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Y9 options for non-academic pupils with SN?

(22 Posts)
CardyMow Sun 28-Aug-11 11:59:23

DD is just about to start Y9. The school makes everyone do their RE GCSE in Y9 & Y10 rather than Y10 & Y11 (which I think is patently ridiculous for an SN dc but never mind, she won't acheive this GCSE above a 'D' in Y11, I doubt she'll get above an 'F' or 'G' at the end of Y10!).

But I assume that soon, she will have to chose her GCSE options. How much is down to timetabling issues? DD wants to take Textiles, Photography, Cookery AND DT for GCSE - she DOESN'T want to take ART OR drama(instant fail for her) or Childcare (not relevant to DD, she wants to work in a cookery related job, is already looking at catering college courses) but to get on the college course she wants to do, she needs at least 3x 'C' grades at GCSE. She MAY get a 'C' with LOTS of hard work in English, she WONT in maths (current NC lvl at end of Y8 is low level 3, with support).

I guess what I'm asking, is what is the likelyhood of her being MADE to do GCSE's she has no hope of getting a 'C' grade in, but being unable to do the combination of GCSE's that she would get 'C' grades in IYSWIM. She has wasnted to work in this particular cookery-related job since she was 5yo! (And so MUST have 3x 'C' grades at GCSE to get onto the course she wants to do). The school seems to put non-academic pupils in for childcare, health and social care, hairdressing, and leisure and tourism GCSE's - none of which DD would be interested in or have any relavence to what she wants to do - and she probably wouldn't acheive a 'C' grade in them...

CardyMow Sun 28-Aug-11 12:06:09


ProfessionallyOffendedGoblin Sun 28-Aug-11 12:09:37

Go and talk to the school about options, my DS dropped both languages despite it being the MS rule that all children took a language to GCSE, and he took 2 humanities.
You need to put your case clearly and make the point that she has a chance to succeed with a bit of common sense and reasonable accommodation.

CardyMow Sun 28-Aug-11 12:22:11

Will all schools listen though? <<very worried that DD won't be able to get on the course she wants to do post-16>> I am more concerned because it looks like the technology subjects for last years Y10's (friend with dc in year above DD) were all timetabled for the SAME time - so they could only do 1. Which worries me - it's all well and good asking for a special case to be made due to her SN, but if the subjects she wants to do are timetabled at the same time- will it be possible? She NEEDS at least the cookery AND the textiles to ensure 3x 'C' grades - and THAT will be with support AND very very hard work on her point. If she can only do one of them, then, frankly, she's screwed for the college course she wants to do.

Kez100 Sun 28-Aug-11 12:50:14

I think I would talk to the college. If that is where she has her heart set and find out what they would accept. Then, use that to support her GCSE options and if the school get shirty write to Chair of Governors.

I personally, cannot see any school making a child sit GCSEs they won't achieve in. She is more likely to be a refuser/disruptive/or become unwell if faced with a syllabus she cannot handle. Schools are there for the children and if her future is in a certain direction, I'd expect them to cater for it as far as they cam. However, if her choices don't fall into the option blocks, then it might be difficult to argue as schools have a curriculum to to manage and only so many staff.

One of my daughters friends has sat three 'creative' GCSEs and she has just sat early engliSh and got an A! She has her heart set on a certain career and the school supported her choices as they fitted into the blocks, even though - in her case - she could easily have handled all the academic subjects.

CardyMow Sun 28-Aug-11 13:01:39

I am really worried that the things she wants / needs to do will just not fall into separate option blocks - they are all TECH subjects that were timetabled at the same time last year.

PotteringAlong Sun 28-Aug-11 13:10:21

Speaking to the school is the best option - if all technology I'd timetabled together (it is at my school too) it's unlikely to change for 1 pupil BUT do school send pupils to college? We have pupils who go to college 1 or 2 afternoons a week to do part of their course so maybe she could do textiles at school but a form of catering at college? It would be worth an ask.

