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GCSE much do they really matter?

(142 Posts)
wordfactory Thu 24-Jan-13 12:07:31

DS is currently considering his options for GCSE.
After he's done all the core stuff (Eng x2, maths, science x3, MFL) there are only three choices left.

He's thinking History, Latin and Geography. But then he's thinking History, Latin and Ancient Greek. Then Spanish, RS and Latin. This morning he said History, RS and Latin, then changed his mind back to Latin, Ancient Greek and History...

Does it really matter in the scheme of things? Do any universities really care what they do at this stage?

wordfactory Thu 24-Jan-13 13:55:35

I suppose there cant be any coursework/controlled assessment in IGCSEs, can there? I mean how wouldyou do it for students abroad?

Yellowtip Thu 24-Jan-13 14:03:12

The opportunity to take modules was a notable and distinguishing feature up until now gelo, is what I meant.

Interesting that you say RE is easy because there's no coursework smile

gelo Thu 24-Jan-13 14:22:29

Oh yes iGCSEs are all linear but old recent GCSEs weren't (but very old ones were). I think for coursework there is always an alternative option for genuine foreigners in iGCSE, but I'm not sure that there are no teacher assessment alternatives at all. Some things just lend themselves to being done in school (science practicals, spoken english or mfl, geog fieldwork etc), but GCSE seems to have taken controlled assessment much further than the obvious bits - eg: written mfl and English essay based tasks.

TalkinPeace2 Thu 24-Jan-13 14:50:32

The GCSE curriculum has changed. THe current year 10 cohort onwards will be predominantly exams at the end.

gelo Thu 24-Jan-13 17:53:53

TiP I know, that's why I said old recent. Modular GCSEs didn't last very long at all.

AMumInScotland Thu 24-Jan-13 20:14:56

DS did IGCSEs and had extra exams for French and Science to cover parts which would have been done by a controlled assessment otherwise, so I think in UK schools there will normally be some element of coursework/controlled assessment in those subjects at least. But it is certainly minor in comparison with what some GCSEs have been like in the past few years.

DS was in UK but was an external candidate for the exams, as he was home educated / internet school at the time, so controlled assessment was not possible.

senua Thu 24-Jan-13 21:15:08

After he's done all the core stuff (Eng x2, maths, science x3, MFL) there are only three choices left.

That's no longer 'core'. It would be an idea to include a humanity to cover the EBac

wordfactory Thu 24-Jan-13 21:30:25

senua that's interesting.

Do you think universities are paying attention to Mr Gove's Ebac? We were pretty much told to ignore it by both DCs schools.

wordfactory Thu 24-Jan-13 21:35:43

I should say as an aside that I think the principle of a humanity is sound. I just think Gove's definition of a humanity is a little narrow.

gelo Thu 24-Jan-13 22:24:49

I don't think the Ebacc counts for very much at all wordfactory, but your ds may want to choose History anyway since it appeared on all but one of his lists and it might be a useful A level if he enjoys it. I suggest that History, RS and Latin would probably be the easiest and least risky set of the ones listed (like you I'm slightly sceptical of doing a language from scatch in 2 years, especially with 2 other languages already being studied - I'm sure it's possible, but the likelihood of getting a lower grade is greater).

senua Thu 24-Jan-13 23:00:05

Do you think universities are paying attention to Mr Gove's Ebacc?

Well it's not "'Mr Gove's Ebacc" as such, that you get to impress others. More it's the "broad education" that you hope a fairly academic child would get, for its own worth.
Long before the phrase EBacc came into existence, our local comp used to recommend:
Eng Eng Sci Sci Maths then
a humanity
a language
a tech and
an art

overthemill Fri 25-Jan-13 08:55:57

Chopchopbusybusy, not trying to scaremonger!

cambridge DON'T specify anything about GCSEs at the moment, but when we looked for eldest dd 2 years ago it was a requirement and for ds in yr 12 now when he looked a year ago after GCSEs it was. They now say:

" a potential Oxford applicant has a GCSE profile which is strong overall (i.e. contains a large majority of A and A* grades)"

which I am really pleased about. To check, as you made me worry we had it wrong I randomly selected some Oxford courses and this what they say:

"we could not be optimistic about your chances of gaining a place at Oxford if you do not have a high percentage for A* and A grades at GCSE"

"usually 70% of GCSE grades are A*"

ds hopes to do maths or engineering. dd13 hopes to do zoology

this is useful place to start

btw re Edinburgh - eldest dd went all the way to Edinburgh for an open day, was told by first tutor she met that she couldn't be offered a place as she didn't have 8 A* and was astonished to learn that it wasn't on any of the open day material sent out by them - total waste of time and money. Her grandad who is a graduate and a donor was well p*****d off! She is at a Russell Group Uni and really enjoying it.

wordfactory Fri 25-Jan-13 09:48:00

That's interesting senua about those recommendations.

