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help - scottish mumsnetters - only 6 Nationals

(60 Posts)
wobbleinprogress Mon 12-Jan-15 17:20:25

Our secondary school has announced that it is going to limit the number of Nationals to 6 with additional wider achievement courses. This seems way too few subjects to me but the school are adamant about this. Does anyone else's school do this? Most state schools seem to be doing 7, private schools 8 or more. DS is bright and well able to do 7 and I don't see why he should be limiting his choice now. Is anyone else in this position?

S5Parent Mon 12-Jan-15 18:09:15

This happened to my child. It was due to the time needed to cover the N5 courses adequately in the one year allocated. I don't know about the wider achievement courses.

It was ok as my child was glad to give up languages. I can see for those with a wide spread of interests and strengths it's problematic.

myotherusernameisbetter Mon 12-Jan-15 19:53:41

We have 7 but only because they are squeezing in some extra weeks by moving into 4th year at the beginning of May. We get the options forms on Thursday but think we are going to struggle too as DS seems to be capable in all his subjects and doesn't know what to pick confused

myotherusernameisbetter Mon 12-Jan-15 19:54:44

actually have they only just told you this and you are choosing now? or is that advance warning for next year?

dotdotdotmustdash Mon 12-Jan-15 22:14:36

My DD did the first batch of Nat5 last year and her school let them do 8 subjects. She is naturally bright but she didn't do as well as hoped, although she passed them all (4xA, 2xB, 2xC). I suspect it was partly because they didn't get to spend enough time on the subjects, only 3 periods per week on each subject. They are tougher than credit SGs, my son did 8 credits the year before and achieved higher grades with less work.

I think it's better to study 6 and aim for secure understanding than rush through 8 without the depth that's required. Seven sounds like a decent amount, but 6 is more likely to be successful.

The school recently called in all the pupils who had 7xAs to talk about Oxbridge admissions, so that would seem to be the 'gold standard' of achievement at Nat 5.

3nationsfamily Mon 12-Jan-15 22:32:00

My DD is doing prelims this week for her 8 x Nat 5 at an Edinburgh state school, their year started the course in S3 and those struggling by the start of S4 were allowed to drop to 7 subjects and/or take national 4 level instead. In the final reckoning only about the top 30 out of the year group of 120 will be taking the full 8 at Nat 5 level. For the year coming up behind them they have resrticted the choices to 7 subjects only with the hope that more pupils see them through to the higher national 5 level.

dotdotdotmustdash Mon 12-Jan-15 22:36:07

I will add that out of a year group of 300 there were only about 12 pupils in the 7xA group and many others who felt like they had underperformed.

wobbleinprogress Tue 13-Jan-15 08:38:53

Hi. Thanks for all your responses. This is advance warning for next year, but I believe this year are choosing 6 too, it is annoying as they have spent the last two years telling us how bright he is! I don't see why they aren't prepared to push the brightest. If 7 a nationals is the gold standard then he should be allowed to try. Any thoughts on how to argue with the school?

PurpleFrog Tue 13-Jan-15 09:34:20

My DD did 6 Nat5s last year. That was all that could be fitted into the timetable with a June timetable start - no-one could do more. I was really worried when other schools were offering 7 or 8, however, with the time available 6 was plenty. All subjects were scrambling to finish the course in time. With it being the first year, some guidelines changed during the year etc.. The biggest problem with 6 is that it cuts down your choice for Highers especially if you decide you don't want to carry on with more than one of your Nat5 subjects. DD's school wasn't insisting on Nat5 before Higher in everything, but she probably (wrongly?) carried on with one subject since she knew what it would be like rather than having to branch out into the unknown.

I think most pupils started on the Nat5 course and the school decided after the Prelims in January who should sit Nat4 instead.

myotherusernameisbetter Tue 13-Jan-15 11:11:17

The only possible way for them to do more than 6 is to start earlier and this really makes a bit of a mockery of the BGE. DS tells me that they will still be doing PE and RME when he moves to new timetable - don't have any objection to PE but thinking of opting him out of RME and he can use the time for something useful - will need to wait until we get the whole story before deciding. I think he said fr Maths they have already been put into classes of those cabable of Nat 5 and those for Nat 4 though I think 5 out of 6 classes have been ut as Nat 5 with one of those being a class for those that might need to move to nat 4.

From what I remember of the choice booklet from a year or two ago that I found on school website, it did give an indication of what subjects would be okay going straight to higher in and what ones needed nat 5 in order to do Hogher, so I am thinking that if there is a decision to be made on some options, that might be the deciding criteria in order to keep options open as possible for Highers.

wobbleinprogress Tue 13-Jan-15 13:35:31

Thanks, that is very useful info about keeping options open for highers, and opting out of RME. Torn between not wanting to be a pushy parent and wanting the best for ds. He is happy at school so really don't want to move him. I don't really understand the timetable reason - when some are doing 7. Our school moves up year group in May already. How can it be a BGE when they do 7 main subjects in S3, plus a few extra masterclasses, then down to 6 in s4?.

