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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.

hellsbells99 Wed 06-Mar-13 09:36:40

At my DCs state comp, this is what their option booklet states:
"It is now an entitlement for students who obtain Level 6 or above in Science to be able to follow the 3 discrete Sciences (Triple Science), Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Opting for triple Science would take up one option choice."
I believe this is a governement DofE rule.
They do use an option to teach it though and do not cram it into the same space as double science. They do 9 proper GCSEs initially (although some do BTEC or other qualifications if more appropriate), and then if GCSE C or above in maths, some do an extra maths qualification - statistics, additional maths, level 3 algebra or a financial option. Then they do a PE qualification (half GCSE or leadership cource) and an ICT OCR.

WorkingItOutAsIGo Wed 06-Mar-13 09:38:00

You are barking up the wrong tree! This doesn't come across as a firm decision from what you have written but as a clear shot across the bows. Your DS has been given a two week opportunity to prove himself and that's what you and he should focus on! He didnt react to the previous warning (the effort grade) and he's been given another oppportunity to knuckle down! Be grateful for it and seize it.

It's great he's so keen on science and engineering: tonight sit down with him and help him formulate a plan to convince them through hard work, commitment and diligence over the next two weeks that he will make the most of doing triple science. Eg does he need to ask to swap his lab partners? Is there any work he can do extra on? And as well talk to them about his ambitions, but mostly he needs to show not tell.

hellsbells99 Wed 06-Mar-13 10:11:36

Agree with what WorkingItOut says.
If you need to give school an extra push:
This link states on page 3:
"From September 2008 there will be a new non-statutory ‘entitlement’ to triple science teaching at GCSE for those who reach at least level 6 in science at Key Stage 3. This option will not be suitable for all pupils who attain level 6+ and it is important that pupils and their parents/carers are supported in making appropriate choices for pupils who would benefit from this opportunity.
In a number of schools, triple science is being delivered in ‘two Science GCSE's worth’ of time. Early evidence suggests that many pupils are finding this approach a less than satisfactory experience.

QuiteOldGal Wed 06-Mar-13 14:39:51

A friend of DS did triple science at her school was a level 6 something at year 9, unfortunately got 3 Cs then couldn't do any science A levels which she wanted to do. Perhaps if she had done double she would have maybe got 2 Bs and been able to do science A levels. I think she did regret not doing double as I think she was borderline for the triple, so you have to be careful.

hellsbells99 Wed 06-Mar-13 16:20:17

but at least if they find triple science hard, then they know they are not cut out for A level science. Alternatively if they do very well in 2 sciences and get 2 As/A*s and then a C in the 3rd one, then they could still take the 2 better subjects at A level.

CalamityJan Wed 06-Mar-13 16:48:38

The teacher said 'it's better he gets As or A in double science than does less well in 3'*

That is certainly true for the effect on the stats that a top league table comp will be chasing.

I do agree with ShipwreckedAndComatose, but whatever may or may not be the case in terms of Uni admission, some schools do make sure that students are steered towards the subjects that they will get top marks in for their own purposes.

If he actually wants to study triple science, and will galvanise himself, I would push for it. But talk through with him the implications of getting a less favourable grade.

SlowlorisIncognito Wed 06-Mar-13 17:45:32

I think the concerning thing to me would be the overall quite low number of GCSEs being taken. Getting 8 A*-C grades is probably the minimum benchmark a lot of universities who select/filter by GCSE go for. If he were to miss out on one C grade for whatever reason, only having 7 would really not look that great. Why does his school offer so few options? 10-11 GCSEs over two years or more over three is, I believe, more normal. Obviously 8 good GCSEs is much better than 10 weak ones, but when he applies to university if he is looking at the top of the league tables, he will be up against many with 10 or more strong GCSE grades. (From my experience of university admissions anyway).

However, the teacher has obviously used their professional judgement that your son might not cope with the triple science taught at a higher speed. His triple science grades would be compared with those who used an option block to take triple science.

I would, however, remind your son that there are a lot of different routes to uni, and nothing at all is set in stone at 13 by the GCSEs you take. Getting the best grades he can in maths and english will help, but honestly, post-18 there are routes he could take into an engineering degree, even without science A levels.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Wed 06-Mar-13 17:51:44

I do agree with ShipwreckedAndComatose, but whatever may or may not be the case in terms of Uni admission, some schools do make sure that students are steered towards the subjects that they will get top marks in for their own purposes.

I suppose I can't speak for other schools. But we don't. We really don't. We do what we believe is in the best interest of each individual student and their needs. It actually personally upsets me to hear people who don't know me suggest otherwise. I wouldn't be in teaching if I wasn't in it for the kids. sad

For the record. We offer triple to all students with a 6b or higher (as their KS3 score at the end of year 8). however, we run a three year KS4, starting in year 9, with more time to teach it and we review how students are coping and change courses for any who are finding the pace tough.

