The requirement for the vast majority (if not all!) 6th form courses is having studied B1,B2,C1,C2,P1,P2, so essentially Science A and additional. This is why most students do double science, so the doors to A-Level sciences are open to most students.

The comment about being 'unable' to do 3 A-Level sciences on double award is not only misleading but quite simply wrong. I'm not sure where this information has come from but it is definitly incorrect.

foolserrand Wed 06-Mar-13 00:42:06

I will admit to having read only part of your op and none of the replies, but I did double science at gcse and have a phd in a science now. Did marine zoology for my initial degree.

It won't matter one bit when he grows up.

cafecito Wed 06-Mar-13 00:52:50

it really doesn't matter what GCSEs he does. If he wants to do A level sciences, then what grades he gets in AS and A2 will matter in terms of university entry. Only a few universities really place much weight on GCSEs. It'

However I understand your frustration and think he should be doing single sciences. (I did 3, was great fun)

my sister was told she hadn't scored highly enough in a test to do separate sciences. But they appealed-citing previous performance and dedication to it- and she is now doing separate sciences just to prove a point

I think it's certainly worth having a chat with the school- but at the end of the day it won't really make one bit of difference long term

cafecito Wed 06-Mar-13 00:54:32

the only way it could make a difference long term is if he starts off his GCSEs with a diminished sense of achievement and a lowered enthusiasm for studying. that would be a shame for someone who sounds very capable.

Erebus Wed 06-Mar-13 07:44:59

Actually, cafecito- you may have hit a bit of a nail on the head, there. He's just told me, sitting in bed, that 'I have to rethink Engineering at uni, don't I?' confused

The school have strongly advised him (and us) to 'talk to older DC about your Options' but unfortunately, the cohort of them that I know (not many!) do consist of 2 who did a science A level after double (both, like DS, having attended a school that offers triple), and both dropped it after AS stating that the knowledge gap was too big for them to fill as they were also doing 2 other A levels.

I think he really does recognise that when a school like his considers him 'less able' at 13 in science, his RG uni thoughts need revision, too!

I have to go to work now, but thanks for the input and the explanation of how the sciences 'work'. It is a bit disheartening to see he'll need to get a B in both of his 'double science' exams whereas he'd 'only' need a B in one triple science to get to do a science A level at a good 6FC.

HalleLouja Wed 06-Mar-13 07:54:50

My school only ever did double science. This was many years ago and I did Chemistry and Biology A Levels (at sixth form college as my school was poor for A Levels).

I got an A for Biology and B for Chemistry (but was borderline to an A) and that was having to take all the modules together at the end and not having a change to retake. I went to a RG Uni to do a science / social science. I know it was years ago and yes things change a lot but it is possible.

NewFerry Wed 06-Mar-13 07:58:12

Erebus, engineering at a good uni is difficult to get into.
DS2 is applying this year. His offers range from A*AA to AAB, inc maths and Physics.
If your DS would struggle to get A in physics or chem GCSE, either double or triple, then it's a huge mountain to get an A in the A2.

Sorry if this is not what you want to hear, but engineering is a very difficult degree (ds1 in his 2nd yr at southampton), your DS really needs to have a good aptitude for the subject.

lljkk Wed 06-Mar-13 08:15:43

does anyone have any stats about what % in England go down triple route, and what % do double? I'm guessing 30-70 split, sound right?

tiredaftertwo Wed 06-Mar-13 08:18:25

Hello OP, my dc did triple last summer. The first two modules in each were exactly the same as double. Her friends doing double did the same papers.

Then there was one paper in each science for triple (I think the no of papers etc varies but the principle is the same). To me, as a bystander, this "third" was actually less then a third but it was the most intellectually demanding - more proper "science", equations, molecules, more abstract concepts, less about how to recycle a plastic bag. I dunno whether science teachers would agree.

So I think I would: go to the school and explain his career aspirations - it may be he is just below the line; if they say no, ask them whether these aspirations are unrealistic - if they are realistic then the school should provide triple I think, it's not some obscure little option; also consider, if he could get into the 6th form on double, whether the summer after GCSE he's do some work and reading and perhaps some tutoring - to bring him up to speed in the main concepts so that if he is surrounded be people who have done triple, he isn't running while they are walking.

If they are not realistic - and the school have good reason to think this - it is disappointing but better to find out now. I know there are some nasty shocks for people as they satrt AS courses - there really is a big jump if you are aiming for high grades.

Erebus Wed 06-Mar-13 08:19:10

Am still here (awaiting my lift)-

Yes, you're right Ferry. DS will have to rethink Engineering at Uni. He knows a lad who managed to get into Cardiff to do Engineering on clearing with 2 C's in science A level (then has managed to transfer into a more 'demanding' course (BBB offer) after half a term which he is happily flying in!) so I think he thought uni and Engineering was a possibility for him but he feels that even if he is 'allowed' to do a science A level after double, the knowledge gap will be too big for him to bridge.

We just have to help him manage his expectations. I must say that I am rather surprised that he's not doing at all well in science. We all thought he had an 'aptitude', that it was 'his thing'. The school publish a block graph of 'expected attainments levels' in each subject for the end of Y7, then 8, the 9. DH has reminded me that his teacher said, last night that he was just about at a 6 Medium (or 6.5 in their parlance) right now; the graph says that 'a few DC will have achieved a 7 by the end of Y9, most will be working between 5 high and 6 high (5.8 and 6.8)'. He got a 5 in his KS2 SATS for science, not that that means much! But I would have imagined a 6M half way through this school year might have turned into a 6H by the end of the year, which is why I'd wrongly assumed DS1 wouldn't have much bother being offered triple but evidently we're wrong! A third of the DC get offered triple science. Obvs I don't know if their 'few DC' working at level 7 constitute a third of all the DC, mind!

senua Wed 06-Mar-13 08:23:09

Why the angst about 'science'? Isn't engineering Maths, More Maths and a bit of Physics.

NewFerry Wed 06-Mar-13 08:31:56

"A bit of physics" erm, not exactly. grin

webwiz Wed 06-Mar-13 08:34:41

I think you are running away with things a bit OP - if your DS does "double" science and gets two good grades, he can do science A levels and if appropriate engineering at university. As senua says maths is the key subject for engineering not science. There is a step up from GCSE to A level for sciences that a lot of DCs find it difficult whether they take "double" or "triple" science at GCSE so don't take that as an indication that your DS won't be successful at them.

NewFerry Wed 06-Mar-13 08:42:16

Erebus, I've checked the options booklet at DS school. In there they say that if you are working at level 6 in Y9 you have the entitlement to follow triple science.

Very odd wording, I wonder if its a dfe requirement? Might be worth checking?

Tbh if your DS can achieve a high level 6 at the end of the year, then it sounds as though he could get the A at GCSE, please don't give up on his dreams, just understand how hard he will need to work.

lainiekazan Wed 06-Mar-13 08:44:45

Is your ds considering Systems Control? (I think it's called that.) Ds's geeky engineering-type mates are doing this and really enjoying it.

There is also an Engineering Club at Th - does he belong? Ds gets quite fed up when he loses his playtime pals (as I call them much to ds's wrath) as they are doing engineers activities several lunchtimes a week.

wordfactory Wed 06-Mar-13 09:12:26

At DS school every pupil has to do triple. No choice. But it is selective. At DD non selective school only the top set do triple. They do it in the same time frame as the doubles but start the course at the beginning of year 9.

wordfactory Wed 06-Mar-13 09:15:15

I must say that it is bloody shocking that so many schools don't offer anyone the triple. How do they justify that? How can they say science is important to them? Horribly cynical stuff!

leeloo1 Wed 06-Mar-13 09:25:03

I'm not an expert about the sciences, but surely only having 8 gcses will be a disadvantage when applying to unis? I used to work in a top university's admissions dept and students were applying (and sometimes being rejected) with 10/11 gcses and 4 A-levels.

Have things really changed that much?

hellsbells99 Wed 06-Mar-13 09:36:40

At my DCs state comp, this is what their option booklet states:
"It is now an entitlement for students who obtain Level 6 or above in Science to be able to follow the 3 discrete Sciences (Triple Science), Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Opting for triple Science would take up one option choice."
I believe this is a governement DofE rule.
They do use an option to teach it though and do not cram it into the same space as double science. They do 9 proper GCSEs initially (although some do BTEC or other qualifications if more appropriate), and then if GCSE C or above in maths, some do an extra maths qualification - statistics, additional maths, level 3 algebra or a financial option. Then they do a PE qualification (half GCSE or leadership cource) and an ICT OCR.

You are barking up the wrong tree! This doesn't come across as a firm decision from what you have written but as a clear shot across the bows. Your DS has been given a two week opportunity to prove himself and that's what you and he should focus on! He didnt react to the previous warning (the effort grade) and he's been given another oppportunity to knuckle down! Be grateful for it and seize it.

It's great he's so keen on science and engineering: tonight sit down with him and help him formulate a plan to convince them through hard work, commitment and diligence over the next two weeks that he will make the most of doing triple science. Eg does he need to ask to swap his lab partners? Is there any work he can do extra on? And as well talk to them about his ambitions, but mostly he needs to show not tell.

hellsbells99 Wed 06-Mar-13 10:11:36

Agree with what WorkingItOut says.
If you need to give school an extra push:
This link states on page 3:
"From September 2008 there will be a new non-statutory ‘entitlement’ to triple science teaching at GCSE for those who reach at least level 6 in science at Key Stage 3. This option will not be suitable for all pupils who attain level 6+ and it is important that pupils and their parents/carers are supported in making appropriate choices for pupils who would benefit from this opportunity.
In a number of schools, triple science is being delivered in ‘two Science GCSE's worth’ of time. Early evidence suggests that many pupils are finding this approach a less than satisfactory experience.

QuiteOldGal Wed 06-Mar-13 14:39:51

A friend of DS did triple science at her school was a level 6 something at year 9, unfortunately got 3 Cs then couldn't do any science A levels which she wanted to do. Perhaps if she had done double she would have maybe got 2 Bs and been able to do science A levels. I think she did regret not doing double as I think she was borderline for the triple, so you have to be careful.

hellsbells99 Wed 06-Mar-13 16:20:17

but at least if they find triple science hard, then they know they are not cut out for A level science. Alternatively if they do very well in 2 sciences and get 2 As/A*s and then a C in the 3rd one, then they could still take the 2 better subjects at A level.

CalamityJan Wed 06-Mar-13 16:48:38

The teacher said 'it's better he gets As or A in double science than does less well in 3'*

That is certainly true for the effect on the stats that a top league table comp will be chasing.

I do agree with ShipwreckedAndComatose, but whatever may or may not be the case in terms of Uni admission, some schools do make sure that students are steered towards the subjects that they will get top marks in for their own purposes.

If he actually wants to study triple science, and will galvanise himself, I would push for it. But talk through with him the implications of getting a less favourable grade.

SlowlorisIncognito Wed 06-Mar-13 17:45:32

I think the concerning thing to me would be the overall quite low number of GCSEs being taken. Getting 8 A*-C grades is probably the minimum benchmark a lot of universities who select/filter by GCSE go for. If he were to miss out on one C grade for whatever reason, only having 7 would really not look that great. Why does his school offer so few options? 10-11 GCSEs over two years or more over three is, I believe, more normal. Obviously 8 good GCSEs is much better than 10 weak ones, but when he applies to university if he is looking at the top of the league tables, he will be up against many with 10 or more strong GCSE grades. (From my experience of university admissions anyway).

However, the teacher has obviously used their professional judgement that your son might not cope with the triple science taught at a higher speed. His triple science grades would be compared with those who used an option block to take triple science.

I would, however, remind your son that there are a lot of different routes to uni, and nothing at all is set in stone at 13 by the GCSEs you take. Getting the best grades he can in maths and english will help, but honestly, post-18 there are routes he could take into an engineering degree, even without science A levels.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Wed 06-Mar-13 17:51:44

I do agree with ShipwreckedAndComatose, but whatever may or may not be the case in terms of Uni admission, some schools do make sure that students are steered towards the subjects that they will get top marks in for their own purposes.

I suppose I can't speak for other schools. But we don't. We really don't. We do what we believe is in the best interest of each individual student and their needs. It actually personally upsets me to hear people who don't know me suggest otherwise. I wouldn't be in teaching if I wasn't in it for the kids. sad

For the record. We offer triple to all students with a 6b or higher (as their KS3 score at the end of year 8). however, we run a three year KS4, starting in year 9, with more time to teach it and we review how students are coping and change courses for any who are finding the pace tough.

Abra1d Wed 06-Mar-13 18:34:23

I thought my friend was having me on when she said that KS2 results are used by state schools to predict GCSE results. I mean, seriously? Exams sat by children who may still be just ten are used to predict what they'll get in Maths when they're 15 or 16?

It's a big lie, then, isn't it, when they tell parents and children that SATs are just to see how the school's doing and don't have any implications for the children.

Abra1d Wed 06-Mar-13 18:36:18

Sorry, not suggesting that any teachers here are being dishonest in the way they present the importance of SATs to their pupils. Teachers on this thread seem very committed to the pupils.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Wed 06-Mar-13 18:51:46

How else do you think that OFSTED can make a judgement about how much progress pupils make through secondary school smile

CalamityJan Wed 06-Mar-13 19:35:01

Shipwrecked - I have no doubt of your personal credentials!

