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Opinions needed please :)

(21 Posts)
RussianBlu Sun 09-Feb-14 22:14:55

So its options choosing time. I am following the related topics and lots of people seem to have children who are able to make lovely choices like Geography, French , History and so on ... if only that were the case with me.

I have tried numerous discussions. If I say for example, 'hmm, looks like there's a lot of written work in History, are you sure you want to do it?' I will get 'oh, no I wont do it then' even though a few hours ago it was an ok choice. The options booklet was excitedly looked at for about 5 minutes the first day it was brought home and since then I am the only one pouring over it and checking out more info online.

I am not sure the options are terribly great, but I would like the opinions of others, and please be honest!

The subjects that have to be taken are of course Maths, English, Science and P.E.

The potential choices for the extras (of which they can choose 4) are P.E, History, Spanish and either drama or music. However Spanish teacher is not sure that he is putting enough effort in (basically he is doing next to nothing) and will let me know after this weeks tests if he will be able to take Spanish. History is a choice only because there is nothing else in that block that he is interested in. He has little interest in History.

If Spanish isn't an option then it would be P.E, food tech, history and again either music or drama.

Does this sound like a pathetic list of subjects to take??

Many thanks for any opinions you may have for me.

circular Sun 09-Feb-14 22:25:24

Not a pathetic list, but would be quite wary of having 3 practical subjects which would be very coursework heavy. And possibly difficult to get high grades in, drama especially as a lot of group work, and could be unlucky enough to get in with a group that mess about.

RussianBlu Sun 09-Feb-14 22:34:05

The trouble is that he just has little interest in the likes of geog and history, not keen on French. His main interest is P.E. He is achieving well in the practical subjects like food tech, music and drama. I get what you say about what happens if he is stuck with a group that mess around. The teacher at the options evening said that can happen and messes everything up. Funnily he is above progress in drama (the only subject he is above expected progress in anything!), the drama teacher said he is one of the best actors in his year but that he doesn't know if his written work will be good enough to get him through a gcse. I'm therefore confused as to how he can be above progress abut anyway! So it looks like drama and Spanish might not be an option. This whole thing really does make me feel quite ill.

Is it normal for schools to send out letters at home to students telling them that they hope they will chose x subject? The only letters we got were Food tech and I think resistant materials (or something closely linked). Hmm.

Phaedra11 Sun 09-Feb-14 22:41:18

A lot of people asking your question here seem to be wanting to know if it would be a combo acceptable to a good university, but I'm not sure that you are.

I would think a language should be somewhere in the mix. If he's not allowed Spanish, are there other languages offered? Also History and/or Geography. Would he be doing PE twice or have I misunderstood? Music GCSE probably has more status but appears a lot more challenging than Drama. My DS didn't take either but says that the friends of his who aren't also learning a musical instrument to a high level are finding Music tough.

What are his favourite subjects at the moment?

Phaedra11 Sun 09-Feb-14 22:43:18

Sorry ignore the bit about History and Geography. I posted before seeing he has no interest in either!

RussianBlu Sun 09-Feb-14 22:50:47

Hello Phaedra. Well, he keeps saying he wants to be a P.E teacher, though as I have told him a thousand times, he needs to have a C in maths, English and a science and I really don't know that that is going to happen!
The P.E that you have to take I suppose is just to offer exercise to everyone, its isn't graded. The only other language offered is French which he seems disinterested in. He enjoys music and the teacher said she would be happy for him to take it but like you say, as he isn't learning an instrument to a high level I also wonder if he would struggle. He does percussion once a week as a paid for lesson with a couple of other boys but that it.
He seems to enjoy food tech and last year really liked ICT but the teacher retired so now he has lost interest as the new teacher apparently doesn't know what she is doing. Other than Food tech I suppose he just enjoys p.e, music and drama!
He is very relaxed about everything. He doesn't worry about homework, if it is completed to a decent standard, or completed at all really. Sadly, when he does make an effort it is fairly good. He would walk into an exam, be the first to finish, say it was easy and then get a terrible mark and not be too bothered about it.


