GCSEs/Exams 2013-2015

(76 Posts)
KatyPutTheCuttleOn Thu 29-Aug-13 12:13:57

A support thread for people with DCs starting GCSEs/Exams in 2013 with the exams in 2015.
Hold hands, share cake, wine, frustration, results, tips, book recommendations etc.

longingforsomesleep Thu 29-Aug-13 13:34:27

One here! Every time I think I've got to grips with the exam system (I have older children) they change it!

Not sure whether the new system will be better for DS3 or not. DS2 did well at GCSE (about to start sixth form) but he upped his game considerably in year 11 and I think he would have done better if all his exams had been at the end. All his science marks for example were higher in year 11 than for those exams he sat in year 10.

Does your dc do all exams at the end of year 11? DS3 is doing maths in November. His school have also decided that all students will do English Language at the end of year 10 (which means not studying any Eng Lit in year 10). This means if anyone doesn't get a C they can have another go the following year. I'm very anti early GCSEs!!

ITCouldBeWorse Thu 29-Aug-13 13:40:06

Dd will only be startin on year 9. I don't think she is going to be mature enough, but it is the schools system. I like so much else about it though.

She is dyslexic, so has a full set of challenges with the new system - though after tons of coaching, she exceeds the scores required for access arrangements.

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Thu 29-Aug-13 14:18:29

Yes, maths in November this year. Other than that, no.

ByTheSea Thu 29-Aug-13 14:23:22

DD1 starting Year 10 next week.

Supertrooper88 Thu 29-Aug-13 14:26:21

Ooo marking my place. Just on my way out but will post later.

OverTheFieldsAndFarAway Thu 29-Aug-13 14:31:19

Is there room for another?
DS3 starting yr10 next week. Fast tracked French in yr 9, got a B. all others taken in yr 11.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 29-Aug-13 14:35:31

My DD will be starting yr10 next week too. Her school doesn't do these stupid early exams - they just do 11 after two years thank goodness. She's fortunate its a GS so they don't have to play the league table games. I think she'll benefit from the move back towards exams over course work.

longingforsomesleep Thu 29-Aug-13 14:52:02

Grimma - I thought GS's were the worst for playing the league table games! They're certainly bad for early GCSEs - ours is anyway. I can't understand the logic behind getting a B or an A early when you could get an A* at the proper time!

another one with pfb starting y10...

I think they may do Eng Language in Y10 and Lit in Y11 but other than that, nothing early as far as I know, and the new linear syllabus makes it harder to do stuff early anyway...

DS will take 10 gcse's overall but that's ok with me - 10 good grades far better than doing extra ones or do some early and potentially getting lower grades or retaking....

I am currently trying to get him motivated to start the new year with a tidy desk and bookcase (given up on the rest of the pigsty)

louisea Thu 29-Aug-13 17:36:03

Jumping in. DTs starting Year 10. As far as I know all exams at the end of Y11. GCSE evening for the parents in a couple of weeks. Hoping that they pick up their game compared to Y9.

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Thu 29-Aug-13 17:36:40

I wondered about English Language and Lit in year 10 or 11 but I've not heard anything, maybe we will know more when they go back?

What subjects have your DCs chosen? Engineering, Geography, Triple Science and Fine Art here.

longingforsomesleep Thu 29-Aug-13 17:41:28

Only 2 choices for ds if he does triple science (which he is). He's doing music and computing. I think he does his DT GCSE next year and can pick up another subject then.

5madthings Thu 29-Aug-13 17:47:15

ds1 just about to start yr 10, he got the options he wanted and is in top sets, exoected to do well etc. he is very laid back tho and am.hoping he ups his game a bit. he is lucky to be naturally bright but i dont want him relying on that!

GrimmaTheNome Thu 29-Aug-13 17:47:47

>Grimma - I thought GS's were the worst for playing the league table games!

DD's doesn't have to - it always comes top of the county table anyway. She's lucky!

She's doing (in addition to maths and 2xEng): Triple science, German, Geography, Electronics, Computer science and Drama. The only one of those she doesn't like is the German but they have to do at least one MFL.

