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GCSEs, ebac subjects, ds struggling - can he drop subjects?

(25 Posts)
PhilPhilConnors Thu 19-Nov-15 13:39:00

Ds1 is in yr 10. He's not coping at all, occasionally school refusing. (Has ASD, OCD and anxiety, but not officially diagnosed)

Is he allowed to drop some subjects so he has less pressure on him to do the subjects he has to do?

He has been made to take geography as an ebac option, but he has no interest, will not work. I've asked if he can drop it, but his teacher says this will be a black mark against him when he comes to look for an apprenticeship in 2017.
Does anyone know if this is true? Would this be more damaging to him than a fail in the subject?

I know he has to have a C in English and maths or he has to carry on studying them.

titchy Thu 19-Nov-15 13:49:12

No of course it wont' be a black mark. No-one looks at whether a kid qualified for the EBacc. School probably have an issue of him having gap on his timetable though. Speak to head of year.

TeenAndTween Thu 19-Nov-15 14:15:31

'black mark' ? I don't think so. Not for him anyway.

DD dropped history after y11 mocks. Great decision. She was going to fail it anyway. imo Dropping it meant she passed English Lang and went up a grade in both sciences.

You would need a plan as to where he would go in the geography lessons.
e.g. library or inclusion unit. Someone would need to be responsible for ensuring he did work in those lessons. (eg you discussing and agreeing with him).

They may be reluctant this early on as it kind of sets a precedent to other pupils.

Leeds2 Thu 19-Nov-15 14:20:50

I don't think there would be any danger of your DS not getting an apprenticeship simply because he dropped a GCSE and/or doesn't have the EBacc.

School will probably not want him to drop a subject though as it gives them issues as to what he does, and who supervises him, during the lessons he is missing. He could maybe go and work in the library.

PhilPhilConnors Thu 19-Nov-15 14:41:44

Thank you, this is helpful.
I'm hopefully having a meeting next week so we can come up with a plan to get him through the next year and a half.

TheSecondOfHerName Thu 19-Nov-15 14:45:25

It is possible at some schools under certain circumstances. DS1 (Y11) has dropped some subjects at the suggestion of the school, due to health problems. He started Y10 studying 11 subjects and is now doing 8. In his free periods he either attends medical appointments or does homework/revision in the Learning Support department.

purpledasies Thu 19-Nov-15 15:52:16

It's not true that your DS needs the Ebac to get an apprenticship. I think he probably needs English and maths, and possibly 3 other good passes - but check this out with whoever he'd do the apprentiship though. The school might quite like him to have the Ebac, for their statistics but it won't matter for him at all.

I had a long fight with DS's school to allow him to drop French, which he took initially under pressure from the school to get the Ebac. Only at the end of Year 10, when it was increasintly apparent that he wasn't going to pass it anyway did they finally relent. His head of year (who's a French teacher, unfortunately) kind of implied that he'd write him a better reference if he stuck at it, but I don't think he'll actually dare write anything bad on it now that he hasn't. Shall be contacting the school quickly if he does!

DS is now in Y11 and has switched to music instead. Initially the plan was that he'd just do the classes and not the GCSE, but he's absolutely loving it smile He's catching up on last year's work, at home and they now think he should be able to do the GCSE. I only wish we'd got him swapped over sooner, he's so much happier. He's aiming for maths/science subjects at sixth form and Uni, and the lack of Ebac doesn't look like it will hold him back at all.

wetthursday Thu 19-Nov-15 16:11:56

Hi. My son is in Y10, also suffers from OCD and we have had to consider dropping subjects too. He struggles academically but works really hard (one of the few benefits of OCD I suppose as long as it doesn't cause him too much anxiety). His school have been very open to dropping subjects in an attempt to try to secure his English and Maths results. We haven't dropped any yet but agreed to wait and see how he does in his Christmas exams. It needs to be all about getting the best results possible in a few keys subjects rather than a wider set of poorer results. Also if OCD is a problem them keeping the child calm and relaxed is the top priority otherwise everything falls apart and it won't matter how many or how few subjects they do.

RalphSteadmansEye Fri 20-Nov-15 09:57:06

How ridiculous to tell a child there would be a black mark against him for dropping geography in year 10!! What codswallop! How on earth would the apprenticeship firm know which subjects he started doing?