School will want her to succeed so I'd go and have a chat with them. They won't say no to something just to be awkward (hopefully!) smile

Talker2010 Sun 28-Aug-11 13:17:06

I would speak to the school ASAP

I put together the Option Blocks for Y9 in November and once they are set change is (almost) impossible

I do some work with students before building the blocks and try to ensure that needs are met

However ... it would be unlikely that we would encourage/allow a student to take all practical subjects for their options ... we encourage a range of subjects

With SEN requests though I will usually try to make the blocks fit ... since your daughter might struggle to explain her preferences during the usual process ... I would appreciate a parent such as yourself getting in touch sooner rather than later

Do be aware, however, that all your preferences may not be met ... we would, for eg, have to timetable DT and Cookery together to enable the double lessons required ... I assume that all the subjects you mention are offered at your school but that does not mean they will always run every year

CardyMow Sun 28-Aug-11 14:49:44

That's the thing, if they're timetabled together, then surely the school can't do anything? And no, they don't do college - the 6th form college and the FE college do NOT take them under 16yo. I know she can't take ALL practical subjects, things like science, maths, english, IT are compulsory - as is a MFL (which she is working at low lvl 2 in at the end of Y8 - NOT going to get a pass grade in THAT!). Why can't someone non-academic do all practical GCSE's at your school? Surely if you are more of a practical person, then practical GCSE's are what would be right for you??

It just worries me that DD wont be able to take 3 subjects that she can acheive a 'C' grade in. What if the ONLY subjects she can acheive a 'C' grade in are timetabled at the same time??

PotteringAlong Sun 28-Aug-11 14:59:00

I agree, which is why if Michael Gove insists of the EBacc etc I think he should go the whole hog and reintroduce secondary modern / grammar schools so pupils can do what suits them, but that's a whole other thread grin

However, as things stand, no, you can't do all practical subjects even if that is your best chance of getting a higher grade.

You're going to have to go In and see what they can do.

Kez100 Sun 28-Aug-11 15:17:22

When I mentioned college I meant in order to ask them how strict they are on 3 x C at GCSE. Is there any lee-way for a dedicated SEN student. That sort of thing.

Have you seen the option blocks for your school? I know they may change (they probably do a bit every year) but it might show you if they would fit.

We're a small school. Probably about as small as a secondary gets with a restricted curriculum. I've just looked at our opton blocks for the year just starting and knocked out all the heavily academic subjects and the ones you say she cannot do. She'd be able to choose Textiles box one, Catering box two and product design or resistant materials in box three. We have a fourth box too because languages are not complusory. So, ask the school for the blocks first. You many be worrying about nothing.

Talker2010 Sun 28-Aug-11 15:18:34

That's the thing, if they're timetabled together, then surely the school can't do anything?

But they are not timetabled at all yet ... they are not in Option Blocks ... they are nowhere ... this is why you need to talk to someone (and by someone I mean the member of school leadership i/c the options system) now ... before they are blocked

CardyMow Sun 28-Aug-11 15:49:27

I have just looked at the PDF files for the last 5 years at the school - every year, all of the Tech subjects are timetabled at the same time (and are therefore in the same option block, where you can only choose one). CRAP. No the college won't accept below 3 'C's - even for SEN - they get twice the amount of applicants for the course each year any way, have done for years.

Shit. What do I do if they make her do subjects that she has no hope of getting 3 'C's in? There's no other Secondary we can get her to by public transport (I don't drive due to disability). AND there's a bit on there that they LIKE the students in set 6 (which DD is in) to do this course where they do 2 days out of school doing mountain biking and map reading and things like that. Apparently it's equivalent to 1 GCSE. But the college aren't going to accept that, are they?? And they only do ONE other 'option' GCSE. DD won't get 'C's in the compulsory GCSE's - maybe English, at a HUUUUUUGE stretch, but not any of the others.

They don't even get guaranteed that they CAN do any subject, even if it the one that pertains to their future career. And this is a large, almost 2000 pupil school. <<VERY WORRIED NOW>>

Kez100 Sun 28-Aug-11 16:03:13

Firstly, you are getting very stressed before you have even spoken to anyone. That won't do anyone any good. I appreciate how stressful it must be doing the best for your child but even if the answer is No, being pent up won't help anyone.

Talk to the school, but calmly, as others posters have said. Ask them if the course worth one GCSE is worth one at C Grade and will the equivilent be acceptable to the college. If they say 'yes' and you still don't believe them, speak to the college and check. There are many GCSE 'equivilent' courses around, this won't be an unusual question to ask.