5madthings Thu 29-Aug-13 17:50:08

ds1 is doing eng lang and literature, triple science, maths, a btec in computer science and citizenship studies? plus geography, history, statistics and ict. so 12 in total? statistics is being taken after school as an extra.

BackforGood Thu 29-Aug-13 18:13:33

I have dd1 (who is dc2) starting Yr10 next week. She is pretty capable, but I worry she's not got her head round the fact she actually needs to start putting some serious wok commitment in from this year. She's pretty laid back about it all.

wordfactory Thu 29-Aug-13 18:47:57

It will be interesting to see how schools ract to the changes.

DS school has always done linear exams in year 11. So nothing new for them. They have it down pat.

DD's school is moving over to linear. I grilled the teachers on parents evening and they didn't seem worried.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 29-Aug-13 18:58:51

I would have thought that linear is easier for the schools than all this modular stuff.

wordfactory Thu 29-Aug-13 19:04:51

Grimma I would have thought it would make a more smooth two year period, gradually working through the syllabus, without all those bloody modules hanging over.

I think it will work in both my DC's favour. DD because she'd ramp it up over every module and DS because he wouldn't ramp himslef up enough!

pixelchick10 Thu 29-Aug-13 20:18:01

Hi there - DD starting Y10 next week too - we're expecting the work load to triple!!!

LickleLemon Thu 29-Aug-13 20:25:42

This is all new to me with DD1 going into year 10 next week.

We have had an upset during the holidays with a general communication from the school alerted us to the fact they had her options down incorrectly. Of course being August no one was avialble for ages but it is now finally resolved and DD has her original options.

As far as I know I dont think the school sit them early. However, I understand they start an actual English assessment at the end of next week.

DD is pretty set on what she wants to do and the direction she is heading and I just hope this means she continues to knuckle down. Until now she has been quite studious. She can be a little disorganised though - so I am hoping and praying she can manage her workload OK. She weekly boards so I think we are going to have to get used to her bringing lots of prep home where as before she was pretty much clearing it during the week - leaving our weekends pretty carefree.

Sh has chosen to do 2 additons subjects in her own time as well. I hope she copes with the workload OK but if not she can drop one. We will just have to see how it goes.

I am just wondering how the hell I became a Mum to child starting GCSEs - I know its a cliche but starting reception seems like yesterday and I cannot believe we are here.

roisin Thu 29-Aug-13 20:46:11

ds2 is just going into yr10. He is in a set that will do Maths early as long as they are on track for A* other than that all exams at the end.

ds1 got very stressed in yr10 and it was a bit of a nightmare year, so I'm hoping we won't have to go through that with ds2.

I keep emphasising to ds2 that he just has to do his best. ds1 got all A*s, so ds2 is likely to feel a sense of expectation- though hopefully not from us.

busymummy3 Thu 29-Aug-13 23:08:18

My Ds going into Y10 next week and we have no information whatsoever from school and never likely to get anything out of DS hoping we are going to be more informed next week,

GrimmaTheNome Thu 29-Aug-13 23:44:31

>However, I understand they start an actual English assessment at the end of next week.

Yes, that's likely - DD did one last term, though apparently they can discard the results and do it again or something, if they didn't do particularly well, so sort of a trial run.

longingforsomesleep Fri 30-Aug-13 00:34:06

"DD's doesn't have to - it always comes top of the county table anyway" - then I guess they play the league table games exceptionally well Grimma!!

I was forgetting the mfl - how could I? DS spent half of last term dithering between German and Spanish. Plumped for Spanish and then negotiated a switch to German. Let's hope he's made the right choice!

BlackMogul Fri 30-Aug-13 00:49:20

I thought Mr Gove was coming down hard on taking exams early, ie in year 10. What is the point if you do not get an A*.? You need the extra teaching - surely- to get a better grade. Best choices at GCSE are Maths, English x 2, sciences (3 or double), a mfl, a humanity, an art subject plus one or two more you enjoy. Not sure about BTEC if you will get A and A* at GCSE. You can specialise at A level and some courses just take concentration and effort away from what actually matters. Why do a citizenship qualification? ICT is not rated either and lots of DCs find it boring.