BirdintheWings Sun 09-Feb-14 22:50:59

Music GCSE is pretty tough; does he enjoy music and play something reasonably well, or sing?

DS2 is doing both music and drama, and I'd say he probably wants to avoid doing both unless he's quite good at keeping on top of things. They can get all-consuming, as can Art. This weekend, instead of looking forward to half term, DS has been wild-eyed at the thought of finishing a drama group performance, a music composition and a write-up (yes, he should have done the write-up earlier...) on top of, ooh look, increasingly urgent homework for all the other subjects.

Leeds2 Sun 09-Feb-14 22:51:27

I would choose PE, if that is what he is interested in/good at.

Phaedra11 Sun 09-Feb-14 22:51:56

I've just read your next post and it sounds like he should definitely be doing drama. The school seem to be taking quite a negative attitude. Could you talk to the teachers about how you might, for example, support him in improving the quality of his written work in Drama?

It sounds like the practical subjects and coursework might work best for him, so probably not an imbalance to worry about.

BirdintheWings Sun 09-Feb-14 22:54:11

Crossed post there!

Phaedra11 Sun 09-Feb-14 23:04:57

A thought about ICT. I've noticed at my DC's school that on occasions (especially when they had to fill a post in a hurry) the teacher wasn't much more IT aware than some of the kids. However that has not happened in year 10 or 11. They seem to save the better teachers for those years!

RussianBlu Sun 09-Feb-14 23:13:22

Hi, thanks all, great advice. I do notice that his attitude to work improves depending on the teacher. This year he suddenly began to take an interest in Science after 2 years of loads of detentions and terrible work books. I was actually amazed at how neat his work was this year in his book and I couldn't understand why he had not had any detentions! I went to parents evening and discovered there was a new teacher who was pleased with his work. Teachers in high school seems to change quite often, its hard to keep up. I didn't say he might get another teacher for ICT next year but he seems to have lost interest now. He is terrible at getting things done to be honest! I don't know how he will manage with any of his subjects. He is so lazy it is quite amazing really. As far as music goes, he enjoys it. Plays the drums at school but as I have said many times I do not have the space for a drum kit at home, despite his suggestions that we could just put it in the living room. I am perplexed by the drama teachers attitude. If he is such a good actor why aren't they encouraging him to take part in drama after school clubs and school shows? Its hard to know what to do when you very rarely have communication with the teachers.

Phaedra11 Mon 10-Feb-14 08:20:59

I'm sure the school could be doing a lot more to help motivate your DS. It sounds at the moment as if some of the teachers are trying to put him off their courses as they're worried he won't do the work and reflect badly on them. I hope that the teachers who do end up working with him will make more of an effort. From what you say he's not really inclined towards written work but does respond to attention and encouragement. It would be great if he gets another good Science teacher as I would think Science would combine well with PE. If he's mentioned an interest in PE teaching, could you look at similar jobs, fitness instructors etc and see what qualifications he would need. Having an end goal might help motivate him.

Regarding communicating with teachers, I've rang my DCs school to ask to talk to teachers at various times over the years and it's generally had good results.

Not really about options, but if you haven't the space for a drum kit, how about a bass guitar?! There are plenty of teach yourself tutorials on Youtube.

CareersDragon Mon 10-Feb-14 11:07:20

Really helpful comments here for you RussianBlu & I agree that he should choose the options that he wants to. He is far more likely to put in the work if he is interested, which should lead to better grades & raised confidence & better work...

Just as a by-the-by, the entry requirements for a PE Secondary Teacher, are "just" English & Maths GCSEs. Science is required for Primary Teaching. Because of competition to get onto courses, basic C grades probably wouldn't be enough though - he'd probably need B+ grades. However, there is quite a lot of biology in the PE GCSE...

