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Double science v. triple. Has DS blown it?

(246 Posts)
Erebus Tue 05-Mar-13 18:49:36

I will be absolutely honest and say that, at parents eve tonight, the bomb shell was that DS1 is being considered for 'top set double science' not triple science- though which 'set' is rather neither here nor there!

I am rather 'taken aback' that he's not in the top 3rd of his 270 strong-year group (Y9), tbh! I acknowledge that his school is the county's top performing comp, academically so, yes, the competition may be a bit stiffer than completely 'average', but! In Dec his level was 6.2 or 6 low as they call it, and it was the only report he's every gotten a '2' for effort ('usually tries his best, but not always'). Always had a '1' for everything to date.

His 'in class' work has let him down, he got a 4.8 for his last experiment (she only looked at the last 2 or 3 marks, but of course will have an overall overview of DS, won't she?), and when asked why tonight, he said that the 2 other boys he works with were mucking around and they got no experimental data to work with... but he got 76% for the exam they did last week in class (certainly top quarter of the 3rd group in science, there being 2 A groups, 1 B group, his, all 30 DC apiece). Do not misunderstand me- I know DS wouldn't the beacon of diligence trying to pull it all together in class!- but I do sort of think they really haven't given their more 'OK, enough coasting, time to knuckle down boys children' time to show that they now 'get it', and that playtime, as such, is over. I think he had his first real shock tonight, actually. The level 2 'for effort' didn't do it (but his achievement mark was well in the upper half of the school's expected level).

The teacher said 'it's better he gets As or A* in double science than does less well in 3', which is undeniable. BUT DS is capable! My 'complaint' about the school would be they let the kids coast in Y8, no homework, no pressure; then 'wham!' Y9. MUCH more homework, much more focus. I readily concede we are half way through Y9 but I sort of feel DS only got his first yellow card, in Jan, with his report for science, but has just been told, 7 weeks later (today), he has 2 weeks to change their minds for double v. triple science. That's 2 lessons (though the teacher says she will rearrange the prac. groups). He was almost in tears (the teacher didn't see) as we left her as he knows that he needs triple science to be allowed to do science A level at Peter Symonds in Winchester (High performing 6FC). Until tonight he was harbouring a dream of 'maybe science or Engineering at uni'- but, well, he's blown that, hasn't he? A DC who is only allowed to do double science at a school that offers triple isn't 'Science At Uni' material, is he?

Sorry, really, for the ramble but I really, genuinely thought that DS's 'science' future was 'on course'; that is B grade English/humanity performance and possibly even C grade MFL (yet, oddly, A at Maths?!) was counterbalanced by 'solid science'. But it would appear not.

I don't really know what I want you lot to say. I don't know what I'm 'asking'. I just feel, well a bit pole-axed by tonight's revelation, I guess. And I know they aren't really likely to change their minds.

wordfactory Tue 05-Mar-13 19:29:41

Isit a final decision?
Is there any wiggle room?
If so, I would make an appointment wiht the Head of Science and explain that your DS wishes to puruse science at tertiary level and see what they say.

creamteas Tue 05-Mar-13 19:32:34

The main issue to consider between double and triple is what is required to study sciences at A level.

So if he is unlikely to want to do science A levels this is a non-issue. Double is perfectly respectable for everything else.

If your DS's school (or other post 16 provision) allows you to chose science A level with double then I don't think you need to worry about it either.

But if you need triple and your DS might want to study science A levels then it is worth talking to the school about this more.

NorthernLurker Tue 05-Mar-13 19:37:35

I agree. Go back and talk about the A level situation and see if you can get them to try. I have to say though (and I don't want this to sound like a stealth boast because it honestly isn't!) that my dd1 is doing triple science with an A* target (which irritates me because poor lass either gets on target or as she sees it fails, no room to exceed expectations). Her end of Yr 9 target was 7B. If your ds is likely to end the year as he currently is then maybe the teacher has a point about him struggling with the triple. The A in maths in fantastic though. Try not to stress about this now. Lots of praise for the Maths and solid English performance and then see what can be ararnged. You really don't want him to feel he's letting you down or that you're really upset by this.

chicaguapa Tue 05-Mar-13 20:17:00

I think there'll be quite a few parents in the same situation tonight. I was hovering outside this evening to speak to DH and heard him have the exact same conversation with some other parents. In fact I was relieved to see you'd written she wink.

