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4 A2s

(46 Posts)
Alwaysconfused Sat 03-Sep-11 16:12:34

My son is going into year 13. He took physics, maths, further maths and art at AS with a view to giving up art at the end of year 12. The new headmaster at his school has said he MUST do 4 A levels as he considers maths and further maths as one subject!! My son has checked with all the admissions depts of the universities he is considering applying to (including Imperial) - he has been advised by all of them that 3 A levels are all that they require and further maths definitely will count as one separate subject. We have had meetings with school and the head is definitely not going to change his mind. Does anyone know if this is allowed or is there any way we can stop this now. There is so much coursework involved in art - had my son known that he would have to take a 4th subject at A2 he would have chosen a different subject. There are only 3 taking further maths at A2.

lazymumofteenagesons Sat 03-Sep-11 17:03:32

All I can say is that at DS1s school maths and further maths were timetabled as 1.5 subjects and you would not have been encouraged to count it as 2. Mind you they had to do 3 academic subjects and if they wanted to do art or drama it had to a fourth! If your son is planning on applying to Imperial et al he should be able to cope with maths, further maths, physics and art at A2.

Talker2010 Sat 03-Sep-11 17:16:46

We would not count double maths as 2 either

But, I find it difficult to se how the head could insist on him taking the Art

lazymumofteenagesons Sat 03-Sep-11 17:24:30

Just make sure this is all sorted before he applies. My son wanted to drop an A2 after his UCAS applcation had gone in and he already had offers (based on 3) which he had accepted. the school would not let him drop the fourth until he had contacted the universities and got their permission in writing that the offers still stood if he only took the 3. even with those 4 A2s your sons offers will probably be specific to maths, further maths and physics. When doing 4 universities often make subject specific offers on 3.

peteneras Sat 03-Sep-11 17:25:46

What course is he going to study at university? For courses that insist on science and maths e.g. medicine, you can't count maths and further maths as 2 A-levels. I think his headmaster has a point. How about keeping all the present subjects but take further maths to AS-level only?

Alwaysconfused Sat 03-Sep-11 17:36:18

He wants to do mechanical engineering. We have checked with the universities he want sto apply to and they have all said that they are happy to accept the three without art at A2 - we have also checked the entry requirements on their web sites and they confirm this (most seem to want maths at A* which he is currently working at). They all seem to prefer 3 maths/science subjects. He is also doing an extended project.

LawrieMarlow Sat 03-Sep-11 17:37:44

Things may have changed but when I did Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Chemistry (and General Studies) they were all A Levels and I got a certificate with all 5 on. Universities didn't want to count General Studies which was fair enough but I would have been able to include any of the other A Levels as A Levels. I also had the same amount of lessons for Further Maths as for the other ones.

My sister did Maths, Further Maths and Physics and went to Cambridge to study Maths (a little more recently than when I did A Levels) so presumably they were happy with it too.

Have seen he has got in touch with the universities he is interested in and so I really can't see why he should have to keep doing Art.

There will generally be few students doing Further Maths and there will be few teachers who can teach it. It is hard although I would agree that doing Maths and Further Maths is likely to be a lower courseload than doing two other subjects.

Alwaysconfused Sat 03-Sep-11 17:43:54

He probably can cope with the workload, but he also has a part-time job and is doing an extended project. He also has his gold DofE to complete this year. He is one of the youngest in his year and works very hard already. I just feel that if the fourth a level isn't required, then why put extra work and pressure on him? Maybe I am becoming a bit soft in my old age!

Alwaysconfused Sat 03-Sep-11 17:48:16

Just to confirm, the following is copy and pasted direct from Imperial's web site:

"The normal entry requirements for all our courses are at least three suitable subjects at A-level. We require A* in Maths, A in Physics and one other A grade subject. We prefer further Maths, Chemistry or Design as the third A-level"

peteneras Sat 03-Sep-11 17:50:29

In this day and age the entry requirements are only a basic guide. In the real world your son will have to compete with candidates who usually have grades and subjects that far exceed what is required. It's these guys that your DS will be competing with, not the university. Another example, Oxford require only 3 A's at A2's for its medicine course. You have candidates with 4 A*s and still don't get in.

noblegiraffe Sat 03-Sep-11 17:56:47

Further Maths is a full A-level. You have to take 6 modules, the same number as you have to do for maths and you get the full UCAS points for it. And it's bloody hard, not just a dossy tack-on.

