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Science GCSE - confused!

(76 Posts)
lexie01 Sat 23-Feb-13 07:20:16

I have another thread running about EBacc and as part of this I have been looking at a number of senior school websites in my area and specifically their GCSE results.

On a complete tangent I noticed quite a difference between the type of GCSE's taken at state and independent schools. Specifically in the Science subjects. I looked at 3 state comps and a very small number (2 for example at one very good school) took separate science GCSE's (ie biology/chemistry & physics) and most took a single science exam (which I assume is a combination of all 3?). In the independent schools however this was reversed and most of the children seemed to take the individual science subjects. I know that this Is probably a bit of a generalisation as I only looked at about 8 schools within my area but there was an obvious difference.

Does anyone know the reason For this? My dd1 is in yr5 so we are just starting to look at senior schools so all this is quite new to me. Thanks

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 23-Feb-13 16:41:17

the con is in parents thinking that only separate sciences will allow you to follow onto A levels. And I have had plenty of parents frantic that their children study separate science because they think it would prevent them from accessing A levels in the future if they didn't

in fact, the original A level science courses were designed to lead on from double award general science quite easily.

As I said up thread. It is all about the quality of the GCSE science grades you get.

happyAvocado Sat 23-Feb-13 16:42:16

thanks for explaining that - why is this info not given to anyone as in school prospectus should have that written for everyone

BackforGood Sat 23-Feb-13 16:43:06

Lexie I did my O-levels in 1981. We had sep Physics, chemistry and biology lessons through the 5 yrs at school, but were only allowed to take a Biology O-leve and a 'Physical Science' o-level. We were led to believe that, as (what would now be called) a superselective grammar, they wanted all pupils to have the chance to have exams in a range of subjects (eg, you had to do at least 1 MFL, and everyone did Latin, as well as humanities, and what are now known as the core subjects), without anyone ending up doing more than 10 o-levels. Sorry, long winded way of saying it's not new to do a combined paper blush

ds did 3 sep sciences in the same timetabled time as some of his peers did the 'double science' GCSE.
dn is taking hers this year, and hasn't go a clue what she's actually taking / going to end up with - that's how clear things are, she's a bright girl but it gets very complicated the way they change things year after year.
My dd is in Yr9 and we are about to go to her options evening this week. First we were told she could take 3 sciences without using one of her option blocks, then we had a letter come home 'correcting' or updating that information and saying the only way she can do 3 sciences is by using one of her options (none of which she wants to drop / not choose). Seems completely random, that dd can't do as many GCSEs as ds did, even though dd is far more academic than ds ever was/is confused

BackforGood Sat 23-Feb-13 16:43:23

ooh, sorry, that was long blush

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 23-Feb-13 16:45:00

no, I refer to core and additional sciencee.

You seen quite aggressive towards me Knows... I am just trying to provide information here.

Thats ok, Happy!!

Its bloody confusing grin.

Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 23-Feb-13 16:48:21

Happy, the further science modules offer more breadth, to be sure. I don't think they really add any depth though.

There may be some topics that come up in A-level, but they are very easily covered for the first time in A-level as they tend to be basic facts rather than learning skills.

There is nothing wrong with learning facts, of course, but you should consider it carefully before giving up the opportunity to study another foreign language or an arts course, for example.

I don't think you will get many curriculum specialists telling you to study triple if you want to do science A-levels. Most will tell you to do subjects you enjoy, and keep your options open. You might get science teachers trying to drum up more numbers in their subjects, just as options teachers do.

happyAvocado Sat 23-Feb-13 17:03:19

BackforGood - I think nothing wrong with changes as long as people are informed

in modern society people are exposed to continuous changes so I wouldn't worry about that

BackforGood Sat 23-Feb-13 17:12:03

I'm thinking more from the pov of 2 candidates going for a job / applying for a course.
Say it was my ds, and my dd unlikely that they would ever be applying for the same job but just for this point you would look at what exams they had taken, and assume from their certificates, that ds was the brighter / mare capable / more academic / however you want to phrase it, rather than dd, as he will end up with more GCSEs. However, this is only because of what he was given the chance to do. In truth, my dd is far more academic than he is (he has other qualities wink), but it won't appear so if a prospective employer were comparing their qualifications at this level.
That's my concern for the changes.

happyAvocado Sat 23-Feb-13 17:21:48

I see your point. in tat respect if it was me - I would look at Maths grade first as all kids take it and English for that matter + (that would have been my choice) some simple numerical/logical test if I needed someone to read instructions and work on their own

Talkinpeace Sat 23-Feb-13 17:26:53

I did combined physics/chemistry O level at a private school in the 1970's - Cambridge exam board.
Our school also had each of the sciences, separate Nuffield physics and a combined Biology/Chemistry O level.

strange combinations of science at 16 was ever thus

Talkinpeace Sat 23-Feb-13 17:27:50

PS I then did Physics A level and then a BSc

Needmoresleep Sat 23-Feb-13 17:52:06

BackforGood, I would not worry.

