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GCSE options - arghhh!

(15 Posts)
LaydeeC Tue 27-Nov-12 23:24:54

Please help oh wise ones.
Have come home from dtr's GCSE option evening tonight. She has to take:
English Language
English Literature

She has to pick a humanity subject from:
Religion, Philosophy and Ethics

She then gets to choose two 'free choice' subjects

For the humanity she wants to choose RPE and her two extra choices are Art and Drama.

Nothing wrong with her choices per se but she has never expressed any interest in Art or Drama other than enjoying her Drama class.

The problem is that she wants, desperately, to be a Paediatric Oncologist and I think she is picking too many 'arty' subjects (and I'm convinced that I have read previously that RPE is seen by many universities as a 'soft' subject).

I have suggested that she takes History and then can take two of the other subjects (RPE and Drama) but I am utterly unreasonable it would seem.

So, am I unreasonable? Should I just let her study what she wants and acknowledge what the Careers Teacher said in that Med School are not that bothered about what GCSEs are only that she is a grade A* student across all subjects.

I feel incredulous that we are having conversations about what she wants to do for the rest of her life and she has only just turned 13! And I am scared that she will scupper her chances by making the wrong choices now.

Wise words needed.

gelo Tue 27-Nov-12 23:59:28

Given that what she's chosen is well balanced and has all the essentials, I;d say the careers' teacher's advice is right, the A*s are what matters. The ethics part of religion, philosophy & ethics could arguably be of use in medical interviews too and although it's a little soft, as long as it's not a half GCSE course it's not too bad and has the bonus of no controlled assesments.

However, art is notorious for being both extremely time consuming and difficult to achieve an A* in and has put many a child off art for life, so I'd advise her to think very carefully about that choice (especially as you say she's not shown much interest to date). Geography or history would give a much easier A* in my opinion. Drama can be difficult if you end up in a not very dramatically talented group too and the marking is sometimes controversial, so can be a bit of a lottery, but it's a nice subject to study and the skills learned are always useful (for interviews, presentations, general confidence etc).

From what you say though she's set on what she's chosen and at that age all you can do is point out the possible pitfalls and then leave them to it. As long as she gets mostly A*s in the core subjects (and more importantly excellent AS and then A level results and all the required work experience) she should be in with a chance, but it is a desperately competitive thing to aim for.

melliebobs Wed 28-Nov-12 00:03:43

Wow. She's 13. At 13 I wanted to be a maths teacher blush by 16 I didn't know what I wanted to do and by 18 I didn't even want to go uni! (I did but I'm no maths teacher)

Let her pick what she wants. Shell probs change her mind in hat he wants to do. And anyway it's the English/maths/science ones at gcse that seem to count anyway.

I know my gcse in history was never a consideration to what a levels I did!

Kez100 Wed 28-Nov-12 03:48:18

My daughter enjoyed Drama and it wasn't too time consuming until the production - then she had a lot to learn. No one in her group got an A*, but they did get 2 A grades. These were what I would descrtalented children.

Kez100 Wed 28-Nov-12 03:51:40

I would describe as talented children.

Our Art department did really well with high grades but very few A*, a lot A though. It was reported as very time consuming. Although my daugher is now at Art college, she didn't do Art at GCSE because she didn't need the pressure when she had enough pressure working exceptionally hard to get her other exams at the best grade she could.

mycatunderstandsme Wed 28-Nov-12 07:53:30

If your DD needs all A* then I would advise her not to pick Art or Drama. My DD did both of these subjects. Nobody in her class got A* in Drama or Art.

My DD managed an A in drama. She has acted since she was 7 and had her grade 7 Lamda at the time. In Art she was really disappointed to end up with a B and she loved Art. She had several different Art teachers through her GCSE and none of them really seemed to take responsibility for the group. If that happens in a subject like Art or Drama there is not a lot you can do at home to bring your grade up without support from school. If she picks a more academic subject at least you can get revision books/tutors/do past papers etc.

Startail Wed 28-Nov-12 08:04:33

As others have said art and Drama are very hard subjects to get A* in, if Med is not prepared to accept this and given the competition it probably isn't your DD may do well to choose something else.

