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Computer Science A-Level?

(25 Posts)
Vanillepudding Wed 26-Nov-14 06:40:55

My DD's school massively push Computer Science to be taken as an a-Level.

I don't know much about it, except that the old IT was more a joke.

The new curriculum could be scrapped at the next election? What is that about?

Any Sixth Form CS teacher about who can tell me about the risks of taking it as an A-Level? (other subjects Biology, poss Chemistry, Psychology)

DD would give up Maths for it, and I don't like that idea at all, but it's her choice.
I fear it will limit her choices when it comes to uni, she wants to do something with Biologogy/Chemistry.

CS department seems good and with very helpful teachers btw, that's not a concern.

Does anyone know a good website which will give some more info?

MirandaWest Wed 26-Nov-14 06:47:42

I have no actual knowledge but would say if it's a choice between Computer Science and Maths and your DD has the aptitude to do Maths, I would go for maths every time. If she did want to do something computer based I feel it would be easier to do that later with a foundation including maths, and the maths would help with other sciences as well.

Vanillepudding Wed 26-Nov-14 07:02:48

Thanks MW, She has the ability to do Maths, is doing Maths & Further Maths gcse, but doesn't love it. She sees the relevance for the sciences, but thinks she can do them without taking Maths a level.
She doesn't want to do anything with CS, she thinks it will come in useful for a bio-chemical degree of some sort.
I'm not so sure.
The school says she doesn't need a Maths A-Level to study Biology/Chemistry.
Do we really have to ring unis now to find out if she should take Maths, or rather if they rate CS?

summerends Wed 26-Nov-14 07:27:26

If she is doing chemistry as well as biology, maths is a better option, whatever she thinks from her experience of GCSE. Could she not do computer science as a 4th subject to AS level?

Vanillepudding Wed 26-Nov-14 08:01:12

She wants to do Psychology as well.

Up to the recent push by the school it was Maths, Chemistry, Biology and Psychology (As).

She doesn't really know which degree course she wants to do.

I just feel she has no idea what Computer Science will be like, she has done this ICT diploma in year 10, which was basically how to use MS Office.

TheFirstOfHerName Wed 26-Nov-14 08:08:09

If she wants to do a BSc in any sort of science, then Maths A-level would be really useful. Maths GCSE isn't really enough to equip you for a science degree. At the very least, she should do Maths AS.

Chemistry and Biology would both be useful.

Computer Science doesn't really add anything.

hellsbells99 Wed 26-Nov-14 08:12:38

If she wants to do Computer science at uni I think she will need maths.
Biology, chemistry and maths would be good choices with either computer science or psychology.

LightastheBreeze Wed 26-Nov-14 08:22:42

Maybe do Computer Science instead of Psychology. DS did Psychology and found it boring, though that was just his opinion and dropped it at A2.

Maths is a very useful A level for all science degrees and pretty much anything else come to that, much more so than either CS or Psychology.

Vanillepudding Wed 26-Nov-14 09:47:51

I know, I just have to convince DD wink

To me the sciences (Bio, Chem) and Maths seem a good choice for her, Computer Science for her does not really seem a natural choice. She didn't even want to do the hour of code with me last year.
I fear she would take it because she likes the teachers and doesn't see the benefits of Maths.

Psychology does make sense to me, as she's very interested in how the mind works. I too fear it will be boring for her, but she will at least learn to write essays properly.
She does not want to to anything with Psychology at uni, of that she's sure.

I had a look at a few uni courses and they all list only Chemistry as compulsory with additional sciences and Maths useful. That won't convince her.
Maybe she should ring a few uni admission people? Would they give advice about A Level choices?

TeenAndTween Wed 26-Nov-14 09:56:54

Not a teacher, don't know CS A level syllabus.

But CS A level should be nothing like ICT.

It should be learning how to specify, design, code and test your own software and applications. I spent 20 years in and around this type of work having done a maths degree. You need to be logical and have attention to detail, so being good at maths is a very good start.

Has she ever shown any interest in a Raspberry Pi? Maybe invest in one of these and see if she finds it interesting.

Castlemilk Wed 26-Nov-14 09:56:54

No no no no.

She might get onto a science course with the CS instead of Maths, but she will be massively compromising her chances of getting into a good uni and onto a competitive course - she'll definitely be sitting behind all those with Maths A-level.

And if she changes her mind with what direction she wants to go in, Maths will provide her with far more choices than CS, and again will give her a leg up in terms of looking better on paper to a good uni.

lljkk Wed 26-Nov-14 10:07:02

If she's 100% sure not going to do Pyschology at Uni then math A-level instead of psychology would make more sense.

I had a quick look & found same as you, she can get on plenty of bio or chem courses without the math A-level as long as she has good GCSE math. Only the most competitive courses* demand A-level math, she has to accept she is ruling out those kinds of institutions (as she is entitled to do).

Programming skills are fantastic & well worth having proper training for all the sciences, as long as the CompSci degree syllabus teaches programming it's a good one, too. DS probably won't make it to Uni so I'll be pleased if he does CompSci A-level.

*Understand that some Mumsnetters argue that only highly competitive Uni courses are worth having, thus 90%+ of Undergrads are wasting their time to go to Uni at all; that's the viewpoint where advice on MN comes from.

Vanillepudding Wed 26-Nov-14 10:08:56

Teen I'll definitely give her CS things to look at very soon, off to Google Raspberry Pi...
I know it's nothing like ICT, and that's a good thing, but she hasn't shown any interest in coding whatsoever up to now.