But I was told about the way some private schools (in the example told to me) steer pupils towards top results in that way by a teacher.

It's no more shocking than other little wheezes schools find to improve stats on our target driven education system.

I do believe and trust the hardworking and inspiring teachers I know to do the best by their students.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Wed 06-Mar-13 19:46:02

Thank you smile not only do I not do this, nor does our department and our school.

We are a state comprehensive and for several years now my Head has made it very clear to us staff that he makes option arrangement decisions based on what is best for our kids and not what's best for our standing in the league tables.

It's one of the reasons why I want to stay working there and also why my own kids will go there.

Erebus Wed 06-Mar-13 20:48:34

Ok, thanks everyone for all the input!

I want to respond to a few points: And sorry for the cut'n'paste quotes- we all know that on MN a response that starts with that leads to accusations of being ''vile' ('how very dare you!') etc etc- but I'm not doing that at all!

webwiz "I think you are running away with things a bit OP - if your DS does "double" science and gets two good grades, he can do science A levels"- no, only his Additional will count. The 'desirable' 6FC does not recognise Science A as indicated in the bit of their prospectus I typed out.

Lanie: "Is your ds considering Systems Control?"- yes, that is currently one of his choices (in 'Tech') but he is rethinking that right now as it is described as 'being particularly useful for a DC who wants to study science or engineering as a future direction'. Well, we now know that ain't DS, apparently, so maybe he should look at woodwork. Not taking the pee (this will be ideal for DC2!), but maybe we are completely missing the point- that we thought a highly probably 6H at the end of Y9 indicated a certain 'ability' in Science. Maybe Systems Control might be an Option squandered when not coupled with 'solid science'?

workingitout :"You are barking up the wrong tree! This doesn't come across as a firm decision from what you have written but as a clear shot across the bows. Your DS has been given a two week opportunity to prove himself and that's what you and he should focus on! He didnt react to the previous warning (the effort grade) and he's been given another oppportunity to knuckle down! Be grateful for it and seize it." - I would like to think so but they've had 2 1/2 years to appraise DS, haven't found him wanting til January 13 and have decided his fate. 2 more lessons isn't going to change anything- especially that it required DS, at parents evening, to suggest his last 2 poor experiment results in class were due to him working with 2 'somewhat less committed, bigger, more confident boys'.... now that teacher is going to move him, now she knows...

Many posters: " some schools do make sure that students are steered towards the subjects that they will get top marks in for their own purposes." Yes, and yes again. I am under no illusions. Thornden know DS could do really rather well in double science (though maybe won't with the 'fail' label sitting on him!') but maybe, just maybe be less of a 'cert' in triple. Hence double. You don't advertise stellar results like theirs without some manipulating. I do get some will say- 'Well, if your DS crumbles at this hurdle, he isn't Science degree material, is he?' (as long as you're not GS supporters too, happy to see a DC consigned to 'failure' across the educational board at 10..! grin that's OK)- but he's 13, not the most mature, the smallest in his year and on course for 6H at the end of Y9. He knows he's goofed but the school did nothing with them in Y8, out of 15 homework slots a week, he may have received 2 (the HoY told the DC he's spoken strongly to their teachers!), all very cruisey- now, suddenly, it's "Oooh! fail"..confused

I am, however, heartened by the number of teachers who champion the DC's interests, not the school's!

Erebus Wed 06-Mar-13 20:54:42

Oh, I'd also like to respond the the idea that it's silly of us to believe you can't do Science 'A' level after double. I recognise that you can but that we have first hand evidence and a lot of anecdotal evidence that a double science pupil just does not have the depth of knowledge to study science A level, after double. They just have never been told stuff, shown stuff. Hence the DC I know personally (DC of friends) who dropped their Science A after AS as they were struggling too much.

nextphase Wed 06-Mar-13 21:11:10


What science A'levels would he be looking at?

If just one, would he have the dedication to self study the module at home to keep him up to speed with the Alevel requirements? (So the P3 or C3 module identified somewhere above)

And is there a good, but not quite so desirable sixthform who would take double science to Alevel?

What sort of engineering is he interested in? Someone mentioned above that jobs are scarce, but DH (chemical engineer) is getting calls moth months fro head hunters looking to fill posts, so not everything is in decline.

NewFerry Wed 06-Mar-13 21:17:37

Erebus, I think thus thread took on a life of its own while you were at work!

Did you see the comments from several posters re the entitlement to take triple science if you're a level 6. It really is worth talking to the school before dismissing your DS hopes.

Erebus Wed 06-Mar-13 21:40:50

Newferry- yes, I did see that (the remarks about a DC getting level 6 in Y9).

I readily confess some cowardice: I am a bit worried about appearing combative in the first instance. I also 'fear' their possible animosity towards my DS should we force them into allowing him to do triple.

We are as suggested by the receptionist... emailing the school's Head of Science to request a meeting asap. My hope is that:

a) either our bluff has been called and we've responded: they suggest double to a certain group of DC and see which parents make a fuss- they then get triple, or
b) They can detail, forensically, why double science will be of benefit to DS and how his steady upward performance toward the upper end of what the bulk of their (really rather able) DC should achieve at the end of Y9 has lead them to believe he should be doing double, not triple science.

And again, thank you to everyone for their useful and constructive remarks.

Erebus Wed 06-Mar-13 21:45:03

next- ahem- I don't know! I'd say Physics and/or Chemistry 'A' level.

Yes, I believe we could tutor him to the level required but I'm not sure that he's being denied the opportunity for the school to do that, in-hours, for the wrong reasons, i.e. they can't be sure he'll get the A-A* in triple they want for their league tables; whereas a 33% reduction in workload almost certainly would guarantee them an A-A* in double.

senua Wed 06-Mar-13 22:05:39

Sorry, but I'm with workingitout. It's your job as parent to fight his corner for him. If you don't then no-one else will.

Copthallresident Wed 06-Mar-13 22:46:00

Erebus To be fair to the school I would agree with an earlier poster that the jump between double science and triple science is between layman's Science and staring to get into Scientific concepts. DD2 is not in any shape or form a Scientist but she actually did better in double Science than she did in her best subject, English Lit which she hopes to study at uni (though Gove may have had a role but lets not go there hmm.) If you looked at her GCSE results you would be pushing her into Science, Maths and RMT grin, but that is most definitely not where her talents, or motivation, lie, indeed on coursework and practical marks for her STEM subjects, things were not looking good. She is quite clear that her success was down to practise in the case of Maths and learning long lists of required knowledge for Science, nothing to do with any real interest or aptitude for the subject. It was what DD1 had missed in the modules required for triple Science that were relevant and needed for the A levels. So regardless of the schools rather unhelpful mechanistic judging of your son via levels you do have to understand if he actually, peer pressure from bigger boys apart, has the motivation and talent to enjoy triple Science, and then Science A levels. I would have thought that if your earlier comment about Science being his thing was rooted in his evident enthusiasm and aptitude, rather than your hopes, then you should fight his corner. Even if you lose he will still be able to prove his aptitude at A level or via other pathways.

Totally agree with the poster who talked about different pathways into engineering. DB severely dyslexic but did OND and HND and degree on day release and now Head of Engineering for Europe wide company, he certainly looks out for talent to develop along similar pathways.

If there is an A level which will trip up even those with talent and motivation it is Chemistry, as DD says if you don't have that sort of brain you just will never get it. I know DCs accepted for medicine tripped up by Chemistry.

Erebus Wed 06-Mar-13 22:57:17

A quickie (bedtime!)- do OND's and HND's as a nationally recognised and widely available route into Science as a career still exist?

Serious question.

Copthallresident Wed 06-Mar-13 23:03:30

Short answer, probably not! Someone always has to reinvent the wheel but he definitely sends off apprentices to study something, BTECs? DN also en route via apprenticeship.

NewFerry Thu 07-Mar-13 06:49:21

There is a 2 year btec Level 3 diploma in engineering, or 2 year level 3 diploma in applied science. Wiltshire college offer both.

nextphase Thu 07-Mar-13 07:04:38

We take on quite a few people to work in the labs who have sciency / maths based A levels, and will sponsor through day release for Chemistry at the local uni, or Open Uni if they have the aptitude.
We would be expecting Chem A'level tho.

In days gone by, we took them on with GCSE's, as a modern apprentice.

Consider the Navy / Army for Engineering training.

Bloke across the road got a practical college course for engineering, but it sounds like technical plumbing, rather than actually designing the plumbing, iyswim?

Abra1d Thu 07-Mar-13 12:43:58

'If there is an A level which will trip up even those with talent and motivation it is Chemistry, as DD says if you don't have that sort of brain you just will never get I know DCs accepted for medicine tripped up by Chemistry.'

Chemistry is the devil's work, that's why. wink

mam29 Thu 07-Mar-13 13:45:53

Interestingly was debate on double v triple science on wright stuff c5 today and on panel was ladies from tommorow world and ex secondry teacher who both agreed triple was better.

I dont see why they couldent be taught and taken as seperate subjects as I detested physics but dident mind chemistry and biology why not let pupils decide when they do options.

reason for it they said was school xmas league tables

Most private schools and all scottish seniors taught all 3 so rather puts welsh/english and ni kidsat disadvantage when comes to applying for science at uni.

Startail Thu 07-Mar-13 15:24:22

DD1 has just rang to say she got A* in her core science paper. She still has some course work stuff to complete and so doesn't know her final grade.

She's over the moon, she missed A* in her mock by about 2 marks. this time she got 99% in one paper.

So much for the <insert favorite swear word> HOD saying she wouldn't cope with triple.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Thu 07-Mar-13 17:22:44

I dont see why they couldent be taught and taken as seperate subjects as I detested physics but dident mind chemistry and biology why not let pupils decide when they do options.

It's a historical thing. back in the late eighties, when the conservatives brought in the National Curriculum, one of the things they wanted to do was prevent students specialising too early and to have a decent grounding in all sciences. so they specified that all sciences needed to be studied.

It will be interesting to see if that ideal remains in the future, but that's why it's this way at present.

lljkk Thu 07-Mar-13 17:52:03

DH likes to brag how he got top marks in all GCSEs & A-levels (math & physics & DT). He conveniently omits the Chem A-level he dropped, devil's work indeed.

Still looking to see if anyone answered my Q.

iseenodust Thu 07-Mar-13 18:05:40

I know a lad who has just been offered BBB for an engineering degree course. The original offer was higher but they held an assessment/aptitude day and his offer came down after doing well on that. He is doing maths, physics & a non-science subject.

lljkk Thu 07-Mar-13 18:08:05

Just remember science teacher at DS school saying she had 35 in her top 2 sets combined, I had the impression they were only children doing the triple. So that would be 22% of the cohort.

this is bit out of date, but reported 16% of pupils completing triple in 2010.

More recent figures but I honestly can't make sense of them.

Erebus Thu 07-Mar-13 19:43:44

Thanks for the Wright Stuff debate link.

The more I think about it the more cross I am, tbh.

I completely understand why people tell me about BTecs and ONDs etc, of alternative routes into science- but I am increasingly thinking that DS is being short-changed, imho, based on having science O levels and a B.Sc myself, and DH having 3 science degrees. We 'get' science. We see DS as being clever in the big picture. As already mentioned he scored 5s in all his KS2 SATS; his progress across all of his subjects has been good; he should be on course for a 6H by the end of Y9 in science, bearing in mind the high-achieving school's own reckoning states 'a few students may be working at level 7 at the end of Y9' out of 270 of them!

I am increasingly believing they are, like another poster here has said, correctly expecting DS will get the A or A* in double that will boost their league table position rather than 'punt' on AAB or <gasp> ABB at triple which muddies those waters.

He needs to be doing triple.

For the recors, I have a second DS who is squarely in double science territory. He will make a great apprentice and tradesman and will do well and be happy with that. So I am not delusional and thinking 'my pfb is G&T and why won't the horrid school see that?'

Erebus Thu 07-Mar-13 19:44:26

The Wright Stuff thinks 30% of pupils do triple science, for the record.

At ds's school (large but good state comp) the top 20% do triple science.

Meant to add, OP, I am not sure how the 6H your ds's school gives translates into NC levels?
At ds's school (as I mentioned above) the top 20% do triple science. The current 20% are the top science set. I believe (although I have not seen every pupils' mark) that this group are on level 7C / 7bB / 7A according to what the department head for science told us at parent's evening last month. Ds had a level 7B for Science on his Christmas progress report and according to said head of department (who is also ds's science teacher) that is just below the average for the top set. His end of year target is an 8C.
If 6H equates to a 6A then this strikes me as a little low? And perhaps the school do have your son's best interests at heart rather than their league tables? Forgive me if the levels are completely different though and are not comparable.

Sorry, also meant to add, DS is currently in Y9 and the levels I am referring to are for the top set in Y9 at his school.

Gah, not being very clear and coherent tonight...

Erebus Thu 07-Mar-13 20:48:34

6H is a NC level, numbernine- 6 high, or 6.8 (which is what they also refer to it as). An exception few, apparently, get a 7 in science at the end of Y9, and they are clever DC, several having gained Maths A levels at 14!

