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GCSE options: what's more important - grade or subject?

(16 Posts)
LucasNorthsTwiglets Mon 08-Feb-16 18:20:51

We had our options evening the other night and it was quite confusing as every teacher was bigging up their subject and it was hard to get an unbiased view! DD will do English, maths, science, German, history and drama, which seems a fairly balanced lot to me. She has 3 choices left - I was thinking that geography would be a good subject to take as it's an academic subject and so might be viewed as more 'important' than something like Health & Social Care or Resistant Materials. But then I was told that it's easier to get a good grade in Resistant Materials compared to Geography... so is it better to have an academic subject at a lower grade or a 'soft option' at a higher grade? DD isn't really bothered about these further choices and she doesn't like one subject more than another.

Also, is Computing (not ICT) worthwhile if you aren't planning on a STEM career?

clary Mon 08-Feb-16 22:16:59

Jeez (assuming triple science) that's 12 GCSEs! Why do schools do this??

Anyway I agree that's a good selection already. The question is, would your DD get a better grade at resistant materials than geography?

Does she have to take so many? I would be bothered about the effect such a lot would have on her grades.

I would just let her take what she fancies - does she really not have any preference? Art over food tech?

Computing is going to be a good one to do but it is all about programming so I think you have to be able to do that. It's by no means an easy ride.

Madmog Tue 09-Feb-16 09:10:57

As said, she's already got a good balance. She might be more likely to succeed with something she enjoys - my DD chose what she thought she'd enjoy and is thoroughly enjoying Year 10 and putting far more time in than I'd like (because she's enjoying subjects and wants to do her best at them).

Does your DD have any idea what she'd like to do jobwise, ie, if she'd like to do nursing or something supportive or caring, then health and social would be good. Something practical then resistant materials. I think it's general that they need to achieve a GCSE B grade if they want to continue with an A level.

Are there really soft options?

mummytime Tue 09-Feb-16 09:34:35

Are you sure about 3 options left?
English is 2 GCSEs.
Science 2 or 3 GCSEs (do triple if you are heading towards STEM if possible).
Do they do RE GCSE? (DCs school do it on 1 lesson a week).
At my DC's school they then get 4 options, of which 3 would be taken by your choices of German, History and Drama - so only leaving one subject.

The local very high achieving selective Girls Private school - only do 9 GCSEs.

I would suggest your DD does whatever she is most interested in. If she enjoys resistant materials then it is a good subject - especially if she wants to do something like Engineering - and its not a soft subject. But she should choose what she is interested in. (My highly academic DD is even thinking of choosing Business Studies - I'm mainly concerned that she may find it a bit boring.)

bojorojo Tue 09-Feb-16 15:02:34

It is perfectly ok to do whatever subjects she wants. 12, if that is what she is doing, is too many especially as the new curriculum in some subjects is more demanding. 10 is normal.

Geography always seemed easier than History and she could look at another language to keep options open. Resistant Materials is a Technology so there is nothing wrong with this choice. There is nothing wrong with business studies either. Often young people are not au fair with the world of business from a more practical point of view, so I cannot see why anyone would be bored. Do Economics if Business Studies looks too practical. I think Business Studies gives a better understanding of how a business is run though. Quality, not quantity should be the mantra!

titchy Tue 09-Feb-16 15:21:59

For the first 8, subject more important. Anything beyond that, grade more important.

LucasNorthsTwiglets Wed 10-Feb-16 17:34:36

Well, it turns out that I can't read smile I re-read the letter and they only get to do 2 out of their 4 'non-compulsory' choices, meaning that she'll be taking 8 or 9 GCSEs, depending on whether she does double or triple science. Thanks so much for pointing this out to me, everyone! blush I would have picked up on it when we came to looking at the form properly but still - maybe I am the one who needs to go back to school to learn how to read forms properly smile

That makes it a lot easier then - drama is the only other subject she really wants to do so it's just one more to choose. In which case we're probably down to Geography, Food Tech or Resistant Materials. I'm thinking that Food Tech would be a good life skill but Geography is more academic.

Incidentally, is it normal for the school to decide whether a student does double or triple science? The science teacher told me that they all d o science and the teacher decides who is capable of triple - but from what I've read on MN it seems like the student usually has a choice?

LucasNorthsTwiglets Wed 10-Feb-16 17:37:21

If she enjoys resistant materials then it is a good subject - especially if she wants to do something like Engineering - and its not a soft subject.

It was the RM teacher who told me it was! Unless she was trying to drum up students for her course smile She said it's very easy to get a good grade and that there is hardly any writing to the course so there's not much revision or anything.

grumpysquash Wed 10-Feb-16 17:39:12

the triple science thing is very dependent on the school. At ours, the top two sets do triple, the lower two sets do double. The students don't get to choose.

PurpleDaisies Wed 10-Feb-16 17:41:34

Incidentally, is it normal for the school to decide whether a student does double or triple science?

It depends on the school. Some do triple in the same number of lessons as double so only the top sets will be allowed to do it. Others have triple as a free choice option and the kids can choose (usually as long as they're in a high enough set).

LucasNorthsTwiglets Wed 10-Feb-16 18:50:38

Ah, that makes sense - at DD's school the triple is done in the same number of lessons.

PurpleDaisies Wed 10-Feb-16 19:11:11

It's a real squeeze to fit it all in that way and unless the kids pick things up quickly they really get left behind and are better off doing double. There's actually no problem at a with having double award, even if you want to do sciences to a higher level.

snowymountaintops Wed 10-Feb-16 19:14:53

Our school decide who does triple science, they have to be in the top set for science already to be considered.

mummytime Wed 10-Feb-16 22:11:49

The RM teacher sounds awful - sorry but all tech and art subjects tend to involve a lot of writing etc. far more than a lot of students realise. There is a lot of design, choice of materials and explaining why those choices were made. Yes is not an essay subject, but a reluctant writer would have to understand it is still an academic subject with writing and exams. It is also one that (still I think) involves producing a portfolio, which means time keeping skills are built - as you need to keep up to date or suddenly have to put in a lot of extra hours to get everything in order.
There is also an exam, which although students can often see in advance, does mean they have to work through the production stages in a limited amount of time. (There may be another written paper too.)
Food Tech may not teach that much about "cooking" btw. Although it has got better than in a friends DD's day, when by the end - the whole family were utterly sick of Lasagne. As she had to keep cooking the same dish over and over, tweaking it a little to improve its nutritional and taste ratings.

At my DCs school the top 3 sets (well 6 actually) start triple, and then are tested at the end of year 9, with the new top 2 (4) sets doing triple. Everyone else does double. They do have students going from double to A'level Biology, not so much the other sciences. There is a bit of a jump, but it seems to be manageable.
At another school I know, you have to choose triple as one of your options.

Grikes Thu 11-Feb-16 04:37:33

I think you will find that most schools will give the option of triple science to the top two sets. We were told that if DD took triple science. That she will need to give up on a game period in year 10. To fit it all in. I think in most schools the compulsory subjects are:

English language
English literature
Triple/ double science
MFL (French / German or Spanish)
Then 3 choices
Which made us realize after the career fair that it doesn't really matter what they choose as long as they enjoy it.
DD took IDT as she was told it was easy, History and RS because she likes it.

To be honest 10 GCSE are more than enough. Doing anything above that is a waste of time.

mummytime Sat 13-Feb-16 15:15:59

To be honest 10 GCSE are more than enough. Doing anything above that is a waste of time.

I do have to disagree slightly, as my youngest will be doing 11, AND wants to do two more (Further Maths and Latin). But she will be easily able top cope without excess stress, and it's the only way she will be able to do Latin.

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