New GCSEs - do DDs grades rule anywhere out?

(184 Posts)
PancakeMum6 Tue 30-Oct-18 11:00:55

DD did very well in her GCSEs (best in her school) but she’s at an underperforming comp so it’s hard to compare. As they don’t sit AS levels these will be the only grades the universities will see, so we’re trying to work out if her grades are ‘good enough’ for us to bother looking at Oxbridge/Durham/UCL/Bristol etc. as there’s lots of conflicting information. We want to work out where realistic universities are before starting on the open day process!

She’s doing A levels in English Lit, Arabic and French, and she wants to study either French and Arabic, French and English, or French and another language at beginner level.

At GCSE she got
A*s - Arabic, media.
9s - English Lit, maths, French.
9-8 in combined science.
8s - art, English lang.

She’s been reading all sorts about “percentages of A*s” and can’t tell how the new “8s” are considered. At her school they were described as high As/low A*s.

OP’s posts: |
ErrolTheDragon Tue 30-Oct-18 11:08:17

Sounds like a great set of results from anywhere, and excellent for a low performing comp. You don't need a full set of A*/9s anywhere (certainly not Bristol).

If she's in any doubt, she could email some admissions tutors for courses she's particularly interested in. Also, try to find out about access courses etc.

BubblesBuddy Tue 30-Oct-18 11:43:26

If she wants to do MFL, they will be very keen to have her! Many universities are struggling to recruit to these courses. Even the ones you quote below Oxbridge may not ask for AAA. Bristol and Durham didn’t for DD. She should definitely consider Oxbridge. MFL at Oxford (I have not looked at the stats for Cambridge) is less competitive to get into than many other subjects there. Around 33% of applicants get offered a place. You have to be very good, of course. They quite like to fill niche ab initio languages with gifted linguists! She may well find she can use Durham or Brisol as insurance if she gets an offer from Oxbridge.

It’s interesting that a bog standard comp does Arabic.

thesandwich Tue 30-Oct-18 11:46:14

Results sound very good- check out as she may be eligible for a contextual offer, two grades below standard, at Bristol.

Bobbybobbins Tue 30-Oct-18 12:29:10

IMO great results - we have kids at my school go to Oxbridge with these grades. Agree that it needs to be clear on her reference or personal statement that her school is low performing.

clary Tue 30-Oct-18 12:34:45

Excellent results OP, wow at getting 9 in French, well done her. The letters still there make it a bit confusing (I know that thise subjects are later to change but some may not!) but that's a great set of grades that open the door to anywhere.

DD (now in yr 13) was told 6 x A* for Oxford or Cambridge (most of her grades are letters) and your Dd has 9 A* by my reckoning (or anyone else's tbh: A now = 7).

goodbyestranger Tue 30-Oct-18 12:36:08

That was my first thought too Bubbles, about Arabic. Our school struggles to run German alongside French at A level, let alone any other MFL option, or Classics.

OP her grades are good.

The unis will be able to contextualise the DD's results without it being in the reference. I'm not sure any HT will willingly wave through UCAS references which say their school is crap! ( a new-in-post HT might, otherwise probably not).


goodbyestranger Tue 30-Oct-18 12:37:33

Probably sounds a bit grudging on reflection! OP her grades are very good!

clary Tue 30-Oct-18 12:38:21

Meant to say that there really cannot be any expectation that only students with all 9s will get into the unis you mention, or they would really struggle to fill their spaces! 732 students got all 9s in August.

Yy to PP - MFL courses will snatch her hand off 😁😁

titchy Tue 30-Oct-18 12:41:47

It'll be her A Level predictions that are more important. But yes those GCSE grades would be fine for Oxbridge.

goodbyestranger Tue 30-Oct-18 12:47:07

clary I think that number may be wrong, after re-marks.

Also, it's an odd measure, because it includes DC who got seven or more 9s even if they got poor marks in their unreformed GCSEs. I assume the number of those who got nine or ten or even more 9s is much smaller, though no number for those DC is on the Ofqual info thing. So in that context the OPs DD has done exceptionally well even before you get on to the school performance.

goodbyestranger Tue 30-Oct-18 12:49:02

titchy her GCSEs will be more important for recruiting unis, provided her A level predictions meet their standard offer (or contextualised offer) which they're bound to do, given her GCSE results.

SagelyNodding Tue 30-Oct-18 12:54:03

I did French and Arabic at Oxford many moons ago (outs self). At the time uptake was fairly low and they took total beginners, so she would be streets ahead of many during the first year at least.

It is hard, bloody hard actually, so her French would need to be excellent.

I think she should go for it, her grades are great!

clary Tue 30-Oct-18 13:00:14

Goodbye stranger I don't know about the figure changing, but it does mean students who got all 9s. Very few GCSEs were still letters - for most people it was just DT tbh (not many schools do Arabic GCSE).

A mate of DD's got 7 x9 and 3x8 so she wouldn't be in that 732 figure, even tho her results are amazing.

Acopyofacopy Tue 30-Oct-18 13:06:38

Bristol make contextual offers to low performing schools - check whether yours is on the list.
With her great results dd shouldn’t need this, though!

