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Protocol for approaching school when parents are not happy with range of GCSE subjects offered? Sorry its a bit long!

(101 Posts)
GcseOptions Wed 26-Nov-14 16:36:34

Name changing regular here (joined 2006) as this is very identifying, but I hope someone with experience of secondary education timetabling and the new curriculum can help!

My child is in year 9 and making her gcse choices at the moment.

However, completely out of the blue, the school have decided to make Religious Education and Citizenship "core subjects" and all children will have to take a gcse in these, accounting for two so-called options.

My daughter is among the gifted and talented cohort at school and is being very strongly encouraged to do triple science. This would take up one additional option.

So now she would be doing English language, English literature, maths, RE, Citizenship, Triple Science, French, Latin (which is already partly taught as a twilight subject outside of the timetable).

This is apparently the maximum she is going to be allowed to do and there is no room for History (her favourite subject in there), Drama or Art (which, again, she is in the G&T band for and has already done a year of 2 hours extra lessons per week).

In other schools she would opt for History over RE and wouldn't take a gcse in Citizenship at all!

Many of her g&t friends are in the same situation. A group of us parents want to see if anything can be done to persuade the school to be less restrictive towards the g&t pupils.

Anyone know what the process is? Any previous success stories or precedents?

Sorry it's so long. Wanted to paint full picture!

sinclair Wed 26-Nov-14 17:14:27

I would just approach the HT and ask.

Check first that triple Science uses one of her options tho - at our school students are entered for core, double or triple depending on their ability but timetabled for the same periods. If triple is effectively an option then exercise your/her choice and opt for something she wants to do.

If your argument is that you want more freedom for the more able cohort then I would structure that around asking for facilitating subjects - RS is, Drama, Art aren't (I don't think) Citizenship not sure but surprised if it was.

I had something similar with DS and just asked (but before options choices were published) and was reassured they were aware of the issue I was raising, so you may get a better reception than you think.

Hakluyt Wed 26-Nov-14 17:21:19

Studying RE is compulsory to GCSE level, but you don't actually he to take th exam. RE and Citizenship both as compulsory seems bonkers- are you sure your dd hasn't got the wrong end of the stick? And is she really restricted to 10? Most schools do 11 or even more (not saying more is a good idea!).

I would avoid GCSE Art like the plague, by the way. Loads of work and most of it dull as ditchwater........

NoelleHawthorne Wed 26-Nov-14 17:22:25

its all to do with how schools are measured. they are getting rid of a-c%

its to do with types of subjects

NoelleHawthorne Wed 26-Nov-14 17:23:53

so some things like ICT and Drama dont count

RS does.

I duno about Citizenship tho

lljkk Wed 26-Nov-14 17:32:05

Wow. They only get 2 options (Triple+French)? Does sound very odd. I imagine everybody should be annoyed, not just kids who are G+T. Is it a very small school?

GcseOptions Wed 26-Nov-14 17:34:16

If studying RE is compulsory to gcse level (is that a new thing? when did I sign up for that?) then I can almost see why the school thinks they should take a gcse in it.

My dd is already on the way to doing gcse Art. She is in a g&t group and they have had extra lessons and tons of extra homework already. It would be very annoying to give it up.

GcseOptions Wed 26-Nov-14 17:35:18

lljk - the non g&t children get more options, not fewer!

It is an enormous school, possibly one of the biggest in the country.

lljkk Wed 26-Nov-14 17:39:55

you mean because only G+T kids do triple science?

Mostlyjustaluker Wed 26-Nov-14 17:43:46

Re has been compulsory to 18 years old in schools since 1944. Some schools make the gcse complusory because they don't wish to 'waste' time on a non exam subject.

GcseOptions Wed 26-Nov-14 17:46:14

I don't think so justalurker?

I certainly didn't have any RE lessons after my first two years at comprehensive school (in the 1970s).

GcseOptions Wed 26-Nov-14 17:47:28

lljk - yes, afaik it is supposed to be very hard work.

Yangsun Wed 26-Nov-14 17:49:43

RE in ks4 has been compulsory for a long time, at least since I was at school in the 90s, it is not compulsory to study it up to GCSE level though, many schools just do 1lesson a week or fortfortnightly alternating with citizenship if pupils aren't doing the GCSE. Others get them to do short course GCSE in one or both since they are studying them anyway and others -like your dd's school- make one or both full GCSE subjects. I don't think it is at a satisfactory that she only has one option, in many schools languages are not even considered to be options but are expected core subjects for the majority of pupils so this system (if you are sure you have understood it correctly) is hugely limiting.

titchy Wed 26-Nov-14 18:10:59

Compulsory to do some RE and citizenship to year 11 and often schools make kids do the gcse as they have to provide these courses.

