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Does a GCSE in resistant materials signal "less academic student"?

(35 Posts)
nomorehollyoaks Sat 07-Feb-15 15:31:19

I have already started one thread related to Year 9 options, but am still really struggling to know what advice to give my Year 9 DS re his options. DS is in top sets (at a good comprehensive school) for all subjects. He really doesn't know what he wants to do long term. His best subjects relative to his peers are French and German, for which he generally comes top of top set. He is interested in doing those subjects for A level. Beyond that he really doesn't know what he wants to do. For English, maths and science he is in top set, but not top of top set.

Compulsory GCSEs at his school are English language, English literature, maths, (at least) double science and RE. On top of that there are four options. DS is definite that he wants to continue with French and German, so that uses two options. I think he has pretty much decided to do triple science, which uses another option. That seems sensible to me given that DS has not ruled out doing science A levels and (at his school at least) triple science = more science lessons. That leaves just one option. DS is interested in doing resistant materials. He is keen on having one subject that is less academic for which he will positively look forward to the lessons. We have spoken to the teacher who thinks DS would be capable of getting an A in resistant materials at GCSE. My concerns are (a) that (however unjustifiably) a university admissions officer at a top university would see a resistant materials GCSE as indicating a candidate who is not capable of doing all academic subjects at GCSE or (b) that the absence of geography or history among GCSE subjects might lead to DS being "filtered out" if a university has way more applicants for a course than places and needs to start with a "broad brush" way of narrowing down the candidates.

Would welcome any advice, particularly from those with knowledge of how top universities go about "filtering" applications for vastly oversubscribed courses!


Bunbaker Sat 07-Feb-15 15:38:19

I think you have all the bases covered with the other options. It sounds like your son's school have a similar set up to DD's where they get to choose three options if they select double science and four if they choose triple science.

I think it is worth your son doing a GCSE that will allow him to get a high grade. It will be coursework heavy, so as long as he is prepared for that and will enjoy it I would let him take it.

Dd is taking art as her "non academic" subject, and it is unbelievably coursework heavy. Her other subjects are all academic ones.

BackforGood Sat 07-Feb-15 15:39:57

IME, as long as they have the 'core' of good quality, mainstream 'academic' GCSEs, then the final couple of choices can be any subject. No-one is going to be thought less of for including a broad range in their GCSE selection.
Some schools (eg, my ds's) - I think as part of a throw back to when schools had 'specialisms' - arrange their options so all pupils have to do one selection out of a group that only contains things like Res Mat / Graphics / Photography / etc.).
He's got a good solid selection there, so he SHOULD choose some things he wants to do rather than you think the ought to do.

nomorehollyoaks Sat 07-Feb-15 15:55:05

Thank you for the replies. One thing that concerns me a bit with my son's proposed choices is that the absence of geography and history means that he wouldn't have got the "Ebac" (not sure of spelling!) Do any universities concern themselves specifically with whether a candidate has the Ebac, or was the Ebac simply something dreamed up by Michael Gove that no one worries about anymore?

AuntieStella Sat 07-Feb-15 16:05:52

If he's interested in engineering as a possibility, than D&T (most options) will be a positive asset.

BackforGood Sat 07-Feb-15 16:33:32

Lack of 'Ebac' shouldn't concern him or university admissions - it was another thing Govmnt dreamed up to measure schools with.
If he's doing 2 MFLs that will demonstrate his academic capabilities.

invisiblecrown Sat 07-Feb-15 16:34:46

No, it doesn't. My sister as a Food technology GCSE and is at Cambridge.

Have a well rounded array of subjects and your options are limitless.

titchy Sat 07-Feb-15 16:37:42

Universities, even top ones, done give a shiny shit about Ebacc or one less academic GCSE in an applicant with 8+ good grades in other academic subjects.

