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Has anyone had to veto GCSE option choices due to family finances?

(13 Posts)
OccamsLadyshaveToo Sat 16-Jan-16 22:25:04

I'm not going to do this, but it is a bit of a worry.

DD (Y9) picks her options in the next couple of weeks. She is currently leaning towards Food Tech / Cooking as her final option. The new syllabus makes a big thing of doing more hands on cooking, which she would love.

I'm a LP and have in the past struggled for money - never enough to not put food on the table, but enough to be conscious of what food costs, and make sure I don't waste food. I have quite often been a bit shocked when the ingredients list comes home from school - this week's includes chorizo and Pak Choi, as well as three other stir fry vegetables which are out of season, expensive and sold in packets that mean there will be a silly amount of each one left over. This is a comprehensive school in a not very wealthy area. I'm sure there are families struggling more than me.

At the moment I'm in a full time job and I can afford to pay for these things without too much of a knock-on effect, but I wouldn't have been able to three years ago. Also I'm on a temporary month by month contract, so at any point in the next 2 years, things might be different.

I hope I'm worrying about nothing, but what happens if half way through the course I can't afford to continue to buy these expensive ingredients?

AnchorDownDeepBreath Sat 16-Jan-16 22:29:21

Have you spoken to the school?

I took Food Tech as a GCSE. My foster family couldn't afford to send ingredients, and wouldn't send a contribution. They wrote a letter to the school office confirming that they couldn't afford it, and the school arranged for ingredients to be bought for me before each lesson, along with anyone else whose family couldn't afford them. They were left for us to collect before the lesson, so nobody else knew we weren't bringing them in ourselves.

lljkk Sat 16-Jan-16 22:29:27

Private chat with the teacher, there may be a way to get some help with costs or even better, spread out the costs to a set amount each month.

Totallyoutoforder Sat 16-Jan-16 22:29:31

Could your DD share 1 pack of the chorizo... with another or more students if there will be left over ?

OccamsLadyshaveToo Sat 16-Jan-16 22:44:32

Yes Totally that's a great idea, if you're not 14! Apparently it would be "sooooo embarrassing" to do that!

As I say it's not a problem at the moment, and I quite like having fancy ingredients left over to include in our meals. I'm just pondering what would happen if my contract ends and I'm out of work for any length of time.

It's good to know schools will support families who struggle. Is that out of the pupil premium does anyone know?

GasLIghtShining Sat 16-Jan-16 22:59:26

I do feel for you as I still remember the dessicated coconut that sat unused in the cupboard for years.

Speak to the school to check if there is anything in place should your contract end - at least that will take some of the worry away.

I would also ask about substitutions as whether money is an issue or not you will not always be able to find everything. My DD did her GCSE about 5 years ago so syllabus may be stricter but she often didn't use things if she didn't like them.

Can you use the balance of the ingredients at home?

littledrummergirl Sun 17-Jan-16 17:45:40

Ds2 is doing food tech. He is often given a choice of recipes and I have adapted at times.
If he was always expected to buy expensive ingredients then I would be speaking to his teacher.
In my opinion part of learning about food is learning to cook what is in season and his teacher isn't doing this.

Bunbaker Sun 17-Jan-16 18:00:55

Does your daughter have free school meals? If so, I think the pupil premium might help cover the costs. You would have to check with school though.

AugustRose Sun 17-Jan-16 18:05:19

I am not a LP but we are low income and DD is also considering taking Food Tech/Cooking as one of her options. If the ingredients become too expensive we will be speaking to the school as we budget for every meal.

I don't understand why there can't be an ingredients list that they can share among the group so that the cost is reduced - surely that would also count as part of their planning instead of everyone having to buy their own spices/herbs etc.

enderwoman Wed 20-Jan-16 20:27:00

My daughter is doing good tech. It's a shame that I can't pay the school for ingredients. It's far more cost effective than save the shopping/carrying to school hassle.
I wish the school would also explain substitutions to the kids. When I told them to take the mixed herbs rather than buy dried thyme they would hmm and be totally dubious that it wouldn't affect the recipe. That is real life cooking to me.

seven201 Wed 20-Jan-16 21:39:48

It's called food preparation and nutrition from next year I believe. The school I teach at refunds the student/parent on free school meals if they bring a receipt in. I was speaking to the food teacher at my school and she was saying the new syllabus includes leaning how to joint a chicken, but she'll demo that rather than make everyone buy a chicken! You really need to speak to the food teacher as different school's will have different ways of supporting students.

AugustRose Wed 20-Jan-16 23:17:08

We are not entitled to free school meals despite being on low income unfortunately. When DD had a trip abroad the language teacher tried to help but without the free school meals their hands are tied.

GasLIghtShining Wed 20-Jan-16 23:43:57

August The sensible way would be for the school to purchase the ingredients and then charge the parent but the I expect it would then be nigh on impossible to get the money off some parents.

Actually what annoyed me as much as the cost of the ingredients was the ingredient list not appearing until the afternoon before. Like we have nothing else to do but traipse round Tesco at 10 o'clock at night.

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