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Choosing options in year 8 and starting GCSE's in Year 9

(40 Posts)
ICantFindAFreeNickName2 Fri 27-Nov-15 21:06:49

My local high school has just announced that Year 8 pupils, will be choosing their options in the new year and starting their GCSE subjects when they start Year 9 in September.
This means they have one year less of doing the KS3 work and then spend 3 years doing the GCSE work.
Does anyone have any experience of this or have any views about whether its a good or bad idea.

yeOldeTrout Fri 27-Nov-15 21:12:32

It's common at schools around here & very rare that I find a parent who dislikes it in any way. Most parents say emphatically it's so much better than the old system where all the stress came at once for everybody right at the end. When the work load became simply impossible & they felt very unprepared for so much work at once.

That it's better the kids get to prove themselves a bit with some early GCSEs that truly count, so they learn a bit about how to really handle the workload, pressure & that finally some of their work actually matters; school becomes real. So they don't hide head in sand, feel like they are just marking time. They learn from experience that they can't get a good mark without actually revising, in time to make sure that most of their results are good ones.

And other stuff like that.

ICantFindAFreeNickName2 Fri 27-Nov-15 21:53:46

That's good to know, as it's not something I have come across before. Although I thought schools were being discouraged from entering children for gcse's early now.
I think my main worry, would be that at 12, some children are too young to be deciding what they subjects want to do. Even just one more year, makes a difference to their maturity.

Thunderblunder Fri 27-Nov-15 21:58:20

My DC have picked their options in yr8 while they are in their middle school for studying in yr9 when they start at an upper secondary.

mummytime Fri 27-Nov-15 22:25:12

My DD is doing this this year. The school is changing to studying GCSEs over three years, none will be sat early I don't think.

The one difference to her older siblings is that they are getting more careers advice, including everyone getting a personalised letter suggesting subjects they should consider. Actually knowing she has to make this choice has made her grow up a bit.

However I do hate the fact that at 12/13 she might never do some subjects again (and others she has only had a very brief taste of at secondary).

PiqueABoo Fri 27-Nov-15 22:55:31

Do they drop the subjects in Y9 that they haven't picked for GCSE then?

My DD is in Y8 and I wouldn't like that. I don't think she's done enough of some subjects to make a sound decision about them. She's fairly mature, analytical and opinionated, but it would mostly be me making those choices i.e. persuading her to adopt my view of the 'right' ones.

Thunderblunder Sat 28-Nov-15 09:11:58

Yes they do drop subjects that they don't pick. My DC had a choice of new subjects that they hadn't studied before as well as traditional subjects.

yeOldeTrout Sat 28-Nov-15 09:45:51

They have to keep taking IT to end of yr9 (statutory requirement) even if they don't do it for GCSE.

At our school they can change their minds to some extent for 1st weeks after starting each GCSE and also in January of yrs9 & 10.

The main problem DD's mates have had seems to be parents saying (e.g.) "Drama isn't academic enough!" and kids having to fight for it.

In school I never had any lessons in textiles-DT-catering-business-IT-RE-German-geography so I thought it was already pretty impressive that DC had so much exposure to those (2 yrs). Enough to know if they wanted to drop or pursue them at least. DD hated geography but is doing it anyway for GCSE because she didn't much like the other choices in the end.

cricketballs Sat 28-Nov-15 10:26:01

my school is going down this route this time so I would be interested to hear experiences.

In one way I am looking forward to being able go more in depth with the extra time available, however I am concerned that having only studied some subjects for 2 years with limited time, for example DT/drama/art etc only having 1 lesson a week compared to the 3 lessons a week that history gets that this will further harm creative subjects even more than the 'Ebacc' is doing

inmyheadimthequeen Sat 28-Nov-15 10:45:41

My DS (15) is doing this. The school held a meeting and explained it although DH and I had no clue whether it was a good or a bad thing (it's a lot of years since we've been at school!). The subjects are studied in more depth and they really delve into them.

DS took one GCSE early (in Y10) although my understanding is that it wasn't 'early' just that the overall course is shorter so the additional year of study wasn't justified. He did well in the exam and that seems to have boosted his confidence. It also helped him with exam prep, he found it helpful just knowing what to expect in terms of the exam set-up before he deals with the others this year. The lesson time for that subject has now been freed up so it's used for supervised study and/or for additional focus on other topics that need a lot of self-driven input, eg. Art.

In terms of what subjects to choose, in his school they had to take Maths, English and the Sciences and they were 'very strongly recommended' to take a modern language and a humanity subject, then it was free reign for any other choices. There were additional topics available for GCSE study that they hadn't previously studied, more languages, drama and a few others. It did feel very early for him to be making choices but without exception, every single teacher said 'let him do what he enjoys'. The didn't have a GCSE in playing on the Playstation grin but that's exactly what we did and he is very happy with how it has worked out. I think your child may need to take a slightly different view if they had their heart set on a specific career and knew exactly which A-Levels they would need but I think that is the exception and as mentioned, the school insisted on the 'basics'.

My DD is in Y9 at a different school and about to choose her options for Y10 GCSE study. TBH, I wish she had the same '3 year' option as my DS but that's not what the school offers so we just need to suck it up. Sorry it's long - hope it helps.

Thunderblunder Sat 28-Nov-15 15:37:27

yeoldetrout DD2 is in yr9 and she doesn't do IT at all. She didn't choose it as an option and therefore doesn't do it.

yeOldeTrout Sat 28-Nov-15 18:57:11

hmmm... well, all yr9s at DD's school do some ICT. I thought it was a compulsory thing.