RalphSteadmansEye Fri 20-Nov-15 10:03:43

But, yes, he does have to be somewhere safe and supervised if he's going to have a gap in his timetable, rather than, say, switch to food tech or something!

OP, my ds has ASD and anxiety and is very academically able: he's taking 8 GCSEs, no language so won't get ebacc, and has free periods where he goes to the Study Centre and gets a head start on homework. He's flying in the subjects he is doing and on target for great results/access to top universities if he wishes. There is no question that this was absolutely the right decision for him.

Good luck in your conversation with school.

Eliza22 Fri 20-Nov-15 11:13:39

My son has ASD, OCD and accompanying anxiety. He's in Yr10.

He does the required subjects of English, Maths, Sciences. He also does art, Theology and Btec in Personalised Learning. He has never done a language. He has given up geography, history, Food Tech.

DS does have a diagnosis and is Statemented and his school very much personalised his timetable to what is "doable".

Go into school, speak to the Senco and insist on a revision of their decision. When my son's OCD kicks in (when he's overwhelmed) everything (including school work) goes out the window so, he needs to be kept on an even keel.

PhilPhilConnors Fri 20-Nov-15 15:58:47

Just had a message from school and they doubt he can drop geography as he's not doing too badly in it.
Going in on Tuesday to talk about it all.

PhilPhilConnors Tue 24-Nov-15 12:26:46

I've just had the meeting.
The solution to ds refusing to go in (anxiety and not coping) is to carry on doing what they're doing.
He can't drop any subjects, because he won't have made the progress 8 which apparently means he will never work, ever, because no-one will hire him.
He can't have a reduced timetable because the school doesn't believe this can ever work.
We are two unofficial absences away from being allocated an education welfare officer, who ds won't engage with, before proceedings start to prosecute us because we're not making sure ds is in school.
I want to cry.
What happens to other dc when they are not academic? All the practical subjects have been taken away, in favour of academic subjects to prove how much progress children are making.

Millymollymama Tue 24-Nov-15 15:49:58

It is not strictly true to say that all practical subjects have been taken away. If children do these subjects, they can still be included in Progress 8. Therefore children can choose Art, Textiles, Photography, PE, Technology, Drama and a few others alongside the Ebac. Of course, the Ebac is not completed by loads of children. Plenty do not complete a MFL for example. I assume he is now doing 8 subjects (if Progress 8 is in jeopardy if he drops a subject), so 7 would be very light indeed.

It sounds as if he would have been better suited to a BTEC/GCSE range of subjects but he would still need Science, Maths and English. Are you certain there is not a school/college that would meet his needs regarding curriculum?

Also, lots of less academic children do go to school and keep going! I think the school is really referring to the fact that they will have to provide a reference for your DS and clearly this will not be glowing. They cannot mask attendance stats for example. Although apprenticeships may not ask for 8 GCSEs, employers will want to know someone applies themselves, keeps going in adversity and gets on with people. He will not engage with the EWO so that is not going to look good. School refusing is almost a guarantee that an employer will not be keen when they have lots of engaged and motivated children to choose from.

Can you really not try and talk to him about his future options and find an alternative? What would he like to study? Why did no-one realise he needed more practical courses in the first place? Apprenticeships are not study free normally. What happens if he will not engage with people who run the apprenctice scheme, assuming he has been taken on in the first place.

triceratops1066 Tue 24-Nov-15 15:57:22

The league tables are going to be based on how many pupils who have an ebacc. I think it also might affect whether they can get outstanding on ofsted. This is why they are trying to make all students take academic subjects

TeenAndTween Tue 24-Nov-15 15:58:31

Do you have any other schools in the area who would take a more flexible approach? You are only one term in to the GCSE courses.

It's not ideal I know, but then dropping out altogether due to rigid approach of school is even worse.

What he needs is 5 GCSE passes including English and Maths. If he's in danger of dropping out then I think you should focus on how he can achieve that, and stuff ebacc, progress 8 etc. They matter for the school, not the child. (Or at least not for a child who will otherwise drop out).

Holstein Tue 24-Nov-15 20:27:47

Progress8 is a measure for the school only!
It doesn't matter on an individual level (though if a child has a negative score, as their parent, you would be worried, though obviously there are circumstances that have led to that in this case).

