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Are students disadvantaged by choosing double award science over triple?

(48 Posts)
Sara121 Thu 04-Feb-16 12:36:30

Hi.

My daughter is in the process of choosing her GCSEs. She would be very capable of doing the three sciences individually however would prefer to choose core plus additional so that she can do an extra humanity subject as at this point she has no idea what she wants to do. We are concerned that should she decide to go down the science route for A level, her lack of triple science at GCSE may work against her if she decides to apply to a Russell Group university. Officially this shouldn't be a problem but informally I have heard that at certain universities it would work against her. Does anyone have any experience they could share? thanks.

grumpysquash Thu 04-Feb-16 13:02:08

Where I live, sixth form entrance is very competitive, with one very excellent state 6th form taking the best students. The teaching staff recommend that if there is any chance that a student will want to do science A levels, they should do triple science, as double does not cover the breath of the syllabus and does not prepare them as well. Also, the applicants all get ranked based on performance and double science ranks lower than triple. So for us it could make the difference between getting in and not.

On the other hand, if your school has a 6th form, and DD wants to stay there, and if they are happy to teach A level science after double GSCE, then I think it's not a problem.

FWIW, by the time they do Uni entrance, they will have predicted grades, so double/triple at GSCE is less relevant so long as the grades are decent.

PurpleDaisies Thu 04-Feb-16 13:04:00

The short answer is no not at all. Universities do not discriminate on the basis of double science instead of triple bdcause not all schools offer it.

PurpleDaisies Thu 04-Feb-16 13:05:45

I did three science a levels and went to a Russell group uni with double award science. There is a bit of catch up at the beginning of a level but by Christmas there's no difference between double and triple science students.

BertrandRussell Thu 04-Feb-16 13:10:00

It would be outrageous and discriminatory if it did.

Micah Thu 04-Feb-16 13:12:43

Blimey Russell Group really have done a number on marketing haven't they?

[misses point]

balletgirlmum Thu 04-Feb-16 13:50:49

I emailed the head of chemistry at dss's academically selective school to ask whether dd (who currently attends a different more arts focuses school) could apply for their 6th form studying a level biology/chemistry if she only had double science GCSE.

He said it would be no problem whatsoever.

teacherwith2kids Thu 04-Feb-16 13:54:58

Ballet, smiled at that. Did exactly the same to my old Oxbridge college, to ask whether DS would be disadvantaged by having taken only double.

They said no problem at all, whether for Science or other courses, and were happy to give a breakdown of students who had done either - genuinely didn't seem to matter. The school is perfectly happy with double as a basis for any science A-level, they are used to teaching from that basis.

For DS it was a 2 humanities + 2 languages + 2 sciences + 1 practical subject (music) decision vs having to skew his choices sciencewards.

Leeds2 Thu 04-Feb-16 14:03:59

At my DD's school, they said there was no problem studying A Level sciences after having done double science GSCE, just that they might have a bit of catching up to do in the first term.

Sara121 Thu 04-Feb-16 14:14:23

Thanks for your responses. There is competition locally for the top 6th forms and I have already discovered that for one at least she wouldn't currently get in to study science even if she got the best possible double grades. One Russell Group university rep also confirmed the same would be true at degree level regardless of A level grades - there's just too much competition. Other universities have said they would give equal opportunity to double awards students but I'm not sure if they are outwardly just toeing the equal ops line. So thanks to those of you who have confirmed that it is possible. Are these all recent experiences?

On balance we will probably go along with the double awards choice. She enjoys humanities far more at the moment and I'd hate to limit her options now when she is still so young. Also I guess the new grading system may change things quite a bit; the increased granularity of the top grades will no doubt help with student selection. So if she were to love science over the next couple of years and achieve 2 grade 9s, she may find herself in a good position.

PurpleDaisies Thu 04-Feb-16 14:16:51

Which university was it? That really isn't right. Look on the websites for Oxford and Cambridge medicine degrees-they don't require triple. Whoever's telling you that is plain wrk g.

balletgirlmum Thu 04-Feb-16 14:17:54

My experience was 2 weeks ago. Dd is currently year 9.

PurpleDaisies Thu 04-Feb-16 14:18:30

Imoff the top of my head I've had four students with double science go to universities to study science degrees (at least two were Russell group-I can't remember about the others).

