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GCSE Options - information from school

(66 Posts)
louisea Wed 19-Dec-12 22:53:13

When are the parents in your schools given information about your DCs GCSE options? DTs are in Year 9 and have so far had a couple of assemblies giving them information about some subjects. So far no information has been sent home to parents. I contacted the school to find out when the parents information evening will be and was given a date in mid January.

Other schools have already sent home booklets with the DCs and have given guidance. Should I be concerned that the school is going to give us a very tight deadline to make choices or is this time frame normal? These are my first children going through secondary school so we're all learning as we go.

ravenAK Fri 21-Dec-12 00:44:25

Yep Jux, we're a proper comprehensive. The only one for miles that does Latin, admittedly!

Your dd could probably get stuck in to Cambridge Latin with some help from you at home?

Taking a GCSE or equivalent in Latin is bloody hard work, especially as not all exam boards are Ebacc approved so schools won't consider the easier ones such as WJEC any more. But she can make an awful lot of progress independently - I did Greek GCSE self-taught & the resources are far better now so much is online.

It's well worth it without necessarily gaining a qualification; huge help with English & other languages.

gelo Fri 21-Dec-12 00:51:07

No, I don't think so. Certainly not in exceptional circumstances and for a non core subject. The school can of course can provide extra supervisory support from their end and it's such a good way for a child to begin to learn independently that it's worth it on those grounds alone, let alone that it means schools can think about offering a wider range of subjects.

I'd far rather that than never offering any minority subjects that your child might have a keen interest in. You may as well never venture outside in case the proverbial bus hits you.

lljkk Fri 21-Dec-12 07:18:53

It takes more discipline to do distance learning, I don't have that kind of discipline, either.

Our local state high school (with the most mediocre GCSE results) offers latin GCSE. It's a (?)twilight option; one hour/week outside of normal school hours. Tag-on to the Classics for All programme, because the school has loads of starters who will have had 1-2 (?or more) years of Latin in local primaries.

creamteas Fri 21-Dec-12 08:31:23

I would accept an honest disagreement with creamteas. I think parents know best she hates that idea

That Chloe is exactly my point, as you can see on MN regularly, parents rarely agree on what a good education is, how could you run a school with that sort of conflict at its foundation?

wordfactory Fri 21-Dec-12 08:42:35

Here's what's happened in DC's schools so far:

Both have been told they will be taking English x2, Maths, Science x3 and an MFL. This is non negotiable.

They were then sent home with a booklet about what courses were available and what they entail. DD's booklet in particular was excellent. Very very detailed.

We were asked to discuss the situation with our DC and (if possible) give an indication of what other thre subjects our DC's would liek to take so that, if at all possible, everyone can be accommodated.

For those unsure, or indeed for any pupils/parents that want help/guidance/clarification there is an evening in January to discuss with the individual subject teachers and pupil tutor.

We will then be asked to make final choices in the summer term. Presumably for those DC whose choices cannot be accommodated, there will be another meeting to discuss second choices.

BackforGood Fri 21-Dec-12 11:56:52

Excellent post by creamteas ^ ^
Personally, I would run a mile from any school that was dictated to by parents. I object to both academies and free schools for that reason. I trust my DC's school, and they wouldn't be there if I didn't.

Chloe I attend parents forums at all 3 of my dcs schools. Whatever the subject being discussed, you will find there is a conflict of views even amongst the tiny minority of parents who attend the groups - uniform, homework, trips, reports, you name it. Just the same as on MN. The idea that you, as an individual parent can waltz in to your dcs' school(s) and dictate what they should do is clearly ridiculous. By all means, become involved, offer opinions, offer criticisms and praise, and offer realistic suggestions, but you have to understand your child is one of anything between about 600 and 2000 pupils at that school, and the school has to look at the population as a whole.
I find it amazing that you can't see that a school can't just "get another teacher out the cupboard" when one leaves. I was very disappointed when my ds had to give up German as a 2nd MFL after just a year, as the teacher left, and they were unable to replace him, but that's the way of life sometimes.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 21-Dec-12 12:01:10

Distance learning seems wonderfully apt for astronomy grin

chloe74 Fri 21-Dec-12 13:01:03

you cant equate the debate on mumsnet to running a real life school. Their are no objective appointed 'experts' on here, there doesn't have to be agreement either. In real life you have informed discussion about the specific issue and in the end if a board cant agree you have a vote. Ultimately the parents will decide if they agree with decisions made by whether or not they send their child to that school.

