How does an averagely bright student with no special interests choose their options?(23 Posts)
Ds1 is in year 9 and I feel completely in the dark about this.
To talk to he seems pretty bright to me but doesn't appear to demonstrate this at school. He's expected to get his 5 A-C but won't set the world alight.
He seems to enjoy school but doesn't have any passions (except Army cadets!). ATM the only two definites, in his mind, are music (he doesn't play an instrument and has never shown any interest in doing so, despite being offered many opportunities) and cooking (he loves his food but very rarely takes up the opportunity to cook anything at home).
I come from a pretty academic background and this seems all wrong to me, I'd prefer "proper" subjects, but I realise I have to recognise that he's a different person to me. If he was passionate about cooking or music, I'd be behind him all the way, but he doesn't seem to be.
What do I need to know to help him make the right choices?
In my experience he will do best at the subjects he enjoys most. Subjects of GCSEs aren't that important longer term -number and grade are. Unless you can see him going on to do an A level in something that needs prior knowledge, such as a language (though some schools would even offer those as a fast track).
I think I'd start by arranging a meeting for you, him and his tutor, who will have the skills to guide his choices appropriately.
I would be very wary of him choosing music if he doesn't play an instrument, or sing. At my DD's school, he wouldn't actually be allowed to start the course without having first displayed at least some talent/interest.
That said, I am a great believer in doing what they are interested in!
What are his compulsory subjects, and how many options does he actually have?
I'd agree with the above, def not music without playing an instrument (my nephew struggled even though he played the drums, because he didn't read music). I thinking is a good skill to have and wouldn't discourage it but at the end of the day I would just encourage anything he enjoys and that he is likely to get his best grades in. If he was expecting all A/A* then I would think a language would be a good idea but as he isn't, I would say that any pass is important.
He's expressed and interest to his Music teacher who apparently will be thrilled to have him on the course, his levels in yr9 are respectable. I'm a bit wary of speaking to the subject teachers about it - whilst I suppose they want pupils who have a decent chance of passing in their classes, in some of the more niche subjects, are they touting for business?
I know a German teacher at my school did her best to get me on the O-level course because it might not have run otherwise, even though German was really not one of my best subjects (French was the main language taught, I did German in 3rd yr (yr9) because I was good at French and was then offered it as an option).
He has to do English, Maths, PE, a Science and a Language. I think he gets 9 altogether but TBH we have very little info. There are meetings next month but only 2 weeks afterwards to make the decisions.
You will probably find he only had a few very limited options afte the compulaory ones anyway, so I wouldn't worry too much and let him do things he enjoys. My DS will have 3 options after the compulsory ones & choosing triple science (counts as an option). He will definitely have to lose some of the things he enjoys.
Music is approx. one third performance, one third composition and one third written exam ... don't see how you'd cope if you'd didn't have an instrument/voice to perform or couldn't read notation for composition. Correct me if I am wrong ...
GCSE music would be a fienish amount of work for someone who has no experience of playing an instrument or singing. Infact I can really see how it would work.
Well he's home from school having spoken to his music teacher (who is head of music) again and he still seems convinced that it's a goer.
Apparently his friend is going to teach him guitar in their lunch brakes I've offered to pay for proper lessons (many times for this or any other instrument) and he has always refused. I haven't pushed it on the basis that if he's not keen it seems a waste of money and I can't face the fight of making him practise.
DS doesn't play any instrument, but was going to do music, the way the explained the syllabus I could see him easily getting a B (all he'll aim for in most things).
Cooking is great too, fantastic skill to take forward.
Core is pretty academic, if you think about it.
"I'm a bit wary of speaking to the subject teachers about it - whilst I suppose they want pupils who have a decent chance of passing in their classes, in some of the more niche subjects, are they touting for business?"
You must talk to the subject teachers. At DD's year 9 parent's evening it was obvious that all the teachers were touting for their subject. I asked all of DD's teachers what her chances were if she chose their subject. It's the best time to do it. We had an options evening a couple of weeks later and it was as if each subject had their own market stall touting for business.
In DD's case, after the core subjects she only had three options to choose from because she opted for triple science.
We'd do not allow students at our school to take GCSE music unless they play an instrument or sing.