5madthings Fri 30-Aug-13 02:28:16

I dotn see the point in citizenship or the Oct btec but both are compulsory at my boys school. So no choice, he will breeze the icttho as he is already ahewad of where he needs to be, spends his spare ti,e programming etc and the ICT teacher gets him to help teach other kids,it's his thing.

5madthings Fri 30-Aug-13 02:29:22

The citizenship covers some religious studies as well? Dotn know much about it tbh but its compulsory anyway.

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Fri 30-Aug-13 08:09:40

DD's school doesn't insist on a MFL, in fact the head stood there in the parent's meeting (which the students were at) and said 'Don't bother with a language if you don't enjoy them, the EB is a performance measure for the school and not a qualification, don't bother about us getting the performance measure, just choose what you need as it is about you and not us'

DD hates languages so she was glad not to have to do them, she had a choice of French, German or Spanish if she had wanted to.

I'm surprised at the variance in the number of GCSEs, some schools do 9 (DD is doing 9 I think), others more. DD will do RS, English x 2, Maths, Geography, Engineering (single award), Triple Science, not sure about Citizenship and PE but I don't think they do that for GCSE unless it is an option but I'm not sure about that either.

wordfactory Fri 30-Aug-13 08:24:14

Neither DD nor DS school insist on the EBAC, but only in so far as the humanity is concerned. Everyone has to do one, but the field is wider than those prescribed by Mr Gove.

DD's HT called him a philistine for excluding music and RS from the list grin.

Both schools do however insist on a MFL.

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Fri 30-Aug-13 08:36:08

I have yet to meet anybody who likes Mr Gove or approves of what he is doing, but that is a whole other thread.
I was hoping that DD would do music as she's got a flair for it but she doesn't get on with the music teacher (neither do I, he's excellent at music but the way he put pressure on DD didn't suit her, I had to tell him to back off but he didn't with the result that she has given up all her instruments and singing lessons) so she dropped it.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 30-Aug-13 08:55:54

>then I guess they play the league table games exceptionally well Grimma!!

Not really - they just have the advantage of a selective intake (so comparing them with anything other than the few other GSs and selective indys is not really fair) which is why I assumed GSs in general wouldn't need to play games with what subjects the pupils take when.

Word - DDs school takes the same line as yours re EBACC - sort of wish it was more like Kathy's except I sort of feel its good for DD to be made to do the MFL. She should be capable of getting a decent grade, just that she'll have to actually put in effort to learn it unlike other subjects which come more naturally. Which is perhaps no bad thing.

Kathy - what a shame about the music. Its perhaps the subject most affected by the character of the teacher - either to inspire or otherwise.

longingforsomesleep Fri 30-Aug-13 10:12:16

Grimma - quite a lot of grammars in our area so I guess I'm used to the competition between them!

I assume (though I don't know) that part of the game is about maximising A level results. I know at our school the top maths set take it at the start of year 10, middle set at the end of year 10 and third set at the end of year 11. When I've tackled the school on this they've said that, it means students can spend longer getting to grips with AS maths which is much harder than gcse. That's the party line but I know not all the teachers agree with this approach. I think it's fine for the really bright ones but there's a risk of pushing others through too quickly before they've consolidated their gcse maths. And they insist anyone doing it early who doesn't get A*/A retakes it - demoralising I think. Not sure if they're doing it for the students' sake or to maximise their A level results? Or to get maths GCSE out of the way so they can cram in another subject? And they're always talking about how many students do one or two AS levels with their GCSEs. Again, it's great if it works, but demoralising for students if it doesn't.

DS3 has chosen AS Computing for one of his 'GCSE' options but will spend two years over it and sit the AS exam at the end of year 11. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will work for him. I wanted him to do GCSE Latin but his choice!

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Fri 30-Aug-13 10:25:56

DD is doing AS level Critical Thinking for one of her options. She wanted to do Latin or Ancient Greek but they don't offer either, I suppose they are a bit specialist.
Critical Thinking isn't, as far as I know, seen as a useful A level by universities but I think it might be a useful skill to learn. We will see.

LickleLemon Fri 30-Aug-13 14:02:50

My DD is doing mainly languages. She likes them, seems to pick them up very easily despite being a fairly average student in other subjects. I do worry that her choices are rather limiting but she is adament about following a career using languages. I just hope she does not change her mind because she has not left much scope for much else now.