The school is the top academically performing comp in Hampshire, They get 92% DC 5 GCSEs inc Maths and English; 58% Eng Bacc (as is!). I am not trying to boast, believe me (as we are falling foul of 'success at all costs', aren't we?!), merely contextualising their expected levels.

88 DC took and 86 passed triple science last year, out of 270, which is about a third.

Mmm, seems a bit low compared to ds's school, unless they (ds's school) are fibbing about ds's and his classmates results?
And ds's school is an average comp. (66% A*-C incl English and Maths were last year's results)

But talk to them. They should give him a chance to prove himself.

One of ds's friends is in set 3 for Science and is currently working at a 6C. (I am friends with her parents, they told me her level as they are having the same battle with the school you are) She has been told she cannot do triple science unless her parents are willing to pay for the Further Additional. They don't want to pay (although they will if they have to) but they want their dd to have a chance to prove herself.
That said, ds's school determine the top 20% based on the results at the end of Y10. So just because ds is currently in the top 20% and working at 7B does not guarantee he will still be in the top 20% at the end of Y10. And likewise, his friend who currently would not be put in for triple may well by the end of Y10 have worked her way into the top 20%)
Seems a fairer way of doing it?

I agree with you that it is unfair your ds is 'written off' for triple science so early.

Talk to them, fight his corner (nicely). Good luck flowers

ShipwreckedAndComatose Thu 07-Mar-13 20:59:49

I am surprised if you are saying that an exception few get a level 7 at the end of year 9.

That would not fit with my understanding of a high performing comp tbh.

Have you spoken with the school yet about your concerns? What have they said?

Sorry, the 'nicely' came out all wrong. I don't mean you won't be nice, I was meaning it in the context of your earlier post about not wanting to be one of those parents who gets the school's back up.

Am really not very coherent tonight, it has been a long week...

BCBG Thu 07-Mar-13 21:16:10

Erebus - One of my DS did dual award (was very upset at the time he was told, like your DS), because his Physics in Yr 8 was under performing). He then went on to study Physics, Chemistry, Geology and Economics at A level and then Environmental Geosciences at Durham. Thirteen year old boys often need a kick and there is no way your son should feel he needs to rethink engineering at this stage unless his maths is also below expectations. I would speak to the HOD if you feel he is serious enough to do the work at this stage. If he isn't mature enough then he can still opt to do the work at A level, despite the fact that some of the GCSE triple syllabus won't have been covered before sixth form - that was not unusual in pupils opting for science A's in my Dc's leading independent school. If you are looking at transferring for sixth form then I would also speak to the admissions tutor at that college. Oh and don't let him feel the world has ended, it hasn't, and stuff like this will happen again and again. A close friend of mine who missed his Cambridge medicine place because he shocked everyone by bombing one of his science A levels then went elsewhere to read biology and is now a world-renowned Professor of Applied Biology. Stuff happens.

shipwrecked, that is what I was (badly) trying to say. Ds is currently 7B, target 8C. This is top set Y9 Science at an average comp.
And ds's current 7B is "slightly below average for the top set" according to Science HOD (ds's teacher)

Erebus, talk to the school about your concerns.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Thu 07-Mar-13 21:21:47

Yeah, we typically have two set one classes who all work at level 7C and up.

We are a high performing comp but not the highest on the area.

And wise words from BCGB, his future in engineering at uni has in no way ended. He just needs to work a bit harder, with the support of the school, or find an alternative route to uni.
There is more than one way to skin a cat as my old neighbour would say grin
I spoke to our local highest performing 6th form college about the entry requirements for Science A level and the need for triple science. They said it would be preferable but A*/A at double is perfectly good enough providing the other GCSE's are of a good standard too. So by doing double the step up to A level may be a bit bigger for your ds but remember he will have grown / matured / developed in the interim too and may well be in a better place to learn. Learning is not linear but goes in fits and starts, your ds may well make great strides in the next few years whereas my ds may slump. And they will then eventually meet at uni studying engineering grin each having got there their own way!

chicaguapa Thu 07-Mar-13 21:27:56

I am increasingly believing they are, like another poster here has said, correctly expecting DS will get the A or A in double that will boost their league table position rather than 'punt' on AAB or <gasp> ABB at triple which muddies those waters.*

The thing is Erebus that you moved into catchment because you valued its position on the league table. And haven't other people said that A/A* in double has a higher value to your DS than AAB or ABB in triple?

You would need to consider whether achieving AAB or ABB in triple would instead demonstrate that your DS wasn't capable of getting AAA. And that in having been put forward for triple by his school (instead of double) and by implication being a dead cert to get AAA to protect their position on the league table, would mean he'd actually failed to be one of the highest science achievers as expected.

Have you spoken to the school yet? As the feedback I gave you was that you should speak to them and that doing triple isn't just about capability but attitude too.

The DC put forward for triple haven't been distracted by lab partners or ignored a 2 for effort in their report. What has set them apart and shown the teachers that they're able to do triple is their attitude in Y9. Not one single DC who has a problem with 'in class' attitude in Y9 has managed triple science. They've all dropped back to double in Y11 as they've not been able to sustain the level of real commitment required to do well in triple. It's not simply about academic ability.

This is the view of the department whose eye is not on the league tables but genuinely on wanting the DC to get the best results they can get realistically get. But they will be happy to speak to you about it if you contact them and would even be prepared to change their mind if you genuinely feel your DS is capable of improving his attitude and commitment for the next 2 years.

Because at the moment he has been given 2 weeks to improve and he's already thinking it's all over. That doesn't evidence a DC who's prepared to really really put in the extra work to do better in triple than he would have in double.

Erebus Thu 07-Mar-13 21:56:02

Thanks, all.

Thing is, there's no 'fall back' to dual/double in Y11 available to DS. As of this Sept, for him it's double or triple. The twain don't meet. There is no 'Further Additional' to make up the 3 as the 3 are Physics GCSE, Chem GCSE, and Bio GCSE (dual is 'Science A' and 'Additional'.) He got one single '2' for effort in the last 2 1/2 years at school among a sea of 1s. Yes, he is currently a bit immature for his age, but he's well-behaved and doing well: the other teachers at parents eve all spoke of being 'on target', even 'a joy to teach', 'quiet but thoughtful'- not a wild larrikin! Far from it. And they all spoke of him being on target for good GCSE results. But he is the smallest boy in Y9 with slightly fragile friendship groups. He is absolutely not going to discipline his science Experiment Group in lesson! Which appearsto be why he'll be placed in 'the top set of double'....

Behind - I guess what our schools call each level is a red herring, isn't it? I did say that this school expect 'the majority of Y9 pupils to be working between 5.8 and 6.8 by the end of the year with some exceptional pupils at 7'. These 'exceptional' pupils are doing statistics GCSEs in Y10, some even have Maths A levels. These are clever DC (which is a thing that's catching DS1 out a bit, I believe! The 'competition'). I am not, as I said earlier, boasting, I am stating the facts. The externally marked national exams put 92% of DC as having passed 5 GCSEs in Eng & Maths. It is the top performing comp in the county, academically. So their '6's and '7's at the end of Y9 are possibly not to be seen as 'a bit low', really, are they?!

I said earlier that there's be the thought that his defeatism (there goes Engineering as my future!) might be seen as demonstrating insufficient mettle for 3 science GCSEs- but, really, we are talking a 13 year old who lacks confidence. Two weeks, in 2 1/2 years 'to show commitment' is nothing (esp as he has a supply teacher today for science...). No, I am increasingly thinking that of course DS's intellect and ability puts him in the 'top' 30% of people, capable of triple science (god knows, I did 3 GCEs in science and I'm not clever!)- it's just that school wants his 'certain' double science triumph on the league tables, not risk his triple 'nearlies'.

A final point, as already stated: Yes, of course double science DC can do A level BUT it is not reasonable to compare the ability of a double science success who had no triple option at their school with one who failed to get on the triple program; and yes, as already stated, we know many DC who did double and had to drop their science A level after AS as the knowledge gap was too big to bridge.

We have emailed the school requesting a meeting and wait a response!

Erebus, they strike me as low purely when compared to other state schools who expect top set science pupils to start year 9 on 7C as mentioned both by myself and shipwrecked.
I am not for a minute doubting these are not intelligent kids, but low level 6 with only a few expected to reach level 7 by the end of Y9 strikes me as low for top set. Especially for a school with a 92% GCSE A* - C rate. Hence my question regarding the NC levels as I was not sure you were talking about a different marking / levelling system.
I am merely stating that something does not appear to add up. What that is I don't know.
I am also not for one minute suggesting that you are boasting, far from it.

BooksandaCuppa Thu 07-Mar-13 22:06:48

I think the Fischer Family Trust data requires a level 7 to be on course for A/A*, doesn't it? And a level 6 predicts a grade B.

I don't doubt everything you say about your school's GCSE results, OP, but their quantity of level 7s in year 9 does seem low (if you have the correct information), compared to what I know of some of our local schools, and previous posters have said. Is there any chance that you've misunderstood some of the data (KS3 not KS4)?

I agree with you, though, that doing double science at a school that offers triple looks worse on paper for sixth form entry, so I don't suppose there's much help in many of us telling you anecdotally how some of our local schools only offer double to everyone and they still get fab science results at A level and top Uni offers?

Erebus Thu 07-Mar-13 22:06:57

Q:"The thing is Erebus that you moved into catchment because you valued its position on the league table"- no, after visiting 5 possible comps when DS1 was in Y4 (!), we moved into this catchment because of DS 2. We have had every indication to date, up to the science GCSE option bombshell, that DS1 would be 'OK' in any reasonable school. He would be in the upper sets, where the better disciplined and more able tend to reside; schools where there is a recognition at about 12 or 13 that arsing about in class is only actually damaging your own future. That those people teaching at the front of the class are your passport to a choice-filled future. I recall clearly that 'awakening' in my own GS in Y9 for the less perceptive, earlier for the more switched-on. Note DS1 doesn't 'arse around'.

DS2 is less able. Quiet, well behaved, but a C grade student- so we picked a school that appeared to do well by all its ability groups, where the 'able but badly behaved' are made to knuckle down via a process of very close parental involvement, monitoring, contact, discipline etc etc. The lower sets contain lesser ability DC, not the 'clever but ill-disciplined', determined to ruin it for everyone types; there are no chairs whistling around the classroom, no 'couldn't hear the teacher above the din' classes.

Erebus Thu 07-Mar-13 22:09:31

this school's expected levels at the end of Y9

I can only go on this- and that 92% of DC get 5 GCSEs inc Maths and English, 58% Eng Bacc.

92% of pupils get GCSEs including maths and English. Do they pass them or do they get between A* - C grade which is what league tables go on?

Also, that doc you linked to is a bit wooly and vague to my mind and does not give you much to go on.
However, a massive red flag to me is that level 8 is no longer available in Y9. Why?? Surely if a top set science pupil is working at a 7, and in line for statistics in Y10 as well as doing maths A levels at age 14 they should be able to sit the test for subsequently reach level 8 in science? Ds's target for the end of Y9 is 8C (8 low in your school's language) and some of his much brighter class mates are on target for 8B and above by the end of the year 9.

Erebus Thu 07-Mar-13 22:16:49

In 2012,
92% of DC who took GCSE Physics got A-A*
99% in Chem got A-A*
94% in Bio got A-A*

I guess they don't want DS1 to sully those results with a B, do they?!

BooksandaCuppa Thu 07-Mar-13 22:18:33

Officially level 8 only exists in maths, doesn't it? But I know in my school they are regularly given out (where deserved obviously) in English and science too (eg the whole top set - a quarter of the cohort - will be level 8 in English by the mid/end of yr 9).

Erebus Thu 07-Mar-13 22:20:41

I think the school have made quite a deal about how science testing has been 'reorganised' for the cohort currently in Y9, which might be why they aren't measuring level 8? We were warned in Y8, in a letter accompanying a report, that one's DC may not show the same linear progress in 'this' report in science as previously because the government had introduced new testing criteria, and the school were measuring the DC against the 'new' requirements' (stuff about analytical ability superseding 'retention/recall'?).

Erebus Thu 07-Mar-13 22:21:02

Books- that might explain it! The level 8 thing.

BooksandaCuppa Thu 07-Mar-13 22:23:29

I think that you have to get it clear in your mind what you're asking for out of a meeting - no point in us telling you how many level 7 and 8 scientists we know in yr 9.

You need honesty from the school as to what actual GCSE grades they see him attaining were he to take triple as opposed to double and how close he is to being one of those allowed to take triple - ie if they've only 60 spaces, how far off that cut-off point is he?

Fair point about the level 8 thing in Science.

As for the rest. I simply don't know. I don't know if the school genuinly have your ds's best interests at heart or if they are protecting their league table.

I personally feel that if your ds is on a 6 low, and that 6 low is comparable to NC levels then in ds's school (which is lower performing than yours) he would not be in the top 20% on course for triple science. This leads me to think it is a level / attainment / effort related decision rather than a high performing school wanting to protect their good results.

But no one will be any the wiser until you speak to the school. And if your ds has to take a different route, then that is bad luck but not the end of the world. There are more 6th form colleges rather than the one you have your heart set on. It does not mean his dream of science / engineering has finished.

