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3 year GCSEs - talk to me about your / DCs' experiences

(19 Posts)
SalmonMaki Mon 18-Apr-16 09:02:33

Background info: my DC is in yr 8 of a highly selective grammar school (let's leave discussion of the "evils" of selective education for another thread).

School currently runs GCSEs in the usual 2 year period, from yr 10 to 11.

Another nearby grammar school is switching to GCSEs in yrs 9, 10 and 11. So there is now talk that we too might move over to 3 years for GCSEs.

Our nearest comprehensive schools in the area already do this too.

If parents are consulted in such a change, instinctively I would prefer our school to stick with 2 years. My reasoning is that I (and my DC too) would prefer as broad a range of subjects to be studied for as long as possible.

I don't agree that young kids in yr 8 should have to decide on GCSE subject choices, whether because of lack of experience or personal maturity (sometimes a personality clash with the teacher might put you off a subject, another year with a different teacher could change your opinion entirely).

And absolutely in our school (hoping to not sound too arrogant) these kids have already gone through a selection process (however faulty) that indicates their relative academic ability, they should all generally achieve well so why would they need an extra year to cover syllabi designed for 2 years?

As I understand it anyway, with some subjects like science and maths, they are already covering GCSE level topics before yr 10.

What has been your experience of 3 year GCSEs? What are the advantages for your kids? And disadvantages too?

lljkk Mon 18-Apr-16 10:01:20

You need to find out how your school is doing it. Is it because these kids are so high ability already they can take their time to really go over the new GCSEs (supposed to be so amazeball harder) and guarantee the best results? Sounds like the plan.

I have DC in both the 2yr & 3yr systems (different schools). I have a strong feeling the format how our schools (comps) do it is not what yours will do at their school (selective). I am fine with our experience of either system, btw.

mummytime Mon 18-Apr-16 10:39:01

My DDs daughter is doing this - the practise in each subject will be different. Some will start GCSE work immediately in September, in others they will continue with KS3 work for a while, and in one subject they will get an extra qualification in year 9.
Like you I'd prefer her to keep studying a broader curriculum for another year. But I know the changes to GCSE are introducing an awful lot more work (and designed for a different KS2 to the one my DD studied), so this is the best way her school has decided it can cope with the work load.

Personally I think our young people specialise far too young - but I can't afford the US school, and we're not about to emigrate, so I put up with it.

Notonaschoolnight Mon 18-Apr-16 11:00:22

I'm in Sunderland with a year 8 child and it's been a domino effect since Sept that most of the average comps in the city have decided to have their y8's choose their options now, not sure if this is the same in the surrounding areas of the NE. I was surprised when I first found out but as someone has mentioned with the changes in GCSEs it make sense

littledrummergirl Mon 18-Apr-16 13:25:59

The two of my dc who are doing gcse loved that they got to stop subjects they disliked/ weren't as good at, at the end of yr 8.
They are much happier studying subjects they enjoy.
It's been a positive experience for us.

OddBoots Mon 18-Apr-16 13:32:09

My DD's school has gone for a midway point where they have a 'mini option' in that they drop a couple of subjects at the end of Y8, they do the KS3 type stuff up to Feb half term then start GCSE work and then drop a couple more at the end of Y9 having had a taste of the GCSE work. This is the first year they have done it so I don't know how well it will work but it seems a reasonable compromise.

OddBoots Mon 18-Apr-16 13:33:13

Oh, and we have been assured that if they regret dropping something in the first round then they can opt back in to it (after an interview/meeting) during the second round.

bigTillyMint Mon 18-Apr-16 13:46:10

You need to find out from the school exactly what their plan is.

My DC's state comp does 3yr GCSEs. They also do about 13 GCSEs (or even 15 or more for the super, super bright) so there is still the opportunity to study a wide range of subjects. They have to do Ebac subjects and some compulsory for the school (RE, ICT, Citizenship) plus about 3 or 4 choices. They are able to drop subjects after Y9/10 if they really don't want to keep studying them and the school then gives them extra time in other subjects. They also take 2 of the GCSEs in Y10 which means they have a normal amount in Y11!

My summer-born DD did feel a bit panicked about choosing GCSEs in Y8 because she was an all-rounder and didn't know what to pick. But my DS was overjoyed to give up Art/Music/Drama at the end of Y8 and the teachers must have been over the moon to see the back of him!

SalmonMaki Mon 18-Apr-16 15:09:03

There's not been any suggestion of change for our year group (too late now in yr 8 to go through option choices, surely?!).

There's parents' evening soon, so I will make sure to ask about new GCSEs and workload impact etc.

Thanks for the insights, I'm bad with change and beginning to panic about the increased work / knowledge kids will need for the new GCSEs. And with so many schools in our area having opted for 3 years, I'm beginning to worry that we're going to suffer. I know it's only irrational panicking. They'll be fine, whatever happens! <<repeats mantra stylee>>

cricketballs Mon 18-Apr-16 16:31:16

As a school we are going to be starting this in September. Whilst I agree that it is a young age to make these decisions /drop subjects the new specs for GCSE are a lot harder and for subjects that are not taught at KS3 (business for example) it does give us a lot more time to teach that other NC subjects have always had during year 9. It will also allow teaching in more depth rather than skimming due to time constraints.