She is doing French, German, Spanish, Welsh, Greek, Latin and History for her options and then the compulsory Maths, Eng lit and lang, and Dble Science. I think some of the GCSEs are IGCSE but not sure which ones off the top of my head.

HmmAnOxfordComma Fri 30-Aug-13 16:31:27

Slightly off the main topic of the thread, but just to add that in our area, it's the weaker schools (either by intake or general management) that do early exams; all the grammars, privates and 'good' comps have always just done proper two year courses with a proper set of 9-12 GCSEs at the end (with the very odd exception, such as ds's school where the exceptional musicians can take music early etc). They'll find there's very much less change for them over the next few years than for other schools.

HmmAnOxfordComma Fri 30-Aug-13 16:32:55

Sorry, meant to say good luck to all your dc for the next two years. Mine's just going in to year 8 and will be one of Gove's guinea pigs.

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Fri 30-Aug-13 16:34:39

Lickle is your DD at a private school? That's an impressive list of subjects.

AIBU to wonder why my DD is 'only' doing 9 GCSEs? Should she be doing more?

GrimmaTheNome Fri 30-Aug-13 16:44:23

8 or 9 good GCSEs is enough (from the POV of uni entry - whether its enough to cover your DCs interests is a different question). The private schools hereabouts do 9 or 10. As I said, DDs GS does 11 (though they can do an extra MFL or I think Latin as an extra 'twilight' class). Tends to be comps that do more than a dozen.

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Fri 30-Aug-13 16:49:15

They get to choose 4 options - one of them can be triple science. I'm not sure how that works because triple science only counts as one option yet people who don't choose triple science don't get to choose two extra GCSEs in it's place.

BackforGood Fri 30-Aug-13 16:57:48

Katy - that's because the others will be doing 'double' science, so to do the triple, only adds one more, so only takes one option.

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Fri 30-Aug-13 17:01:50

Ah, yes, now I remember. It was back in February that they chose so I've forgotten since then. I spoke to DD, she also does GCSEs in ICT and RE so actually it is 11. They also do either 'Your Sport', 'Sports Leadership' or 'Fit4You' but she can't remember which she chose, they just asked them at school to decide. She, nor I, have no idea what Your Sport for Fit4You is!

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Fri 30-Aug-13 17:08:33


Ds is starting year 10 next week. Can I join you as I don't have a clue. He's doing Chemistry, Physics, English, Maths, RS, History, Spanish, German, Latin and Greek (possibly) confused

GrimmaTheNome Fri 30-Aug-13 17:27:37

Oh yes, they can do the Sports Leadership as part of the mandatory PE time. And also there's a raft of other non-exam PSHE/citizenship/RE/something else I've forgotten ... strategies for learning or somesuch?

OddBoots Fri 30-Aug-13 18:23:05

My ds is going into Y10 but I don't feel like we know what he is doing properly.

They have started some coursework for an ICT qual (not a GCSE, something else) but they're not sure if they will actually go on to finishing it. I don't know if he is doing double or triple science, if he is doing English Lit (although it sounds like he is) and he might be taking maths a year early but there is a new head of maths next year so that might change!

I let ds choose his own options, he didn't have a huge choice as his school do focus on the EBacc but he has selected Drama and is taking Dance in his PE slot - both of these surprised me but I think they will do him good even if they aren't his strongest points (ASD and maths geek).

BackforGood Fri 30-Aug-13 19:11:52

Oddboots - It doesn't get any clearer as they go through the whole procedure grin
(I have one starting Yr13 as well, so have done this once)

LickleLemon Fri 30-Aug-13 19:38:57

Yes she is Katy.

I really do not have a clue. So much has changed since I left school aged 16 in 1988. I was one of the first to do GCSE after it changed from Olevel/CSE.

I think we have a meeting at school one evening in a couple of weeks (am so mentally not ready for going back - I really need to get my school mum head on).

I think most schools do 9 or 10 GCSEs. 2 that DD is doing are in after school classes (at school) but I have said if her other work suffers or she is too stressed or struggling she may have to drop one or both of the extras. I would rather she had better results in less subjects than lower results in more.