Delayingtactic Thu 07-Mar-13 22:38:25

Ok I don't understand entirely the whole new GCSE structure thing but I just wanted to let you know that I managed to do A-levels in chem and biology with dual science (and on to medicine after that). My friends who did engineering did ok in GCSE and A-levels - what is more important in engineering is maths (and further maths, or its equivalent). It can be done, maybe not at the college where he had his heart set on, but if engineering is really what he wants to do, other colleges are accepted.

Erebus Thu 07-Mar-13 22:40:06

Books- no, I was a bit surprised at how many times I've had to explain why I am increasingly thinking the school don't want DS1 to do triple because they know he will do very well in double and not risk sullying high results in triple. I did get a bit sidetracked by those who maybe thought either I was being deceived by the schools levels (6-7s) or that the GCSE results weren't actually that good. I didn't want to come right out and say 'Because my DS's school is, for a comp, bloody amazing. Just look at these stellar results!' (though I was kind of backed into stating the actual results!)- as that isn't the point.

What I want out of a meeting is for them to explain to me why they think double is better for DS1 than triple; how they think that will help him towards getting into engineering (bearing in mind, they're the schools with career links in Y8 onwards, who encourage 'direction' in their youngsters!); why science is the only subject he's falling over in; how low marks in Experiments done with other DSs impacts so negatively on his perceived ability, how a 6 medium now may not segue into a 6 high come July, which, by their own criteria, doesn't shout 'slacker'!

Erebus Thu 07-Mar-13 22:42:23

A quick aside- He doesn't have his heart set on any particular 6FM (it's his decision, not mine! I cited the one the vast majority of his school's Y11's end up at)- the biggie is how bridgeable is the gap between double science and A level science??

Sorry, thought you (or he) had a specific 6th form in mind. My misunderstanding. (ds and I do have a favourite in mind hence why I had assumed... arf, not coherent again)

Whilst your school's results are very very good, perhaps your ds is one of those who, whilst very able and higher than average, has not quite got what it takes to do triple science.
And perhaps the school is worried that if he was put on triple science some of his other subjects may suffer.
Whether they have that concern for your son or for the league table, only you can judge that as only you know the school and have a feel for it's ethos and values.
I know that at ds's school they would have the best interest of the pupil in mind. And therefore they are always willing to talk to parents and listen to them and the pupil and work together to achieve the best outcome.

I hope you get to the bottom of this and have a good and satisfactory meeting with the school.

Oh, just remembered. It was explained to me that Further Additional Science (the third in the triple) is a half-way house between GCSE and AS level. Not sure if I understood it correctly but I got the feeling that if ds did Further Additional he would then be repeating some of the work at AS level.

Speak to the 6th form in question. Because if your ds is literally the 61st on the list and only 60 can do triple then he should be able to bridge the gap easily. And the 6th form should still accept him especially in light of his great maths!

BooksandaCuppa Thu 07-Mar-13 22:52:55

Well as I said, a couple of our local 'outstanding' comps with good GCSE results - not as good as yours - but still a little above average and with amazing value added, don't offer triple at all - and they still achieve excellent science A level results (my neighbour's son got 4 As at A level in maths and sciences) and excellent uni offers.

chicaguapa Thu 07-Mar-13 23:23:54

And they all spoke of him being on target for good GCSE results. A/A* in double science is a good result.

I know which school you're taking about and your mention of PS up thread will enable anyone else to work out which one it is. This isn't the best way to go about it tbh. I would personally take it offline now before you make more accusations about the school's agenda. You should speak (not email) the teacher and discuss this with her.

I know you feel disappointed for your DS and that the teacher doesn't think he's triple science material. But teachers cannot do much more than keep telling the DC that they are damaging their GCSE potential with their 'in class' attitude. Whether DC in Y9 are all capable of realising that at their age is moot as it's not the school's decision to get DC to choose their options in Y9. Be grateful that the school is confident enough about the DC's ability to get good results over 2 years and doesn't spread it out over 3 like many comps by making them choose their options in Y8.

Level 6L/6H in Y9 is set 2 and not definite triple science material, especially when the DC isn't always trying his hardest in class. DH pulls his hair out at some of those DC (& parents) who think that simply being in the best comp in the county is going to be enough. But saying nothing to the teacher at the parents evening and then making these kinds of comments on the internet isn't on really. You really need to speak to her, without telling them that you think they're just protecting their position on the league table. wink

mam29 Thu 07-Mar-13 23:44:32

Erebus-just wanted to say good look with meeting you sound like fab parent and you considered so many factors in picking schools,your sons academic performance sounds good and your reason for wanting to do triple is logical one based on sons career hopes.

Is the school selective entry academy at year 7? or just normal la comp?

Does it have wide group of kids ie affluent and fsm?

Im in two minds about league tables as as parent its good to know but think sometimes makes schools limit opportunities for kids and in some cases too early.

My eldest is only 7 so i early stages of nc and it worries me how schools think kids will mature like robots and follow linear line so level 3 at means level 5 in year 6 and only some primaries will offer level 6 then thats used to determine what pass rate and set they will be at gsce.

I dident realise at secondary that they outlined the nc levels so clearly as cant remember that being the case when i was in school In the 90s.

I went to 1large comp only one in rural marley town the and the middle to bottom groups were filled with poor displine behaviour problems and that impacted on how I did in some of my gcses.

A large proportion of my year did single award science.

if he doesnt do triple can he do extra gcse as whenever i see gsce results day im amazed how many gcses some kids do as think i sat 8. The lower english groups also lot out on english lit.

The top groups modern languages got to do 2nd language but that was in year 8 and 8 not gcse we just had core

english-worth 2 if in top group only in bottom.
science-max we could do was double

so 5gcses if triple then that gives him 6.

then 4options

I picked geography-wish I hadent would have been better off with art.

history-loved it my best subject.

business studies

french-god had to think for ages just now what 4th one was, teacher was dire predicted me an e wrote me off gout tutor and scraped a c.

My old school only cared about thet very top the middle coasted and the bottoms.

The year after me in wales had to do welsh gcse as well.

My step son very troubled, low acheiver on 2nd school.

hes in year 10 now an his options are

single award science
btec hospitality-suppost to be equivilant to 4gcses.
maths-foundation-think higest grade is a d or c.

I imagine some of his choices manipulate the league tables.
He does not even want to go into hospitality so god knows why hes picked that.

I always did think triple in england and wales was quite rare in state sector non selectives at least.

The more I hear about scotlands education system but the more sensible it sounds.

I worry so much about schools as think they make some wrong had this recently as dd passed the phonics test year 1 so wasent eligible for any additional reading help.

I also think its important to note that top set 1 school maybe very diffrerent ability to top set in next town over.

Coconutty Fri 08-Mar-13 06:34:37

If you think he is going to be getting a B in English and humanities and a C in MFL then I would not push for the triple science and would rather he concentrated on trying to get these higher.

DS was offered triple but we turned it down as I would rather he got higher grades across the board and had more time to put into other subjects.

I was told that an A/A* in double was better than 3xB s

wordfactory Fri 08-Mar-13 08:47:25

Good luck OP.
I think you need to get to the bottom of whether the school thinks he really is not capable or whether they are being entirely too cautious and protectionist of their precious league table results.

If it's the former, then there you are. If it's the later, then bugger that.

But if you win this argument you really must impress upon your DS that he must knuckle down hugely. This actually might be easier in the triple set, as everyone who isn't bothered about science will be put in double!!!!

OneMoreMum Fri 08-Mar-13 09:37:53

Slightly different perspective, my DS2, who sounds a lot like the OPs DS2, was originally sent the non-Ebacc options form (see my previous frantic post) with no language option. I was determined that he would do a language and not the basic skills cert thing they put him down for and arranged a meeting ready to go in with all guns blazing.

Got to the meeting, was told that another child who had been put down for the Ebacc didn't want to do it, they could just swap them around with no timetabling issues, job done, no fight required....

It could be timetabling as much as anything else, ie sets 1 and 2 do triple, sets 3 and 4 double, 5 and 6 Btec, timetables all sorted. Those on the border may wish to move up or down on those boundaries, for example some of those automatically pegged by the school to do triple may be more into the arts and not want the stress, if a few of them request double, that could leave some spaces in the triple? Try not to go on the attack until you're sure you need to...

lainiekazan Fri 08-Mar-13 11:07:42

As someone suggested up thread, consider getting a tutor - if the school agrees to the Triple Science. Don't think you can do it yourself. Unless your ds is very pliable it's a road to giant rows. If I try to "assist" ds with any homework, he roars and bellows like an irate, cornered bison, even though I am bursting to unleash my knowledge of WWII or Othello etc etc on him.

Although it is good to stretch oneself, it is also important not to bite off more than one can chew. Some of ds's friends elected to do a large number of GCSEs: Triple Science, Statistics, twilight subjects - and now one or two are regretting it. Ds says Stats is time-consuming and much harder than he though it would be. We seriously considered asking the school if he could quit as it was upsetting him quite a bit that his classmates were streaking ahead of him, but he is soldiering on - with additional help from the teacher. With hindsight, though, he wouldn't have gone for it.

ClayDavis Sat 09-Mar-13 01:49:07

As a PP said your son's current levels would suggest B/B at double not A* or A. The reason the guidance suggests that pupils working at level 6 should be offered triple science is because they stand a chance of getting CCC. Many will but plenty won't.

In your situation I think I'd opt for the double and get him to pull his finger out to improve his grades to A* or A. Getting CCC or CCD at GCSE really will end his chances of studying sciences at A-level and further. A good or excellent grade at double will give him much wider options.

Also, are you sure he is on course for 6A at the end of year 9? If he was 6c at Christmas and is just 6b now there's a good chance that he could still be 6B at the end of the year even making good progress.

Erebus Sat 09-Mar-13 09:51:22

Thanks to everyone for their input. Sorry I didn't get straight back- work is so busy it's almost funny- how come if I work 24 hours a week I've just put in 42 1/2? Discuss. And show your workings.

Sadly, DH didn't get a response from the person the receptionist told him to email to a arrange a meeting, done on Thursday. I know this can be an ishoo at the school- there is a bit of disconnect between the level of access you can get going through the proper, 'phone the school' channel (often an answering machine!) and the letter direct to a teacher where the teacher almost always sends you their direct email address!

So DH and I are going to write a joint letter over the weekend to his teacher (whom we saw at parents eve) and his other teacher who is apparently Head of Science.

We are going to outline why DS wants to do triple, why we believe it'll be useful to him, that we recognise he's got to knuckle down (bearing in mind this 'shock' might be a catalyst!), and expressing our concerns that the gap between double and A level might be unbridgeable, which is what we've been told by quite a few people; then ask them to tell us whether this changes anything, and maybe to detail, should they refuse to reconsider, why they think he shouldn't be doing triple.

Time is more of the essence now as the options need to be in on Friday and his other options are based on his desire to pursue science/engineering, including wanting to do Computer Science (booklet states 'only some DC can do this due to time constraints'- the alternatives being a sort of vocational IT course, which we saw as being aimed at apprentices, or CIDA, certificate in digital applications which seems to be a harder course aimed at the more techy-creative, web page designer DC, ie not DS!).

If they're offering double science and vocational IT to DS- which was an idea I hadn't even entertained til last Tuesday- thinking that DS's to-date performance in school, being in top or second groups of 5 or 6 (where they do set); on-course for an A in maths, A's in English, B or C in MFL, etc actually rates him as Technical College/apprenticeship material- maybe he should ditch electronics in favour of wood-tech.

I am not disrespecting vocational education- as already stated, that's precisely where DS2 is happily heading- it's just that I thought all the indicators to date suggested DS1 was heading for something more academic, maybe even uni, but maybe I am wrong.

BooksandaCuppa Sat 09-Mar-13 10:37:21

You are in danger in being a little dramatic, now, OP. A pair or As or even Bs in science does not consign ds to technical college/apprenticeship/vocational educational, not by a long shot.

There are a range of Universities with a range of entry criteria and not taking triple science is not going to preclude him from going to one of them.

I don't think you really have taken on board the various comments about how double science can easily lead onto science A levels OR the comments upthread (and ClayDavis' recent one) suggesting that his current levels are not massively high (no disrepect, and I hadn't posted this earlier - but all of my ds's top set are level 6c plus in year 7) OR the comments on how maths is the crucial A level (probably together with physics).

Good luck anyway.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 09-Mar-13 10:56:46


I am not entirely sure why you came on here to ask for advice if you had already made you mind up as to the value of double award.

Good luck with the school. but if, as I suspect, they stand by their decision, please do remember that double award doesn't prevent students doing A level sciences..... only students themselves do that.

I don't understand why you are being so black and white about it. It apears that you think triple science = university, double science = vocational courses.
Many of us have told you it is perfectly possible to go on to A levels and university with double science. But you seem to not accep this?
Why are you so set on triple? Higher marks in double science will be just as useful to your ds.
There are not just high achievers and low achievers, there are many many many levels of achievement inbetween, many of whom can go to university.

I fear that if you push for your ds to do triple science, he will struggle and perhaps resent you for the pressure you are putting him under.
Yes, he wants to do it, but is he really capable?
How will he feel at the end of Y11 when results are in and he has mediocre marks across ALL his gcse's because he had to try to do triple science?

If it was my ds I would let him do double and ensure he also gets a very good mark in his English, Maths, MFL and humanity.

