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GCSE options - My son wants to take Computer Science but the teacher is being negative

(22 Posts)
disneyvisitor Mon 17-Feb-14 13:33:58

My son wants to do Computer Science but the teacher has been negative so far. He has ASD and is in a lower set, she seems to think only sets 1 and 2 will be able to do the course. She said he will have problems with logic in codeacademy. Has anyone any suggestions please on how I deal with this. He is very keen to do this subject and very interested in it. I would like him to have the opportunity to do this as he wants a Science based job and he said he will need to input data and feels this is very relevant for his future.

hedwig2001 Mon 17-Feb-14 13:53:20

No suggestions, but would be interested to hear what level of maths, people feel is required. My son is currently working at 5b in the middle of Year 8. We have to choose options next week?

Unexpected Mon 17-Feb-14 15:28:28

Maybe the teacher is right? Sometimes just because a student wants to do a course doesn't mean they are academically able for that course? Is this Computer Science or ICT which is being discussed here. If it's Computer Science, that IS more challenging whereas a decent level in ICT seems to be achievable by the average 10 year old!

WooWooOwl Mon 17-Feb-14 15:40:35

It's worth thinking very carefully about going against the teachers advice, a teacher isn't going to discourage a student from taking their subject without a good reason. Being in the third set isn't a good sign that he will achieve well in a subject, and unless he gets a high grade, it won't help him in the future. It would be better for his CV and uni applications to have a high grade in an unrelated subject than a low grade in a related one.

Computer Science is a very hard GCSE, my ds says that even the most intelligent children in his class find it challenging.

If you are determind to make your ds have a chance, then speak to the teacher about what he could do in his own time to improve his understanding of the subject. There are probably Internet resources he could use at home, and if you can see that he is prepared to put in a lot of extra work, then it could be worth it.

titchy Mon 17-Feb-14 15:43:15

He won't need Computer Science GCSE to input data believe me!

gymboywalton Mon 17-Feb-14 15:43:53

my son is just doing his options now
his school say that to choose to do gcse computer cience you need to be working at level 7 in maths

to do it gcse you need to be at level 6 in both maths and english

is he working at those sorts of levels?

TeenAndTween Mon 17-Feb-14 16:07:41

As said above, you don't need computer science gcse to 'input data'.

My main employment for years was as a software developer. He will need strong maths ability (showing logical thinking, problem solving and attention to detail).

Has he done setting up databases yet in ICT? How did he get on? If he found them a breeze then that is a good sign. If he had any difficulty with them that would to me be a contra-indicator.

Similarly, can he do conditional statements and formatting in Excel? Again if he finds this really easy that is good, but if he struggles with setting up the statements then he will struggle with programming.

RawCoconutMacaroon Mon 17-Feb-14 17:05:49

I have a son with Aspergers. I think an important question to ask yourself is, is your son in the 3rd set because that's where his natural level of ability is, or does his ASD affect the grades he gets (ie with my son he know all the "stuff", it's getting it down on paper in an exam format that is a problem for him) if you feel he is working below his ability level it may be worth pushing to be in the class because, as with my DS, he may find things come together academically with a bit if work and a bit more maturity as he goes through the year.

RawCoconutMacaroon Mon 17-Feb-14 17:07:44

And kids on the spectrum are often very logical and find science subjects attractive for that reason... There are rules!

reddidi Mon 17-Feb-14 18:54:53

87.32% of computer programmers are on the autistic spectrum. OK I made that up, but an ASD should not be an obstacle to exam and even career success with computers.

As for GCSE maths being "required" for GCSE computer science, this is nonsense. It may be the case that pupils that do well at maths because they have natural ability and an interest in the subject are likely to do well in computer science, but a student whose maths is held back e.g. by dyscalculia may do equally well.

StanHouseMuir Mon 17-Feb-14 21:02:14

I don't really understand why they want good mathematicians, there can't be that much maths in CS

TeenAndTween Mon 17-Feb-14 21:34:22

Stan it's not the maths per se, it is that the aptitude/skills that generally help someone be good at maths are also those that help you to be good at programming.
- logical thinking, problem solving and attention to detail

eg when writing loops

repeat
.....
until (i>k)

you have to make sure you get the start and end criteria just right, is that i>k, or i>=k or i>k-1 etc etc.