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Fri 30-Aug-13 23:10:22

I did O levels so it's all confusing to me. I'm not ready for going back either, got stacks to do before next week sad
I'd prefer better results in less subjects as well.

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Sun 08-Sep-13 16:52:27

The school are planning after school revision classes starting next month, are other schools doing this already?

bigTillyMint Sun 08-Sep-13 18:47:45

My DD has just started in Y10. Although they started on KS4 last year - GCSE courses, I think she is feeling the pressure. She said this morning that she wishes she could just go back to Y8sad

They do a ridiculous number of GCSE's at her school - Ebac subjects are compulsory - she is doing Eng lit&lang, maths, triple science, Spanish, History, plus compulsory RE, ICT and PSHE/citizenship, plus options - French, art textiles and drama. And she is doing PE as an extra. No wonder she is panicking.

She came home from school on Friday saying her French teacher said they have a controlled assessment in 3 weeks. We haven't been told anything about any early entries, apart from the PE, but she thinks she may be doing some early. It's all so confusingconfused

Katy I know DD's school do revision classes, but I'm not at all sure how it works. I would also prefer better results, less stress and fewer subjectsconfused

ErrolTheDragon Mon 09-Sep-13 09:29:01

tilly - that does sound like a lot ... hope you don't mean the ICT/RE/cit. are exam subjects too? DDs RE/cit is non-exam and doesn't sound too onerous - they have a combined slot for it and something called 'beyond the curriculum'

How on earth can they start revision this early... you have to learn the stuff before you can revise it confused. Extra classes if you need a bit more help, fine, but at this stage I'd have thought that was 'consolidation' not 'revision'.

wordfactory Mon 09-Sep-13 09:36:07

I am soooo not a fan of numerous GCSEs, especially those bloody useless half courses.

They should be entirely optional.

bigTillyMint Mon 09-Sep-13 10:55:06

Errol, I think they aresad

The worst of it is not even that we don't get a say in it, but that we don't really know what timetable of exams, etc is planned for themconfused

DH is planning an email, I am planning to go in!

ErrolTheDragon Mon 09-Sep-13 11:02:30

DDs school used to do the half GCSE citizenship but have dropped that this year - I think that there had been pressure from parents and/or pupils not to bother and they actually listen!

HSMMaCM Mon 09-Sep-13 11:03:25

DDs school told us not to worry about league tables when our children chose their options. DD has settled happily into yr 10. She might be offered the chance to do maths a year early, but the maths head has made it clear they will only do it early if they are on track to get the best mark they can. She can't wait to stop doing ICT next year. She thinks she is in the wrong set for one class, but hopefully that will be resolved.

bigTillyMint Tue 10-Sep-13 21:12:19

OK, so how do I help DD to manage all her subjects? She seems to be doing 15 GCSE's (which I think is blardy ridiculous, and I think I will try to go in to see someone about it) and is getting worried about how she is going to get all her homework done
- she now has to stay at school for an extra hour or so 2 nights a week (all Y10 and 11's do)
- her art teacher wants them to stay for an hour after school once a week
- her drama teacher wants them to do half an hour at lunchtime or after school
- she wants to go to the gym with a friend once a week after school
- she has gymnastics on a Friday evening and all day Saturday.

I am going to encourage her to take it a day/week at a time, but it sounds daunting to me. I only did 9 subjects for O'levelconfused

ErrolTheDragon Tue 10-Sep-13 21:25:46

tilly - yes, does sound excessive. I think the first thing I'd do is check if they are all full gcses esp the cit/re/ICT - I didn't think there was such a thing as full citizenship gcse and lots of places do halves for the compulsory RE. If they're not full awards than TBH they're probably not worth putting too much effort in versus the others.

bigTillyMint Wed 11-Sep-13 06:48:22

Yes! Another question for the email/meeting!

TBH, I don't think there's much point in putting that much effort into any of those three (even friend who is HoICT in a 6th form college says GCSE ICT's a waste of time!) even if they are full GCSE's. But she is a child who wants to do her best at everything and I can see her stressing about them anyway.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 11-Sep-13 07:54:42

To be sure, it goes against the grain to tell a child not to bother - 'prioritization' is perhaps the appropriate word?