dotdotdotmustdash Tue 13-Jan-15 13:36:41

OP, I don't think that there is a way to argue with the school for 7 subjects. If they have set up their timetabling for 6 subjects plus the mandatory (PE etc) subjects, they won't be able to give him another subject without disrupting the teaching of the other 6. I fear you would have to move to a school that timetables for 7. I don't think the Unis will hold it against the pupils who only do 6 as it's going to be the majority of them!

wobbleinprogress Tue 13-Jan-15 14:08:22

Agree arguing is probably futile and would need to consider moving school. Majority might be doing 6, but what I am worried about is that some, the very bright and those in private schools will do 7 or 8, so unis could use this to deferrentiate on oversubscribed courses

myotherusernameisbetter Tue 13-Jan-15 14:15:55

Agree re Uni's as, despite what the school tell you about being able to award Nat 4s at the end of 3rd year for subjects not taken forward to National 5 and this evidencing breadth and depth, I am sure they only want to know what highers they have and the grades.

In third year, ours are still doing as proper a BGE as they can provide given available teaching staff. They are still doing Maths, English, Science (all 3), Social (mixed between Geog, Hist & MS), French (and some spanish), Art, PE, Tech (again mixed), Music, RME and Home Ec (though they currently don't have a teacher so are getting extra Maths), Most schools move year at end May/beg June, our is end April/beg May so an extra 120 hours of teaching time or something which is enabling the atddition of an extra subject. I do despair about lack of choice and it must be even tougher with only 6 but I think it is a big ask of them to do more than that in the time available and still do themselves justice.

piggychops Tue 13-Jan-15 14:25:34

Ours do 6 too. I was worried about it but from what I'm hearing, the old national 5s are much harder than Standard grade.
In the 80s when it was O Grade our school did 7, but maths was divided into Maths and Arithmetic which were classed as 2 subjects. So not dissimilar to the 6 subjects of today.
Unis are interested in Highers, in particular getting a good batch of grades in 5th year. but it seems that as long as English taken to National 5 , Higher isn't needed if you are planning a science based course. Check out the Uni websites for more details.

Salmotrutta Tue 13-Jan-15 18:41:27

Yes, it's a time issue. We are supposed to cover the BGE until the end of S3 but if schools want to offer more than 6 Nat5s per pupil in S4 they have to start the Nat5 work in S3.

There is just too much Nat 5 content to squash into one year if pupils take 7 or 8 subjects.

Salmotrutta Tue 13-Jan-15 18:44:31

I actually think that Universities are expecting more from S6 pupils too - they want to know that pupils are still working profitably on Advanced Highers or crash Highers etc.

dotdotdotmustdash Tue 13-Jan-15 22:08:27

There is just too much Nat 5 content to squash into one year if pupils take 7 or 8 subjects

This was borne out by my daughter's experience when she sat 8 Nat 5s last year. Her classes were mixed 4/5, they didn't start S4 until the June and they were all put through the Nat 4 outcomes in the early part of the year and then started to work on the Nat 5 content at (what seemed like) a very late stage. They had a 30 period week with 6 periods of non-National subjects, and 24 of their National subjects at only 3 per week. The Maths and English were the most difficult to pass, my daughter got an A for English, but only a high C for maths despite having a high B/low A for her prelim.

I think 6 is sufficient if the pupil knows what they want to do in S5/6. My DD is sitting 5 Highers with A predictions, one of them being a crash Higher. She isn't finding the work terribly difficult before the Nat 5 content prepared them well.

SquirrelledAway Wed 14-Jan-15 07:41:23

DS did the Nat 5s last year - our education authority has implemented the CFE as it was intended, ie doing the Nat 5s over one year, and you would struggle to finish the courses if you tried to fit in more than 6. Schools that are doing 7 or 8 Nat 5s can only fit in all the work required if they are doing the courses over more than one year. He did well in all 6, and was able to drop 2 subjects and pick up a new subject for Higher this year. Although some parents were unhappy about being restricted to 6 subjects, I would rather they did 6 well than try 7 or 8 and struggle in some.

The Universities will be aware of the differences in the number of subjects taken across the country, and have issued statements to say that pupils taking fewer Nat 5s won't be disadvantaged.

wobbleinprogress Wed 14-Jan-15 08:44:17

Thanks everyone, am feeling reassured now.

PurpleFrog Wed 14-Jan-15 09:11:23

Has anyone seen any figures as to how many schools are actually doing 6, 7 or 8? That would be very interesting. In our area it was left up to each school to decide - the Local Authority didn't make a blanket decision. I have now seen a few comments on Mumsnet about schools that did 8 last year scaling down to 7.

dotdotdotmustdash Wed 14-Jan-15 16:32:10

My Dd's school is a large non-denominational one in West Fife, they have gone from 8 last year to 7 this year.

PurpleFrog Wed 14-Jan-15 16:48:30

Ha! We're in North East Fife!

Littlehomebird Wed 14-Jan-15 16:58:19

Our school has a max limit of doing 5 nat 5's . When I asked why I was told because 5xa's will be more highly regarded than say 7 or 8 b's & c's!

S5Parent Wed 14-Jan-15 17:18:26

That's so unfair on any pupil capable of more.

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