Recommended number of GCSEs ()(37 Posts)
My DD is Year 8 and we have to start thinking about her GCSE subjects.
She is set for: Maths, English, English literature, Triple Science, History, German and Spanish - 9 subjects.
She is also thinking at Religious Studies and Computing, but my concern is that having too many subjects might dilute her performance. I would rather have her study less subjects, with higher potential of good grades. On the other hand, would having a minimum no GCSEs (8) look bad for universities?
At the Academy where I was a governor until a couple of years ago, they decided to stop bright kids taking more than 10 GCSEs for that very reason. Universities think more of high grades than they do of quantity of subjects.
Our Academy took the view that it was better to encourage bright kids to do other things alongside GCSEs to instead of more exams. EG voluntary work, help with school fund raising projects, mentoring younger children etc
All these things are equally valuable as exam passes on CVs and university applications.
Or maybe if DD is bright, she could replace a couple of GCSEs with an early AS level?
How much choice will she actually get?
At DD's school the only flexibility in number comes with certain choices
- triple science can be accelerated or not. if accelerated it saves an option for something else but is very fast paced.
- RE&Sociology come as a pair in the same time as other options
- latin as a twilight (after school) extra
At DD's school the 'standard' was 10.5
Thanks MrsLeighHalfpenny, this is very helpful.
MrsLeighHalfpenny wrote: "Or maybe if DD is bright, she could replace a couple of GCSEs with an early AS level?"
She is doing well at school, but you can't tell for sure how bright she really is until she sits the exams.
TeenAndTween wrote: "How much choice will she actually get?"
They have a 'recommended' number of minimum 8, as far as I know.
I would try and add in an Arts/Technology based subject. This would give a total breadth of subjects. 9 is perfectly ok at top grades but adding RE or Computing would not be too onerous if your Dd actually enjoys one of these subjects. Adding both is not necessary.
Universities do not give much weighting to doing other things unless they are directly relevant to the degree the young person wishes to study. Except possibly learning a musical instrument to a high level. A friend of my DD got Gold D of E but not a single offer to read English at University with AAA at A level. Therefore carry on with any extra curricular that is hugely enjoyable for now and in the 6th form think about what degree and what your DD needs to do to to enhance her chances of getting into the course she wants. However, lots of extra curricular activities and volunteering may not be what is required unless it is relevant or suitably challenging and academic. Time consuming things like Gold D of E are really not needed. Mentoring younger children is great if you want to be a teacher but not much good if you want to do MFL and should have been doing extra vocabulary!
Like TeenandTween, my experience is that the pupils don't actually get a choice.
Schools aren't prepared to have pupils sitting around with 'free lessons' prior to 6th form. The only choice most dc get is 'Subject a or Subject b' , not 'Shall I do 10 or 11?'
At DD's school you don't get a choice in the number of subjects you do as the curriculum doesn't allow it. I think the only exception is dance which is done after school.
Extra curricular activities aren't just about getting extra stuff to put on the C.V. or personal statement, they help children find themselves and grow as individuals. The school that values non academic achievements must be producing some well rounded adults. and that is also what education is about , not producing automatons which have ticked all the boxes.
I think maybe we are asking children to do to much, do you think it would be a good idea to ban children from doing more than 5 GCSE's?
School should be a time to develop ideas, teaching children about redistribution, universal sufferage and equality for all, which is far more important than being tested in any subject.
"School should be a time to develop ideas, teaching children about redistribution, universal sufferage and equality for all, which is far more important than being tested in any subject"
Those topics get covered in Citizenship, which is a GCSE subject.
From this year (summer 2016) secondary schools (and pupils) are going to be assessed on the basis of "Peformance 8" which measures GCSE results over 8 subjects rather than the current 5 A*-C for League Table purposes. So the new minimum is 8 not 5.
Most schools expect pupils to take 9 or 10 subjects.
Computing counts as a Science so won't really add a new subject area if your dd is taking Triple Science already.
RS would probably be less onerous in terms of study time.
Encourage your dd to take the subjects that most interest her and where she is likely to do best.
At DD's school everyone does 10 subjects, unless they're chosen to do triple science, in which case it's 11 subjects.
If computing or RE would be optional, is she likely to do particularly well at either of them or does she have an idea what she'd like to do in the future and one would be good for that? Much to my surprise my DD chose RE and she thoroughly enjoys it - it's her strongest subject. As said before, doing an art or design and technology subject might be a good to a good balance.
dianamarcus Of course you can tell how bright a child is before they sit an exam - what a silly thing to say.
Or maybe if DD is bright, she could replace a couple of GCSEs with an early AS level?
MrsLeigh A levels are being reformed as linear qualifications and not all schools/sixth forms are offering the AS level as a stand-alone qualification. This A level reform is being phased in over the next few years, but will be completed by the time the OPs dd reaches this stage.
Early entry for both GCSEs and A levels is being discouraged. Some schools built in extra GCSEs for pupils by taking some exams in Y10 (or even Y9), but now that this practice is being strongly discouraged and only exams taken at the end of Y11 count for League Tables, most pupils will probably take fewer subjects. GCSEs are also being reformed (English and Maths first exams 2017) and many others have first exams in 2018. The new (harder) syllabus for these courses could also mean that many pupils will be taking fewer GCSEs than in previous years.
"At DD's school everyone does 10 subjects, unless they're chosen to do triple science, in which case it's 11 subjects."
At DD's school it is 10 subjects whether they do double or triple science, as triple science takes up one of the options. So the pupils get to choose triple science plus three others, or double science plus four others. Maths, English x 2 and Citizenship are compulsory, although the Citizenship might have changed to be an option by now.
I had 9 GCSEs (no choice about it!) university counts UCAS points which are only awarded at A Level or equivalent. At this stage your child needs to achieve high quality grades rather than quantity
"Our Academy took the view that it was better to encourage bright kids to do other things alongside GCSEs to instead of more exams. EG voluntary work, help with school fund raising projects, mentoring younger children etc
All these things are equally valuable as exam passes on CVs and university applications."
This is just not true. Extra curricular activities, unless the are directly related to the subject concerned carry no weight at all for university entrance. None. Obviously, they make for a more rounded person, and are useful for job applications and so on, but just not for university entrance.
The problem with this approach is that students' general knowledge can be shockingly bad - recent example I came across were 6th formers who didn't know what NATO was.
To be fair Dorothy I suspect the majority of adults don't know what NATO is, and certainly not its relevance (or lack...) to the UK.
As others have said, no school I have worked at gave a choice of number of subjects only what subjects
cricketballs wrote "As others have said, no school I have worked at gave a choice of number of subjects only what subjects"
Thank you for clarifying this aspect, thanks everyone for your input, your messages are truly helping me getting a better understanding of GCSE process.
I think 10 is about right for a bright kid. Computing above RS always (as long as it is coding based rather than old ICT = playing with Office). 8 would make unis wonder if there is a problem.
I also think that BertrandRussell is correct on what unis look for. An exception might be medicine where community work in old people's home and similar counts for a lot - shows you have some idea what the lot of a GP (most probable outcome in meds) might involve, and indicates some balance of character. Other than such subjects, good unis look for single-minded passion about the subject and could not give a damn about roundedness.
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