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Changing GCSE Options

(35 Posts)
Anyhelpwelcome Tue 04-Nov-14 12:57:26

Hi everyone,
At the end of year 8 my son was given the route 1 option which is triple science but then you could only choose one extra option. My son chose to do route 2 which is double science so he could choose 2 options (at that time he chose business studies and IT). My son changed from IT to Computing science at the beginning of year 9 as he said he would like to work in the gaming industry doing programming. He's not struggling as he is above average academically but he has announced he finds it boring and now wants to swap to Resistant Materials. I am disappointed as he is academically able and has given me no clear vision how RM will benefit him in the future. I know it's his choice but I don't want him making the wrong choices and his end target in computing science is 9.7. The GCSEs he is taking are english, maths, double science, history french, GCSE PE, business studies, philosophy and ethics(re) and (at the moment) computing science. So far I have advised him against swapping as I think some type of computer skills would be beneficial. Any advice/opinion would be appreciated.

TeenAndTween Tue 04-Nov-14 14:06:58

RM would be useful to a would-be engineer.

Computer science is probably programming, good for a mathematically minded person. I wouldn't be surprised if he has good general 'Computer skills' anyway, not sure he needs a GCSE in it to prove that.

I would (perhaps wrongly) consider PE and Business studies to be a bit 'lightweight' and, as a more practical subject, I would put RM in there too. otoh he has 8 strong subjects (assuming English is 2) already, so the rest don't matter much anyway.

Does he really know what RM would include? Or is it a case of the grass is always greener elsewhere?

cricketballs Tue 04-Nov-14 18:17:22

Without getting into a discussion regarding the supposed 'light weight' subjects although I will say that analytical and evaluation skills coupled with high standards of literacy are needed to gain a C, never mind higher in GCSE Business you might find that the school would not allow any subject movement now - I will not accept after 3 weeks as we have already covered a lot of new learning

headlesslambrini Tue 04-Nov-14 18:35:51

Does he still want to do gaming?

Bunbaker Tue 04-Nov-14 18:55:18

According to the booklet that DD's school produced about GCSE options PE is most definitely not a lightweight option. You have to be good at writing essays, study anatomy and various other topics all related to PE. It is far more academic than most people think. Practical PE skills are only a very small part of GCSE PE.

catslife Tue 04-Nov-14 19:37:09

I would have thought that it would be too late to change GCSE options now OP. Transferring from IT to Computer Science would be relatively straightforward as it involves similar skills.
Most DT subjects are not soft options either - they are actually quite a lot of work and involve quite a range of skills: design, understanding of technical details as well as making the products (practical skills). At dds school they have already made one set of products and had these assessed, so it wouldn't be possible to make this up after missing the whole of Term 1.

TeenAndTween Tue 04-Nov-14 19:42:23

Sorry, didn't mean to offend anyone with the 'lightweight' comment.
For what it's worth my DD would not have been able to manage the maths content of Business Studies. She would also be lucky to get an E in any DT subject or PE.

I think OPs child is only in y9, so they appear to be doing a 3 year course? Would that make a difference to being allowed to change?

Bunbaker Tue 04-Nov-14 19:53:21

It's OK, I'm not at all offended. I used to think that PE was a lightweight subject, only for those who were good at sport, and I was surprised to read how academic it was.

cricketballs Tue 04-Nov-14 20:01:25

TeenandTween - no worries but its something that as a teacher of Business I really get fed up of hearing (even from my SLT as they try to stop higher ability students from choosing the subjects but want lower ability to take it and then grill me about results hmm) it is a 'light weight/easy subject and is not worth studying when past students of mine (including those who completed a BTEC Business) can gain places at Oxbridge I often find myself fighting the common misconception regarding the subject

skylark2 Tue 04-Nov-14 20:38:40

Your son has had dreadful advice, I'm afraid. He really should be doing triple science. RM would have been a much better choice than either business studies or computer studies too (most people taking them at uni don't even have A level in them, nobody could care less if they did GCSE). That's not true for science, especially if he's been taught to a lower level because the more able students in his year are taking triple, and many sixth forms (not all) won't even let him on an A level science course with double science from a school which offers triple.

If he really wants to be a programmer, he needs to go beg to be allowed on the triple science course and to work like stink to catch up. Programmers don't have GCSE IT or even A level IT and only rarely have degrees in IT, they generally have maths and physics degrees. He's cut himself off from that and the school should have picked up on it.

TeenAndTween Tue 04-Nov-14 20:40:01

I think I should have written 'non-traditional' rather than 'lightweight'.

I don't think any GCSEs are easy. At least not for the 'average' child. (That's proper average, not mumsnet-average).

skylark2 Tue 04-Nov-14 20:49:21

They're not supposed to be easy for the average child - if everyone got A* they'd be useless as any sort of mark of achievement for anyone. But a child who has a realistic chance of being a programmer is going to need to be really quite a long way above average.

I do think it's awful that kids are asked to make these sorts of life-altering decisions in year 8 sad Even the end of year 9 is desperately early.

ihatethecold Tue 04-Nov-14 21:00:16

My son is also about to drop computer science for PE.
He is finding it far too hard.
The school have told him he will be able to change as it fits in with the timetable but he will have to catch up on what he has missed.

I actually proud of him for realising this before it's too late and being proactive about seeking help from his HOY.

enderwoman Tue 04-Nov-14 21:11:45

My y9 son has just changed his GCSE option too. It's not too late according to his school.