Also, you talk of your ds's dream of Science or Engineering at university. Notice the OR. He does not yet know for definite what he wants to do. Not many 13 year olds know for certain what they want to do. Ds and his friends all seem to change their minds every few weeks! Ds has swung from thinking he wants to do dentistry at uni, to human biology, to archeology, to aerodynamics and is now back at dentistry. I am certain it will change many more times in the next few years!
For this reason we are ensuring he has selected a broad range of GCSE's including double humanity.
If he gets to the end of Y10 and has not made the grade for triple science I shall not worry. As long as he comes out with a good set of GCSE's with good results I shall be happy. I am not pinning my hopes on purely Science for him.

Also, someone (it may even have been on MN) told me that with maths and science, no matter how good you are early on in your schooling, there is a natural ceiling that you reach and then you can go no further. That ceiling is higher and more advanced for some, and lower for others. If your ds is not top set triple science material now, how likely is it that his natural ceiling is beyond university level?

I understand from your posts that you and your family had thought that ds's academic future in Science was 'set' and 'sorted'. I understand it is a shock to find out it is not. But there are so many things your ds can do. Instead of pushing for triple, perhaps now is the time for your ds to sit down with you both and think about what he enjoyes, where he sees himself in 5, 10, 15 years and work from there?

Ds's school, when we were choosing options, told us about a website called u-explore .com where you could look at the subjects your pupil enjoys / is good at and from there it lists A level courses / university courses / possible careers based on those interestes / courses.
We were told to spend some time looking at this with our dc to give them an idea of the careers out there.

Hope that helps smile

teacherwith2kids Sat 09-Mar-13 11:20:00

As I have said before, DS - with current Science levels higher than your DS's, though he's in mid Year 7 rather than Year 9 - will do double science, because that's what his school offers.

I have been assured by them that this is no barrier to him doing 3 sciences at A-level should be choose to (I was a scientist, so this is important to me).

Double science does not mean 'destined for an apprenticeship'. DS will do double science, but I fulle expect him to go to an academic university (though possibly not for Science - even though his Science / Maths results are very high, his heart lies in History / Geography / Languages)

wordfactory Sat 09-Mar-13 11:30:02

But as the OP has said, there is a difference bewteen a pupil ebing in a school that doesn't offer the triple, and being in a school that does but not doing it.

The former is excused. Sixth forms and universities understand that the pupils have no choice. They are not ebing offered the more rigorous course. The failing is with the school not the pupil.

The later is trickier.

cricketballs Sat 09-Mar-13 12:37:01

Your latest post op suggests that he also wants to do computer studies, will struggle with MFL and as many, many others have said his NC science level is not particularly high therefore why are you pursuing making your DS's education a battle rather than a joy. Computer studies on its own is a very difficult course and there are few who achieve good results therefore he will need to put a lot of time and effort into this as with MFL in order to gain a decent grade.

I am with Books in terms of your hysteria and views on differing qualifications/routes and I would suggest you take a less blinkered view stop reading MN! and do some research; not only with 6th forms, but also universities and employers.

Yes, wordfactory, I understand that. But in schools where triple science is offered only 20% of pupils take triple. Are you therefore telling me that the others, who come out with high double science cannot take it at A level college? That the college will immediately dismiss them? Because I, for one, don't believe it.
There is a very high achieving, well regarded 6th form near us, I spoke to them last month when we were helping ds choose his gcse options.
They emphatically stated that a dc who has high double science results, from a school which offers triple, has as much chance on A level science as a pupil from the same school with lower level triple science scores.

Because triple is only offered to the top few. They cannot and do not disregard pupils whose ability is above average but not the upper-echalons-of-triple-science-level.

If the OP's local 6th form does not do this, then perhaps the fault lies with them, not with OP's ds's school?

lljkk Sat 09-Mar-13 13:04:10

You are way too involved, OP.

Erebus Sat 09-Mar-13 15:18:32

I'm a parent, lijkk. It's my job. It's what we do.

cricketballs, do you mean that a 6 high, based on what I've already told you our school expects (ie don't be mislead by others stating their Y8 DC is on level 9 in science or whatever- they obviously measure differently as science doesn't go to level 9!) of their end of Y9 science isn't particularly high? As stated, they say they expect the majority of pupils to be between 5 high and 6 high at the end of the year, with a few at 7. A third of the 270 of them gets to do triple, and 95% of those 90 odd DC get A-A* in their triple science subjects.

I do understand that being on-target for a 'B' in a MFL these days, rather than an A is considered tantamount to 'struggling'.

I don't know about computer studies- the numbers taking it are limited by the timetable, and they've recently reorganised their IT, hence newly offered courses like CIDA. We need to look into this, further.

It would be fair to say the more 'highly regarded' of the local 6FC do look a little less favourable at double science results from our school as they offer triple. The other 6FC is far less bothered- but also has a very high post AS level drop out in science.

I am a bit irritated with being told I am hysterical. 155 messages tends to make me think it's a bit of a general hot topic! You tell me to do my research. What do you think all this is then? I've told you what I know, who I've spoken to, what the general consensus of opinion is, and am getting different view points. Not immediately agreeing with yours and so hanging my head in shame does not make me 'hysterical'.

Anyway, we'll have to see what response we get from the school when we write in on Monday. Horse's mouth, etc.

cricketballs Sat 09-Mar-13 15:46:09

A level 6 is not particularly high, especially if there are students in your DS's school with higher levels. Triple science is not for the faint hearted therefore there is a realistic view from schools as to who are those capable of achieving and not having to work excessively to the detriment of other subjects.

I suggested research - not holding a viewpoint that despite others telling you is not the case and keeping to that argument research; MN is not solid research but a good starting point as long as you actually take the posts suggesting that you are not correct on board.

My comment regarding your hysteria is that you are so focused on your DS studying engineering at uni that you are not looking at the wider picture of his future - a full and rounded education with the best results possible for your child is the best route even if this means double science.

The big concern I now have and this is a major worry is your statement that the school have only recently introduced CiDA - this qualification has a certification end date of 31st December 2014 and Edexcel have stated that they are not going to apply for reactivation and that they will only offer GCSE or BTEC for ICT at level 2

cricketballs Sat 09-Mar-13 15:51:19

apologies - I was talking about DiDA in terms of the accreditation and CiDA has been accredited from 2012

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 09-Mar-13 15:51:20

A level 7 is possible at KS3 and many, many students get 7a-7c.

Two classes worth each year at my comp.

And we measure to national curriculum standards as does every state school in this country (not sure where you get the idea that school measure differently confused)

metronome Sat 09-Mar-13 16:13:00

Has anyone said that their child is at a level 9? confused As far as I'm aware, national curriculum official levels in Science go up to a level 7, but some schools may teacher assess at a level 8 if they believe that a child is at this level, which is why some posters have been saying that their child's target is an 8C or whatever (please correct me if this is wrong).
As has been stated, all state schools measure to National Curriculum levels, not different scales. All people have been trying to do is express their surprise that at a high performing comp only very few 'exceptional' pupils would be working at level 7 at the end of Y9 and check that you have the correct information about this, but you seem very defensive about it. No one is disputing that the school is high performing.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 09-Mar-13 16:23:16

Word factory, I know of no bias against students leaving with double award instead of triple and trying to get onto science courses in our sixth form or any of the local institutions around us.

Quite the opposite. There is a lot of financial value in students entering sixth form and no where can afford to turn anyone away!

Coconutty Sat 09-Mar-13 17:38:47

OP you said in your first post that he would be possibly a C in MFL, now you are saying that he is on target for a B. If he is more of a C student, concentrate on getting him to really apply himself to this instead.

You are aiming for him to get as high as possible across the board, not just science. I do agree with other posters that you are not listening to the 100 posts on here telling you that it's not impossible to "bridge the gap"

You seem to be so disappointed in him that you can't see past the triple as being some kind of life changing thing. It's not.

Niceweather Sat 09-Mar-13 17:47:03

My son is in one of two top set Science groups in a "good" average comp (65% 5 GCSEs A-C). He is in Year 8. He says just a couple are on 7c, approx 5 are on 6a and the majority are on 6b or 6c with a few on 5a. He says that those on 5a have recently been moved down a group. So, I guess from this that being on a 6c a year from now in Year 9 would put you on the borderline (at this particular school.

Waitingaround Sat 09-Mar-13 17:56:57

I'll say it again, the local sixth form (in Winchester) are quite happy with double science even from your school!

ClayDavis Sat 09-Mar-13 18:25:12

metronome AFAIK the NC levels are the same for every subject. The go from 1 to 8 and then exceptional performance. The KS3 science tests, tested to a maximum of level 7 but teacher assessment can go up to EP (although it is rare).

Nationally, about 17% of children reach level 7 at the end of year 9, with the following 34% reaching level 6 and about 1% of boys reaching level 8.

Triple science over 2 years is a big big ask if he's only scraping 6b at this point in Year 9. With the move back to terminal exams it is a huge risk.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 09-Mar-13 18:28:23

to be honest, I don't think op wants to hear any of this but instead, is only looking for support for her position against the school. sad

olivevoir58 Sat 09-Mar-13 18:41:13

Dd's high performing CE comp (85% A* - c including English and maths) sounds similar to your son's school in terms of intake. At her school about 30% of y9s achieve L7. And about 70% achieve L6+. The general rule of thumb there is that the L7s take triple (started in Y9 as these would have been L6B + at the end of Y8, those that don't get L7 at the end of Y9 - they still give them SATs papers at the end of Y9 - get dropped to double). L6s at the end of Y9 get entered for higher tier. L5s get entered for foundation. L4s do single science over 2 years. A huge number of foundation students achieved a B on the Y10 exam as they scored highly on the papers and scored As and Bs on controlled coursework. Could be your son's school is taking a similar approach. L6s are targetted at B though lots achieved higher last year.

ClayDavis Sat 09-Mar-13 18:48:40

I had noticed that, which is a shame because I suspect that the only thing preventing the OPs DS from doing science A-levels in the future might well be the OP.

Are you a secondary science teacher, Shipwrecked? My understanding was that the current expectations for progress were 2 levels per key stage, so that a child at level 5 at the end of year 6 would be expected to be level 7 by the end of year 9. So not only are the DS's levels not high but he's made less than expected progress across KS3. This assumes that he was a level 5 and not an uplevelled 4a.

EndoplasmicReticulum Sat 09-Mar-13 18:49:02

I think that the best indicator of A level performance is the GCSE grade, rather than whether they did dual or triple.

And by the time you get to A levels, the A level grade is more important than whether you did 2 or 3 sciences at GCSE.

Even most medical schools are not specifying triple science, if science A levels are chosen.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 09-Mar-13 18:55:02

yes clay, I am. And I would also largely agree with you about the levels.
However, its difficult to make such judgments about a child without knowing him.

More troubling is your first sentence, which I completely agree with.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 09-Mar-13 18:58:26

ER, can I say that I have always loved your name!

Erebus Sat 09-Mar-13 19:39:53

I will let you know what the school say once we have talked to them.

We will know far more about the whole thing then. I consider myself now far better informed about double versus triple.

EndoplasmicReticulum Sat 09-Mar-13 19:50:26

Shipwrecked - yours is pretty good too.

Mine is my favourite organelle.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 09-Mar-13 20:00:11

grin that's such a biogeek thing!!

As a (fellow) biology teacher. I was very envious when I first saw it...

Abra1d Sat 09-Mar-13 21:01:32

I think you're getting a rather hard time, Erebus. I do understand where you're coming from and why you are concerned, even if I don't share your view. I suspect that your son will do just fine whatever version of Science he takes as he has good parental support, which seems to be the most important thing.

Loshad Sat 09-Mar-13 21:28:18

Shipwrecked agree re endo's name, have been tempted many times to copy and become golgi body or ribosome.
And also yes to grade being a better predictor, i said it early on in the thread, and i will say it again out of my 40 odd AS students this year (from a total AS bio cohort of nearly 100) you would not be able to differentiate between the students who have done triple or core/additional if you walked into my classroom and listened, or indeed tested them formally.
And re medicine, my own ds only did bio and chem GCSEs (ie he has not done physics since y9) he has an offer for medicine and score 100/100 ums on the recent bio 4 (year 13) paper, i know of at least another dozen kids who last year went off to do medicine at various unis all with double science, but the OP persists in the notion that "it is not possible" because she has heard rumours, rather than read information form the many of us on here who teach huge numbers of students every year.

Niceweather Sat 09-Mar-13 22:36:12

As there are some science teachers on this thread, please can I ask you some advice....

DS is Yr8 and currently a 6a has a genuine love of science, understands it and is good at it but has dyslexia and is terrible at maths - currently 5c (gets symbols muddled, takes away upside down etc). He will probably qualify for a scribe. I think that any maths and he encounters as part of physics could be a real problem for him. If he were to do the triple option then the physics would be separated and leave him with the chance of doing really well with the chemistry and biology whereas if he were to do the double then the maths issues with physics would be more likely to affect his overall grades. Is this thinking right? Have you encountered similar students?

Sorry to hijack.

EndoplasmicReticulum Sat 09-Mar-13 22:43:40

Niceweather you are correct in thinking that he would get separate grades if he did the three sciences, and a combined grades if he did the double.