Re the options evening, we too have stalls, not to tout for business ( I like my groups being small) but to lay out the basics of the course - how much is controlled assessment, topics covered etc and to show some previous students' work, which books we use. We have several weeks of presentations in assembly by heads of dept/ subject leaders prior to this.
If sad student is really unsure, I encourage them to take subjects they enjoy and have made reasonable progress in since y7. I remind them not to choose because of the teacher they like or because their friends are doing it.
I too think he would seriously struggle with GCSE music if he didn't play an instrument already (or take part in some serious singing).
That said, half the battle is doing something they enjoy.
Get him to find out more detail of the cooking courser they are offering though - the actual "cooking" is a small part of food qualifications in most cases - get him to speak not only to the teacher, but also to some pupils who have taken the option.
As others have said though, the way the option blocks are arranged, often means you don't really have that much choice by the time you ruled in or out a particular 'must' or 'never' choice, don't worry too much about it before the evening.
I assume this is the Art type option on top of the compulsory ones? In our school English was 2 GCSEs and Science was 2 or 3. Maths was another. So 5 or 6 subjects is reached without much choice. A language, a humanity plus an art subject were also expected at my DDs school so that the pupils studied a breadth of subjects. That gets you to 8/9 subjects without much effort. What about a design subject or Art? Media Studies or something similar for a 9th subject would not hurt either. Is Music Technology offered? What about RE? Or PE? Or Drama?
I don't understand why, music as a GCSE, isn't organised in such a way that all children can take it as an option, not just children whose parents pay for music lessons.
OP if his teacher is keen for him to take it then I'd encourage him to do it but say he will probably need to take up a musical instrument again.
The good thing about music GCSE, and this is as a result of the musical instrument requirement, is that the classes are small and so the children get plenty of attention.
Does he have any idea of what he might like to do in the future? You mentioned he is passionate about Army Cadets - is that a possible career choice for him?
Oh God grassroot, I hope not. But yes, seems as likely as anything else ATM.
It s a constant source of worry for me that he has never really seemed to have any real interests. He likes to spend a lot of time on the PC, but doesn't understand them at all, has always hated sport, resisted any attempts to get him involved in music and doesn't really have favourite bands etc, no interest in construction toys or projects. Scouts he enjoyed for a while and he loves cadets, which is great in lots of ways, especially for personal development, but....
Which subject do you mean by "Cooking" for GCSE. If you mean Catering then there is a lot of cooking involved and pupils will end up having to cook a meal for their GCSE practical which is a useful lifeskill. It's a good subject for less academic dcs.
At dds school pupils taking Music GCSE have free instrumental (or singing) lessons in school, so you don't have to pay for lessons.
If he likes spending time on computers what about IT?
Re army cadets: a high level of fitness is needed to take this further after he has left school iyswim, unlikely in a non sporty ds!
After the core compulsory subjects the poor kids have 2 choices (3 if they're lucky).
If the music teacher is supportive I'd be inclined to let him do what he wants, & cooking is a very important, if underrated, skill.
Good luck. Your DS sounds like mine - still trying to locate his passions!
oh yeah, make sure the catering course is what he wants it to be. Food tech GCSE is mostly about business models, hygiene, safety, regulations (which fascinates may, & good skills) but not much actual cooking involved.
Cooking skills can be so jolly useful. Friend makes a good living being the chef on an oil rig. Flexible, well-paid, long holidays when he sees tonnes of his kids, all sorts of good things.
I would advise him to choose a humanity - he will probably have a preference between history and geography - and a language - tho I see he has to do that.
Then I would let him do what he wants. Most schools offer some options which are new to the students eg my school does engineering, my DCs' school does some kind of computer graphics GCSE which a lot of kids seem to enjoy. But there is nothing wrong with catering or art or drama - he will have GCSEs in probably 7 "proper" (I know what you mean!) subjects anyway. Does he have to do PE GCSE (I'd be surprised) or just a lesson a week of core PE?
I agree tho, music probably tricky without an instrument or vocal talent.
BTW schools vary in how many choices kids get. DD is in yr 9 and triple science is an extra not one of her options, so she gets 4 choices, of which the only rule is that one of them must be a language, history, geography or ICT. She's going to do two of those anyway so no bother (for her anyway).
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