If all a parent does is politely express an opinion to a small group of other parents then they are leaving the decision for the school to make. A parent governor usually has to be voted onto the board so will be representing the collective views of many parents. They will be able to put any issue to the board and argue their point, which should be given due weight. If enough parents want a change made and their isn't a good enough reason why it cant be made then he board should accept it. Unless of course things aren't running the way they should.

So if enough parents want astronomy taught then the school should seriously look into it, the matter should not be left to teachers to just say "I like astronomy can I teach that".

gelo Fri 21-Dec-12 13:25:13

For me it's more a matter of whether some/enough children want to study it and if the teachers at school think it will give them a balanced curriculum that's important, not so much what the parents think. Undoubtedly if the decision to offer a subject is likely to be popular among parents (and so a selling feature of the school) then that will carry weight too. If it's an option rather than a mandated subject I can't see most people worrying too much either way unless their child is mad keen.

BackforGood Fri 21-Dec-12 13:49:45

Chloe - Parents Forums have the direct ear of the Head Teachers and SMTs, who, let's be honest do the actual decision making in running the school and the dozens of decisions that are taken every day, not the Governors. They are not a 'chat amongst parents'

chloe74 Fri 21-Dec-12 20:25:21

Backforgood - Amongst most parents all I ever hear is that the HT or SMT nod politely but then go to the staff room and moan about the parents, or there is no point complaining it never does any good. You are only listened to when you have some authority behind you.

Like I said a lot of governors are a waste of space, but they do have the authority to dictate to the head, if only they would use it.

ravenAK Fri 21-Dec-12 23:39:50

I entirely agree with you that 'if enough parents want astronomy taught then the school should seriously look into it'.

However, looking in to it will probably mean canvassing the Science Dept to see if anyone fancies going on a couple of courses to get up to speed & then doing it as a twilight session. Almost certainly using distance learning resources.

The governors' authority re: curriculum is centred on ensuring the NC is followed; not so much on strong-arming the HT into ensuring that individual parents get a bespoke range of subjects for their dcs.

BackforGood Sat 22-Dec-12 18:03:01

Chloe - that's not my experience on any of the 3 I attend. Well, one is fairly new - we will see / 'watch this space' for that one, but the one I've been attending at my ds's school and the one at dd2's school both take a lot of notice of what parents suggest, and changes made reflect it.
In a good school, every parent's opinion is listened to, if they choose to offer it - obviously that doesn't mean they dictate to the HT what should be done about x/y/or z, sometimes because there will be parents who hold opposing views, sometimes parents hold unrealistic ideals - or are looking at everything through the eyes of their situation, whereas the school obviously has to take account of hundreds of other situations - but they listen, and, where it is right to do so, they respond accordingly. Indeed, ds's school isn't just reactive to the Parents, it often comes and asks opinions from us when something is in the 'being considered' stage - the school finds it a very useful sounding board.
I can't agree that any individual governor can 'dictate' to the head though. As RavenAK says, a lot is dictated by other laws or regulations anyway, and of course, any decisions would have to take the whole board with them, not just one parent with an axe to grind.

BackforGood Sat 22-Dec-12 18:03:42

Sorry, OP - this seems to have gone off on a tangent blush
I hope you got the answer you were looking for first.

Jux Sat 22-Dec-12 21:57:55

Thanks RavenAK. DD is already doing a distance learning course in Egyptology, and I am loth to put more pressure on her at home, when she's about to get - or is already getting - quite a lot at school.

you have reminded me though, that I have a lot of the Cambridge Latin course books, and a ton of other Latin stuff, primers, Winnie Ille Pu, Catullus etc, from when I wanted to learn it and had to go to evening classes. That was in the days when the government believed in life long learning. DD doesn't like my helping her, but I'll put it to her, and dig the books out.

louisea Mon 24-Dec-12 11:18:11

Sorry, OP - this seems to have gone off on a tangent blush
I hope you got the answer you were looking for first.

Thanks. I don't mind. Has made for interesting reading. I did get the answer I was looking for. Seems as though our school is giving (or not) information at about the same time as most other schools. I find the lack of information frustrating but our boys seem to have more or less decided which subjects they want to take anyway. The main decision seems to be between History and Geography. I'll use the debate I started on the other thread to discuss the decision with them.

Thanks to everyone.

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