Cancelling A level subjects - how late can schools do this?

(27 Posts)
circular Fri 26-Apr-13 08:10:17

Concerned for DD1 who has 2 less popular choices.

How late can schools leave it to decide they are not running a subject previously offered?

Dd1 has just been told 2 of her A level choices are not running at current school due to low take up. Not a big deal, as she has other places, and would have been leaving anyway.

BUT as one of the subjects is Music, which she wants to study at University, it had made me question if other schools where she is holding provisional places may not run it.

I understand subjects may not run if not viable, but her school has always run Music in the past, even with just 2 or 3 pupils.
Is it possible that a subject can get pulled as late as enrolment day?. After all, that's when they know more reliable numbers. By then, its too late to go with second choice as they both want that result slips by 2 or 3pm on results day

Or even worse, turning up on the first day of term to be told its been pulled?

I know some Music degree courses accept Grade 8 theory in place of A level, which she will probably do anyway, but far from ideal.

hellsbells99 Fri 26-Apr-13 14:15:03

My DD's school is not running music this year either which was one of DD's choices. There was only 1 smallish class for GCSE (usually 2 classes) due to the impact of Gove's EBacc, so this means the number wanting to do it at A level was very low - and also it is not classed as a facilitating subject (although almost essential if you want to take it further!). The 2 other local high schools to us are also dropping the subject for A level. I think it is a huge shame as it is not an easy subject.

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 26-Apr-13 14:37:19

@circular - you need to contact the potential schools and ask them.

circular Fri 26-Apr-13 16:57:20

Russians I have asked, at first choice school, and based on current numbers its fine for music. Almost certain it will go ahead, but said voluntarily they would not put it in writing.

Second choice is a music aptitude place (so les likely) at a school further away.

As both are heavily oversubscribed, if she committed to one on results day, it would be impossible to change.

hellsBells Understand re the 'facilitating subjects' but doubt that is the reasoning at current school.
The other subject she had chosen that has been dropped IS a facilitating subject.
Highest demand there is for Psychology and Business. Don't think Music Tech is running either, but Performing Arts appears to be.

Also noted recently that this is the last year East Anglian Uni are running their Music degree.

SprinkleLiberally Fri 26-Apr-13 17:05:28

I think with cuts small numbers are less viable. Lots of pupils change their minds after getting results.

hellsbells99 Fri 26-Apr-13 17:05:32

Hopefully everything will be ok then. Our school is running music tech. I think most popular subject is maths! Good luck.

glaurung Fri 26-Apr-13 18:16:12

With the funding cuts for sixth formers lots of schools are struggling to run minority subjects (any subject with low numbers, facilitating or not, is at risk - MFLs are especially so apparantly) and some others aren't guaranteering to run them for the full 2 years (ie: they may run the AS and then decide not to run the A2) which could really scupper a dc needing that subject for university. I think it will be a problem for quite a few dc. Hope it all works out OK for your dd circular, probably worth phoning all the schools and asking some searching questions. Also, keep all your options open for as long as possible.

circular Fri 26-Apr-13 18:30:19

HellsBells Will your DD change schools, or is music not so important for her?

circular Fri 26-Apr-13 18:40:22

glaurung options are open until results day.

It's difficult to gauge which schools are more likely to run music.
Of her offers, from past numbers, the schools higher up the league tables appear the most committed.

A year ago, I would never have thought that her current school would decide not to. On their offers, they are asked to accept either firmly or provisionally. Music had NO firm acceptances - they claimed just 1 would have been enough to run it.

glaurung Fri 26-Apr-13 18:59:41

why didn't your dd make a firm acceptance for it?? Is it firm for 'I am definitely coming to your school' or firm for 'If I come to your school I definitely want to do music'? I didn't think they could ask the former before results day.

circular Fri 26-Apr-13 19:10:29

The reason she didnt make it firm was because she had a double clash. So her provisional acceptance was for Music and French (which are both not running) plus two subjects she did not want to do instead of the two clashing subjects.