Castle, I know. But it's her choice. The school does her no favour by telling her she doesn't need Maths. Maths has always been her strongest subject, right from age 5. DH has a phd in Maths, she's got his genes.

We are trying to make her see that Maths will open so many more doors for her, and make life easier in the long run, but she is not convinced.

I would have killed to have her ability in Maths, she got all A* in her recent mocks. <head -> wall>

MrsSquirrel Wed 26-Nov-14 10:51:15

My dd is considering doing cs a level. It would be her 4th subject, instead of further maths. (She rejected psychology as too boring.)

We were told it's mostly coding and that other stuff TeenandTween describes, plus a bit of a look at hardware.

I don't have any suggestions about how to convince her about maths, though. Does she get any guidance from her school? Maybe suggest she has a chat with her maths teacher about a levels?

OneMoreMum Wed 26-Nov-14 10:57:41

My DS definitely want to do CS A-level, but that's because he wants to do it at University, even then he will also need to do maths as that is a requirement for most CS degrees (where CS A-level is welcomed but not a requirement).

If she's interested in it great, but not at the expense of maths in my opinion, a good 4th subject maybe?

skylark2 Wed 26-Nov-14 11:22:49

"Maths useful" means "we won't reject you because you haven't done it, but you are going to really struggle to catch up."

No, she doesn't NEED maths. But it will be far more useful to her than CS.

She also doesn't need psychology A level to study it at uni. DD is in that situation right now. It's a non-issue that she didn't do psychology, but the kids who didn't do biology are really struggling with the neuroscience and those that find maths hard are struggling with the statistics.

catslife Wed 26-Nov-14 12:25:31

The new curriculum could be scrapped at the next election? What is that about?
It's about changing the exam system for A levels. At the moment both the exams taken at the end of Y12 (AS) and at the end of Y13 (A2) count towards the final grade. Students often opt to drop the subject in which they obtain their lowest grade at the end of Y12.
Under the proposed new system only the exams taken at the end of Y13 will count towards the final grade and although there will be AS exams these will be a separate qualification. Students also will need to decide which subject they are only taking to AS at the start of Y12.

IMO Maths would be the wrong subject on this list to give up. Even if your dd opts to take Biology at degree level some Maths (particularly statistics) would be useful. Some Chemistry degrees require students to do Maths in the first year at uni if you haven't done Maths A level.

Vanillepudding Wed 26-Nov-14 14:54:04

Thank you all! Will speak to her Maths teacher and research about extra Maths courses at uni, that would persuade her to do it for a level I think.

SecretSquirrels Wed 26-Nov-14 17:27:01

OP please read this thread

There are many subjects at uni that you don't need to do for A level. psychology, Computer Science and Law are some that top the list.

Choosing CS instead of Maths is a bad idea.
If she decided to do Computer Science at uni she would need a Maths A level but not necessarily a Computer Science A level.

DS2 just started sixth form and showed an interest in CS. DH and I were a little hmm because it was taught by the IT staff and not the Maths department. DS had an A level taster day and hated the CS so decided to do Chemistry instead (along with Maths. Physics and Biology). His friends who are doing CS as well as Maths and FM are very disappointed with it and finding it dull.

Vanillepudding Thu 27-Nov-14 10:00:28

Thank you Secretsquirrel, have read it.

Had a long chat with DD, she sees the point of Maths, just does not want to give up CS. Looks like she will do it for AS and not take Psychology.

She asked if she could do Psychology at uni. Good idea.

Next week there is a taster day where she will find out more about the content of both.

It's crazy that a decision she makes when 15 has so much influence on her future, and the school are being so laid back about it.

Found out that Cambridge have Subject matter courses for year11 students in order to help them choose their A levels, sadly last one was last Saturday and next one in January is after her deadline.

Don't know if she wants Cambridge, but she wants Natural Sciences and the leaflets say clearly most of those students take 3 of Maths, Chemistry, Biology, Physics.
I also found that indeed many unis run extra courses for students without Maths A-levels. That's something she can avoid, she'll have enough on her plate in her first year at uni.

Like in the other thread, I am pretty shocked at the school's attitude, where each subject just wants to get as many students as possible, regardless of that choice limiting their uni choices.
I assume there are many 15 year olds like my daughter who don't know exactly what they want to do, just that it will be Sciences. So telling her she doesn't need Maths (especially as she is very able, just a bit bored with it) is rubbish advice.

Coconutty Thu 27-Nov-14 10:31:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SecretSquirrels Thu 27-Nov-14 13:06:13

very able, just a bit bored with it
This describes DS2. There was never any question of him not doing A level Maths but he was expecting to endure rather than enjoy it. In fact, 2 months in, he is loving it. Partly this is because the teaching seems to be far better at the sixth form college than his former school.

cricketballs Thu 27-Nov-14 16:45:23

" it was taught by the IT staff and not the Maths department" secret a large number of IT teachers have CS backgrounds (in my department, only 1 teacher doesn't have a CS background)

SecretSquirrels Thu 27-Nov-14 17:17:38

cricketballs Fair enough.
We were concerned because they had never run a computer science A level before at the college. Much of the spec seemed very IT related. I know that many Maths degree courses have CS modules but my experience of IT teachers involved the teacher at the DC's comp who taught IT alongside Business Studies and it was incredibly dull and undemanding.

sablepoot Mon 01-Dec-14 21:48:45

everyone of my dcs friends who did cs to a2 regretted it. There was a large project for a2 that they all found very tedious, and claimed it didn't test their coding ability either as it was more about the whole project process (ie paperwork) than the code itself. I think the AS part of the course was OK though.

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