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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.

Erebus Tue 05-Mar-13 23:13:43

Bedtime, now- thanks for the input, I'll check-in again tomorrow!

Loshad Tue 05-Mar-13 23:14:20

Erebus, Iam sorry but your last statement is utter rubbish. some of my DC attend a high achieving school which only offers double GCSE, from that many pupils go on to take 3 science A levels (often with a fourth) and achieve all A/A*s.
In the school i teach at i have a considerable number of students in my y12 biology classes who i taught last year in double, several of them are doing a lot better than the ones who were in my triple set hmm.
I am very surprised to see they accepted applied science at all as an entry requirement, tells me they will definitely allow a double award kid on their courses.

TheWave Tue 05-Mar-13 23:16:03

I also wonder if the triple science classes will be full of the more academic children and therefore he will be pulled along by the ethos of working in that set. Rather than continuing with the element of slacking that you mention, to his disadvantage in the double science set.

Loshad Tue 05-Mar-13 23:16:31

sorry slow typer, referring to your fifth last statement!

teacherwith2kids Tue 05-Mar-13 23:18:25

DS's (excellent) comp, mysteriously, only offer double BUT they have a very healthy proportion of 6th formers doing all 3 science A-levels - so they clearly accept it as the foundation for A-level. Other schools where only 'less good' pupils do double might be sniffier, I suppose.

creamteas Tue 05-Mar-13 23:31:39

Science is now usually:

Core (1 GCSE) B1 C1 P1
Additional (2nd GCSE) B2 C2 P2

Taken together some people still call this double

You can also do

Further (3rd GCSE) B3,C3, P3

If you do seperate (triple) it is the same units but in a differrnt pattern

B1+B2 and B3 to get a GCSE in biology
C1, C2 and C3 to get a GCSE in chemistry
P1, P2 & P3 to get a GCSE in physics.

QuiteOldGal Tue 05-Mar-13 23:39:04

The thing is different schools seem to have completely different time tabling options for GCSE and OPs DS school only has options for 9 GCSE's, 8 if her DS does double instead of triple, whereas at my DS poor performing secondary you could fill in the gaps with other subjects, and he did want to do French and German which he sees as more of an achievement than the extra science, especially as he disliked biology.

Also there seems to be several different sorts of double science, as OP as mentioned and some are I think better exams than others. I think there is a BTEC that is sometimes called double science though I may be wrong.

DS did AQA science and additional science.

feynman Tue 05-Mar-13 23:45:17

Science A and Additional science are 2 seperate GCSE's that together make up what is commonly being refered to as 'double'. Taking the seperate sciences involves doing Science A and Addtional plus some extra units. They are then cashed in seperatly as Bio Chem Phys. To try and clarify there are in total 12 units of work in science GCSE's, 3 bio, 3 chem, 3 phys, 3 controlled assessments (coursework). They are generally refered to as B1,B2,B3, C1,C2,C3 and P1,P2,P3.

If a student does Science A they are doing B1,C1, P1 plus a CA
Additional Science is B2,C2,P2 and a CA
Furthur additional is B3,C3,P3 and a CA.

Students can do Sci A on its own and get 1 GCSE. Or can do Science A and additional and get 2 GCSE's (commonly known as double). OR can get 3 GCSES in science by doing, Sci A, Additional and Furthur additional OR they can cash in the B1,B2,B3 together plus a CA which would give a GCSE in biology etc etc.

Whichever route your son takes he will do B1,B2,C,C2,P1,P2 plus 2 CA's. If he does triple he will also take B3,C3,P3 and another CA.

The requirement for the vast majority (if not all!) 6th form courses is having studied B1,B2,C1,C2,P1,P2, so essentially Science A and additional. This is why most students do double science, so the doors to A-Level sciences are open to most students.

The comment about being 'unable' to do 3 A-Level sciences on double award is not only misleading but quite simply wrong. I'm not sure where this information has come from but it is definitly incorrect.

foolserrand Wed 06-Mar-13 00:42:06

I will admit to having read only part of your op and none of the replies, but I did double science at gcse and have a phd in a science now. Did marine zoology for my initial degree.

It won't matter one bit when he grows up.

cafecito Wed 06-Mar-13 00:52:50

it really doesn't matter what GCSEs he does. If he wants to do A level sciences, then what grades he gets in AS and A2 will matter in terms of university entry. Only a few universities really place much weight on GCSEs. It'

However I understand your frustration and think he should be doing single sciences. (I did 3, was great fun)

my sister was told she hadn't scored highly enough in a test to do separate sciences. But they appealed-citing previous performance and dedication to it- and she is now doing separate sciences just to prove a point

I think it's certainly worth having a chat with the school- but at the end of the day it won't really make one bit of difference long term

cafecito Wed 06-Mar-13 00:54:32

the only way it could make a difference long term is if he starts off his GCSEs with a diminished sense of achievement and a lowered enthusiasm for studying. that would be a shame for someone who sounds very capable.

Erebus Wed 06-Mar-13 07:44:59

Actually, cafecito- you may have hit a bit of a nail on the head, there. He's just told me, sitting in bed, that 'I have to rethink Engineering at uni, don't I?' confused

The school have strongly advised him (and us) to 'talk to older DC about your Options' but unfortunately, the cohort of them that I know (not many!) do consist of 2 who did a science A level after double (both, like DS, having attended a school that offers triple), and both dropped it after AS stating that the knowledge gap was too big for them to fill as they were also doing 2 other A levels.

I think he really does recognise that when a school like his considers him 'less able' at 13 in science, his RG uni thoughts need revision, too!

I have to go to work now, but thanks for the input and the explanation of how the sciences 'work'. It is a bit disheartening to see he'll need to get a B in both of his 'double science' exams whereas he'd 'only' need a B in one triple science to get to do a science A level at a good 6FC.