I think you will need to ask his teachers. Maybe a sensible option for him would be just to sit Bio and Chem, and not attempt Physics?
Depends if the school thinks that would be a possibility.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sun 10-Mar-13 10:12:20

Endo, can he do that or is the core aspect of science still compulsory for all? (Hard to tell with all the changes coming up!!!!!)

My advice would also be to talk to the school too. you are essentially correct in what you say and they will advise you on the best course for his needs.

It would also be possible for him to sit foundation in physics and higher in the others. ot sure if this is appropriate for him but worth throwing this in for your information.

Niceweather Sun 10-Mar-13 11:51:12


I do think that the core aspect is compulsory. I cannot see him being able to get out of physics entirely. It will only be the maths part that gives him difficulty and he should be fine on the rest of it. How much of it is maths?

It's still some way off but for example, perhaps he has a chance of going for As with the chemistry and biology and then Cs with physics (and maths). This would then be a better option than going for the double and having the high marks in chemistry and biology averaged out with a low physics and giving him say Bs. So, 2 As and a C or an ABC would be better than 2 Bs (I guess).

Will obviously wait see what his teachers say. He seems to think he knows more than anyone else in the class but he is liable to misread questions and make silly mistakes like putting the answer as X instead of A, B or C which is what was asked for. He will be at a disadvantage if they are giving out marks for correct spelling which I believe they will be doing.

OP, hope you are reassured about doing the double - I would be. If he goes for the double, it will free up another choice for him - something he might really like and do really well in. Good luck.

crazymum53 Sun 10-Mar-13 14:12:22

There is quite a lot of Maths in the Chemistry part of the triple award too Niceweather

wordfactory Sun 10-Mar-13 15:34:10

niceweather my DD finds maths a struggle, but she is doing very well at triple science so far.

BooksandaCuppa Sun 10-Mar-13 20:02:47

niceweather - the new 5% of marks for spelling, punctuation and grammar are only for the humanities subjects - geog, hist, RS and English Lit (as well of course for Eng lit, which there has always been a consideration).

Startail Mon 11-Mar-13 12:59:05

Combined gets you two GCSEs one for core and one for additional.

Sixth form want AB min to do A'level and clearly would prefer AA and want you to read the triple text book over the summer to learn the bits you didn't do.

I think it's fairly easy to work out as they use the same unit numbering system.

kayspace Mon 11-Mar-13 20:01:57

I have been wondering about this.

Am I missing something but surely a DC who's 'into science' is unlikely to be as good or keen on Biology, Physics and Chem equally? So if they take, say the triple options but they're a bit weaker on say Biology, they might get A's for the Phys and Chem, but a C for the Bio which could well be of no consequence for the DC who wants to do Phys or Chem A level (and presumably has enough other GCSEs), but if they're doing dual or double or whatever it's called, they have to come up trumps in all 3 sciences, albeit to a 1/3 less high level overall. Being a lot less good at say Bio could drag their overall mark down disproportionately.

Am I getting that right?

I have a mate whose DSs are in a selective private school, and she told me that that was one of the reasons the school didn't usually offer 'dual/double' as they found that, being a boys school, apparently, the boys usually did far better in Phys and Chem but fewer did well or were particularly interested in Bio so a lot didn't do Bio at all. Wonder if they were iGCSEs? But I doubt dual or double science is available as iGCSE/s? Oh, and they saw double as being the science kids did who needed to show that 'all rounder' thing like where the 'scientist' does no more than one or two humanities to show they're not an 'uber-geek' but have some all-rounder traits- but won't be doing science A levels. Of course, that's the feeling out of one non-state school so of course it probably isn't universally held.

Erebus Mon 11-Mar-13 20:05:00

niceweather- sadly the double science takers just take one fewer GCSEs that the triple. The Big Issue is that they allocate the same amount of time for both double and triple science.

Niceweather Mon 11-Mar-13 20:53:50

Interesting point kayspace - exactly my thoughts re my DS being brought down by physics if he takes the double.

That's a shame Erebus. At our school, it would free up another option.

My friend's son goes to a grammar and they started off with the three separate subjects.

TheFallenMadonna Mon 11-Mar-13 21:01:34

Do they have 3 GCSE's worth of time, or 2?

IME, it is unusual for a student to score very differently in the three different Science subjects. We are looking at this very closely at the moment, because our triple students could do either Core, Additional and Further Additional, or Biology, Chemistry, Physics. Both routes cover exactly the same units, but obviously the way the exams are structured is different. The advantage of taking the first route would be to reduce the number of exams taken at the end of year 11 under the new so-called linear route (which is not linear at all, but modular only with all the modules at the end...), as Core Science could be done at the end of year 10. We will only do it if we can be sure that the students are not scoring very differently in the three disciplines though. So far, our assessment suggests that they don't.

choccyp1g Mon 11-Mar-13 21:08:42

But in OPs school, they only let the "kids expected A* for everything" take the triple science, so inevitably their scored for all 3 will be similar, (As and A*s)
whereas if it was treated as the 3 separate subjects, you'd be more likely to get some A*s in Biology for the less mathematically inclined, who might have failed completely at Physics.

TheFallenMadonna Mon 11-Mar-13 21:13:32

Again, I would say it's really unusual, IME, for someone to get an A* in one Science and fail completely in another. If you do the three separate Sciences, you do an extra GCSE compared with Core and Additional. Some schools give it extra time, at the expense of other subjects. Some give it the same time as Core and Additional, which means a pace that those who are not the most able will struggle with. There is no opportunity to study just two of the Science subjects at GCSE. Or at least, it does not meet the KS4 programme of study, and would rule you out of EBacc I believe.

Niceweather Tue 12-Mar-13 07:51:24

Perhaps it's not a "fair test" (sorry) if you are only looking at the achievements of the brightest science kids who are in the top group. They are the only ones who get to the three separately. I did Biology O Level but had absolutely no aptitude for Chemistry or Physics.

Would the other students' different test results across the three subjects reveal a difference or are they all averaged?

Erebus Tue 12-Mar-13 08:19:27

At O level, I got a B in Physics, a B in Bio- and an unclassified in the Chem I had to take as a result of taking Phys and Bio!

I guess the problem is that this school are happy to accept quite a gulf between the triple DC and double, i.e. the gap between 3 A-A* and 2 A-A* (and downwards), ie a complete, high grade GCSE. The system doesn't allow for the good Physicist, good Chemist or good Biologist.

No one gets a 'pure' science GCSE at B or C.

Bear in mind they need a B in that single science GCSE subject in order to be able to study an A level in that subject. But if they are deemed 'B' grade material, they aren't allowed to even study the curriculum.

I wish our school did give triple more time than double but they don't.

Given all the above, I still think DS would be better off taking all 3 and hopefully getting the necessary B and, more importantly, having studied the material of a single science GCSE than getting an A in double (bearing also in mind, only the Additional Science GCSE grade 'counts' towards A level entry, 'Science A' as the end-of-year-10 GCSE is called, doesn't) so a DC needs to be keen and motivated in all of the sciences in order to get this Additional GCSE- where we enter the contentious territory of: Yes, but Additional is easier than singles, covering a 1/3 less ground therefore any DC ought to be able to pass it which is why double is regarded as being 'the science you take to show you're an all-rounder, not your specialist area'.

Especially more so in a school that offers triple.

HorribleMother Tue 12-Mar-13 10:31:39

Please come back and update in 3 yrs smile.

chicaguapa Tue 12-Mar-13 12:46:52

What are you going to do if the school reluctantly says your DS can do triple science (thereby giving up attainable As in double science) and it turns out that your DS is struggling to acheive Bs in triple? Bearing in mind that he will have the same time to study for both sets of qualifications. Will the school be expected to give him extra 1-2-1 revision classes so he can acheive Bs to get into PS because that's what his heart is set on? You'll need to think about how much responsibility you'll take for this and not place all of it onto the school, if they have already advised you that it would be better for him to do double science.

As I've said before, it comes down to maturity and attitude. Sometimes this can be demonstrated just by listening to the teacher's opinion (who knows how your DS behaves in class and you don't) and opting for certain As in double instead of being determined to go against the teacher's advice and going for Bs in triple.

I still think that two As is better than 3 Bs. To have been put into triple at that school will have meant the teacher thought he was capable of As. To get Bs will show that your DS failed to achieve what was expected of him. IMO that looks worse than 2 As in double.

Erebus Tue 12-Mar-13 13:41:50

I am interested in the number of people who've posted who appear to think anything less than an A isn't worth the paper it's printed on. The 6FMs are happy with a B, but they seem to stand alone in this!

Then we all throw our hands up in the air at Nasty Mr Gove who says all this A,A,A business is a farce and wants to downgrade expectations... I am no Gove fan, but!

Anyway, I will hopefully be 'the wiser' after our Friday meeting.

And Horrible- yes, it would be very interesting to come back on just about any educational issue on MN and update in 3 years, wouldn't it? How we wish we had a crystal ball, but, at the time we're making decisions, we only have what we know here and now to go on, don't we?

HorribleMother Tue 12-Mar-13 13:54:18

Re 6th form advice mismatch with MN:
There is a huge disconnect between RL & MN, that's for sure.

Do you think your DS will be motivated to do his very best at triple? That would be the clincher for me, how much work would * I * have to do to keep him motivated.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Tue 12-Mar-13 13:58:27

Erebus, it's because statistically, we know that anything less than a BB or BBB at GCSE and a student will really, really struggle at A level in the sciences.

even students with B grades can struggle and it can be hit and miss as to their chances of success.

Students with A and A* grades are very much better prepared for the transition, and it's statisically far more important than what course they followed.

We all allow students onto an A level course with B grades but we watch them closely and support them because they are likely to be the ones who have to drop the course at the end of the first year.

It still saddens me how cynically you view the advise of the experts here and how ready you are to find an alterior motive for what is genuinely meant well.

Erebus Tue 12-Mar-13 14:19:35

I'm doing some research into tutoring right now grin- forearmed/forewarned etc. Hope that hels meet your expectations of my parental involvement, chic wink

Shipwrecked- B grades in what? Individual science or part of double science?

You say 'they'll struggle'- but surely a DC who has a B in double science (which will be a grade made up of a third physics, a third chem and a third biology taken to a certain level) is going to struggle more when faced with an A level than one who has a B in say Physics GCSE (which will be a grade made up purely of knowledge of physics alone taken to a higher level than the double 'bit') who wants to take A level Physics? Having studied a third more physics to get there?

I think the thing that isn't maybe isn't being taken into account is that, with the best will in the world (and which has already been pointed out!) , I cannot be entirely convinced the school is only considering each individual DC's needs and desires and doesn't maybe have a 'healthy eye' on what's good for them as a school! My reasons for wondering about this is the fact the triple DC overwhelmingly get A-A*. This either means the school is absolutely amazing at teaching individual science, or they only allow DC who will get an A-A* to take the subject! It wouldn't be the first time a school 'played it safe' in advising a DC to take GCSEs that they are most likely to pass with a high grade and discouraging them taking a higher graded exam. I mean, one wonders how many foundation level DC in say English or Maths who got the top mark available, a C, might have achieved a B were they entered for the higher level? You see that a fair bit here on MN. Swathes of comps the length and breadth of the country indulged in 'easier' equivalences in order to secure places on accursed League Tables, didn't they?

I do not blame the school, if, indeed they are 'playing a game'- the way we measure education is set up to encourage that- but on Friday, I want to ask how far below 'bottom group GCSE' DS is to explain why he's being considered for 'top group' double. After Friday I believe we will know how borderline DS1 is in being 'allowed' into classes in which 95% average of the DC get an A-A* in each science, in triple, as there's nothing (5%?) in between that (ie practically no Bs or C grades) and the A-A* (and below, of course) they get at double.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Tue 12-Mar-13 14:51:45

I give up trying to explain....

I wish your son well.

But I'm finished with this!

wordfactory Tue 12-Mar-13 15:19:06

ship if you believe that schools are only interested in the best outcomes for their pupils and don't have half an eye on their league table positions then you are at best naive...

Otherwise why do some schools offer only double? Why do some schools start GCSE in year 8 and endlessly sit and resit modules? Why do some schools manage out pupils who have been there since year 7 and get a nice fresh crop of sixth formers?

This all happens, you know.

And yes, some science departments will only allow its dead certs to take the triple. Decision made for them. No discussion.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Tue 12-Mar-13 15:48:01

you know I'm a science teacher, don't you??? confused

and have been in a large number of schools for a very very long time

and yes, there are some parents who will believe just about anything rather than accept advise they don't like. No discussion

anyway. better things to do than try to explain this all again...

as said, best of luck.

Coconutty Tue 12-Mar-13 16:33:27

You do know that making them accept him to do triple, which you seem absolutely unable to consider may not be suitable for him or take on board the great advice from actual, experienced science teachers, doesn't guarantee him an A or A*?

I'm feeling stressed for your DS from the pressure on him and he hasn't even started the bloody things yet!

Good luck with whatever you do, but be openminded for God's sake.

Erebus, good luck in your meeting. Please do update us on Friday.

My only concern, in pursuing triple science for your ds may be that if he does double science he is predicted, what? B, B?
So he may come out of triple science with C, C, C? And also perhaps slip lower down in English and MFL as he will have to devote so much time to science?