Abra1d Wed 06-Mar-13 18:34:23

I thought my friend was having me on when she said that KS2 results are used by state schools to predict GCSE results. I mean, seriously? Exams sat by children who may still be just ten are used to predict what they'll get in Maths when they're 15 or 16?

It's a big lie, then, isn't it, when they tell parents and children that SATs are just to see how the school's doing and don't have any implications for the children.

Abra1d Wed 06-Mar-13 18:36:18

Sorry, not suggesting that any teachers here are being dishonest in the way they present the importance of SATs to their pupils. Teachers on this thread seem very committed to the pupils.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Wed 06-Mar-13 18:51:46

How else do you think that OFSTED can make a judgement about how much progress pupils make through secondary school smile

CalamityJan Wed 06-Mar-13 19:35:01

Shipwrecked - I have no doubt of your personal credentials!

But I was told about the way some private schools (in the example told to me) steer pupils towards top results in that way by a teacher.

It's no more shocking than other little wheezes schools find to improve stats on our target driven education system.

I do believe and trust the hardworking and inspiring teachers I know to do the best by their students.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Wed 06-Mar-13 19:46:02

Thank you smile not only do I not do this, nor does our department and our school.

We are a state comprehensive and for several years now my Head has made it very clear to us staff that he makes option arrangement decisions based on what is best for our kids and not what's best for our standing in the league tables.

It's one of the reasons why I want to stay working there and also why my own kids will go there.

Erebus Wed 06-Mar-13 20:48:34

Ok, thanks everyone for all the input!

I want to respond to a few points: And sorry for the cut'n'paste quotes- we all know that on MN a response that starts with that leads to accusations of being ''vile' ('how very dare you!') etc etc- but I'm not doing that at all!

webwiz "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"- no, only his Additional will count. The 'desirable' 6FC does not recognise Science A as indicated in the bit of their prospectus I typed out.

Lanie: "Is your ds considering Systems Control?"- yes, that is currently one of his choices (in 'Tech') but he is rethinking that right now as it is described as 'being particularly useful for a DC who wants to study science or engineering as a future direction'. Well, we now know that ain't DS, apparently, so maybe he should look at woodwork. Not taking the pee (this will be ideal for DC2!), but maybe we are completely missing the point- that we thought a highly probably 6H at the end of Y9 indicated a certain 'ability' in Science. Maybe Systems Control might be an Option squandered when not coupled with 'solid science'?

workingitout :"You are barking up the wrong tree! This doesn't come across as a firm decision from what you have written but as a clear shot across the bows. Your DS has been given a two week opportunity to prove himself and that's what you and he should focus on! He didnt react to the previous warning (the effort grade) and he's been given another oppportunity to knuckle down! Be grateful for it and seize it." - I would like to think so but they've had 2 1/2 years to appraise DS, haven't found him wanting til January 13 and have decided his fate. 2 more lessons isn't going to change anything- especially that it required DS, at parents evening, to suggest his last 2 poor experiment results in class were due to him working with 2 'somewhat less committed, bigger, more confident boys'.... now that teacher is going to move him, now she knows...

Many posters: " some schools do make sure that students are steered towards the subjects that they will get top marks in for their own purposes." Yes, and yes again. I am under no illusions. Thornden know DS could do really rather well in double science (though maybe won't with the 'fail' label sitting on him!') but maybe, just maybe be less of a 'cert' in triple. Hence double. You don't advertise stellar results like theirs without some manipulating. I do get some will say- 'Well, if your DS crumbles at this hurdle, he isn't Science degree material, is he?' (as long as you're not GS supporters too, happy to see a DC consigned to 'failure' across the educational board at 10..! grin that's OK)- but he's 13, not the most mature, the smallest in his year and on course for 6H at the end of Y9. He knows he's goofed but the school did nothing with them in Y8, out of 15 homework slots a week, he may have received 2 (the HoY told the DC he's spoken strongly to their teachers!), all very cruisey- now, suddenly, it's "Oooh! fail"..confused

I am, however, heartened by the number of teachers who champion the DC's interests, not the school's!

Erebus Wed 06-Mar-13 20:54:42

Oh, I'd also like to respond the the idea that it's silly of us to believe you can't do Science 'A' level after double. I recognise that you can but that we have first hand evidence and a lot of anecdotal evidence that a double science pupil just does not have the depth of knowledge to study science A level, after double. They just have never been told stuff, shown stuff. Hence the DC I know personally (DC of friends) who dropped their Science A after AS as they were struggling too much.

nextphase Wed 06-Mar-13 21:11:10


What science A'levels would he be looking at?