PancakeMum6 Tue 30-Oct-18 13:12:54

The school itself is very good, it just has low results - I just checked the stats. 91% of students’ first language isn’t English (DD speaks Arabic with lots of her friends!). Huge Pakistani population, sizeable Bangladeshi population, lots of Italian and Polish kids and refugees from Palestine, Syria etc. They teach basic Arabic, Bengali, Urdu, Punjabi in form time and in a “beyond curriculum” lesson from year 7 and if pupils want to do them for GCSE are willing to run it as a “twilight”/extra option as long as there are a handful. DD wanted to do Urdu GCSE but she was only one of two, whereas about 15 of them ended up doing Arabic - it was available by popular choice from her year and the year above. At A level there are four of them and she has less than half the number of Arabic lessons as any of her other subjects because the school can’t fund the full five a week, so she largely self teaches and learns from her peers. She loves it though! French is the only available European language and she also gets less lessons for that as there are only 6 of them.

clary I think it was someone saying Oxford looked at GCSE A* percentages that sent her into a spin because if 8s were counted as As then she’d have 60-70%, and she wasn’t sure if that was too low.

When I use our postcode in the “POLAR” tool the result is all 1s - I assume that means she’d qualify for contextual offers? The school was in special measures in 2014/2015 but I think it’s ofsted rated good now.

Thanks everyone - it’s good to know she’s got the full range of choice!

OP’s posts: |
goodbyestranger Tue 30-Oct-18 13:13:44

clary the figure was for all DC who got seven or more 9s provided they took no more reformed, or numbered, GCSEs so it's quite right that your DD's mate isn't included. My own DD got nine 9s and an 8 so wasn't included but her school has put in for whole school re-moderation in Art so that eight may go back up to a 9, in which case she would be added to the figure (along with a number of others I expect). I see what you're saying though - that plenty more DC will have got seven or more 9s but aren't included. That's kind of what I mean - it's a silly measure! I think there are a few people curious to know how many DC got seven 9s, how many eight 9s etc etc. I don't really see the need to publish such a quirky statistic - it led to some misleading headlines and is pretty niche smile

goodbyestranger Tue 30-Oct-18 13:16:45

I thought that might be it OP. We live in a rural very non mixed area so there isn't the same dynamic.

PancakeMum6 Tue 30-Oct-18 13:16:52

It is hard, bloody hard actually, so her French would need to be excellent.

I have no doubt that it’s a heck of a challenge... her Arabic is better than her French but I think she really wants to improve her French. She’s spending 3 weeks on a goat farm in the middle of nowhere this summer with only people who don’t speak a word of English for company in the hope that it boosts her French grin

OP’s posts: |
ErrolTheDragon Tue 30-Oct-18 13:42:14

That's the sort of thing which demonstrates the engagement and enthusiasm for the subject that Oxbridge tend to be looking for.

The thing is - I've said this before and will probably say it again! - they get 5 UCAS choices, so there's plenty of scope for selecting a range. A very able student can e.g. choose one of Oxbridge, and still be able to apply to a couple of other leaders in their subject and a couple of 'safe bets' - with your DDs grades all good unis. The only way to be sure of not getting an offer from the likes of Oxbridge and UCL (or Imperial for STEM) is to not apply.

BubblesBuddy Tue 30-Oct-18 13:43:20

I think, Pancake, that she’s lucky they are running MFL A levels at all with that uptake. Only a relatively well resourced school would be able to do that. It’s great that they do, of course, but it’s probably a reflection of the chequered history of the school that few are choosing MFL. It’s great she’s doing two languages as well because this opens far more doors than just one.

Hope the goat farm lives up to expectations! It’s something for the personnal statement. If she does decide she wants ab initio, then think about which language it could be. It would be useful to say why she wants to learn it on her personal statement and be able to demonstrate an interest in it. Don’t leave it to the last minute if she decides to go down this route.

goodbyestranger Tue 30-Oct-18 13:49:51

Bubbles those numbers are very usual for MFL in state schools. They've all but withered on the vine which is why MFL are so dominated by private school DC at uni level. DD is doing French A level in a class of six or so but the two DC who wanted to do German are having to learn alongside the tiny number of Y13s doing the subject - no other solution possible, bar not running the second MFL which has happened in the recent past. DD would give her eye teeth to go to a goat farm (or anywhere in France) for three weeks. How do you find things like goat farms? I wouldn't know where to start.

BubblesBuddy Tue 30-Oct-18 13:50:40

I meant to add that the universities you mention are still selecting universities for French (and probably Spanish). Where DD will have a great advantage is that in studying a second language it leads to a wider choice of a second language. She is a proven linguist. If she’s on target for high grade A levels, then she has choices which is a good position to be in.

BubblesBuddy Tue 30-Oct-18 13:54:51

Yes, Goodbye, I knew MFL numbers had crashed. I am surprised it’s so bad at a grammar school though. With the loud complaints about school budgets, I was surprised a standard comp could fund 6 and 4 pupils in two A level subjects. I am delighted the school is doing this, however. Able linguists in many state schools are not even recognised let alone supported.

MaisyPops Tue 30-Oct-18 14:02:02

They are good GCSE grades and set her up well for her options.

I wouldn't worry about 7-9 vs A/A*.
Some people say:
But that's wrong (and irritating to hear it).

The same number of people who will get 7-9 are the same as A/A* so a 7 is roughly an A. The 8 is more like the top of an A/bottom of an A* and the 9 is like the very top of an A*.

If she looks like she'll meet the A Level requirements then she should go for it. Good luck.

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