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Choosing options in year 8

(55 Posts)
Jamrollypolly Fri 07-Mar-14 14:06:17


My dd's school have just sent a letter to say that the current year 8 students will be choosing their options this month! They will have meetings in school and we will also be invited to an options meeting to help decide. The reason for the change is to give students a better chance due to the changes being brought in.

Are any other schools doing this? Does anyone know the pros and cons? Can any experienced parents/teachers share their experiences.

I really want the best for my child (like any other parent) and would really appreciate some advice. I thought I had an extra year to do some research.

OneMoreMum Fri 07-Mar-14 14:55:41

Firstly don't panic, I have been through this twice now, (DSs in years 9 and 10 chose their options in year 8).

There are pros and cons:
pros - they get to drop the stuff they are not interested in, they get an extra year in practical subjects like art and DT to hone their skills in a bit more detail before they have to start producing coursework that counts. They also spend a lot less time in form groups and more with kids that share their interests.

cons - they have to decide a year earlier, obviously! Shame to have to drop things earlier (like music & catering for mine) that they enjoyed but didn't want to take qualifications in.

Most subjects they haven't really started the GCSE syllabus a year earlier, they have just narrowed down the subjects they are studying. DS1 seemed quite calm going into year 10 knowing what to expect compared to friends' kids who were straight into GCSE syllabuses in new option groups.

I'm not sure it's that big a deal either way if you're happy with the school, it sounds as though they're doing it for the right reasons and are on top of all the changes going through (as much as they can be).

CheesyPeasForTea Fri 07-Mar-14 16:01:44

My year 8 DD is also currently choosing her options, for the same reasons as the OP mentions. It does seem strange that she is having to make choices when she is only twelve and hasn't a clue what she wants to do in the future. I too think it is a shame she will have to give up some of the creative subjects like music and art, that she enjoys but isn't good enough to take forward to GCSE level.

Jamrollypolly Fri 07-Mar-14 16:11:12

Thanks for your reassuring reply onemoremum. The school is an outstanding comprehensive and I have confidence in the school. I spoke to the AH at the school who said although the forms need to be in by the end of March, we may still be able to make changes up to the end of the year.

Does anyone know of any good websites?

Jamrollypolly Fri 07-Mar-14 16:15:05

I agree cheesypeasfortea. Although I'm sure my daughter would rather do extra history/geography over music.

OneMoreMum Fri 07-Mar-14 19:11:52

I don't know of any specific websites for choosing options, but if you know the exam boards the school use for particular subjects you can look up the syllabus for any unfamiliar subjects which I found helpful for things like product design / IT etc. The usual suspects at our school are Edexcel and AQA.

bigTillyMint Fri 07-Mar-14 19:42:09

Another one here with Y8 options. DD, who is one of the youngest in her year group, was a bit freaked by this but the reality is that she has a very wide choice of subjects still and it enables them to spend more time studying the syllabuses for many subjects. This is a great help for triple science in particular! It also means they might be able to take some subjects in Y10.

DS is looking forward to choosing his after Easter (and dropping artsmile )

Ericaequites Fri 07-Mar-14 21:05:47

I am amazed at the number of subjects British children are required to take in years seven and eight. Being able to drop some if them early might be for the best. At that age, I had to study music appreciation and learn to play handbells at my private school. I also had to do Art appreciation and mime lessons. Needless to say, none of this was useful later on. My folks certainly would have supported me doing a second language or more science instead...

CareersDragon Fri 07-Mar-14 21:11:47

It seems that more & more schools are going down the route of choosing options in Year 8, which does give the students more time to work towards good grades. However, it does mean that they are committing themselves earlier to certain paths, especially as GCSEs are often a required precursor for A level subjects.

There are 2 websites where you can find general information on choosing options and careers:

and, the one which I think is better:

The important thing is to keep as many career routes open as possible, so do choose a balanced range of subjects. If your DC are capable of coping with it, I would advise choosing triple science, as separate subjects. This means that if they decide to study a science subject at A level, the step up from GCSE won't be quite as difficult.
There is still some snob value about certain subjects being valued more than others, which becomes more prevalent at A level. The A level subjects which the elite Russell Group of universities value as being "facilitating" subjects are:
Mathematics and Further Mathematics

English Literature






Languages (Classical and Modern)

To see the full document which gives details on which A levels to choose for different university courses, as well as info on GCSE choices, see:

However, as a Careers Adviser, I would strongly advise allowing the student to choose subjects that they enjoy, which fortunately are often the ones that they're best at. This would include allowing really academic students to choose subjects for pleasure, like Art, Graphics, DT, Media Studies etc. Yes, the Russell Group may not value these subjects at A level, but at GCSE, it really isn't a big deal so long as they also have a strong range of traditional subjects alongside. Yes, there may be a lot of work if they choose these subjects, but it may develop a talent that they want to use later on.

I'm conscious that a lot of MN discussions focus on the very academic. For those who aren't, the same thing applies - go with the subjects that they enjoy and that they're good at. The subjects which are essential are English & Maths, with Science coming a close third. As for the rest, they could all lead on to Level 3 qualifications, either at school, college or in the workplace, and even on to Higher Education at university. Lots of graduates from red-brick or ex-poly universities go on to graduate jobs - not least because many of the degrees offered there are vocational and highly valued by many employers.