Definitely speak to the teacher and explain the science A level problem. Tbh I thought you still could do A level sciences without having to do triple science, but maybe BP and PS have different requirements.

It might have been a 'buck up your ideas' tactic designed to shock to your DS into sorting out his class behaviour. If you explain to his teacher, she might accept that he's capable of doing triple science and now he knows what's at risk, he might work harder in class. Or despite all that, she might still feel he's not capable, but at least you'll know either way.

I'll see what DH says when he gets home. Assuming he can still string a sentence together by then. grin

Erebus Tue 05-Mar-13 20:25:34

Thanks, guys- I'll be honest and say that unfortunately- ahem- I think DS already knows we're disappointed, as is he. His teacher asked DS what he wanted to do, (before the double science wham) and he said, quiet and shy though he is, 'science or possibly engineering'. There is a tiny bit of not very relevant back story: Towards the end of Y8 we got a letter home telling us DS was borderline for a second MFL- not a cert, did we want him to do one? (20-odd% of DC get the offer at the end of the day). We had a sit-down chat, and DS stated he really didn't like doing languages (he's right!- he'll probably get a B at GCSE) though he is 'ok' at Spanish (otherwise the 'offer' as being borderline would not have been made!). SO we 'agreed' that he'd just do the one MFL but he'd 'bloody better get triple science' (lol etc- it wasn't 'heavy'- but that was back when I'd had no reason to assume DS wouldn't be offered triple!) which he agreed was where he'd be at. So yes, I think he has a pretty good idea of what we think- and he knows he's goofed!

BUT a combination of immaturity; shyness and an unwillingness to stand up and be counted in class (trying to make 2 other boys 'behave' in a prac whilst appearing to be compliant himself in class); a really slack Y8; a bit of a 13 year old's 'near enough is good enough' approach to homework, though all the decisions seems to have been based on quite recent work; a '2' level in effort last term have all conspired to really, in the big picture, quite suddenly lost him a change to do science A level at our local 6FM (And, dare I say, it's been MN that's taught me that the knowledge chasm between double science and A level science can be very hard to bridge!).

It would be different if there were some way to prove himself on the double science course: 2 A*s might do that BUT all it would mean was a great boost on their league table but the fact those 2 A*s might have been 3 A*s in triple had he been allowed to go there will never be known.

So we've talked to him; he will decide tomorrow if he wants us to pursue it- though in reality, I imagine every child was told tonight of their double/triple decision so they aren't likely to change- are they? It must be 'bums on seats in classrooms'. Is there anything we can do other than beg?

Erebus Tue 05-Mar-13 20:35:45

chica- your DH may of course just want to look at a blank wall for a bit when he gets in from parents evening grin.

I loathe myself for saying this but at times like this I do wonder whether we'd've been better off sending DS to a no-prisoners private (though we'd be on baked beans if we did, being NHS workers, an' all!). A good friend's DSs go to one, and there is no question of the slack Y8, no acceptance of 'near enough is good enough' homework (redone in school whilst the teacher oversees). But I totally understand that if you have 30 DC to oversee in all, as opposed to 200, you can do that. In a big comp, it can be every man to himself, and in a school like Th, who rest heavily on laurels, they can afford to only let the A and A* DC even sit the exam when there's a lower standard alternative - our fault- we chose the school. And I get that maybe 90 DC didn't slack off to quite the extent that DS1 must've, it now seems, in Y8 -though the HoY in Y8 apparently bollocked the teachers for not setting homework!-in order to make their decision.

Should I call the 6FM colleges to discuss what they'd expect to see in a prospective science A level candidate? I know that's really pfb- he's 13, fgs! But 13 is where these decisions are made!

titchy Tue 05-Mar-13 20:40:16

Does it make any difference timetabling wise? Could you make a deal with school - start him off on the triple option and if by the end of yr 9 they still think double is better you agree to it? Could give him a term to really prove he's up for it.

Erebus Tue 05-Mar-13 20:43:58

I don't know. The school certainly devote the same amount of time per pupil for 'Science' be in double or triple.

He won't start double or triple before Y10 though the teacher did sort of 'hint' 'they start GCSE course work toward the end of Y9...' so not sure!

NewFerry Tue 05-Mar-13 20:44:15

Hi Erebus sorry to hear the disappointing news.