You may, just may, have to accept that he was placed in double and not triple because it is because he is a competent all rounder, and science is not his specialist subject after all? And there would be nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all.

Also, be careful with the tutoring. If you have to tutor him to get him through triple science at gcse, will you then have to continue with the tutoring at A level? and then at uni? Because if you have to tutor him to ensure he makes the grade than you are effectively pushing him to work above his natural ability level? Which is not sustainable long term, is it?

I am not saying this to be mean, after all it is still not certain my ds will do triple, I suspect he may also fall just below the cut-off (despite currently being on a level 7b in year 9)
I just want you to be prepared.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 12-Mar-13 16:48:18

I think it;s a great weakness in our current education system that triple science is seen as some kind of holy grail and kids who do double are viewed by some as 'apprentice material'. DD1 is doing triple because everyone does at her school, she has no choice. Given the choice she would have done double or none at all. I hope that DS does double not triple. DD2 - it depends what secondary school she ends up at. But I do not believe she would want to do triple either. Science is not the only fruit.

Erebus Tue 12-Mar-13 17:04:21

Thanks ship (thought you'd said you were finished with this! grin )- my son's science teacher is a teacher, too. She's 23 and very keen to impress her superiors. She doesn't have 'years and years of experience' to call on, she doesn't necessarily have a handle on exactly how a DC will or won't cope with A level science after double. And yes, word, exactly. I'm a HCP and will absolutely, readily confess that I know that in some instances, waiting list numbers, for instance, are massaged to make the data look good. I am a bit surprised that a teacher is willing to go into bat in support of the integrity of her entire profession. I wouldn't for mine- but I don't blame the schools necessarily. In the same way as NHS patients got what they asked for- apparently 'short waiting lists at any cost', parents got what they asked for, i.e. 'stellar academic achievement in schools'....

Another science teacher I know - I know quite a few teachers of different subjects!- told me that DS will be better served by doing triple if he's able to pass so he can do well in the 2 areas he's best at. Other people on MN think I should unquestioningly accept whatever I'm told, accepting that 'teacher knows best', cross that I'm even suggesting that teacher just might only be doing what's best for her school stats and her career, safe in the knowledge that DS will make the double science stats look good! I, too, am tired of explaining and linking to my 'proof' that this school apparently only allows DC who'll get A-A* to take triple, and that a ABB student, for example, is only capable of double, despite the fact the 6FC deem that sufficient (they want A level achievers on their stats, too!), and that double science takers have studied a 1/3 less of that single science than the triple-takers.

I have now just discovered, too, that our school's triple science is only 'fast track'. Another popular nearby school does fast track and 'normal track' triple, where the DC gives up another GCSE 'spot' in order to do triple. This would suit DS perfectly. But he's almost caught in the bind of a school that only offers double where a DC is well capable of triple- but it's not an option <sigh>

I have also, since my last post, been sitting with a group of parents, socially. This topic came up (I didn't raise it, I should add). 2 parents said that their DC had done double science (one got a B, one an A*) and then A level science. Both said their DC felt disadvantaged in the A level class up against the single subject science takers there, and that they would have pushed for single subjects if they knew then what they know now. Both said I should be ready and willing to 'tutor' the gap!

So this is obviously a contentious issue and one's position on it is dependent on who you are and what you've experienced.

And finally, no, I cannot make the school take my DS onto the triple course. They can say no. But I am hoping that, after Friday, DS is either on the triple course -because the school accept that my averagely immature, small, shy DS, who is doing pretty OK in most of his other subjects and has been making good progress in all has received the boot up the bum he needs and will get on with achieving what he is capable of in science; or we have been persuaded that a) he's on double purely for his own benefit and b) that they really don't think he'd get a B in triple, let alone an A.

I am more than happy to listen to reasoned argument from the horse's mouth, as already stated.

Erebus Tue 12-Mar-13 17:07:17

Sorry, posted before I edited.

It would be fair to say that imo, DS is completely capable of taking triple science and doing well.

But now I have just been told that it's fast-track triple or double.

So there's nothing there for the 'middle ground', is there?

Erebus Tue 12-Mar-13 17:09:03

Numbernine- he's predicted A-A* in double, in 'my top group double' as the teacher said.

choccyp1g Tue 12-Mar-13 18:57:03

In the olden days, (when I was taking O levels) it was generally accepted that Physics was hard, unless you where a maths whizz, Biology was easy, and Chemistry in the middle.

But now, it seems to me that effectively, OPS son's school is saying "ALL the sciences are so hard, that we will only accept DCs who can do three GCSEs in the time normally allocated for 2, and get A /A* for them"

Surely it stands to reason that you would be disadvantaged at A level, if you have only covered (the easiest) 2/3 of the work for you particular subject at GCSE.

Daeneryschild Tue 12-Mar-13 19:08:01

I'm confused, What data are they using to make predictions? I can't understand how they could be predicted an A* in double but not triple??? Sounds more than capable to me, but then I don't teach in a high flying secondary :D

Erebus Tue 12-Mar-13 20:22:01

Er...yes, choccy- nail-on-head etc. And thank you for posting.

Daen- me neither ('What criteria they use')- Yes, DS is deemed to be, right now, 6M. Their own stats show that they expect a range of '5.8-6.8 with 'a few' at 7' by the end of Y9. There are 270 DC per year, 88 get to do triple. A third. We are half way through Y9. DS has had his wake-up call, so could be expected, measured on the progress he's already made at this school (half way through his 5 years here!) that DS could make 6H by the end of the year. Apparently not good enough.

I am cross that in the 5 mins we had with the science teacher in a crowded, frantic room, (bearing in mind we genuinely thought DS was triple material) suddenly DS's steady, good progress to date (bar a 'second level' 'effort' grade in Jan this year, as did many in the class..) though been good, isn't 'good enough'. Yes-, well above average in the last test, but 4.8 in two experiment/practical classes, not good, but he's male, 13 ffs, small, shy. He isn't about to throw his arm up and tell the teacher he's sick of the mucking about and indecision in his 2 fellow experimentalists, is he?! We are reminded that DS didn't do as well as expected in his Y8 (aged 12) 'assessment' because he missed out an entire double fold of questions which we know because we have been reminded of this often. (Sorry if this is 'drip feed' but just another one of these 'things' that rank DS down though none are really 'how clever at sciences this child?' determiners.)

I readily concede that I am now of a higher level of 'understanding'. I now 'get' that the school only allows its guaranteed success stories to demonstrate their brilliance. I now know that they have no program to allow the 'a bit less able than really clever' to get 3 'B's in triple; but they sure as hell know how to get the double science kids to 2 x A-A* -because they have so many who might've achieved 3 x B's in triple but do not have that option! hence 2 A-A* in double- well done, school! I now recognise that there is no 'normal track' triple available.

This is all futile (but cathartic!). DS needs to be able to do normal pace triple science. He is completely capable of this. But the school do not offer this. So we have to decide whether to do everything in our and his power, via tutors etc to persuade the school he won't be a 'fail' in triple though we don't consider a B as a fail; or accept that 2 good grades in double, despite our knowledge that he will be 1/3 less prepared than some/many of his fellow A level students in Chem or Phys (as long as he gets in, from a 'triple' school but with 'only' a double), is 'OK' and won't prevent him form doing what he wants in future.

So I will reiterate: DS should be doing triple, normal paced science.

His school do not offer this.

Should he be trying his best at fast-track triple?

Or accepting double with the attendant caveats?

BooksandaCuppa Tue 12-Mar-13 21:09:41

Well, I'll bite.

Since you now have more detail on the fast-track only option for triple; I would still err towards sticking with double. Reasons:

1) It'll be much less stressful for him and you for him to be working at a normal rather than bonkers pace.

2) It will look much better if he has higher grades in double than lower grades in triple

(really, really trying not to be rude, but are you basing this 'predicted grade' you've now talked of on the teacher saying 'it's better to get A/A*...' or did they actually predict him that, because a level 6 usually puts a student on target for grade Bs, not A/A*s - many, many people have told you this?)

3) Which science A levels is he thinking of? Physics and chem? Or just physics? Whichever, I would look at helping him (even tutoring) to catch up on the missed bits of the topics before the start of yr 12 for JUST the subjects he's continuing to A level (rather than all 3, iyswim).

4) It might help him gain better grades in other subjects, especially the key ones of Maths (most crucial for Engineering) and English.

5) As an aside, has he been offered the option of Further Maths? (That could be more important for a Uni offer).

Lastly, please don't think that posters (mainly teachers) who are saying 'if they are on target for a B they will find A level hard' are saying that B grades are not worth having. Far from it. But getting a B grade at GCSE does not mean that a student should or will get a grade B at A level; they are likely to get lower than that. A and A* at GCSE students do not get straight As at A level - they are exponentially harder and come as a shock to many, if not most students. That's why there are universities with lower entrance criteria: so that there is a suitable tertiary course for all of the top 50% of students.

HTH and you all come to a good decision.

choccyp1g Tue 12-Mar-13 21:09:42

Sorry if I seemed to be stating the obvious, OP. It just seems that some people on this thread still don't get it.

In your position, I'd do my damndest to get him onto the triple, and then agree privately that he might "sacrifice" working on one of his least favourite GCSE options, so that he can put all his effort into the science work.

In fact if they insist on him only doing the double, it would still be worth "secretly sacrificing" work on another subject and spending the time doing the additional part of the science with a tutor, even if he is not able to sit the triple exam.

BooksandaCuppa Tue 12-Mar-13 21:12:02

Sorry, 5) was meant to also say and help him with A level maths which is notoriously as difficult a jump from GCSE as science is, and obviously even more important to his engineering aspirations than science.

Coconutty Tue 12-Mar-13 21:20:06

I really would not sacrifice any of his options, you do not want a low grade in anything if it can be avoided at all.

Just a thought, DS had always planned to take physics A level, but since actually starting his GCSEs doesn't want to any more.

Choccy, I get it perfectly. I am just concerned that the OP seems to think her ds will get A*/A at double. With a current level of 6B, predicted 6A by the end of the year he is on track to get B's at double. Not A*/A.

Which means whilst he may be standard paced triple science material, he is not fast-track triple science material.
And I think the pressure he will be put under could be detrimental to his other subjects and detrimental to his love of Science.

Would it perhaps be better for him to take double, work his socks off (get a tutor) to achieve A*/A and if the love of Science is still there then get a tutor to help him bridge the gap to A level?

BooksandaCuppa Tue 12-Mar-13 21:26:14

Well done, BLNN; much more succinct than my ramble...

teacherwith2kids Tue 12-Mar-13 21:30:57

Before sacrificing any subject, I would research VERY carefully whether a low grade in a subject, or double rather than triple science, would look worse to a prospective 6th form college.

ie is the child with
9 As / A*s / maybe 1 B but with double science preferable to the child with
8 decent grades but 1 very poor 1, but triple science.

Certainly as (in a past life) someone who was involved in recruitment into industry, we would have definitely favoured the first candidate over the second, even if the exact subjects were a marginally less good fit for the job. The competencies and attitudes of the former - that all subjects matter, consistent, hard-working, strong across the board - would have outweighed the supposedly 'better subject mix' of the latter.

I don't know whether this is still the case.

TheFallenMadonna Tue 12-Mar-13 21:42:11

The extra units (unit 3s for the board we do) are of equivalent demand to the preceding units. I think that's an important point. The extra unit increases breadth. The assessment objectives are the same in each unit. The content is what differs. Additional Science (all the unit 2s) is not "easier" than Chemistry (units 1, 2 and 3).

I will say again, from my experience of teaching current spec GCSE Science rather than O levels, that it is not usual for a student to achieve very differently (by more than a grade) across the three subjects. That is because of the common assessment objectives. If you understand how to interpret data, you can generally do that for heat loss or MMR uptake more or less equally.

It would be lovely to be able to offer a completely tailored curriculum for every student, but the reality is that any route we choose has to be followed by a multiple of a class size.

ClayDavis Tue 12-Mar-13 23:01:02

I mean, one wonders how many foundation level DC in say English or Maths who got the top mark available, a C, might have achieved a B were they entered for the higher level? You see that a fair bit here on MN. Swathes of comps the length and breadth of the country indulged in 'easier' equivalences in order to secure places on accursed League Tables, didn't they?

A school where I grew up tried this recently. They entered their top maths 'foundation' set for higher to see if they could get Bs instead of the high Cs they were predicted. Pretty much the entire set got a D or dropped off the bottom of the higher paper and failed. It's not something they'll be trying again in a hurry.

TheFallenMadonna Tue 12-Mar-13 23:13:19

We are judged not on C grades, but on progress for individual students. If a student got a level 5 at KS2, they have to get a B at GCSE. "Playing it safe" and entering them for foundation would be very foolish if they could get a B if they sat the higher tier paper.

radicalsubstitution Wed 13-Mar-13 15:09:26

Here's my twopenn'orth as a chemistry teacher with 10 years' experience in a high performing (similar to OP's) comprehensive school.

1) I don't get why 'a few' students would be awarded level 7 at the end of KS3. At our school (92% 5A*-C inc E + M), at least 1/3 of students achieve level 7. A few achieve level 8 (which is possible now that SATs are not compulsory for TA).