TalkinPeace Sat 07-Feb-15 16:48:53

TBH not doing either geography or History seems a tad odd to me

DD did a fluffy tech subject - cannot see it holding her back for future applications because the big academic subjects are in her list as well

the EBACC is just puffery by the DFE

Unexpected Sat 07-Feb-15 17:16:30

Loads of people at my DC's comp don't take either history or geography. It is a faith school so RE is compulsory and, rightly or wrongly, this leaves them very short of options as they, like the OP, have to take triple science from an option and also a compulsory MFL from an option block. It is one of the top comps in the country and no-one seems to have suffered from not taking history or geography. No-one care a damn about the EBacc at the moment. Maybe that will change in future but right now, it's a non-starter. I absolutely think you should let your son do resistant materials for his final GCSE and think you are over-thinking the whole choice of GCSE subjects a weeny bit.

PeaceOfWildThings Sat 07-Feb-15 17:21:50

Triple science and 2 languages show plenty of academic aptitude. RM is not an easy option and is a great subject for anyone interested in maths, engineering, design, project management, physics, and a host of other degrees.

flowery Sat 07-Feb-15 17:25:57

Excuse my ignorance, but what exactly is "resistant materials"?

TalkinPeace Sat 07-Feb-15 17:31:43

BackforGood Sat 07-Feb-15 17:33:04

Flowery - basically woodwork wink
My ds made me a lovely coffee table smile

fridayfreedom Sat 07-Feb-15 17:38:16

'fluffy tech subject' is a bit insulting to those kids who happen to excell in these subjects.
To achieve high grades they need to put hours of work into coursework, research, deadlines, visiting exhibitions etc. They are not easy options and the work involved may be greater than that of the so called academic subjects.
I think it is important to obviously focus on the Maths,English, science but also to consider the child's strengths and interests.

Bunbaker Sat 07-Feb-15 17:40:06

Or metalwork or plastics.

TalkinPeace Sat 07-Feb-15 17:44:49

One of the pieces of work made as part of the GCSE was very, very fluffy.

It was much less 'academic' than the others - but still lots more writing than she'd expected wanted

flowery Sat 07-Feb-15 17:46:09


straggle Sat 07-Feb-15 17:48:41

I downloaded the GCSE results per subject - lots of private and grammar schools seem to do it. Brighton College had 49 students entered. Tiffin Boys had 59 (13 of them got a C and one failed though - I don't know how 'academic' they were ...)

MissMillament Sat 07-Feb-15 17:50:38

I think they ought to do one 'just for fun' GCSE. DD2 is doing dance. I honestly don't think it will impact on her university offers. DD1 did drama and product design among her GCSEs and is currently sitting on some excellent offers from RG universities including Warwick, Nottingham and Sheffield.

Hakluyt Sat 07-Feb-15 17:52:39

Does he actually have to do the RE exam? At dd's school you could do RE as an exam, or a non examined course which fulfilled the Requirements and left a free slot for somthing else- for me there's a history shaped hole in your ds's list! But "top" universities are generally more interested in grades than subjects- so cynically, he should do whatever he is most likely to get A*s and As in.

rootypig Sat 07-Feb-15 17:55:19

He's making similar choices to me but I did french, german, triple science, art. Went to Oxford.

That said, I so regret not keeping up a humanity. I wish wish wish I had continued with history or geography. They were just both appallingly badly taught at my school.

What is resistant materials? it sounds exciting!

rootypig Sat 07-Feb-15 17:59:17

Oh just seen upthread. Well I have the utmost respect for the intelligence it takes to excel in so called practical subjects. It will be exercise his brain in a different way from the language medium teaching. So much important stuff in there - mechanical and spatial awareness, design, manual dexterity.

I think not only does it not sound like a problem, but a really good idea.

rootypig Sat 07-Feb-15 18:53:09

Sorry for the multiple posts - I always do this, I have about 8 follow on thoughts. Anyway I was just watching some RSA shorts and saw this and thought of your son, OP

Hamiltoes Sat 07-Feb-15 19:09:31

Hahaha, I made a career out of doing "fluffy tech subjects" and didn't take a single language grin

Let your son choose thats what I say! My mum tried to change around some of my standard grade choices and I just got another form and changed them back. She openly admits now she is glad I did that. A grade 1 in French would be about as useful to me as a chocolate screwdriver. But if your son enjoys two languages and a tech subject then I would fully support his decision.

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