It is possible to do science A level from double science, my DS did this. But, this was because his school only offered the double, and Y12 took up from where the double science syllabus ended.
So, perhaps another 6th form college might offer him that chance.

Otherwise, your DS could look at taking a foundation year at uni before starting the full engineering degree, if that's what he still wants at 18. These are designed for students who don't have the correct combination of A2 exams.

NewFerry Tue 05-Mar-13 20:47:39

Actually, if there's no time tabling issue, then maybe the head if science would be prepared to reconsider on the basis of end of year results.

cricketballs Tue 05-Mar-13 20:47:55

maybe rather than pushing for triple science you should trust the judgement of the person who teaches your DS and is more than aware of his capabilities.

Whilst you want him to do triple science, most students are not capable of this to the grades that they can achieve in double. Reality check?

lainiekazan Tue 05-Mar-13 20:51:57

Ds goes to Th.

His friend wanted to do Triple Science - put it on his Options form - and was given Double. His parents contacted the school and he is now doing Triple. I'm sure if you expressed your strong desire (er, rather your ds's strong desire!) to do the Triple option they would accommodate you.

Ds chose to do Double, a decision which his quite pleased about as the Triple Science people have all their exams at the end of the two years, as opposed to the easier continuous assessment which the Double people have. From what I've read on MN Double Science does not preclude the taking of science-y A Levels.

Don't sweat about the second foreign language. Ds dropped Spanish like a hot brick after a year as he said he'd rather concentrate on French and not dilute his results. I did three foreign languages for O Level and I wish I had focused on just the one.

By the way, ds hardly did a stroke of homework up until Year 10. Now he has a lot!

chicaguapa Tue 05-Mar-13 20:56:30

He's still not back (has been there since 7.30am FFS and not had any dinner angry) but I will mention it to him and whether it's set in stone.

mam29 Tue 05-Mar-13 20:59:29

My comp only offered double and many of my year went onto successful science degrees and careers.

the private schools offered triple.

Is it money thing? is it state comp?

could you offer to fund exam fee?

does seem harsh at such young age.

Is he picking his gcse options now?

hes on year 9?

surly theres more time another 6months left of school year yet.

good luck hope yo work it out.

nextphase Tue 05-Mar-13 21:01:01

It sounds like it wouldn't be a possibility with the timetabling, but is there any way he could do Physics and Chemistry, and not the Biology. Still only 2 GCSE's, but with his strong maths, that would leave a real possibility of engineering at Uni.

It is possible to jump from double science to science a'levels, but it will be much harder if he is in a group where everyone else has done more GCSE science than yourself.

feynman Tue 05-Mar-13 21:30:40

If it helps I'm a science teacher (HOD) and am having similar conversations with students at present. If you/him really want to do it then I would ring school in the morning and speak to the HOD, stress that he really wants it for A-level, is prepared to work hard etc. In my experience I think school will often bend if there are supportive parents being students who they know will push them at home.
However, I would also be aware of the following.
Triple science is harder than double; it’s not just more of the same.
The knock on effect of this is that it is the further units (what makes it triple) tend to pull down the earlier units (that they do for double).
If the school is studying triple in the same amount of time as double this effect is greater.
His teacher may well be correct in that double (core/additional) would give him 2 solid A's for example but triple may result in 3 B's. This may or may not be the best outcome for the student.
Whilst triple is undoubtedly better preparation for A-level, than core/additional, A-level colleges generally accept any students with suitable grades (usually B plus) in core/additional onto A-Level courses as not all schools in the UK do triple. (I say most as there may be exceptions).They may also be more likely to accept higher grades in additional than lower ones in triple.
Finally if it helps, my daughter is in Y10 and had to make similar decisions at her school last year . She is predicted good grades and had the option of doing triple. Whilst I feel she is very strong in this area and I obviously would like her to do the separate sciences, I would probably have suggested she didn’t if there was not an appropriate amount of teaching time allocated to it.
In my experience even with bright capable students, trying to do 3 years’ worth of GCSE in 2 years is never going to give the students the best chance of securing their very best grades. In addition we find it can actually switch students off as the lessons can become very didactic and it is a lot of work, practical’s tend to get squeezed a bit and I worry that a lot of the things that people fall in love with science over gets almost shoved out in an effort to 'get through the specification'.
Anyway just some thoughts, might be helpful.

chicaguapa Tue 05-Mar-13 21:34:21

erebus Speak to the teacher. Though 'in class' attitude in Y9 has a huge bearing on a DC's ability to cope with triple science in Y11 and that's what the decision will have been made on. Good luck!