DS school basically said after the core subjects (eng, maths, science, MFL), the pupils should feel free to choose exactly what they wanted from an admittedly not extensive list.

Yellowtip Fri 25-Jan-13 10:40:19

overthemill it's rubbish that you need 8A* at Oxford to 'get a look in'. The average for Medicine is different. Other than that what you say is bunkum, with the caveat that those getting interview offers are likely to be clever kids who've achieved well. For a start pre-tests are used for a great many subjects and put into the mix with A* and for another start it depends on the school at which at applicant sat GCSEs. It's not helpful to quote tiny bits of a website out of context.

Yellowtip Fri 25-Jan-13 10:42:22

Besides which 'a high percentage of A* and A grades at GCSE' is not in any way the same as 'a minimum of 8A* is necessary to even get a look in'.

overthemill Fri 25-Jan-13 11:49:16

yellowtip I can't quite understand why you are so cross with me. I am simply stating what we found to be true when looking for our dcs. It's very competitive and that is what we found. I am pleased they now say * majority/ 70%* rather than quote an exact number like Edinburgh did. For us it means ds probably won't get in and it's made dd13 think very hard about her choices.

Incidentally, dh who went to oxford in late 70 s is a bit shocked as he got low o level grades.

Yellowtip Fri 25-Jan-13 13:06:51

I'm not cross in the least, just a bit wearied at rubbish about minimum number of A* for Oxford being played over and over again.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 25-Jan-13 13:16:21

DCs school is an academy converter. Since they stopped having the LEA looking over their shoulder they have utterly gone off the boil.
Languages down from 5 to 2
And now it looks like they are going to drop Latin as an option as its "too hard to timetable"
Am very tempted to report them to Ofsted and the Dfe for backsliding.

Suffolkgirl1 Fri 25-Jan-13 16:34:29

"DS did IGCSEs and had extra exams for French and Science to cover parts which would have been done by a controlled assessment otherwise, so I think in UK schools there will normally be some element of coursework/controlled assessment in those subjects at least."

DS is doing iGCSE's in all sciences in an English school. Definitely no controlled assessment but a practical paper as part of the final exam in year 11.

Xenia Fri 25-Jan-13 19:19:59

I think where possible do both history and geography for a broad education.

On the Ebac I just noticed in today's Times and league tables and my local comp has 8% of children getting it (in other words doing a good range of core subjects) and about 80 - 100% with the private schools. Amazing difference.

Yellowtip Fri 25-Jan-13 19:34:58

Agree. My seven eldest have all done/ are doing hist and geog.

MordionAgenos Fri 25-Jan-13 19:45:10

DD1 is doing both hist and geog for GCSE and has chosen them in her A level options too. That having said, I did history O and A level but I didn't do geography past the 3rd year and I really don't think there is much wrong with the breadth of my education.

wordfactory Fri 25-Jan-13 19:53:27

Both my DC have chosen history but neither fancies geography.

GCSEChaos Fri 25-Jan-13 20:59:30

At the GCSE stage IMO the student is starting to show their preference.

The 'free' options allow the student to indicate which direction they might take at A level (without making that direction compulsory). The linguist would want to have an extra MFL. The politician would probably want an extra humanity.

Choosing an extra MFL or an extra humanity or whatever will not force the student down one route or another.

SanityClause Fri 25-Jan-13 21:09:26

Look at the requirements for A levels or IB.

For example, at DD1's school, you don't need GCSE History to do A Level or IB history. You don't need three sciences to study three sciences at A level/IB. You don't need IGCSE Further Maths to do A level /IB Further Maths..... You get the picture.

His core subjects should cover just about everything he wants to do. The only exceptions are things like Drama and Art and MFL, where a progression of knowledge is needed.

So, he should do the subjects 1. he likes and 2. he is best at.

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