Most schools though do triple science in the space of double, so it doesn't take up an option.

Are you absolutely sure you have this right - am assuming Latin is optional so are they really expecting top set to do 9 gcses as standard and not achieving the ebacc - which is a bit meaningless for the kids but important to the school.

TalkinPeace Wed 26-Nov-14 18:23:34

RE is NOT compulsory.

You can opt out and select a different subject for your child.

Neither of my DCs have done RE beyond year 9
Some schools actively encourage those who will not enjoy it to opt out - as it means the rest get better grades

See page 27 on this link

GcseOptions Wed 26-Nov-14 18:26:51

I am absolutely sure that my dd cannot do history, art, French and Latin on top of her compulsory subjects, yes.

TalkinPeace Wed 26-Nov-14 18:36:22

My DD did
English, English, Maths, Further Maths, Triple Science, Geography, History, an MFL, a DT and WJEC Latin - all within the normal day
as did the other 60 in the two top sets

Your school are DAFT if they are wasting timetable space on non-facilitating subjects

PS Art is a LOT of work nowadays : lots of writing

Yangsun Wed 26-Nov-14 18:39:16

Talkin you have the right to withdraw your child from RE but not to demand they are taught something else in the time. If everyone is doing it for GCSE it is unlikely there would be anything else for her to do at the same time. The right to withdraw is because you object to the principle of RE teaching and not because you don't like the school's option system. I would be unsympathetic to someone who suddenly realised they had a moral objection to RE when their child reached y10 and disinclined to make special arrangements, eveb if they had never done RE it is unlikely the timetable would give much scope for anything else. Generally they would end upddoing supervised study. If you are concerned about this very restrictive options system you should absolutely discuss with the school. In a worst case scenario would a change of school be feasible? Even if you didn't do it it might make them realise how deeply your concerns run.

GcseOptions Wed 26-Nov-14 18:44:47

What is a non facilitating subject?

What dd actually wants is to be able to do Eng, Eng, maths, double science, french, latin, history, art and drama. 10 subjects.

School have told her she won't be able to do a science A level if she doesn't do triple science gcse. Is this true?

GcseOptions Wed 26-Nov-14 18:46:07

No, change of school definitely not possible. And nor would I want to change, its been a very good school so far.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 26-Nov-14 19:00:02

Having two compulsory GCSEs in addition to the core (Eng, maths & sciences) sounds horribly limiting.

My DDs school has gone the other way - they used to do a half award in Citizenship, but now that those no longer count towards the performance tables they've dropped that. They have an hour a week (I think, perhaps two) which they use to cover non-gcse stuff: citizenship, RE and careers/A-level choice type things. Yes, it's compulsory for them to do citizenship and RE through KS2 (I'm pretty sure they don't have to do RE in ks5) but they don't have to do very much of it.

It also isn't essential to have done triple science in order to do science A-levels, although it probably is advisable and could be the policy at this school (but your DD might want to go elsewhere for 6th form anyway)

It probably is worth voicing concern about the citizenship gcse - TBH lots of schools do make the RE compulsory and it is a proper acadamic subject, hence I'd say try to go for the weaker point. In terms of what your DD wants to do, I'd say stress the history and then plead for one of the others - Art and Drama both have quite a lot of coursework/controlled assessment type stuff, they aren't easy options but may be seen as less valuable.

GcseOptions Wed 26-Nov-14 19:13:59

Yes, that's the key thing. Those two additional compulsory subjects.

I just wondered if anyone had any experience of challenging a school on an issue like this ... ?

TalkinPeace Wed 26-Nov-14 19:27:20

RE was one of the GCSE options - therefore those who did not want to do it did other timetabled subjects.

If she gets A/A*s in the double she should be able to do an A level but it will be a heck of a leap.
Utterly daft to put in "citizenship" rather than an EBacc or RG list subject.

NoelleHawthorne Wed 26-Nov-14 19:45:28

You can opt out. don't think schools have to offer alternative lessons.

But kids LOVE RE!

Leeds2 Wed 26-Nov-14 19:46:02

At DD's school. we were told that doing double science did not mean that you couldn't do A Level. They said that pupils who had done double would have to work a bit harder for the first few weeks, but would soon catch up. The sibling of one of DD's friends did double science, then physics, chemistry and biology at A Level and has just gained a first from Oxford in medicine. Triple science is really not necessary, unless it is a rule of your DD's school.

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