Both my DC are at Private schools which consistently come within the top 50 nationally. Both limit GCSE (or more normally iGCSE) subjects to about 10, believing that at this stage it is quality, plus a good spread, that matters. Of that 10, both schools look for pupils to take a "fun" option, whether it be music, art, drama or even Ancient Greek.

Universities apparently are likely to look only at the best 8 grades. Their cousin, who was in a reasonable, but not selective, state school, was instead encouraged to take 13. She will have helped the school's A*-C stats but her grades for her top 8 subjects were not as good as my son's, and she has struggled to get the University place of her choice. Once you have A levels and a degree few employers will worry about GCSEs or the number, other than if you don't have a reasonable spread.

Back to OP, I wonder what the difference between iGCSE and GCSE is in terms of preparation for A level. We were probably looking at secondary schools at the point when the syllabus was being reviewed as a constant theme at Open Days was a planned switch to iGCSE as science teachers felt the proposed GCSE syllabus was too shallow.

Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 23-Feb-13 18:03:31

The IGCSE Sciences have the same program of study as GCSE Sciences.

The difference is that there is no Controlled Assessment.

Although students of IGCSE do plenty of practical work in class, they do not do a separate exam on any investigations. They tackle questions about practical work and investigative skills in their final exams.

BackforGood Sat 23-Feb-13 18:19:13

Thanks Needmoresleep. I guess I know you are right, deep down, but it's just annoyed me this week I think as I feel they've 'taken away' her chance to do what she wanted for her GCSEs, and now, somewhere along the line she's going to have to miss out on one that she wants to do smile

mumslife Sat 23-Feb-13 18:58:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

creamteas Sat 23-Feb-13 21:13:46

At DC's school most kids take core and additional science (double award) and if you want to take triple it counts as an option block.

DS is hoping to take (options next month) triple and Astronomy so will have 4 science GCSEs. I think if it was possible to choose all science options, that would be his preference......grin

As far as I know Astronomy doesn't count as a science for Ebac purposes though, not sure why confused

Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 23-Feb-13 21:34:11

It really makes me quite cross that people keep referring to science GCSEs as "combined" science, "general" science and "double award".

If anyone is confused, this is why.

It's really not that complicated.

What we have is a selection of Biology, Chemistry and Physics modules that can be accumulated to give either 2 or 3 GCSEs. There is nothing general or combined about it. The GCSEs are not combined, but 2 or 3 stand alone qualifications.

I really don't understand why there are so many misconceptions about Science GSCEs.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 23-Feb-13 21:34:38

Cos no one important has thought that one through grin

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 23-Feb-13 21:35:28

Sorry...that was aimed at creamteas

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 23-Feb-13 21:38:30

Because you and I work with it every day, knows, and most people are trying to get their heads round it based on what they remember from their distant school days.

I find that very understandable, actually.

Talkinpeace Sat 23-Feb-13 21:41:49

From what I can gather from DDs work, there is
'core science' - single GCSE : her set have completed that in two terms
'second module' - additional work in each of the three subjects that will add up to 2 GCSEs : her set will complete that by the end of year 10
'triple science' - more additional work to complete the full single subject GCSE syllabus in each : a stack of exams in year 11!

Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 23-Feb-13 21:53:29

IDK, ship. I feel a lot less confused than you appear to be. I communicate this lack of confusion to parents by never referring to general or combined. It is pretty easy to stay focussed on reality, IME.

It can take a while for a teacher to understand fully the qualification, but this is how to administer modules, enter them and do cash-ins. Understanding raw to UMS is also something that can take a while to appreciate. This strategic element of exams has all but disappeared with the advent of linear only exams thank the lord.

I like to think that my parents are confident and content with the choices we recommend for their children. I hope none feel the need to come to Mumsnet for clarification.

I don't know why Science is such a mystery, and don't really feel the need to perpetuate this myth.

As a mother to 4 older children (GCSE options and above), I have my fair share of learning about how other subjects (and schools) work. There is plenty of complexity and change in those subjects too. Science does not hold a monopoly. Plus, Science is 2/3 subjects so should be twice or three times as complicated (but it's not).

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 23-Feb-13 21:57:40


Night night knows.

sherzy Sat 23-Feb-13 22:12:33

I teach double, triple, a-level and the old and new Btec courses and I'm bloody confused. confused

BackforGood Sat 23-Feb-13 23:34:26

Well, Knows to me, it's a mystery, because my dd will study 3 separate, individual subjects for two years, but is only allowed to take (and I'm not sure if the correct terminology is) 2 GCSEs (or) a double GCSE, which, for some reason combines elements from 3 subjects

She's taking French and German, but not going to end up taking an "MFL" GCSE.
Some people take music and drama, but don't end up taking a "performing arts" GCSE
Some people take History and Geography, but don't end up taking a "Humanities" GCSE

etc., etc.
As Ship says - I think some confusion is only natural.

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