Erebus Tue 05-Mar-13 21:35:34

Thanks everyone.

Lannie please can you ask your friend what persuasive 'argument' the parents made to Th? Did they go and see the Head of Science? A letter? A DC's personal 'plea?

JUST had another, calmer discussion with DS, the 'emollient one'; a 'double science isn't the end of the world' one- but he sees his own 'direction' as being blown out of the water with this! And I fear though I am a bit dramatic, that he may be right- esp the gulf between double and A level.

In some ways, it's worse for DS1 being put into double as his school offers triple. It did piss me off a bit when the young woman telling us this said 'Don't worry I only did double though that's all that was available at my school '- like that was a comfort! I think I could bet my rear that a DC coming from a local, well-regarded comp that did triple would not be held in particularly high regard, academically, turning up with a double!

There's no option to do 'bits' of science any more. It's -ahem- what are the terms? I readily confess I didn't take much notice on the options booklet as I believed DS1 was a dead cert for triple- 'Science A' (end of Y10) and 'Additional Science' (end Y11). It's 'science-lite(r)' - for the less able. There's be no point in paying exam fees- he won't have studied the right curriculum.

Yes, his GCSE options will be signed and sealed very soon. His science teacher said he had '2 weeks to prove himself' which is fairly obviously meant as 'our decision is made'. Doesn't it?!

I am about to post a Q about double science and triple and the 'leap' to A level! But responses on here monitored in a hawk-like way!

NewFerry Tue 05-Mar-13 21:38:52

DS2 had the option of triple science, but it used 1 of his options slots, so it wasn't being done in the same time as the double science.

Startail Tue 05-Mar-13 21:40:16

This a massive bug bear in this house DD1 is doing double science and yes we did try and lean on them, but her tutor is the head of science.

Anything I write about him is liable to be libellous, suffice to say he likes an easy life. DD1 is dyslexic and it's not easy to get how bright she is beneath the slightly immature dizzy exterior. She is undoubtably a better scientist than, set one for everything, very conventionally academic DD2.

She wants to do A'level science and has a very technical hobby. I expect fun with sixth forms and strongly suspect she may have to go to one of the local colleges.

chicaguapa Tue 05-Mar-13 21:40:49

Feynman DH agrees wholeheartedly with what you have written and thinks you might be his HoD. Though he doesn't think she has a DD in Y10/Y11. grin

Startail Tue 05-Mar-13 21:47:30

The leap to A'level doesn't exist in this house. Most science DD1 knows is already A'level and last night it was first year undergrad chemistry.

I know this because DH explained something that I only knew the first 3/4 of. DD1 followed this quite happily.

Even triple science appears to be fairly simplified as one of her BFs is perpetually stressing her science teacher by wandering beyond GCSE.

Erebus Tue 05-Mar-13 21:47:53

Again, thanks everyone- the last 2 came in (after 'nextphases's' )whilst I was typing my last! Thought I ought to stop MN about DS's problem long enough to talk to DS about the problem! grin

I guess need to be convinced by the school that their decision is based on their genuine belief that DS wouldn't do well enough at triple rather than what I suspect which is that he might not get A*s at triple that has informed this decision.

I'd feel less worried if I felt that double science was a good solid, science prep for ongoing science in later study, but I sort of regard it, maybe wrongly, as 'science for those who need proof of a bit of science, like Foundation Maths, or Foundation English but taken in small, manageable, bite sized blocks so as not to frighten the horses' Especially as I know several great, lovely young people from Th who are now studying very vocational artist-based subjects at college, who were borderline C/D maths and so forth- but who did double science. I am over-doing that double science description a bit for dramatic effect, sorry! (I said I was prone to dramatics!)

ShipwreckedAndComatose Tue 05-Mar-13 21:52:25

I would echo what Feynman says..

Two excellent quality GCSE grades obtained through the core and additional science are much better preparation for A level tha three poor grades at triple.

And I would also echo the poster who said you should perhaps listen to the advice that the teacher is giving you about your son's progress this year.

Double award is by no means the end of the world and if a wake up call is needed to kick start GCSE effort then this is not a bad way to get it.

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