Since then, 3 out of 5 other offers she is holding are at far superior schools, and the other two slightly superior. so she definitely doesn't want to stay.

But it's enough to make us worry that if they are dropping subjects, how many other schools are likely to and which of her offers is the best bet.

And the original question of how late can schools leave it to cancel a course?

hellsbells99 Fri 26-Apr-13 19:21:55

At DDs school 2 wanted to do music. It was put to the Governors who decided the course would not run if less than 4 chose it. None of our local schools are running music. DD has decided she doesn't want a long commute so is staying where she is. She will continue to study her instruments and doing abrsm exams so hopefully not totally closing that door. But will probably study sciences at uni.
I would have thought it unlikely that any school will run courses with only 1 or 2 takers - although I assume the teachers are still employed and paid???!!

glaurung Fri 26-Apr-13 20:18:28

"How late can schools leave it to cancel a course?"

I'm not sure entirely, but I know dc who have been let down at the end of yr12 when courses aren't continued for the second year and I suspect there's nothing to stop schools cancelling in the week before term starts, especially if some children don't make the grades or change their minds last minute, but it's probably rare - it may well be less rare this year though.

circular Fri 26-Apr-13 20:59:31

All very worrying.

May call some Uni admissions to see how the land lies if she does end up not being able to take music A level.

LondonMother Sat 27-Apr-13 08:39:11

This is a problem for minority subjects. In cities and larger towns surely there ought to be some sort of co-operation between schools and colleges so that the 2 or 3 students in each of half a dozen schools who want to do a less popular but still very worthwhile subject can be taught together. Of course, for the last 15 years+ schools have been pitched against each other in many ways rather than been encouraged to work together, so this won't happen. sad

mumslife Sat 27-Apr-13 09:05:25

I think grammarsare safest best for it to run but not so safe if you dont happen to have a grammar optins. Several of dd friends are doing it but at grammar school Daughter wants to do govt and politics not sure how popular that will be and will they cancel it after a year starting to worry myself now lol! fortunately her other three a level choices are i am sure very popular history english lit and art. Thena gain if they are over subscribed you have the problem of getting on the courses

creamteas Sat 27-Apr-13 09:23:49

Where I live the sixth forms are all in consortia, to avoid the problem of low numbers and timetable clashes. What this means is that students can move between schools for different subjects.

Although there are issues raised about getting to some lessons on time (especially if changing school mid morning!), it does allow nearly everyone to stay a pupil at their preferred school and still take all the options they want.

Perhaps you could investigate if this is a possibility in your area?

SprinkleLiberally Sat 27-Apr-13 09:59:00

Quite often pupils are less than keen on going to a partnership school. It can make them choose a different option that allows them not to dp a subject at a different school.

glaurung Sat 27-Apr-13 12:33:07

why do you think grammars are more immune to this mumslife? The last school I heard of that is not guaranteeing they will run the 2014A2 courses for AS subjects they are offering this year is a superselective grammar. They are focussing more on sciences and everything else is subject to numbers.

circular Sat 27-Apr-13 15:40:09

No chance of a partnership arrangement where we leave. complicated as on the edge of a large LA, so travelling out of LA easier, except for the local schools, of which there are only two with sixth forms AND in LA, the one she is at, and 1st choice.

She made 6 external applications, all comprehensives, offers on 5. the sixth was in a Consortium (of 10 I think ) in another area, and there was a clash. So as well as an hours commute, she would have had to travel between schools, some in quite a rough area.

Not sure about the Grammar school theory as we are not a Grammar school area. But of the schools she has offers for, the more academic have historically higher music numbers.

