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Is it a bad thing to NOT take a language for GCSEs in Year 11?

(75 Posts)
vivizone Fri 04-Jan-13 13:41:02

Hi All

A letter has just been received from school stating that my nephew will no longer attend French lessons as he is not achieving his potential and is at risk of failing this particular GCSE at end of year 11. All other subjects he is an A/B student. The letter states he will another option to study something else when he returns to school this Jan. He is Year 9 (13yrs).

I am worried. Should my sister insist on him continuing with a Language or is okay to not have a Language as a GCSE?


Crawling Fri 04-Jan-13 13:44:42

Its perfectly fine for him not to take a language in fact I think it would be better to take a subject he is good at rather than get a poor grade in a subject you think will be useful which won't because he will get a poor grade.

HollyBerryBush Fri 04-Jan-13 13:45:59

If he's no good at a subject, then it is pointless taking it as an option.

BackforGood Fri 04-Jan-13 13:48:41

A language is considered a "good" subject to have on your CV, but not getting a language isn't, so, if a pupil is really just 'not getting' MFL, then it would make sense to look at other options.
What I find really strange though, is that the school has sent a letter, "dictating" this, and not spoken to the pupil and parents about what his possible options are. Seems a very odd way of communicationg to me.

BartletForTeamGB Fri 04-Jan-13 13:50:08

I think that everyone should do a foreign modern language at GCSE, although few universities, compared to when I applied I think, actually demand them.

BartletForTeamGB Fri 04-Jan-13 13:51:30

I should have added, that I am also puzzled by how he has been told about this. He is only Year 9, so there is still plenty of time for him to improve.

specialsubject Fri 04-Jan-13 13:52:35

if he is not achieving his potential, why doesn't the school help him to do so? Isn't that their job?

he clearly isn't daft if he is doing so well at other subjects.

It's only PE where the less able don't get help - or so I thought...

LoopsInHoops Fri 04-Jan-13 13:52:54

Sounds like the school is up to something - lost a member of staff recently? What are his levels in MFL? An A/B student across the board should be fine doing a MFL - and the timing is odd. Why on earth would the decide this in the middle of the year without prior consultation? Odd.

Jins Fri 04-Jan-13 13:54:59

A MFL at grade C or above is an English Baccalaueate measurement. It may impact on future university choices but so far DS1s lack of a MFL hasn't made any difference to him.

It's far better to do another subject and get a pass than to fail a MFL, We were told that effectively Russell Group was out without it but evidence this year suggests otherwise

LoopsInHoops Fri 04-Jan-13 13:57:33

Could you clarify, has he chosen his options yet?

Usually they wouldn't at this stage, and would continue all of their subjects until end of y9, then start y10 with the options.

Some schools start a bit earlier, often after y11 have left, but this isn't until May. Suddenly deciding not to continue any class at this stage is really strange, and sounds more like a timetabling issue than an attainment one - if he were doing that badly they could discourage him from choosing French in his options, but to wait until then.

I'm putting my money on a staff shortage in this area.

mrsjay Fri 04-Jan-13 13:59:55

would it not be better he took a subject he could do than a fail a subject he can't, my dd is dyspraxic and never got the option to take french in high school because her English was so poor, she managed to pass all of her exams and I dont think a second language is needed tbh.

wherearemysocka Fri 04-Jan-13 13:59:58

I'm surprised he can drop MFL halfway through the year - usually it's compulsory at least until the end of year 9. I would contact the school as if he's getting As and Bs in everything else he could probably be taught up to a C in French. I'd be suspicious.

CooEeeEldridge Fri 04-Jan-13 14:10:11

I didn't do a language gcse, like your son I was A/B student in everything else but HATED learning languages (still do). Went to a Russell Group uni, and have a job with frequent travel abroad. I've seen the occasional job that requests a language but more like 1 out of 100.

It is embarrassing when all of our clients in Europe speak at least 3 languages, but as everyone speaks English it is fine.

LoopsInHoops Fri 04-Jan-13 14:14:41

The thing is though Coo, things aren't the same as they were only a couple of years ago. Languages ARE being insisted on by top universities. It's a fact.

OP, in my experience the only students who are asked to drop MFL before the end of y9 (end of compulsory MFL) are those who are severely SEN or possibly have dire behavioural issues. Hence my suspicion that this is more about timetabling.

SilasGreenback Fri 04-Jan-13 14:18:57

Seems a very odd time to send the letter. Do you think it could be less to do with his ability and more with his attitude? Maybe he spends the whole time messing about and the teacher doesn't want him in class anymore.

What was his end of year 8 report like? Surely he can't have changed that much in a term.