TeenAndTween Sat 28-Nov-15 19:25:28

If DD's school had done that she would have had to choose GCSE options aged 12.5, and started them aged just 13 which is way too young in my opinion.

Also, I don't think she would have picked the same subjects she did eventually, and may even not have picked a second language, which she is now doing for A level.

So no, I don't like it.

DD's school now does mini options going in to y9 where pupils select tech subjects which I think is good but they aren't committing to doing GCSE in them.

pointythings Sat 28-Nov-15 19:29:58

Our secondary does this - I can see both sides. It won't suit everyone, some teenagers will need more time to think about where their talents and interests lie. On the other hand I can't lie - it is perfect for my DDs who know exactly what they want to do. DD1 is in Yr10 and was really happy to drop ICT, Music, DT. She would have liked to do Art but understood the workload wouldn't have been manageable and would have had to drop History, which was never going to happen.

DD2 wants to do exactly the same set of subjects DD1 is and is in the same situation - the system works really well for them.

hedwig2001 Sat 28-Nov-15 20:00:11

My DS did this. Now in Year 10, having completed one, of a 3 year GCSE course. Works really well.
My only regret is that, at the age of 13, he had his last ever history lesson. Too early in my opinion, but not what he wanted to choose as an Option.

Seeline Mon 30-Nov-15 09:21:40

My DS is Y9 and most of his subjects seem to be following the GSCE courses, although he doesn't pick his options until after Christmas, and only drops subjects in Y10.

Millymollymama Mon 30-Nov-15 19:18:48

I have a feeling three year GCSEs are mostly done in state schools. Academic independent schools pride themselves on the breadth of education available and not narrowing down what is on offer. It is possible to do the eBac and arts subjects if you do 10 plus subjects. DD1 did Drama and DD2 did Drama and Art. DD1 would happily have done music as well but she was forced to do ICT. Sadly, lots of schools have decided to sideline arts subjects and no longer see school productions and concerts as being a major part of school life for younger pupils so the pupils lack the necessary skills and maturity to take these subjects further. Ditto art, textiles, photography etc. Drama is a brilliant GCSE to go with English and is perfectly academic at A level to go with English A level. All children should have an arts based GCSE for a rounded portfolio of subjects.

YeOldeTrout Mon 30-Nov-15 19:52:42

hmmm.... a load of MMM's assumptions don't fit our experience at all of 3 yr KS4 stage!

I actually went to a creative & performing arts specialist school, but did almost none at all (completely unsuited to them).

mummytime Mon 30-Nov-15 20:08:17

Umm the local very high achieving private girls school only sit 9 GCSEs, the local Comp does 10-11. Both schools do productions. The girls school has a swimming pool but otherwise it's arguable which has the better sports facilities.
The comp is going to 3 year GCSE to keep the breadth of GCSEs open, the alternative would have been reduce to 9-10 like the girls school.

Millymollymama Mon 30-Nov-15 20:45:19

But 9 or 10 GCSEs at the high grades of A* /A are far more desirable than 12 with a load of Bs that could have been As with fewer subjects or not taken early. Facilities do not equal high achievement. What high achieving independent school does 3 year GCSEs? (Top 100).

pointythings Mon 30-Nov-15 21:44:17

Millymollymama I think lots of state schools now do the 3-year GCSE course because they are under so much damn scrutiny from the state that they need to cover their backs. Because they could be taken over by a bunch of carpet salesmen if they don't perform. And then there's the endless political meddling - changes rushed through, no proper field testing or preparation - it is any wonder schools want as much time as possible to manage whatever is going to be thrown at them next? I don't blame them for a second. Private schools are much more cushioned against all this stuff.

Millymollymama Mon 30-Nov-15 22:34:02

I totally agree about that, pointy. However I thought the Government were not encouraging 3 year GCSEs and I haven't done my homework on Ofsted's views. However, ofsted are all about progress as well as outcomes and I thought they also disliked huge numbers of GCSEs with ones taken early resulting in lower grades than could have been obtained with, say, 10 over a 2 year course. Schools too often do what is best for them and not the pupils.

YeOldeTrout Mon 30-Nov-15 22:58:29

If DD discovers boys in a big way then she might finally chuck school as too stressful and then her early GCSE results could be her only good ones. Why have an educational system that is obsessed with assuming that absolutely everyone will be at their peak performance of April-June of Yr11. confused

What high achieving independent school does 3 year GCSEs? (Top 100).

Who cares? Honestly. That's like 0.3% of all kids who get to go there and most of them have very privileged backgrounds, many were selected for academic prowness to even get in. Those aren't normal backgrounds or normal kids with normal prospects. Their experience demonstrates nothing useful at all for most other people.

Devilishpyjamas Tue 01-Dec-15 05:41:59

Lots of schools are switching to this locally.

Ds2's school has - he is in year 9 & is delighted to have dropped the subjects he didn't like. He's pulled his socks up a little as well with the whole GCSE thing. (He is doing drama and music though, so no issues with creatives in this house).

He's in the local grammar & they've also dropped the number of GCSE's (from 11 to 10) to take account of the new format GCSE's.

Our first choice school for ds3 also does 3 year GCSE's

Devilishpyjamas Tue 01-Dec-15 05:45:52

So in ds3's case we have state school, 10 GCSE's, grammar, three year GCSE & allowing drama and music to be taken as options.

I think we have to be careful with assumptions about what state schools versus private schools allow. Depends on the individual schools.

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