These are the options:

School 1) -always been her dream choice, ticks all the boxes, and known to be the best locally for music, about a 20 minute bus ride away. Specialism in MFL, so French probably safe. Always been 1st choice, one or two others from current school likely to be going there. Reasonably academic, comp that becomes selective on sixths form, only A levels studied. (62% A* to B)

School 2)about an hours commute with change of trains but reliable services. She has a music aptitude place. The most academic (64% A* to B), of them all, to the extent that she thinks she may be out of her depth as she feels they would not have looked twice at her predicted A/B grades if it wasn't for her music. Slightly better on music results than school 1. IMO this one is the least likely to pull music, not sure how much chance there is of them pulling French. Will know nobody there.

School 3), out of LA but walking distance. Only about 5 or 6 generally take music, and not the preferred board. Specialism in MFL so French probably safe there. Not as good as first 2 on A level results (50% A* to B). A few from her current school likely to there.

gobbin Sat 27-Apr-13 22:43:55

The one benefit of a tertiary system is that at least you know if your child is going to a sixth form college then the course will be running.

Never understood the desperation that schools feel for hanging on to their Yr 12/13 pupils when they can't justify the staff-to-pupil ratio. College is a much better half-step to uni I think anyway.

My son's school cannot offer him the combination he wants to do (Chem/Phys/Geog/RE or Hist) so he's going to the local Catholic sixth form college where he can do them because they have the staffing.

mumslife Sun 28-Apr-13 08:42:21

All four grammars in our area are running Music and seem to have plenty of pupils wanting to take it but am not so sure about other subjects Fingers crossed though because my daughter want to do govt and politics Not sure how popular that is but hope they dont cancel it. She shouldbe okay with her other choices History english Lit and Art but then you get the problem of them being over subscribed Arghhh!

circular Sun 28-Apr-13 09:40:07

Gobbin -Trouble is where we are, no local sixth form colleges.
Local FE college, dire results for A levels, picks up the less academic that don't meet requirements for school sixth forms or prefer vocational courses. They don't do sciences or MFL, and put more emphasis on the Performing Arts type courses than Music.

Even with an hours travelling for a specialist sixth form college, results are worse than all of the schools DD is holding offers at.

What is 'different' about a sixth form college that means they would not cancel a course.

gobbin Sun 28-Apr-13 11:32:05

Hi again circular.

Just sheer weight in numbers - most colleges take from a number of schools collectively, so combining the two or three from each feeder secondary school into one larger group.

I understand though your issue though with the role of colleges in an area with school sixth forms - the area I teach in has a mix of both. The college that feeds from the 11-16 schools has historically been much stronger, better geared up for the full range of A Levels as well as BTEC courses and is expanding all the time.

The college serving the 11-18 schools is light years behind in terms of offering A levels but is very strong on offering vocational courses and dealing with lower ability pupils. Fortunately, our pupils can choose either of these colleges or go to a school with a sixth form so they have a wide range of options age 16.

circular Sun 28-Apr-13 16:42:01

Thanks Gobbin
So do the larger numbers mean larger tutor groups in general?

When doing the open day rounds it A level groups did not seem to be above 20.
Some subjects less than 10, which is great if they keep the subject on. Difficult to strike a balance and get a small enough group with the subject still going ahead.

gobbin Sun 28-Apr-13 21:17:33

I can't advise you on tutor group numbers. The college I went to was similar in set up to high school, where a tutor group was made up of people studying a range of subjects, who then filtered off to their respective subjects. We had about 25 in the tutor group but around 15-20 in each teaching group. Your local colleges may have a different system.

mummytime Mon 29-Apr-13 06:39:26

If you have a sixth form college that has say 1000 pupils just doing A'levels then they can run a wider range of courses than a school sixth form with 200. The tutor groups don't have to be bigger, and class sizes don't either, you just run more of them. The problem of sixth form colleges is they know their students less well, and some students can struggle with a lack of pastoral care (if only at the start).
However Music is not a subject that my DCs sixth form even struggles to put on. They do share some less popular A'levels wi the local Catholic school, eg. law.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now