BunFagFreddie Fri 04-Jan-13 14:19:11

What's the point in making someone learn a something that they have no aptitude for, especially if it isn't even a core subject?

People generally excel at what they're are good at and will work harder at it. Secondary school education is dull enough for most kids without forcing them to take GCSE's in subjects they hate. Why not let them do drama, music or something they can be enthusiastic about? People do end up in that line of work and even if they're not the highest paying jobs, they are generally interesting and rewarding.

complexnumber Fri 04-Jan-13 14:20:45

I think it's a shame that a MFL is so often just considered as 'another subject' that can be added to a list of others, with the list of nice shiny A's and B's alongside .

I really think a MFL should be considered a life skill with obvious RL uses (and not just on holiday).

I taught in a school on the coast in E. Sussex for a while and could never understand some of the pupil's attitudes (probably passed down by ill-informd parents). I didn't teach MFL, but I would often hear pupils whine 'What's the point of me learning French? When am I going to use it?' I would point out to the sea (yes! We had a sea view from my classroom window) and inform them they were actually closer to France than they were to London... to no avail.

It is our loss and will continue to be so if this attitude pervails.

vivizone Fri 04-Jan-13 14:23:01

The letter arrived this morning stating that they will arrange a meeting with my sister to discuss the matter further. My nephew has in the past expressed concern to me that he is struggling with French. He is bilingual and picks up language relatively easy - he used to love French in his old school and his marks were decent.

He seems to think it's the way it is taught and he just doesn't get it and says the teacher is impatient and snappy. The school is good but has a very large intake in a inner London Borough. There is a fair bit of bad behavior in lessons but he seems to be holding up and has adjusted to the school. He was taught in independent school until end of yr 7.

Fluffy1234 Fri 04-Jan-13 14:24:12

My son got a similar letter in year 9 suggesting he gives up German but he was also studying French so we let him give the German up. Your letter is puzzling, I thought pupils had to study a language up to options.

LoopsInHoops Fri 04-Jan-13 14:27:19

Ah, bilingual? Then they probably will be offering to let him take a GCSE in his native language, therefore fulfilling the MFL mandatory criteria.

vivizone Fri 04-Jan-13 14:28:26

Seems a very odd time to send the letter. Do you think it could be less to do with his ability and more with his attitude? Maybe he spends the whole time messing about and the teacher doesn't want him in class anymore.

Hi, he is extremely quiet and all teachers have expressed that his behavior is amazing.

vivizone Fri 04-Jan-13 14:32:51

So without MFL, he will not be able to apply to Russell Group? it would be nice to have that option when the time comes.

vivizone Fri 04-Jan-13 14:37:44

The letter is extremely annoying as they have already reached a decision before discussing the matter!

We will have to wait until Monday when he returns to school.

SminkoPinko Fri 04-Jan-13 14:54:19

How totally ridiculous of the school to announce things in this way. Very poor. As a parent to 2 pathologically lazy year 9 boys, I would want to challenge this. Year 9 is the worst year. It's very well known to be the year when even quite motivated kids can muck about and have no focus because the novelty and shine of secondary school has completely worn off but they are not yet at the stage where they are studying for anything that counts. They therefore present as lazy little toerags, many of them. It is very difficult to predict how they will do at the end of year 11 with the real exams when they haven't even started the GCSE course yet.

A language is an important qualification and is likely to be considered all the more so in years to come now that Gove has introduced the English Bacc concept. It is now one of the core subjects which will be looked for at every stage of educational and employment development the same way that English, maths and science are already. Your nephew may well lose out against similarly bright and well qualified people in the future on a tick-box "doesn't have a language qualification" basis. And even more importantly, knowing even a smattering of another language is a good thing. My French is terrible but it has enabled me to ask for beer and food in France and make myself laugh speaking Franglais, so not completely useless by any means. Far more useful than most of the other things I studied at that age, in fact! If he was my child I would be pushing for him to continue with French if I thought he had a chance of passing and/or if he enjoyed it. I would also consider getting a tutor to help him, if necessary.

Having said that, if he really, really hates languages and everyone is in honest agreement that he can't possibly achieve a C for some reason then it would probably be better to do something else, as others have said. I just feel slightly doubtful that this can be accurately predicted at this stage.

newyearnewattitude Fri 04-Jan-13 15:01:09

my son is in year 9 and started some of his GCSEs this year (History, ICT and RE) and because he wants to do triple science it means he won't be doing a MFL but has opted to do Latin GCSE as an after school activity. He hated french but loves Latin so that's fine with me, I'd rather his attentions were concentrated on what he loves and is capable of doing than being tortured to do something he hates. My thinking is if he wants to do an MFL there are plenty of evening classes he can attend later to gain a GCSE...

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