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To have done a nutty over GCSE options

(151 Posts)
chorltonwheelies Tue 13-Mar-18 23:44:47

This is going to sound terrible, but here goes. Probably outing and long so as not to drip feed.

DD at an independent school. One of the reasons we chose it & she liked it, above other schools was that it offered lots of language options. Her primary school had 4 languages on the curriculum (it got swallowed up by a big chain when she was in Reception who introduced them) and fortunately she had excelled in them all, despite my thinking it was too heavy. She's got a natural aptitude for language.

School said that it offered French and Latin in Year 7, then they could chose to pick up an additional language of Spanish or German in Year 8. Cool beans thinks DD, having already studied French, Latin & Spanish.

Midway through Year 7, school informs us that they are changing policy and for Year 8, they all have to keep on with the Latin, but choose between either keeping on French or dropping it for German or Spanish.

DD disappointed, but chose to keep on with French. School says that they will have the option to pick up Spanish or German in Year 9.

This time last year, school then informs us that they are effecting a change and that pupils will need to pick their options for Year 9, before then choosing their options for GCSE.

As part of this process they get taster lessons in Spanish and German. DD decides that she really wants to try German, much to my surprise, I thought she'd resume Spanish as she'd enjoyed it before, but hey ho, her choice.

She was a bit disappointed at having to drop some subjects she really enjoyed, (drama, ICT, art) but realised that you can't do everything. I let her make her own choices.

They've then had to choose their GCSE options and DD really wanted to do French, German and Latin, amongst other options. Spoke to all the teachers at Parent's Evening a few weeks back and they were all delighted she was plumping for their subjects, because she is so naturally good at languages and has really hit the ground running with her German. No indication that she couldn't do both. They don't have option blocks.

Anyway, she comes home today, angry and upset because deputy head has informed her and other pupils, that due to low pupil uptake, they can't do either French & German, or French and Spanish.

They can only do 1 core language. Reason given is that there will only be 4 people in her German class and that's not conducive to learning, however she can swap French for German which will put her in the core German class. Currently there's only 2 people in the core German. She doesn't want to swap, but also doesn't understand why they won't run it. I'm not sure I do either.

Apparently the German and Spanish teachers had no idea about this, and only found out from their students today, about not being able to do a 2nd language. They then went back to Head of Department who didn't know either.

It all sounds like a disorganised cock-up. I've written a sharp letter to the Head of Year and cced in the deputy, pointing out that we feel disappointed and misled and that actually the pages on their website are misleading because they state that students do 2 modern languages from early on, and it clearly lays out that students can choose 2 modern languages for GCSE.

I understand that it's sometimes not viable for schools to run small classes etc, but another part of me thinks feck it, why are we paying school fees? If it's a change of policy also think it's a bit shit to spring it on her without telling parents first. Apparently deputy tried to ring me a few times today, but she tried my landline instead of my mobile.

I'm not sure I understand it and I'm really peeved on behalf of my daughter who feels she has been lied to and wouldn't have dropped other subjects, to start German if she'd known that she wouldn't be able to continue it.

I know that it's not going to be career ending or anything for her, but she'd really set her heart on languages.

Written a pissy letter. I've probably been completely unreasonable haven't I?

thisismadness77 Tue 13-Mar-18 23:48:04

No, sounds like a fair complaint to me!

leghairdontcare Tue 13-Mar-18 23:51:13

I went to a shit comp and did 3 languages for GCSE. I learnt German for an hour a week after school from the German teaching assistant, there were 3 of us. We all got As or B's. If you're paying thousands of pounds for this then I'd really want to know why they can't make it work.

Fruitcorner123 Tue 13-Mar-18 23:58:06

Really not unreasonable. It's so sad that languages are falling from curriculums over the country. It's surprising that this even applies in private schools. Will she be able to study German in her spare time? I would push for them to change their minds, you are paying. Write to governors and explain that your daughter chose the school because of It's language courses. It's mis selling isn't it?

