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Do Oxbridge like to see a MFL at GCSE?

(58 Posts)
kitnkaboodle Mon 01-Feb-16 09:34:03

My son, Y9, is choosing options now. He's possible 'Oxbridge material' in Maths/Science/Tech as long as he keeps on the straight and narrow. His school are advising all top sets/kids with their eyes on university to take French as a GCSE option. DS does fine in French, is top set, but doesn't like it. With all the other subjects he's going to be doing, I can see him possibly getting 'only' a B in it (or new equivalent). For A levels he'll almost certainly be doing Maths and Sciences - currently has vague ambitions to be an engineer.

Does anyone know if Oxbridge actually care what subjects kids have at GCSE level, or whether they are only interested in their GCSE grades, or if, in fact, they don't look at GCSEs at all and are only interested in your prediction A level grades?

I took Oxbridge entrance over 30 years ago, and I know that then they required you to have a Science O-level. I didn't have one, but I had Geography, and that was allowed to count.

I'll post this in Further Education board as well - thanks!

OddBoots Mon 01-Feb-16 09:36:50

I don't know about Oxbridge but UCL certainly do and that is regarded as 'up there' with Oxbridge for some of the STEM degrees.

kitnkaboodle Mon 01-Feb-16 09:41:05

They are pushing French so hard that the only other options in that block to pick from are RE and ICT. Just wondering if an eventual B in French amidst all his STEM subjects would actually be preferable to an A* in ICT.

(I know the grading's going to be different, but I haven't quite got my head around it yet!)

OddBoots Mon 01-Feb-16 09:46:42

ICT (probably, you never know with this government) won't exist as a GCSE for current Y9 students, do you mean Computing?

kitnkaboodle Mon 01-Feb-16 09:49:10

Oops, yes, just checked. It's Computer Science. Is that more based on programming/coding?

senua Mon 01-Feb-16 09:57:42

currently has vague ambitions to be an engineer.

... but you never know. It's best to keep your options open and cover all bases. Don't go too narrow too soon.
Barring something major like dyslexia/dyspraxia/dyscalculia, an Oxbridge hopeful should be able to get the EBacc with no problems.

PotteringAlong Mon 01-Feb-16 09:59:38

Engineers work abroad too! i think Mfl would be a good plan.

kitnkaboodle Mon 01-Feb-16 10:04:37

A-ha .. so it's probably all about the EBacc ... there has been no overt mention of this, but it makes sense.

Is this something that universities actually look for in candidates? Or is it more something that earns brownie points for the school?? Rumour mill has it that the school are desperate to upgrade from Good to Outstanding and are pulling out all the stops ...

senua Mon 01-Feb-16 10:18:31

The EBaccc is just shorthand for 'good all-rounder, academically speaking'. Someone who is RG material ought to be able to get it. I'm sure that you can get on in the world without it but you will be competing against loads of others who have got it.

BertrandRussell Mon 01-Feb-16 10:21:42

Any potential Oxbridge candidate would have no problem at all getting at least an A for GCSE French.

YeOldeTrout Mon 01-Feb-16 10:55:30

UCL do not use MFL as part of their selection criteria; nobody does except actual language degrees.

MidLifeCrisis007 Mon 01-Feb-16 11:00:13

My DS is also in Yr 9 and also wants to give up French at the end of the year as he doesn't enjoy it (and my mother lives in France....grrr!). Oddly though he started Russian last term and is loving that - and doing very well in it too.

I also see our DS as Oxbridge material (probably a science subject too). The reason he seems to dislike French so much is that there are too many irregularities. Russian, meanwhile, just follows simple rules which he finds far more logical. And of course, Russian is far cooler......(?!)

PurpleDaisies Mon 01-Feb-16 11:03:08

YeOldeTrout UCL require students to either have a GCSE grade c in a mfl or to undertake a language course when they start studying there. They are the only university in the uk to do this (obviously apart from on language degrees!).

senua Mon 01-Feb-16 11:05:38

UCL do not use MFL as part of their selection criteria

They do and they don't.
"UCL encourages intercultural awareness in all its students, and considers experience of learning a foreign language a vital element of a broad and balanced education. UCL wishes to ensure that all of our graduates have had some experience of exploring another culture through language - but we are concerned to ensure that our admissions requirements do not disadvantage those who did not undertake language study to GCSE or above at school.
"UK students who do not have a GCSE grade C or equivalent in a foreign language (other than Ancient Greek, Biblical Hebrew or Latin) on admission to UCL will be required to acquire an equivalent level of language proficiency once they are enrolled with us."
Horse's mouth

ReallyTired Mon 01-Feb-16 11:12:31

I think its to early to know if a 14 year old boy is "Oxbridge material". You say he has "vague" ambitions to be an engineer, but there are whole host jobs out there that he may not have heard of. My son is the same age and flips between saying he wants to be a biologist or a computer programmer. We have an appointment with the careers teacher at his to school to see what careers combine a love a of biology and computer programming.