HalleLouja Wed 06-Mar-13 07:54:50

My school only ever did double science. This was many years ago and I did Chemistry and Biology A Levels (at sixth form college as my school was poor for A Levels).

I got an A for Biology and B for Chemistry (but was borderline to an A) and that was having to take all the modules together at the end and not having a change to retake. I went to a RG Uni to do a science / social science. I know it was years ago and yes things change a lot but it is possible.

NewFerry Wed 06-Mar-13 07:58:12

Erebus, engineering at a good uni is difficult to get into.
DS2 is applying this year. His offers range from A*AA to AAB, inc maths and Physics.
If your DS would struggle to get A in physics or chem GCSE, either double or triple, then it's a huge mountain to get an A in the A2.

Sorry if this is not what you want to hear, but engineering is a very difficult degree (ds1 in his 2nd yr at southampton), your DS really needs to have a good aptitude for the subject.

lljkk Wed 06-Mar-13 08:15:43

does anyone have any stats about what % in England go down triple route, and what % do double? I'm guessing 30-70 split, sound right?

tiredaftertwo Wed 06-Mar-13 08:18:25

Hello OP, my dc did triple last summer. The first two modules in each were exactly the same as double. Her friends doing double did the same papers.

Then there was one paper in each science for triple (I think the no of papers etc varies but the principle is the same). To me, as a bystander, this "third" was actually less then a third but it was the most intellectually demanding - more proper "science", equations, molecules, more abstract concepts, less about how to recycle a plastic bag. I dunno whether science teachers would agree.

So I think I would: go to the school and explain his career aspirations - it may be he is just below the line; if they say no, ask them whether these aspirations are unrealistic - if they are realistic then the school should provide triple I think, it's not some obscure little option; also consider, if he could get into the 6th form on double, whether the summer after GCSE he's do some work and reading and perhaps some tutoring - to bring him up to speed in the main concepts so that if he is surrounded be people who have done triple, he isn't running while they are walking.

If they are not realistic - and the school have good reason to think this - it is disappointing but better to find out now. I know there are some nasty shocks for people as they satrt AS courses - there really is a big jump if you are aiming for high grades.

Erebus Wed 06-Mar-13 08:19:10

Am still here (awaiting my lift)-

Yes, you're right Ferry. DS will have to rethink Engineering at Uni. He knows a lad who managed to get into Cardiff to do Engineering on clearing with 2 C's in science A level (then has managed to transfer into a more 'demanding' course (BBB offer) after half a term which he is happily flying in!) so I think he thought uni and Engineering was a possibility for him but he feels that even if he is 'allowed' to do a science A level after double, the knowledge gap will be too big for him to bridge.

We just have to help him manage his expectations. I must say that I am rather surprised that he's not doing at all well in science. We all thought he had an 'aptitude', that it was 'his thing'. The school publish a block graph of 'expected attainments levels' in each subject for the end of Y7, then 8, the 9. DH has reminded me that his teacher said, last night that he was just about at a 6 Medium (or 6.5 in their parlance) right now; the graph says that 'a few DC will have achieved a 7 by the end of Y9, most will be working between 5 high and 6 high (5.8 and 6.8)'. He got a 5 in his KS2 SATS for science, not that that means much! But I would have imagined a 6M half way through this school year might have turned into a 6H by the end of the year, which is why I'd wrongly assumed DS1 wouldn't have much bother being offered triple but evidently we're wrong! A third of the DC get offered triple science. Obvs I don't know if their 'few DC' working at level 7 constitute a third of all the DC, mind!

senua Wed 06-Mar-13 08:23:09

Why the angst about 'science'? Isn't engineering Maths, More Maths and a bit of Physics.

NewFerry Wed 06-Mar-13 08:31:56

"A bit of physics" erm, not exactly. grin

webwiz Wed 06-Mar-13 08:34:41

I think you are running away with things a bit OP - if your DS does "double" science and gets two good grades, he can do science A levels and if appropriate engineering at university. As senua says maths is the key subject for engineering not science. There is a step up from GCSE to A level for sciences that a lot of DCs find it difficult whether they take "double" or "triple" science at GCSE so don't take that as an indication that your DS won't be successful at them.

NewFerry Wed 06-Mar-13 08:42:16

Erebus, I've checked the options booklet at DS school. In there they say that if you are working at level 6 in Y9 you have the entitlement to follow triple science.

Very odd wording, I wonder if its a dfe requirement? Might be worth checking?

Tbh if your DS can achieve a high level 6 at the end of the year, then it sounds as though he could get the A at GCSE, please don't give up on his dreams, just understand how hard he will need to work.

lainiekazan Wed 06-Mar-13 08:44:45

Is your ds considering Systems Control? (I think it's called that.) Ds's geeky engineering-type mates are doing this and really enjoying it.

There is also an Engineering Club at Th - does he belong? Ds gets quite fed up when he loses his playtime pals (as I call them much to ds's wrath) as they are doing engineers activities several lunchtimes a week.

wordfactory Wed 06-Mar-13 09:12:26

At DS school every pupil has to do triple. No choice. But it is selective. At DD non selective school only the top set do triple. They do it in the same time frame as the doubles but start the course at the beginning of year 9.

wordfactory Wed 06-Mar-13 09:15:15

I must say that it is bloody shocking that so many schools don't offer anyone the triple. How do they justify that? How can they say science is important to them? Horribly cynical stuff!

leeloo1 Wed 06-Mar-13 09:25:03

I'm not an expert about the sciences, but surely only having 8 gcses will be a disadvantage when applying to unis? I used to work in a top university's admissions dept and students were applying (and sometimes being rejected) with 10/11 gcses and 4 A-levels.

Have things really changed that much?

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