senua Sat 03-Sep-11 18:02:51

I would wait until he is back at school (just in case Headteacher says "conform, or you are not coming back"!) and then insist on dropping it. And if HT insists on his taking it then say "fine, but I'm doing no work and you will have a U grade in your precious stats". Stick to your guns: Art is very time-consuming - it would be crazy to waste his energy on something he doesn't want to pursue.

lazymumofteenagesons Sat 03-Sep-11 18:07:20

Noblegiraffe - that may well be the case. But, firstly these universities do not quote points as their offer and secondly he will be competing against others who have maths, further maths and 2 more sciences at least. The requirements given on the universities websites are the minimum. The offers they give are also only based on 3 A levels. BUT, they can choose the 'creme de la creme' and if they can fill their offers with students predicted 4A*s in 4 sciences they will. It makes no odds that the offer is A*AA.

Alwaysconfused Sat 03-Sep-11 18:08:56

His brother who is one school year older had conditional offers from all 5 universities (4 Russell Group), and is going to his first choice. He only took three A levels - he did have a couple of interviews though and his Personal Statement showed that he has a lot of interests as well as school work. I think that can be important as well. Neither of my sons have applied to Oxbridge.

As noblegiraffe says, further maths is very hard and many give it up at AS. From what I understand, it is timetabled 3 times a week at school, and they are then expected to use study periods to carry out the work set.

Alwaysconfused Sat 03-Sep-11 18:09:37

sorry "has" applied to Oxbridge

Alwaysconfused Sat 03-Sep-11 18:13:01

senua - that has already been suggested to him (not by school). He wouldn't feel happy or comfortable doing that. A bit of a perfectionist really.

senua Sat 03-Sep-11 18:15:52

Taking 4x A2 can backfire. Most Universities make offers on 3x A2 but occasionally they do say "OK cleverclogs. If you insist on taking 4x A2 then we will make our offer based on four instead of the normal three".

missmiss Sat 03-Sep-11 18:23:06

Could he drop Art and take another AS level - something less demanding in terms of coursework? Economics or similar could be a useful option.

TeamDamon Sat 03-Sep-11 18:27:31

I asked DH (was a Head of Maths, is now a Head of Sixth Form) and he says that for all but a few courses, universities do regard Maths and Further Maths as two distinct subjects.

He also said that unless your DS is applying for Maths degrees, Further Maths isn't hugely advantageous...

His final point was that if your DS is very good at Maths, the Further Maths shouldn't be too much of a problem for him - i.e. he could probably manage the workload of 4 A2s in this situation.

DandyLioness Sat 03-Sep-11 18:30:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Alwaysconfused Sat 03-Sep-11 18:32:44

He did ask if he could take a 2nd AS (he thought one of the sciences) but was told no. The top unis are saying that they want mats/sciences A levels, therefore Art will be of no use.

jgbmum Sat 03-Sep-11 18:32:49

Hi, my son has been accepted to study aero engineering at RG uni. He took Maths, FM, Physics, Chem and Geog at AS, then dropped Geog and continued with the other 4 to A2.
He had 5 offers from Uni (Southampton, Bath, Bristol, Surrey & Swansea), all 5 are in the top 10 for aero engineering. They all specified Maths and Physics at A2. Bristol specified Maths, FM and Physics. 4 out 0f 5 offers were in by xmas, so maybe your DS could toe the line till the offers come in, and then drop Art if it becomes apparent he doesn't need it?

Alwaysconfused Sat 03-Sep-11 18:45:08

jgbmum - I agree with what you are saying - I think though if he dropped the Art he would be without a school after Christmas.

missmiss - also, from memory, I think the reason he could not take a second AS level in year 13, is because the school felt it would be too difficult to timetable.

dandylioness - the reason he chose those three subjects is because they are the ones that are required for the course he wants to take at university. He has always wanted to do engineering. I agree that further maths isn't just a continuation of maths but a totally different subject.

happilyconfused Sat 03-Sep-11 20:19:48

I think this maybe a funding issue. Sixth forms get funded on students doing three timetabled subjects. A number of sixth forms run Further Maths as an enrichment activity and it may only get a third of the normal timetable allocation, in which case a school will insist on a student doing 4.

LawrieMarlow Sat 03-Sep-11 20:37:51

What other subjects are counted as enrichment activities? Further maths is fairly enriching but that's not quite what I'd call it.

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