Fruitcorner123 Tue 13-Mar-18 23:58:44


chorltonwheelies Tue 13-Mar-18 23:59:25

Deputy Head said to her “you can’t learn German properly with just 4 in the class, it’s not enough to interact properly, trust me”.

DD is very timid, so when I asked her if she told the teacher how she felt, she said “no, she’s the deputy, you can’t argue with her”. She didn’t want to get into trouble.?sad

Fruitcorner123 Wed 14-Mar-18 00:01:47

That's bollocks my mum is a language teacher and in the past has taught an Alevel class with just one student. Times have changed and this would never be allowed now but it's purely a financial decision, dont let them dress it up as anything else.

PetiteMarseillaise Wed 14-Mar-18 00:02:25

DD doing Latin, French and German GCSEs in a state school. Friend does "twilight" lessons for Spanish GCSE on top of the usual scheduled French, state school.

I'd complain loudly if I were you. And see what other schooling options are available.

alltheworld Wed 14-Mar-18 00:02:49

I had four languages at school 30 odd years ago. It changed my life. I have been astounded at the fact that many schools only offer one language while forcing kids to do triple science. Apparently it is a national curriculum issue. All that said, if I had money the big attraction of private school would be multiple languages and if they removed them I would be furious.

ZandathePanda Wed 14-Mar-18 00:02:56

At our comp they can do 2 languages - combination choice of Spanish, German and/or French.

chorltonwheelies Wed 14-Mar-18 00:14:51

Their core subjects are English Lang & Lit, Maths & RE.

They are then in theory free to choose anything else on top so long as they do 1 language & either double or separate sciences. Nothing about only doing 1 modern language.

HermionesRightHook Wed 14-Mar-18 00:18:19

Balls. 4 people in any class will give you an outstanding chance at personalised, tailored teaching that'll give a great chance at getting a good grounding in the subject and at getting a good GCSE. And for a language that requires drilling in verb endings, etc. (German is one of those right?) even better - with such a small number the teacher can pick up on issue with individuals really quickly.

Yes the conversation will be an issue, but even then with 4 of them they'd all get more time to practice their speaking when the teacher can actually pay attention to them. Sounds like a 'not worth it to us' situation to me.

frogsoup Wed 14-Mar-18 00:22:24

"you can’t learn German properly with just 4 in the class, it’s not enough to interact properly, trust me"

That is the biggest load of bollocks I've read in a while! The deputy head might expect a 15yo to fall for that fairy story but expecting their parent to also swallow it is a little optimistic of him to say the least! I'd also be writing an extremely pissy letter if I were you, not unreasonable at all.

manicinsomniac Wed 14-Mar-18 00:25:12

That's appalling from an independent school. Youa re absolutely right to complain.

Parents often choose a particular independent school for one or two fairly specialised reasons like yours - you've made a financial commitment to them and they in turn have made a commitment to fulfil their promises to you.

I teach in an independent prep that teaches Latin and French as standard. But, for particularly keen and/or able pupils, Greek is offered by the Latin teacher and Spanish by the French HoD as an after school Common Entrance subject - often only taken by one or two children a year. That's the kind of individual differentiation and attention our parents are paying for and have a right to expect.

ShackUp Wed 14-Mar-18 00:27:01

I did French, Latin and German GCSEs but had to narrow it down to just French at A-level. She can keep German ticking over at home and pick it up at A-level, maybe? Or even degree level? Lots of students start a language from scratch at uni.

Dontoutmenow Wed 14-Mar-18 00:29:10

I did A level German in 1999 and I was the only student in my class! I did so well that I took the S level paper as well (higher than A level). I would be very upset in your and her position. I’d also ensure she keeps up all of the languages by using private tutors on top of what school does (and potentially bill them for their services???).

brittabot Wed 14-Mar-18 00:30:26

They should be relating this to you as you are paying for a service. I’d contact the head. (Caveat: I went to a state school where we had to align our choices but if you’re paying they should tell you in first instance!)