PonderingProsecco Mon 18-Apr-16 18:15:43

13-15 gcses sounds like rather a lot TillyMint!
Too many I think.....

bigTillyMint Mon 18-Apr-16 18:28:22

Yes! DD did 13 (her choice) and got good grades but I think she would have got even better grades had she only done 11 or 12.
DS is down for 13, but I'm happy for him to drop ICT so that would leave 10 in Y11 which is what many schools do.

PonderingProsecco Mon 18-Apr-16 18:47:45

A friend of mines dd did 12 and although did well my friend said glad school cutting down to 10 in time for younger dd. She said her dd1 grades would have been better if 10 not 12 and pressure too much.
She is now looking at cutting 4 A levels to 3 for similar reasons.....

JustRichmal Mon 18-Apr-16 18:57:12

Is it just me, or does this sound like a complete mess with schools not knowing whether to op for 2 or 3 year GCSEs? Has KS3 changed, or has it previously been 2 years of learning spread over 3?

pointythings Mon 18-Apr-16 19:34:45

My DD1 is doing the three-year GCSE (is in Yr10) and my DD2 will too (current yr 8). I really think it depends on the child - my DDs knew very early on what direction they wanted to go and saw subjects like music and DT and ICT as distractions. It has worked really well for DD1, she has really blossomed in the subjects she has chosen.

I can see it as being quite limiting for a lot of children, though. However, I don't think schools have much of a choice these days with so much pressure on performance and rigour and competing with other school systems in cultures which are nothing like ours. hmm

CheeseAndOnionWalkers Fri 22-Apr-16 07:51:39

I'm in an area with 3 year GCSE and the schools are OFSTED Outstanding.

With so many unknowns about the new GCSEs to be sat by current y9, y8 will benefit from the knowledge that teachers gain from their cohort. Teachers have been left in the dark by the government about how the new GCSEs will work and if the new exams are a shambles for current y10/9 then hopefully schools can sort things out by the time current y8 sit exams.

Chewbecca Fri 22-Apr-16 11:00:20

DS is in year 7 of a grammar school so no actual experience yet but I recently discovered that he will be choosing his options in Feb of yr 8 which was a surprise to me.

The head explained that whilst they are well loved regarded as a fantastic school, their GCSE results lag very slightly behind the other grammars locally & early option choosing is one of the actions they chose to address that. Personally I think the main reason for slightly lower results are more likely that this school's intake achieves, on average, very slightly lower 11+ scores on entry so it would be inevitable that the outcomes are very slightly lower, on average. The other schools also seem to push the children harder from the start, much more homework in yr7 which could widen the gap a little further.

Anyhow, I digress. Reading the options paperwork available, it seems they don't limit themselves too much from year 9, they actually keep on doing more subjecs than just their GCSE choices, and then make further choices in yr10. I think DS will choose his options very easily as he's very clear about what he enjoys/does not enjoy and he's looking forward to dropping his most hated subjects (art), adding in a subject that's not currently on the timetable (drama) and being able to spend more time on sciences than they do now.

So overall, having read the options paperwork DS's school issued this year, I decided it will be a good thing for DS & I'm pleased.

Badbadbunny Fri 22-Apr-16 12:45:49

At my son's school, they supposedly started their science GCSE course this year, in year 9. (All three sciences are compulsory to GCSE, so no choices). But, we've not actually noticed any difference in how they are taught, homework, etc. We thought that they'd raise the bar and expect more, but it's just not happened.

More worrying is that we were told at parents' evening that the subjects covered in year 9 wouldn't be returned to in years 10 or 11 except for maybe a bit of revision closer to the exams. They've basically taken some isolated sections of the syllabus and decided to do them early to get them out of the way. I can't imagine many pupils will remember much in two years' time and will virtually have to do it all again as part of their revision, rather than just a matter of reminding themselves.

I'd have thought they'd have been better doing a little bit of everything in year 9, i.e. the lower levels of all sections, and then returned to each section in year 10 to revise and take things higher, then again in year 11 to revise and finish off the sections. But, hey-ho, I'm not a teacher!!

It does worry me that, in Physics for example, they've done the "radioactivity" secion at the start of year 9, and that's it, never to be seen again until the final GCSE revision, 2 and a half years later!!

SalmonMaki Sat 23-Apr-16 18:03:08

Ok, managed to grab a brief chat with the Head, who shared my opinion of preferring kids to not have to choose or drop subjects at an earlier age (relief for me!)

Apparently the school has discussed it amongst themselves and decided for now to not pursue formally extending GCSEs to 3 years. Parents were not privy to the discussion.

So I guess that's that taken off my shoulders. I'll now begin fretting that 2 years won't be enough for the new, supposedly harder, syllabi grin Thanks for all the input everyone.

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