I take it that the 'PE as an extra' is something she's passionate about (given all that gym) ... but given she's doing that out of school anyway does she need the PE for her career plan?

I've a DN who did 13.5 GCSEs and got A* in most, A in the rest (B for the .5 cit. which is I think all that's possible) - she had a weekend job as well - very bright and hard working, but shows that a high number can be doable with determination.

wordfactory Wed 11-Sep-13 07:55:46

That's the trouble tilly if you kids are made to do them, they will end up doing the work, which will dilute the time available.

Ten GCSEs is more than enough, in fact I'd say it's prefereable.

I work at one of the most selective universities in the UK, and we don't look for any more than nine or ten GCSEs. But we do want good grades!

bigTillyMint Wed 11-Sep-13 08:01:56

Wordfactory, I totally agree. Unfortunately state comps are in the business of trying to get as many points as possible for the league tablesangry

Errol, PE is an extra, but it is something she is passionate about and I think it must be more useful than Citizenshipconfused

ErrolTheDragon Wed 11-Sep-13 08:23:48

I believe the half awards don't count towards the league tables now, another reason DDs school has dropped them entirely and they just do what they need to cover statutory requirements.

intitgrand Wed 11-Sep-13 08:57:35

If someone takes s 9 GCSEs in solid subjects and all passed at A* in one sitting .That is not going to close any doors to them.

bigTillyMint Wed 11-Sep-13 09:08:24

So true intitgrand. But when the school is putting the children in for all these exams, I'm not sure what we can do.

bigTillyMint Wed 11-Sep-13 09:11:56

She is doing all the solid subjects, with a load of crap on top. AFAIC, Citizenship, RE, ICT, drama could all go.

OddBoots Wed 11-Sep-13 09:45:37

I don't think there is need to do a GCSE in those subjects but I wouldn't call them crap, I actually think they are important in helping our children become rounded adults. This blog explains why better than I can.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 11-Sep-13 10:56:21

Odd - yes - I'm glad my DD will be doing some RE/citizenship (no ICT as she does Comp Sci) but glad its just for information rather than examined. Similarly, I'm glad that they have to do some PE.

bigTillyMint Wed 11-Sep-13 11:59:59

Yes, yes, they can be valuable if taught in an interesting and engaging way. Particularly if there is no opportunity for covering topical, etc issues at home in normal discussions. And there should be loads of PE for all - especially finding stuff to engage non-traditionally-sporty kids.

wordfactory Wed 11-Sep-13 12:24:39

Oh yes.

I think it's good for all students to have some periods covering these subjects. I just don't see any need for them to take a GCSE in it on top of their options.

Ezzymozzy Thu 12-Sep-13 09:06:33

May I join. My dd is in year 10. It's all confusing and I have learnt a bit from here. I will now check how many Subjects she has entered.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 12-Sep-13 09:19:29

DDs school had their yr10 information evening last night. The main messages were (a) that there are quite a lot of support mechanisms in school and (b)how important time management is. They had some yr12s do a 'how to survive' presentation and they stressed that it really is a good idea to try to get homework done as soon as possible and not let work build up. Obvious enough but quite useful to have it pointed out by pupils rather than adults!

bigTillyMint Thu 12-Sep-13 11:08:05

Y10 information evening?envyenvyenvy

Have fired off an email, but I expect it will be some time till we get a reply.

wordfactory Thu 12-Sep-13 11:51:34

Both of mine are trying to do prep on the night set where possible

bigTillyMint Thu 12-Sep-13 12:17:54

Got a reply! Apparently the assessment calendar is on its way!

DS who is Y8 tends to do it on the night set, but DD juggles more. She has always got it all done to a high standard though, so I guess it works for her.

Theas18 Thu 12-Sep-13 16:09:26

Checking in here.... Dd2 is a grafter and able, but terrified of trial exams having seen her siblings chomp their way through bited sided modular exams . She should be fine but is a worrier.

Actually of my 3 ds is the one I think suffered due to the changes - he's had the rug pulled from under him and now has a linear A2 to so having done modular GCSE and AS. Thats a tough ask to change exam skills within a year.

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