I work in gaming and my advice for a programmer would be to swap to triple science and not worry about taking a GCSE in IT or Computer Science. Top universities like RG universities would want computer scientists to have subjects like maths and physics at A level.

sashh Wed 05-Nov-14 09:07:02

Programmers don't have GCSE IT or even A level IT and only rarely have degrees in IT

Comparing IT to Computer Science is like comparing reading ability to English Literature. The OP is talking about computing science not IT.

If he is bored with coding at GCSE level he will not make it as a programmer.

lljkk Wed 05-Nov-14 10:06:26

"Top universities like RG universities would want computer scientists to have subjects like maths and physics at A level."

Coz, you know, there aren't any other destinations out there or outcomes to consider for would-be gamers besides "Top Universities". <<thunks head against wall>>

skylark2 Wed 05-Nov-14 10:14:19

"If he is bored with coding at GCSE level he will not make it as a programmer."

I was bored silly with coding at GCSE (well, it ws O level) level. I am a programmer.

I have no idea what the reference to gamers is about. He wants to be a programmer. A gamer is about as similar to a programmer as a secretary is. And yes, programmers are expected to have maths and physics at A level. Even if they don't go to "top universities".

ihatethecold Wed 05-Nov-14 10:17:49

I have a friend who has a very intelligent son who is really into nerdy subjects.
He is taking computer science and is currently in year 11.
He is finding it very hard going.

catslife Wed 05-Nov-14 11:52:07

I hadn't really taken into account that he's only Y9, my child is Y10 so there may be more time for your child to catch up if a change is still possible within the timetable arrangements. I don't really understand why some schools are doing GCSEs over 3 years (but that's a whole different potential thread). Your son's dilemma only confirms my view that dcs are too young to choose GCSE options in Y8.
It is perfectly possible for pupils to study Science A levels with Double Science at GCSE. It may take some extra work at the start of Y12 but most pupils with good grades for Double Science (A or A*) do catch up and obtain similar grades to those who have taken Triple Science.
Computer Science at GCSE is a relatively new subject for most schools and so it's very hard to tell what the impact of this will be for Computing in the long term. Many successful Computer professionals have trained on the job and haven't studied this subject at university. On the other hand, I also know people with grade C O level Computing who went on to obtain good degrees in Software Engineering so the fact that he's finding it hard now may not rule out a computer based career in future.

Essexmum69 Wed 05-Nov-14 17:45:11

DS is currently looking at uni courses for electronic engineering and/or programming. The courses all seem to want A levels in maths, physics and preferably further maths. We have not found any requesting computer science or any tech subject, fortunately for him as he has neither!
So I dont think there is any advantage in your son switching to RM over computer science. Ds says the Tech subjects had the most course work of any subject other than Art at his school, they were the boys spending many lunch hours getting it finished in time!

lljkk Wed 05-Nov-14 18:35:32

Except that RM will be more time intensive, as pointed out. No point in continuing with CS if no interest, but be aware that RM is not an easy ride.

Phaedra11 Wed 05-Nov-14 21:13:14

It might be worth finding out what your DS finds boring about Computer Science. There can be a wide range of ability and experience at the beginning of GCSE level and the more able pupils (and/or kids who have taught themselves some basics using online tutorials) can get bored waiting for the others to catch up. This can also be demotivating for the less able or less experienced pupils.

Anyhelpwelcome Wed 05-Nov-14 21:56:18

Thank you so much for all your advice.
Yes my son's school has started a year early with the option choosing so I guess that's why he keeps changing his mind. Choosing options a year early has its advantages as well as disadvantages as they do get to drop the subjects they are really awful at or dislike but it's hard to make such big choices when some of the children are still only 12. He has now decided to see if he can change from computer science back to ICT instead of RM. He is more than capable of doing computer science but finds it not very exciting so has gone off of the idea of programming. He is really enjoying his business studies and is really good at maths and science and is doing very well in history so Im not to concerned about him changing back to ICT. Hi Skylark2, enderwoman, my son had the idea that he wanted a career in the gaming industry as a game programmer and thought that computer science would be more beneficial to him than ICT but if he finds computer science boring he won't have any enthusiasm and won't succeed. When he got advice from the head of year about doing route 2 instead of 1 he said it's not a problem. He said his friend had taken route 2(double science) and he is now a vet. I totally agree catslife that's they are to young to decide their future. In the beginning he wanted to be a stockbroker! Who knows what he'll choose next!

Anyhelpwelcome Wed 05-Nov-14 22:47:46

Hi TeenAndTween, I think with my son its a case of the grass is greener as a friend is also doing RM. With the PE it was compulsory and they had to choose either PE GCSE, PE Btec, or Health and Social, so he went for the GCSE one which has a lot of theory involved as well.
Hi Phaedra11, I did ask him if he was finding it too easy and that may be why he's bored, the teacher set some h/w that would take approximately 40 mins and he did it in 20. He has been doing a bit of scratch and looking at Python and binary (apologies if I have got the terms wrong) but he said he's had a taster and it's really not what he wants to do.
Hi ihatethecold, that's my concern about what he has missed if he changes but they have to enjoy their subjects or they won't put 100% in and I guess it's better to realise now than say in year 10.
Sashh I agree totally, he has got bored with it and he has barely scratched the surface so the commitment won't be there to make it as a successful programmer. Hopefully he'll get good results with the options he has taken that will get him into a good college and then I hope a good university.
Thanks again for all your advice.

ihatethecold Thu 06-Nov-14 07:07:09

He will be fine anyhelp

He sounds sensible which at this age of adolescence is great.

My ds14 will start his PE GCSE next week. He will catch up in the last half terms missed work.
Which might be a bit of a shock for him but it's all good.

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