Clarissalarissa Wed 14-Mar-18 00:31:09

Yes, it's rubbish. But let her do French outside of school. Either GCSE by correspondence course or online lessons to reach fluency. or both.

TitaniasCloset Wed 14-Mar-18 00:40:09

I have no idea about any of this, but this seems really unfair and a waste of your money.

chorltonwheelies Wed 14-Mar-18 00:42:38

Thing is she has chosen to do Greek which is offered as an extra curricular by the school. She goes to lessons at lunch & after school then can opt to take the GCSE at the end. I have 5 kids & work so I haven’t the time to be getting private tutors etc.

Other kids aren’t at secondary yet. DD has had a lot of change & struggles a bit with anxiety, is probably somewhere on the spectrum & finds social interaction hard. She doesn’t really ‘get’ her peers, likes her own company, needs routine, has to be early for everything, obsessively completes homework the day it’s set so it’s not hanging over her, hates pop music, pop culture, no interest in social media etc. It’s taken her 2 years to find her feet at school, she seems to have relaxed & I think it wouldn’t be the right thing to move her. We may be moving house & she got very distressed in case it meant moving school & I promised her that wouldn’t happen.

But this is helpful feedback so thanks. I guess worse case scenario is she does a subject she doesn’t enjoy so much, whereas had she kept on drama that would have been quite good for her confidence & a nice balance.

IhaveChillyToes Wed 14-Mar-18 01:26:19

If I have understood correctly

So core German has 2 students which is fine but in other option to have 4 students doing German doesn't work for communication. Trust me says the deputy


They just don't want to pay the German teacher or employ another German teacher for that 2nd timetabled block, it is staff and time tabling issue

It has nothing to do with numbers in other block or trusting the deputy sounds like trusting an EState agent or car dealer hmmhmmhmmhmmhmm

Look on the jobs board on the school website and see if they advertise a new German teacher job? I reckon one teacher is leaving and they do not want to pay another one or haven't had any people applying

Staff usually have to give notice before end of term beforehand so by Easter for September iyswim

Or are there any pregnant German teachers or ones likely to be without you noticing? Cos they might not want to employ maternity cover

100% think this is a staff numbers reason totally nothing to do with number of students in the class cos the info you have given disputes that unless I misunderstood the info

Also complain to the governing team

You could if you want even go higher to the group that the school belong to, like HMC but not sure what they would do if anything apart from the school won't want bad things about them to be known by the other schools so you could threaten the head or chair of governors with it if you want

Good luck smile

KimmySchmidt1 Wed 14-Mar-18 04:26:07

Lazy timetabling - they can’t figure out how to fit it in so she can join core German and still do french. You could do both at my regional comprehensive 20 years ago! What the hell are you paying for if not plenty of academic subjects and small classes?

GaraMedouar Wed 14-Mar-18 04:57:21

Definitely complain - she should be able to do both. There were 4 in my German A-level class - brilliant. We were all top stream and keen. French, lots of pupils and not all as keen so harder in my opinion. If she has an aptitude what a shame not to do both.
My DS wasn’t even able to do one language at GCSE! His school only offers French, and in his year those students doing triple science could not do a language at all due to timetable! I was furious. Local comp though, staffing issues etc. I’m hoping DS2 will be able to do French - languages are so important.

Mummyoflittledragon Wed 14-Mar-18 05:03:28

What a load of rubbish. I taught English abroad for several years both individually and to groups. 1-2-1 I interacted with the people and the larger the group, the less I talked and the more I listened. This is absolutely a financial or similar concern. You are paying in advance for a service. The school shouldn’t be allowed to offer then retract that service. I’d definitely take it higher.

Veterinari Wed 14-Mar-18 06:02:47

You’ve paid for Independent schooling primarily to support your DD’s interest in languages, and you’re ecpectations are in libe with the school’s advertised options. YANBU

I went to a local Comp and we had the option of doing 2 MFL to GCSE - the school even ran Latin as a third GCSE option even though there were only 5 students in the class

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