PurpleDaisies Thu 04-Feb-16 14:18:51

That's last year and the year before.

notagiraffe Thu 04-Feb-16 14:23:09

It's tricky though isn't it? If she ends up loving languages and wanting to study them at uni but only got the chance to do one due to triple science, that would be just as much of a limitation. DSs school insist on triple science and I wish they didn't. DS2 has a humanities and languages brain and would far rather do an extra language but can't fit it in.

disquisitiones Thu 04-Feb-16 14:25:22

One Russell Group university rep also confirmed the same would be true at degree level regardless of A level grades - there's just too much competition.

Which one? Because it sounds like utter rubbish (and I am a STEM academic at a RG).

Some schools don't even offer triple science so universities couldn't insist on triple science without excluding lots of students. And quite a lot of RG science courses are not very over-subscribed anyhow, as science is relatively unpopular in the UK - many courses enter clearing, and with the demographics shifting over the next few years there will probably be even less competition for university places.

For very over-subscribed courses such as medicine small differences can affect whether you get an interview, but I would be astonished if double versus triple science was ever a factor.

BertrandRussell Thu 04-Feb-16 15:19:11

"There is competition locally for the top 6th forms and I have already discovered that for one at least she wouldn't currently get in to study science even if she got the best possible double grades. One Russell Group university rep also confirmed the same would be true at degree level regardless of A level grades - there's just too much competition"

If true, this should be challenged. It is discriminatory.

grumpysquash Thu 04-Feb-16 15:33:59

Bertrand

Agreed, it is discriminatory, but the sixth form admissions tutor would probably argue that discriminate is exactly what they are trying to do, so that they get the 'best' students.

Our 6th form does some kind of ranking, along the lines of taking 10 GCSEs, converting grades into points (10 for A*, 9 for A etc). But there is also some weighting or bias towards the subjects you want to do (so that if you got all A* for science and maths, you wouldn't be held back by a C in geography).

They have about 5000 applications for 1200 places.

I would have thought that A*s for double science would be better than all Bs in triple. But in this particular case, you need all As in your proposed subjects anyway, or no chance of a place.

Suspect it's easier to get into Uni than this college!

PurpleDaisies Thu 04-Feb-16 15:37:23

Agreed, it is discriminatory, but the sixth form admissions tutor would probably argue that discriminate is exactly what they are trying to do, so that they get the 'best' students.

If they are discriminating against students who were not able to choose triple science because their schools don't offer it that can't be legal. Which sixth form is it?

BertrandRussell Thu 04-Feb-16 15:39:10

"Agreed, it is discriminatory, but the sixth form admissions tutor would probably argue that discriminate is exactly what they are trying to do, so that they get the 'best' students"

But they are discrimination against candidates who have not had the opportunity to do triple award- who are disproportionately those from schools in disadvantaged and challenging areas.

disquisitiones Thu 04-Feb-16 15:44:24

They have about 5000 applications for 1200 places.

But how many offers do they make? Typically people apply for more than one sixth form and can receive several offers, which inflates the number of applications.

I find it hard to believe any (state) sixth form college will be in position to turn down a student with 9s in double science, just because it's not triple. There just won't be that many students coming in with 9s, so they will be using this as a filter as well.

teacherwith2kids Thu 04-Feb-16 15:47:38

Grumpy, the others are right. There are several circumstances in which a pupil might do double science:

- They have freely chosen to do double, in a school that offers triple.

- They have not been allowed to do triple, in a school that only offers triple to top sets.

- They attend a school that only offers double.

In the first case, it would not be discrimination, because the student could have done triple but chose not to. In the third case, it is discriminatory, because the student could not have done triple even if they wanted to - and as Beerty says, the schools that don't offer triple are often those from more challenging areas.

teacherwith2kids Thu 04-Feb-16 15:48:25

Beerty??? Sorry, BertrandRussell!

EricNorthmanSucks Thu 04-Feb-16 15:48:32

But they do it none the less.

Like it or lump it, sone sixth forms will not accept anyone onto science A levels without triple.

Do unless a school can be absolutely certain that none of their pupils will want to study ska science A level at one of those sixth firms then it is they who are harming their pupils.

teacherwith2kids Thu 04-Feb-16 15:49:38

Grumpy,

If triple science is a freely available option in EVERY feeder school to the sixth form, then there would not be discrimination. But that is unlikely to be the case in a 1,200 intake.

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