2) A level 6 at the end of KS3 is not a great indicator of success in Physics or Chemistry A Level. Sorry to be brutally honest. It just isn't. I have taught many level 7 students with A and A* at GCSE who have really struggled with A levels (and got Us or Es). Likewise, I have taught many students Chemistry A level who have studied dual award science and gone on to study medicine and/or science/engineering at top universities.

3) I would not want to teach a level 6 student triple science in the time given to double science. It would have to be taught at lightning pace, with much work self-taught as homework.

My top set year 9 group are currently all working at level 7. I know that there are a number in the group who would struggle with triple science in double science time - and would hate it. They wouldn't have time to develop the depth of understanding in the core science part to take on A levels, let alone understand concept such as moles.

There has been some very good advice given here (largely ignored) and I think you should heed it.

radicalsubstitution Wed 13-Mar-13 16:53:33

Sorry - just realised that the last post probably comes across as aggressive. Was in a rush to pick DS up from school.

I utterly sympathise with your situation. At our school, students take triple science out of an option block. It is an open-access course - anyone can take it. We have some foundation students this year. Ironically, many students moan that they then can't take triple as it then narrows the option blocks too much to take other subjects. It seems you can never please everyone.

I, personally, think that your DS would really find triple in double time a struggle. It may be that he will mature a great deal over the next few years (I taught one student who was in bottom set year 9 who went on to be in top set in year 11) but may not be currently in a place where he could cope with learning science at that pace.

wordfactory Wed 13-Mar-13 17:00:18

radical my neice took triple as an option , which seems a good half way house.

At DD's school the triple set does it in the same timetable as the double, but they started at the beginning of year 9. The pace is fast.

At DS' school everyone takes triple (not as an option) and they don't seem to have started the curiculum yet...

Coconutty Wed 13-Mar-13 18:33:28

DCs school make them choose it as an option, much better if the child isn't a star at science.

Interesting post radical, pretty much what everyone has been saying. I think the main problem is that ops son would have to do it fast track, which would be far from ideal.

Hopefully for his sake, some of this excellent advice is heeded.

Erebus Wed 13-Mar-13 18:48:08

The lack of 'normal pace' triple is our stumbling block.

I have already stated that I know DS is capable of doing well in triple science but I am under no illusion that he is super-clever or G&T, so fast-track triple could well be too much for him.

I too cannot explain the (link posted) '5.8 (or 'high') to 6.8 with a few at level 7 by the end of Y9' either, seeing as the school do get a third of their pupils to A-A* in triple every year. I do recall a mass letter home in Y8 warning us that our DC's science level may appear to have stalled or even gone back one sublevel in the next report as they we measuring attainment in science differently now as a result of the government's edict that different qualities were to be emphasised from now on. Which is also when level 8 disappeared. So possibly they are not measuring the same thing as others' schools on here.

wordfactory Wed 13-Mar-13 18:54:40

I don't think a pupil needs to be a star for the fast tracked triple.

DD is certainly not a science geek. And maths is by far her weakest subject.

From what I see, a pupil needs to be committed to a fair bit of graft. The pace is very fast. The information covered is not particularly difficult but it is broad. There are tests in each subject at the end of every unit. It feels like barely a week passes without a test in one of the sciences.

In DD's set a number of clever but lazy girls have been bumped.

Coconutty Wed 13-Mar-13 19:00:54

Maybe not word but if the child isn't at a high enough level, no matter how much they graft they are going to find it a struggle.

It's a shame if they get put off science.

wordfactory Wed 13-Mar-13 19:08:49

See I find all these levels a bit odd.

Both DC attend private school, so we're not told they're a level 5 or 6 or 23. They've never done SATs, I don't think.

The teachers at DS school have simply taken the decision that everyone is capable of triple. End of. But it's a selective school so...

DD's school made the decision as to who would do triple or double based on a mixture of things and the main one was definitely 'is this girl a grafter'.

Coconutty Wed 13-Mar-13 19:15:48

Mine are at private too, and they just offer the top set the option to take triple or not, but it is done as one of their options.

To take science A level, you don't need to have done the triple but you need an A grade minimum, in either double or the science you want to take (triple)

We don't get levels either or SATs but are given predictions based on YELLIS tests. Not sure how reliable these are?

wordfactory Wed 13-Mar-13 19:32:18

Our triple set was a mixture of first and second set girls. We were given an appointment after easter in year 8 to discuss it. A final decision was then made after the end of year exams. However a couple were bumped after xmas in year 9 as they weren't putting enough effort in.

MyChildDoesntNeedSleep Wed 13-Mar-13 19:58:35

Can you not just explain away the double by saying his love for science developed after he started studying his GCSEs? Surely most 13 year olds don't know what they want to do at university?! confused

HorribleMother Thu 14-Mar-13 07:36:52

Well this thread is good for me. Will be another tool in my armour in convincing DS that he can't leave it until yr10 to pull his finger out.

chicaguapa Fri 15-Mar-13 12:29:53

horrible grin Maybe all the teachers could use it in their classes too.

Hopefully OP will update us after her meeting with the HOD today.

Erebus Fri 15-Mar-13 18:11:37

Well, that was interesting.

The long and short of it is the Head of Science feels DS should be capable of triple science (fast track as that's all that's available). We knew that no decision was going to be made tonight- final day for Options in was today, but she said that once all the options were in, they'd go through all the Triple requesters (via email she told us to put triple down for DS) and review them one by one.

In no particular order she asked:
If DS wants to do triple, how he'd reacted to the double news,
If we want him to,
Why did he want to do triple,
What future direction does he want to go in.

She agreed that it would be more advantageous for DS to do triple if he can (she thought his current grades and assessment results were 'encouraging'...), she emphasised that double wasn't the end of the world, but I'd already said that I was rather more 'relaxed' about double than before! She said that from a professional and personal point of view (3 older DC herself) she did think the gap between double and 'A' level could prove challenging but said the school do provide 'additional' support to all students, having just come from such an hour's class this afternoon, for Triple DC. So she also pointed out the need for such commitment but we as a family have no problem with that. And apparently they allow triple DC to drop back to Double in the first half term in Y10 if need be, tho very few do.

I am now far happier that they will take DS's needs, ability and desires into account but that's far easier to believe now I know this school believe DS capable of Triple, I have to say!

So we have left it that they, the school can have the final say- they won't need to call us in if they decided double really is DS's best option, we will accept it, but the Head of Science believes he will most likely be doing Triple.

Whathaveiforgottentoday Fri 15-Mar-13 20:03:41

Good to see you got the outcome you wanted. You may find the very fact that they questioned your son's ability to cope with triple might help him focus. Fast tracked triple science is very fast.

Anyway wanted to add a general comment about why dept's don't offer both fast track and slow track triple science. Most schools just wouldn't be able to timetable it. You can't fit all options in and by putting triple science in as an option limits the other options students can take.

I have to say that you do realise that when we give advice to students, we do in their best interest in the vast majority of cases. Sometimes, decisions aren't easy and in my 18 years of experience, yes we do take into account the students and parents wishes to help come to the right decision.

I have allowed students to take courses that I felt they would struggle with and sometimes (at gcse and A level) and I have been proved right and sometimes i'm proved wrong. We do not have crystal balls but we do try to advise the best course of action for the student even if its not what they want to hear.

Erebus Fri 15-Mar-13 20:36:34

No, I didn't get 'the outcome I wanted'. DS may get the one he wants. It's not yet sure.

The remark 'fast track science is very fast' is entirely subjective. Fast for whom? I am maybe tiring, just a bit, of the teeth-sucking, the nay-saying, the 'I told you so's' - before DS has even sat down in a triple science lesson! Maybe, just maybe, DS is more able than even I think. I mean, I am not 'clever' as delineated by MN, but I do have a Physics O level, among others. And some post-grad science. DH is bristling with science degrees. We are now far more confident that if DS is selected for Triple, he'll be OK.

Erebus Fri 15-Mar-13 21:12:50

forgotten actually, thanks for your response in among the tumbleweed of non-responses following effectively 10 pages (how I sort my MN!) of denigration, 'how very dare you'/ 'how presumptuous'! - of much of the rest of the response. I GET how people might assume I am Alpha Mummy, My Child is being Done Down, desist!- but the reality is I feel a bit vindicated now that the Head of Science at a good school, a person of experience, has indicated that, at this stage, DS may be Triple material. I have already stated that I now trust that the school is responsive to what DS and I would like. I now feel that DS might be very able in getting good grades at GCSE in Triple. I allowed stuff to distract me, the fact that I am not a scientist (as such, tho my job requires 'science') yet passed GCE physics and maths. I have read endlessly how GCSE doesn't equate with GCE, but largely how GCSE is easier . I don't think that but I don't believe it's necessarily harder.

EndoplasmicReticulum Fri 15-Mar-13 22:27:32

I don't think you got 10 pages of denigration. I think you got some of that, certainly, but there was some useful stuff there too, no?

chicaguapa Fri 15-Mar-13 22:54:11

Tbh I'm glad you are happy with your chat with the HOD and think it's the mark of a good school that they were able to rise above the accusations you've made about their agenda and priorities and they did indeed put your DS's needs first.

Glad the meeting went well and that your trust in the school has been restored.
I hope your ds does well in triple science smile

Coconutty Fri 15-Mar-13 23:25:08

Glad you're happier with the school now.

If he does get to do it and then finds it too much, at least he has the option of changing to the double.

How does he feel about the meeting?

wordfactory Sat 16-Mar-13 08:06:30

OP it's good the school have explained things more fully.
I often think this is all that is needed.

And yet so many schools and teachers come across very badly. The high handed 'trust me.' Perhaps it comes with being the adult all day in a room of DC?

I think it sometimes comes as a shock to come into contact with intelligent, analytical parents who expect to enter into a discussion as opposed to being told how it is.

I think a couple on this thread simply don't know how they come across. They're trying to be helpful, yet their manner smacks of the classroom grin.

However, I would say as a parent, nt a teacher, that fast tracked science is fast. And both my DC started their program in year 8.That's not to say it's not doable for your DS, but you need to ensure he understands how its going to be. For one thing there will be a lot of homework. And a lot of end of unit tests.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 16-Mar-13 08:23:43

I'm happy that you have felt better informed by the school and that you are more convinced that they do have the interests of your DS at heart rather than their league tables.

Again, good luck to your DS and I hope it does work out for him whichever way the decision ends up going.

Whathaveiforgottentoday Sat 16-Mar-13 08:25:37

When I teach the triple science, some bits you have to skim over and I set a lot of the easier topics as homework without covering them at all in class. I sometimes think my double science kids end up with a a deeper understanding of concepts in science than those who did triple. You can do well in GCSE science by just learning the revision books well, without really fully understanding it.

I teach Biology A level and I don't notice a great deal of difference between those who did double and those who did triple in how they cope. It may well be a different case for A level chemistry and Physics.

Erebus Sat 16-Mar-13 09:35:36

Well, that just about wraps this up, thank you for various contributions.

We will indeed be keeping a close eye on how things pan out over then next term- and certainly if DS is offered triple but if his performance in Science drops off, we may have to revisit this! And of course, upon discussion with all of his tutors, it may be decided he really should be doing double. But at least we know that they won't be dumping him off triple without a thought. Maybe then they do actually have the ability to get a good but not 'brilliant at science' DC like mine to A-A* in Triple rather than my assumption they just didn't let less-that-stellar DC onto the Triple course....

I confess I was amazed at how 'easily' DS doing triple was countenanced by the HoS. I had assumed we'd been given the box and dice about how very, very difficult it was, how colleges see no difference between double and triple students, how doing triple over double was of no advantage to a science-heading DC at all etc etc (pretty much the rhetoric of what's been said on here, actually!) but no, she didn't seem to think that at all. She recognised (as do I) that the school does have a lot of very clever DC who will sail through triple but that doesn't mean a less brilliant DC can't do well in triple with the correct support (which they seem to offer). She thinks DS should be doing triple if he can handle it with his future plans in mind. I asked about why they didn't offer 'normal track' triple to which she said that in her opinion, schools do too many GCSEs, they only 'need' about 8 so using up one option (the third science 'time') on yet more science closed the door on another subject that could demonstrate depth in education. I am still not sure I entirely agree with that! She also said they'd looked at core, additional and higher additional to make up the 3 but felt that colleges/ universities didn't understand the distinction and didn't recognise them as being the equivalent of bio/chem/phys Triple. She also mentioned that whilst core was obviously part of the curriculum it wasn't ever going to be a tool to open further science-doors beyond school (in response to why colleges want a B in additional or applied but aren't interested in your 'Science A' mark).

She said that yes, there were 3 exams per subject at the end of Y11, but said that sounded scarier than it actually was, how they were spread out a bit etc, and asked how DS was in exams, which is a tiny bit rich as the simple response is that in a modern, touchy-feely comprehensive, the DC don't do 'exams' as such til they're facing mocks, ie the 'sit down/shut up/invigilator walking up and down' exams we had every end of year and which privates do all the time, they have 'assessments'!

It has, of course, yet to be seen how they will accept DC like mine onto their course and wring an A or A* out of them!

I have to say that speaking to the HoS who obvs didn't get to where she is today without experience and judgement was a rather different experience to talking to a young, eager 23 year old teacher 'doing it by the book' on parents eve!

lljkk Sat 16-Mar-13 13:47:36

I had no idea that double-triple could be so complicated.

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