Would there be any chance of extra English support for her? Another question to ask. Answer maybe no, but at least you have considered it.

Also, look for other places she may be able to do a course suitable for her career. It sounds like even if she gets 3 x C she might not get a place (if it is that oversubscribed). I'd hate to think she might get the GCSEs and still not get a place because of some sort of lottery.

CardyMow Sun 28-Aug-11 21:53:21

There IS nowhere else that's accessible by public transport - none of the secondaries here have 6th forms, there is the sixth form college, or the adult learning college. That's the choice for the whole town. I don't drive, so she will HAVE to go to the adult learning college - next closest is 30+ miles away.

Silverstreet Sun 28-Aug-11 21:59:35

I agree with Kez100. Plus while the option blocks may be the same for last 5 years, it won't tell you what flexibility there is. Eg our school tells you to pick 1 technology, 1 language, etc from the different blocks, but there is some capability to do different things, as long as it doesn't totally mess up the overall school timetable. Eg my DD didn't do a technology, but did music instead which was fine but it didn't look like this was achievable from the school standard options blocks. We went in and asked the music teacher and they told us what we needed to do to make the case for this.

Also, whilst they are all meant to do a language, the lowest set does this in year 9 so that they then have more time to do the subjects that they are more interested in, which could be a whole range of things.

Good luck talking to them - there should be some room for compromise that will keep everyone happy.

CardyMow Sun 28-Aug-11 22:07:40

As far as I know, the only GCSE they do early is RE, over 2 years, but in Y9 & Y10. DD isn't even THERE for half of her MFL languages, and hasn't been since the start of Y7, as that's when they do her LS. So she's further behind in MFL that even most of the bottom set. I see what you're saying about the option blocks - but having seen the timetables - ALL the tech options are timetabled for the same time, i.e. Catering is the same 2-hour lesson time as Textiles - so there's no way they could do both. Hence panicking. I think it's stupid to timetable all Tech (practical) lessons at the same time because most people that are good at one practical subject, are also going to be good at the other practical subjects.

Will definately be talking to the form tutor + HoY when DD goes back on the 7th. It's stupid, but it's only just occurred to me today that DD will have to choose her options this year - she's my PFB, and I can't believe she is that grown up already!! blush.

CardyMow Sun 28-Aug-11 22:08:46

'going' should be changed for 'likely' at the end of the first paragraph there.

cricketballs Sun 28-Aug-11 23:19:19

the reason practical subjects are timetabled together is due to the amount of coursework they require and subject constraints from the exam boards. For example, DT subjects are very coursework heavy and as such it is extremely difficult for even the brightest child to keep up with the requirements. Exam boards also state that some courses/qualifications are not allowed to be done at the same time.

To be honest, I would suggest looking at different college courses as from what you have said regarding her current levels, no matter what subject she is going to struggle gaining C grades and she should look at level 2 courses at college rather than level 3 and work her way up slowly rather than aim for something that is really out of reach and could result in her being demoralised.

CardyMow Mon 29-Aug-11 00:51:23

Thing is, she already cooks like a demon, and it's what SHE wants to do. SHe wants to do a two-year catering course, then a 2 years patisserie course, thus specialising. SHE researched it herself, it's what DD is insistant she is going to do. So she would be 20 by the time she has finished training anyway.

cricketballs Mon 29-Aug-11 07:43:00

whilst I sympathise that this is what she wants to do and commend her on her researching the course etc, sometimes it is better to be honest about ability; the course must have a reason for requiring C grades in order to gain entry.

I would speak to the college and be honest about her english and maths ability about before options need to be chosen

CardyMow Tue 06-Sep-11 01:49:08

The college specifies that one of the 'C' grade GCSE's MUST be cookery / catering. They don't specify what the other two have to be, just that they have to be 'C' grades. She HAS the ability to do catering, Yes she may need Learning Support at college to cope with the written parts of the coursework, but the practical side of it she will ace. Even putting a lot of thought into it, DD and I cannot think of another career that she will enjoy working in (her SN means that to KEEP a job, she will need to enjoy it), that she will be capable of. And she will need to work.

How would I get an appointment with connections? Do they even exist any more? (dredging up vague memories of being in Y9 myself, 16 years ago...). And would they be the place to go to get careers advice?

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