If just one, would he have the dedication to self study the module at home to keep him up to speed with the Alevel requirements? (So the P3 or C3 module identified somewhere above)

And is there a good, but not quite so desirable sixthform who would take double science to Alevel?

What sort of engineering is he interested in? Someone mentioned above that jobs are scarce, but DH (chemical engineer) is getting calls moth months fro head hunters looking to fill posts, so not everything is in decline.

NewFerry Wed 06-Mar-13 21:17:37

Erebus, I think thus thread took on a life of its own while you were at work!

Did you see the comments from several posters re the entitlement to take triple science if you're a level 6. It really is worth talking to the school before dismissing your DS hopes.

Erebus Wed 06-Mar-13 21:40:50

Newferry- yes, I did see that (the remarks about a DC getting level 6 in Y9).

I readily confess some cowardice: I am a bit worried about appearing combative in the first instance. I also 'fear' their possible animosity towards my DS should we force them into allowing him to do triple.

We are as suggested by the receptionist... emailing the school's Head of Science to request a meeting asap. My hope is that:

a) either our bluff has been called and we've responded: they suggest double to a certain group of DC and see which parents make a fuss- they then get triple, or
b) They can detail, forensically, why double science will be of benefit to DS and how his steady upward performance toward the upper end of what the bulk of their (really rather able) DC should achieve at the end of Y9 has lead them to believe he should be doing double, not triple science.

And again, thank you to everyone for their useful and constructive remarks.

Erebus Wed 06-Mar-13 21:45:03

next- ahem- I don't know! I'd say Physics and/or Chemistry 'A' level.

Yes, I believe we could tutor him to the level required but I'm not sure that he's being denied the opportunity for the school to do that, in-hours, for the wrong reasons, i.e. they can't be sure he'll get the A-A* in triple they want for their league tables; whereas a 33% reduction in workload almost certainly would guarantee them an A-A* in double.

senua Wed 06-Mar-13 22:05:39

Sorry, but I'm with workingitout. It's your job as parent to fight his corner for him. If you don't then no-one else will.

Copthallresident Wed 06-Mar-13 22:46:00

Erebus To be fair to the school I would agree with an earlier poster that the jump between double science and triple science is between layman's Science and staring to get into Scientific concepts. DD2 is not in any shape or form a Scientist but she actually did better in double Science than she did in her best subject, English Lit which she hopes to study at uni (though Gove may have had a role but lets not go there hmm.) If you looked at her GCSE results you would be pushing her into Science, Maths and RMT grin, but that is most definitely not where her talents, or motivation, lie, indeed on coursework and practical marks for her STEM subjects, things were not looking good. She is quite clear that her success was down to practise in the case of Maths and learning long lists of required knowledge for Science, nothing to do with any real interest or aptitude for the subject. It was what DD1 had missed in the modules required for triple Science that were relevant and needed for the A levels. So regardless of the schools rather unhelpful mechanistic judging of your son via levels you do have to understand if he actually, peer pressure from bigger boys apart, has the motivation and talent to enjoy triple Science, and then Science A levels. I would have thought that if your earlier comment about Science being his thing was rooted in his evident enthusiasm and aptitude, rather than your hopes, then you should fight his corner. Even if you lose he will still be able to prove his aptitude at A level or via other pathways.

Totally agree with the poster who talked about different pathways into engineering. DB severely dyslexic but did OND and HND and degree on day release and now Head of Engineering for Europe wide company, he certainly looks out for talent to develop along similar pathways.

If there is an A level which will trip up even those with talent and motivation it is Chemistry, as DD says if you don't have that sort of brain you just will never get it. I know DCs accepted for medicine tripped up by Chemistry.

Erebus Wed 06-Mar-13 22:57:17

A quickie (bedtime!)- do OND's and HND's as a nationally recognised and widely available route into Science as a career still exist?

Serious question.

Copthallresident Wed 06-Mar-13 23:03:30

Short answer, probably not! Someone always has to reinvent the wheel but he definitely sends off apprentices to study something, BTECs? DN also en route via apprenticeship.

NewFerry Thu 07-Mar-13 06:49:21

There is a 2 year btec Level 3 diploma in engineering, or 2 year level 3 diploma in applied science. Wiltshire college offer both.

nextphase Thu 07-Mar-13 07:04:38

We take on quite a few people to work in the labs who have sciency / maths based A levels, and will sponsor through day release for Chemistry at the local uni, or Open Uni if they have the aptitude.
We would be expecting Chem A'level tho.

In days gone by, we took them on with GCSE's, as a modern apprentice.

Consider the Navy / Army for Engineering training.

Bloke across the road got a practical college course for engineering, but it sounds like technical plumbing, rather than actually designing the plumbing, iyswim?

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