Breaking up the problem (I want to sort this random length set of numbers into numerical ascending order) into the distinct steps needed to code accurately is an awful lot like solving a multi-step problem in maths. You have to be clear minded, put the steps into the correct order etc etc.

If someone can't do multi-step problems in maths easily, they will almost certainly struggle with programming (imo).

StanHouseMuir Mon 17-Feb-14 23:21:16

Teen surely that's why they invented debuggers. I see your point, although I wouldn't say all the programmers I've met are good at maths.

Retropear Tue 18-Feb-14 06:45:18

De buggers won't help you design systems and don't tell you how to fix them.

Retropear Tue 18-Feb-14 07:01:21

My dp is a coder/programmer.He is extremely good at what he does and has done various roles,has an engineering degree and a Masters in computer science.He has the same opinion as Teen.

Retropear Tue 18-Feb-14 07:03:44

Stan you can get shocking programmers going by the rants of my dp.grin

I'd get more info though op.

Lomaamina Tue 18-Feb-14 08:44:59

An 'A' in GCSE maths and English is a prerequisite for A-level computing at my DS school, so the teacher's requirement seems to make sense, I'm afraid to say.

disneyvisitor Tue 18-Feb-14 14:56:13

Thanks for all the advice everyone. All your comments are really helpful

ExBrightonBell Tue 18-Feb-14 15:07:20

I'm a Computing teacher, and advise students on opting for Computing or not. There are no entry requirements per se for any GCSE course, it is the school setting a requirement for their own particular reasons. We have said that a minimum of a level 5 in Maths is heavily recommended for GCSE Computing, and a higher level is obviously indicative of better performance.

The reason Maths levels are so often quoted is that it does correlate to performance in Computing, due to the reasons that Teen outlined. I have past data to prove this! It is just a correlation though, and there could well be someone with a weaker maths level who does better at Computing, but this would be unusual.

Have a look at Codecademy with your son (it's free to sign up) and see what he can do now. It is designed for children and for self study, so he should be able to give it a go. If he gets on well with it he could discuss this with his teacher and see what she thinks.

There are lots of other free online programming tools he could have a look at to see what he thinks. We've used Scratch, Kodu, AppInventor in school to name a few.

gardenfeature Tue 18-Feb-14 16:14:29

My DS has just chosen computer science. There was another recent thread about it where a teacher said that there was more of a correlation with physics. School recommended only students predicted a Grade B in maths select computer science. DS is predicted a C but he's done some programming at computer club and his teacher thinks he has an aptitude for it so choosing it as an option hasn't been a problem. He's probably predicted an A for science. He has dyslexia which I think muddies the water a little (thinks in oringinal ways but could get muddled up with basic arithmetic). So it's an unknown and only time will tell how well he does on the course. At least they have given him the chance!

notjustamummythankyou Thu 20-Feb-14 08:07:12

I realise it's early days, but is your son thinking of doing computer science at uni?

I work in a uni admissions dept for computer science and applicants must have a-level maths. That is the only essential criteria. We consider a-level computer science as nice to have but certainly not essential. In fact, we prefer it if the didn't as it can mean they come in with a more 'applied' perspective rather than theoretical.

If CS at uni is a possibility, I strongly suggest he sets himself up for GCSEs that will support the right A-levels. Of course, maths is in there already, and physics would be another good one. Computer science GCSE is nice to have as I say, as it gives some knowledge of coding, but really not essential at A level. Encourage your son to get involved in computer clubs and writing his own programmes instead - we love that!

Picturesinthefirelight Thu 20-Feb-14 09:28:47

My son has ASD & although in computer based tests which the school set to measure learned & innate ability he does very well his ASD means he often under performs in class especially written work.

However he has a big interest in coding. We've just bought him a raspberry Pi & a book on Python. Perhaps if your son proves his interest/ability by working on it outside school he can prove to his teacher hex will have the aptitude.

I think a lot of ASD children under achieve until they find their thing.

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