RalphSteadmansEye Tue 24-Nov-15 21:13:46

That's a terrible response from school and I would be taking it further, if not looking for a different school.

PhilPhilConnors Tue 24-Nov-15 21:49:02

Sorry, I was really stressed earlier and ranting blush.

The school only offers art (which wasn't an option for ds as he hated it!) and GCSE PE as practical options. They were going to offer non resistant materials, but withdrew it. Next year he may be able to opt for btec sport and something called ecdl, which they seem to be pushing.

PE is proving to be a more academic option than we thought, with lots of science involved, and lots of long words which he struggles with, and after school intervention which he doesn't go to, choosing to come home instead hmm.

Ds is incredibly stubborn and frustrating. We try to drum into him about his future and the importance of sticking with it, but he doesn't seem able to make the connection between his choices now and the effect it could have on his future.

The school is tipped to get outstanding in their next ofsted inspection, so I think this is why they as rigid as they are.

We are fairly rural, so school options are limited, we are also concerned that ds finds it very difficult to make friends, and moving him now could make things worse.

He didn't have a bad day today, so he feels a bit more positive tonight.
There are a few things being put into place (hub pass, seeing the non-teaching pastoral care lady once a week, and referring him to a youth team), so hopefully he'll feel better supported.

PenelopePitstops Tue 24-Nov-15 21:58:31

Progress 8 is a school measure but if your ds doesn't take enough subjects to qualify for progress 8 he will become a negative statistic for the school. If he is targeted a C in geography but gets a U for not taking it, he will become a - 7 on the school stats for geography. This doesn't sound too bad, but if a school dips below - 0.75 on their progress 8 score, that is an automatic OFSTED trigger and the school will struggle to be rated even good.

Horrible horrible atmosphere and decision for your ds, but I can see why the school want him to do it. Blame the government for their insane policies.

mudandmayhem01 Tue 24-Nov-15 22:07:08

I was helping some year 11s apply for apprenticeships today, the requirements were all about a- c grades in maths,english and occasionally science. Look on www.apprenticeships.gov.uk if you need some evidence. It is not easy to get a good apprenticeship but is generally inability to write a good application, poor interview techniques and high level of competion for the best vacancies that causes students to fail to secure apprenticeships rather than not having geography gcse.

Holstein Tue 24-Nov-15 23:39:02

ecdl is useless- it's just a certificate of computing skills such excel, word etc.

TeenAndTween Wed 25-Nov-15 08:23:24

ecdl is not useless.

For many progressions it will count as one of the 5 A*-C grades.
It shows a competence in use of IT.

(Though I agree it is not as hard as a GCSE).

Anotherusername1 Wed 25-Nov-15 08:49:36

Gosh it sounds like the school is being very aggressive and unhelpful. You do need to take it further, especially if you don't have a realistic alternative where you live.

How does threatening you with prosecution help your son? Was this the head or someone else? Can you go higher? Maybe talk to your LA? Are there any education helplines people on here could refer you to for advice?

PhilPhilConnors Wed 25-Nov-15 10:42:47

Penelope, I think that's the reason why this is being pushed. Historically, the school is part of the town' selective system. Grammar school on one side of the road, this on the other.
It used to be a case of the bright (tutored) children going to the Grammar, others going to this school.
It's now an academy and they are doing really well, getting very good results, but still having to prove themselves. I can't fault them with dd, she is doing very well there.
I talked to ds's learning manager and the attendance lady, who I think both understand where I'm coming from, and pointed out that the route the school is having to go down, I suppose to meet government targets and to put themselves on the map,as a good school, when in the past it's been terrible, means that non-academic children don't have the options they used to.

I think they push ECDL as they feel it's a chance for children to scrape up their scores.

I spoke to the deputy head yesterday, and he will be teaching ds a couple of times a week, so he's going to keep an eye on him, now he (hopefully) understands his difficulties.

I've been asking for handouts in lessons for over a year now, and getting nowhere, the deputy head is now on the case, and I will be ringing him on Monday if there's still no sign of handouts - they can't expect ds to magically feel more confident if they're not going to support him!

We're going to take it a month at a time and see how he gets on.

Thank you for all your comments, they're all very helpful.

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