Does his school have a Careers Adviser? If so, it might be worth booking an appointment to talk about his future. Sometimes knowing that there is a path that he is able to follow, and what is actually needed for careers can give an extra boost of motivation.

By the way, when it comes to options 16+, he might want to explore BTEC Extended Diploma in Sport, which ought to be available in a local college. Equivalent to A level standard & can lead onto Sport at degree level & a PGCE, and on to teaching PE...

Nocomet Mon 10-Feb-14 11:17:02

DD does drama and music and she would definitely say Drama.

She's a grade 5 singer, not an instrumentalist and she's finding music hard work.

Yes the written part of Drama is fairly hard, but the teacher expects them to find it hard and they are working very carefully through it.

The group work has been surprisingly painless (DD hates groups, she choose drama because she knew her social skills are week), but she also knew the teacher stands absolutely no nonsense.

I think that's the main thing with drama, look at past grades, talk to the teacher, get DS to talk to Y10/11s. Is it taken seriously.

No one here would do resistant materials, because nothing ever gets finished in Y7-9 and it's a bit of a shambles.

BirdintheWings Mon 10-Feb-14 11:37:04

*If he is such a good actor why aren't they encouraging him to take part in drama after school clubs and school shows?8

Well, if it's anything like our school, it's probably because they have drama-obsessed kids straining at the leash to get into the shows, so it doesn't occur to anyone that they need to encourage others into doing it!

circular Mon 10-Feb-14 13:08:18

It does sound like he would be suited to Drama, as others have said try and dig into school track record for it.

DD1 (yr12) did music GCSE (which is what she wants to teach), said those that did best were the multi-instrumentalists, especially when one of their instruments was bass or piano. Reading music was compulsory for EDEXCEL, not sure about the other boards. Performance element is minimum grade 3 standard, but grade 5 would make life easier.

Is triple science a possibility as one of the option choices? Would give another academic GCSE with perhaps not quite the effort of a separate subject. Would go down well with teaching, and give more biology that would possibly make sports study easier later?

RussianBlu Mon 10-Feb-14 19:38:05

Thank you everyone for your great ideas and advice. Thank you careers dragon for pointing out to me that Science isn't needed to be a P.E Teacher. You almost gave me hope until you then mentioned the possible need for B+ in English and maths!!!!!

I think triple science isn't an option at this stage, I think they split into that later from what I remember from the options talk.

I agree that drama is probably the best option, I'm not sure how well he would do with reading music and so on. We do have an acoustic guitar, a keyboard and a brass instrument in the house but of course he is only interested in drums!! I do need to have a talk with the drama teacher. Apparently he was going to be calling me tonight with fantastic news regarding his outstanding acting in class today, but funnily enough, I have received no such phone call!!! It is difficult finding the time to call teachers as by the time I am able to get to a phone , the school answering machine comes on to say school is now closed!!!

These threads have been extremely helpful to me and I'm sure for everyone else going through the same thing so once again, thank you to everyone.

lljkk Wed 12-Feb-14 18:50:37

You really don't want to keep flogging the dead horse so I would aim for whichever subjects he might muster up the most enthusiasm.

Drama is an essay-heavy subject, if he doesn't like writing.
I don't see why he wouldn't do PE GCSE... not offered?
Our music teacher twice described exactly what the assessment procedure would be and it sounded perfect for DS (who is lazy, & doesn't play any instrument as far as I'm concerned).

Scholes34 Thu 13-Feb-14 18:52:52

I would suggest speaking to either his form teacher or head of year to get the opinion and help of someone with more of an overview, rather than subject specific.

intheenddotcom Thu 13-Feb-14 19:37:02

I don't think it is a bad thing for him to be put off subjects which he has shown little effort or interest in for three years. It's not fair on the other pupils or teacher if he gets into a course, then does no work for the next two years.

Most schools still won't touch teachers without a degree, so your DC needs to get a decent enough set of GCSEs to get into uni. I'd suggest drama and PE, then the other two choices being academic if possible.

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