Rather than focussing on one or two universities, its worth thinking about your son's general education. Not doing an MFL narrows down the child education. The EBac was introduced to push students not to over specialise at too early an age.

You do have my sympathies as ds is pretty unimpressed with being forced to carry on with German and a humanity.

YeOldeTrout Mon 01-Feb-16 11:12:52

Those are NOT the same as "We give candidates extra points in our selection scoring if they have GCSE in MFL, and they will get offers before those of you who don't have MFL." It is Not Part of the Selection or Offers process what you already have or don't have in MFL.

What would score against would be if a candidate said "I don't have MFL GCSE and I refuse to take any MFL course."

ReallyTired Mon 01-Feb-16 11:14:53

I imagine that UCL do not demand a language GCSE as they do not want to make it impossible for highly moviated mature students to get a place. In the past not all children got the chance to an MFL for GCSE. Infact its still the case at my son's school that children who are deemed to have "special needs" do extra english instead of an MFL.

senua Mon 01-Feb-16 11:24:26

But why do things the difficult way Trout? It's much easier to do it at GCSE.
Besides which there is a difference, as UCL know, between "I haven't got MFL because my school didn't offer it" and "I haven't got MFL because I cba"

kitnkaboodle Mon 01-Feb-16 11:47:41

OK - thanks for advice. I'd still be interested in people's thoughts as to whether him getting French, but with a B grade, would look better than him having Computer Science (which will be yet another science/techy subject) with an A star

Yes, I know it sounds arsey describing him as 'Oxbridge material'. I guess I just mean that I can't see it being out of the question in the long term - he's a high flyer, that's all, so I don't want to rule out the possibility of doing Oxbridge entrance just because he doesn't have a MFL GCSE.

Reallytired - my DS would love to do German and would happily do it for the next two years. He is obsessed with all things Second World War at the moment (largely the technology) and has picked up quite a few German words as a result. I did German A-level and have enjoyed resurrecting it recently as he asks me what various words mean (and my German has lain dormant since 1982!). Sadly his school have never offered it. He'd also love Latin, I think (but does that not count, not being a 'M' FL??)

I did language A levels and my work now involves a foreign language, so I am by no means anti-language. It's just that French is a bore and a chore for him (not helped by his current teacher ..)

BertrandRussell Mon 01-Feb-16 11:50:57

Seriously- why do you think he's going to get a B?

ReallyTired Mon 01-Feb-16 11:53:30

It seems sad that it's not possible for him to learn German with a tutor outside school and do a GCSE in German as a private candidate. One hour a week with a tutor over two years should be enough for a bright boy. Or maybe he could do GCSE computer science as a private candidate.

I am currently looking into the possibility of my son doing GCSE music or drama outside school. It's not as impossible as you think.

YeOldeTrout Mon 01-Feb-16 11:57:06

Teens deserve time to grow up and not be penalised for being, well, kids. CBA kid at 13/14 may be a lot more motivated at 17+. So good that UCL gives them some time to mature.

eyebrowse Mon 01-Feb-16 11:58:27

If he is bright enough to go to Oxbridge could he do a German GCSE with a home tutor or using online materials? (I basically taught myself my language GCSE because our teacher was so terrible)

German might be more useful for engineering and teaching himself German could be something that would mark him out as interesting for Oxbridge application

TJEckleburg Mon 01-Feb-16 12:04:56

I'm sorry Bertrand but that's rubbish. My DD is in Y9, severely dyslexic but is already being encouraged to think of Oxbridge (and at a school that sends a large number of children there each year and got 94% A*/A at GCSE so do know what they are talking about). She's top set for everything except French, where her teacher has said that she is unlikely to get an A - laptop use has enabled her to overcome the problems of dyslexia in essay based subjects, but nothing has so far worked to enable her to retain foreign words for more than a few days. She will be starting a French IGCSE course, but we and school are open to the possibility that she will not do it in Y11, and do an EPQ instead. Not because a B looks particularly bad, but because the stress of spending lots of time on something she just cannot do isn't worth it. I happen to know a number of Oxbridge admissions tutors (though they are all science/maths based) and they have all assured me that lack of a MFL will not be a hindrance to getting in.

bojorojo Mon 01-Feb-16 12:05:11

If he gets 8 or 9 A* grades at GCSE and French at a B - they really will not be concerned. If the Computer Science A* is his 5th science/maths A* but he does not get an A* in English or a Humanity, then I think he may struggle anyway as most Oxbridge candidates have more than 5* at GCSE. The success rate of getting to Oxford with 5* GCSEs is 15%. As your chances increase with more A*s, it is inevitable that the most likely route to success is being an all rounder at GCSE. A levels are the time to specialise. I tend to agree that well educated people have an MFL or an ancient language at GCSE. It is better to tick as many boxes as possible when going in for something very very competitive.

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