If you would like advice on which would be good subjects for your DC, ask to see your school's Careers Adviser. Since responsibility for providing impartial careers guidance has fallen to the schools now, hopefully they will have employed a qualified professional.
If you're not satisfied with the service provided by the school, it is possible to see a Careers Adviser privately. Look at the professional register for the Career Development Institute to find a qualified professional in your area:

Jamrollypolly Fri 07-Mar-14 21:18:37

It looks like year 8 options are becoming increasingly common. Were/are your children steered towards certain subjects by the school? I expect dd to bring a booklet home next week which should make things clearer. I'm just intrested to hear how other schools organize things too (being nosy! ).

Jamrollypolly Fri 07-Mar-14 21:47:30

Thanks careers dragon your post is really informative.

I would probably describe my daughter as being upper middle ability. Her stronger subjects are English (set 2) PE (set1), ICT Science (set 2) History and Geography. She doesn't really enjoy music and art. Maths she is middle ability so the 3 year GCSE's course should be helpful. The French department had a lot of upheaval last year which has put her off somewhat. DD has a good work ethic so far.

TheRoadLessTravelled Sat 08-Mar-14 07:48:36

I've only heard good things about doing it this way.

Remember, not only does your DD get to drop her least favourite subjects - so does everyone else. Therefore some of the disruptive behaviour is gone. Disruptive behaviour is the biggest problem in most schools.

They don't miss much by dropping subjects. Are you aware how little of each subject they do in Y8? For example my DS has one lesson a week for a term of each of art, drama and music. Ie 12 lessons a year. Is it such a big deal to loose 12 hours of art and 12 hours of music in order to study drama in a bit more depth?

They do far too many subjects in KS3 and because of that they don't have enough time for any of them. I don't think it's at all helpful.

bigTillyMint Sat 08-Mar-14 07:54:34

Gosh, TRLT (great bookwink) do they really only do one a term? Each one is a subject in it's own right at the DC's school, but DS won't miss art and music!

TheRoadLessTravelled Sat 08-Mar-14 08:15:47

Yes. They also do a term of textiles and cooking and something else.

I would love my DS to be able to drop his weakest subjects to concentrate on his stronger ones. But his school doesn't do options in Y8. And even worse a DT subject is compulsory at GCSEs. Which is very annoying.

However top set start maths and science in Y9. They do triple science over 3 years. And maths over 2 then do another maths qual, to prepare them for AS maths, in Y11

So hopefully at least maths and science will be a bit more stretching next year.

But I don't know how he'll manage a DT subject. Given he currently has 1:1 for it. School thinks he'll cope with graphics. I'm not sure.....

TheRoadLessTravelled Sat 08-Mar-14 08:20:21

I just looked online at his timetable and I'm wrong.

They do art/drama/music for a term each. But they do them 3 times a week. (Which seems like an awful lot to me)

Jamrollypolly Sat 08-Mar-14 09:35:27

Oh no. Concentrating on their GCSE's subjects for longer is growing on me.

In my daughters school they have music and art 1 lesson a week all year plus 1 term each of dt, food tech and textiles.

Jamrollypolly Sat 08-Mar-14 09:44:17

Oh no. Concentrating on their GCSE's subjects for longer is growing on me.

In my daughters school they have music and art 1 lesson a week all year plus 1 term each of dt, food tech and textiles.

bigTillyMint Sat 08-Mar-14 12:51:24

Yes, one term of a (double?) lesson a week of DT - food tech/hard materials and textiles?

Jamrollypolly Sat 08-Mar-14 13:15:02

Would anyone mind sharing their children's option choices please?

derektheladyhamster Sat 08-Mar-14 13:51:15

My son took his options last yearr in yr 8.

He took
Eng + eng lit
triple science
humanity - history
language - german

food tech

bigTillyMint Sat 08-Mar-14 15:21:54

Jam, DD had to do
eng lit
eng lang
a language - Spanish
a humanities - history

She chose
drama (have to do a performing art, but will question this for DSwink)
and she is hoping to do PE as an extra

I think DS will be
eng lit
eng lang
a language - French
a humanities - history

and choose
and ?

Nocomet Sat 08-Mar-14 16:08:37

Chosen in Y9
DD1 English (& Lit), maths, science, RE
Geography - which she swears at because it's a lot if learning by rote of technical terms and examples.
Music - also harder work than she'd hoped
Art - which she loves (masses of work at the moment preparing for a 10hr practical), but she doesn't mind living in the art dept.
Drama - which she really enjoys

Had she chosen her options in Y8 she wouldn't have had the social confidence to attempt drama and that would have been a real shame.

DD2 (Y8) will probably chose
I hope graphics, but I can see her going for PE

DD2 would be fine to chose now as she is doing bugger all in German, DT, Art and geography

DD1's A level choices are three sciences and Art (all agreed that maths would be the obvious choice, but she's dyslexic, she finds exam speed maths very hard even with extra time. She'll draw, paint and do bits of craft to relax any way.

She wants to biology
DD2 wants to teach Y2ish

pointythings Sat 08-Mar-14 16:49:44

Another Yr8 options parent here - DD1 is really looking forward to it, though the option blocks look complicated and she may not be able to take History, Geography and a MFL as she would wish to - we shall see.

She's loving the idea of dropping DT and ICT...

mummy1973 Sat 08-Mar-14 17:00:52

How many do they have to do/choose? Long way off but curious. I did 9 GCSEs. Is this still the norm for schools or more?

CheesyPeasForTea Sat 08-Mar-14 17:57:46

Compulsory subjects at DD's school are:
Double science

She has four option choices and has chosen:
Product Design.
She hasn't decided the last option yet. Can't make her mind up between Triple Science (this counts as an option at DD's school, Computer Science, and Spanish. confused

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