Sadly if she is serious about Med she is going to be up against DCs who have more far more than 9 A* GCSEs, in academic subjects and a shed loud of DofE then works experience that they start accumulating in Y9.

The competition is ridiculous and I'm sure doesn't produce better Drs than my lovely old lab partner.

He didn't get all A's at O'level and he has 3Bs at A level. Last I heard he was a consultant and I'm sure a really good one.

titchy Wed 28-Nov-12 09:04:25

You are right! If doing 10 GCSEs she needs at least 8 (preferably 9) 'hard' subjects and As in them for med school. RPE isn't regarded as particularly academic (why aren't school insisting on either history or geography to gain them an EBac?), neither are art or drama so she needs to substitute one o her choices with hist or geog. I assume she's A grade material?

Sparrows12 Wed 28-Nov-12 09:17:49

The trouble with drama is that it tends to get populated by children who regard it as a soft option. Very hard to do well if you are grouped with lazy children. You can also end up "carrying" them by doing more than your share of preparation - I have known children being advised to keep diaries to prove how much of the production was down to them! I'm not a teacher though.

phlebas Wed 28-Nov-12 09:19:48

Don't surprised if she doesn't change her mind btw - I was sure I wanted to be a doctor before I went to secondary school, as were many of my fellow medical students smile

My sister who is also applying for medicine, has 12 GCSEs - 9 strong academic & RE, drama & Art ... with hindsight she would've chosen differently. She's a a selective girls' school, very pushy & only a small number of girls managed to get A* in art & drama.

LaydeeC Wed 28-Nov-12 20:43:04

Thank you all so much for taking the time to respond.

Some interesting points and pretty much all thinking what I think. She is just so headstrong, has 'known' that she wants to do medicine for years (although, obviously she may well change her mind) and knows that the competition will be strong.

Someone asked if she is A grade material - I can't answer that for definite but she attends one of the super selective girl's indies and she is well aware of what the expectations are.

The work experience thing is interesting because she is youngest in her class and we have had difficulties (on take your daughter to work days) persuading friends to take her in to their medical workplace as she is under 16. Understandable now but when she reaches year 11, she will still be 15 until the end of the summer holidays so difficult to know where she can acquire formal work experience but knows that she need to start doing this now.

I think there are arguments both ways in that she can benefit culturally/socially from these subjects but the time consuming element of them, for me, strikes out the benefits.

I find this all so stressful and cannot see how it can help to 'pigeon hole' children in this way. It is a lot of pressure for a little girl to get it 'right'.

Thanks again.

Loshad Wed 28-Nov-12 23:02:17

she doesn't need formal work experience before end of y11, but she does need some relevant volunteer experience. St john's is excellent, my own dc volunteers at a friday night social club for disabled children and young adults. Neither of those need you to be 16 before starting, and a long length of service looks better on the ucas form

mummytime Thu 29-Nov-12 17:15:24

I would make it very clear to her that a subject like Art is a lot of work. there was a whole thread on it last summer I think. Unless she is really committed, very organised (you have to gather a huge portfolio of work on artists and their art), great at reflection and so on; I would stay clear.

squeezedatbothends Thu 29-Nov-12 19:48:29

Medical schools will only look closely at the three sciences and Maths in terms of subjects taken and A level choices count for more. Lots of medical courses are looking now for evidence of interpersonal and more holistic skills so Drama could go down well. Nonsense that they'll only look at all A* grades. This is only true if your child has attended a selective or private school where the majority get those grades - state comp pupils, especially those in deprived areas, will get equal consideration for lower grades. Some of the RG universities are now looking at comparative data for schools, so they'll see what the best GCSE scores for that school were and take that as a comparative base line. This is thought to compensate for the hidden advantages some middle class children get such as parents paying for additional private tuition. There are also routes into medicine through the Arts with conversion courses and so on. It's a much more complex picture than posts here suggest. In short, let her do what she wants and make sure she focuses on high grades in the sciences.

squeezedatbothends Thu 29-Nov-12 19:50:01

Sorry LaydeeC, I cross posted and didn't see what you said about her school. Most of what I've written is irrelevant.

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