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I don't want my dd to do a modern foreign language GCSE, but the Head says many university admissions department require this now?

(55 Posts)
hmcAsWas Fri 06-May-16 13:51:18

Dyslexic dd is hard working and bright and gets good academic results (however she has to put in three times the effort of anyone else to get good scores given her poor working memory, processing issues etc)

She is doing just fine with the majority of her subjects but is hopeless at Spanish (she took Spanish rather than French on the advice that Spanish is 'easier'). She is in Y9 and has been learning Spanish for two years but what she knows you could write on the back of a postage stamp. She really has not one clue - and none of it sticks. Language acquisition is obviously going to be much, much harder for many students with dyslexia since mastering English is tricky enough!

Head advises that students should do one MFL GCSE because this is expected by the Admissions Departments of most good universities? Is that so? I've always understood English and Maths as the must haves - do we really need to factor in a Modern Foreign Language too? She is academic enough to go to university and I don't want to scupper her chances.

I'd like her to drop Spanish and do a different subject. Only with a herculean effort and private tuition would she have a hope in hell of passing it - and the work involved would detract from doing her other subjects justice.....

hmcAsWas Fri 06-May-16 13:57:40


coffeeisnectar Fri 06-May-16 13:58:33

What does your DD eventually hope to do in the future? I'd look at what's relevant so if it's anything medical based then biology or science rather than another language.

My own DD was pushed into doing geography as part of the baccalaureate which got dropped after a year of working towards it, so really not impressed that she had to drop a subject she wanted to do and be forced into doing something completely irrelevant to her.

FWIW my DD is doing A levels (and that's what counts for Uni entry) and she's doing double sports BTECH and AS maths. As longs as she gets the A* x2 on the sport and a B or C in maths she'll get her Uni place next year.

GCSEs are the base for A levels if that's the route she's going to take so get her to think about a) what she wants to be when she's finally finished education and then b) look at what she would need to do to achieve that via university and then c) pick the GCSE subjects she will want to expand on at A level.

Ionacat Fri 06-May-16 13:58:55

The head is wrong. Here's a link to the FAQ on the Russell group website.

If your daughter doesn't do a MFL it means she won't get the EBAC, it doesn't really mean anything for her, but will for the school performance measure.

lljkk Fri 06-May-16 14:00:53

bollocks to the Head.
Ask him to name one Uni that does this.
Imperial requires student to pass a language thingy class before can get a degree from them. Which is waived if they have already GCSE in a MFL.

Or a language course would probably require A-level (like if she actually studies French or German as main Uni degree).

Those are the closest to it being a reqt anywhere in UK.

hmcAsWas Fri 06-May-16 14:06:05

Not quite sure what she'll do.

She is very talented in sport and in art, plus she is good at science, history and reasonable at maths. She might end up doing Sports Science or she might end up doing something creative. At one point she was thinking about forensic science. I could see her doing environmental health or possibly a graduate entrant to the police (if they do that). An office based role would not suit her and neither would anything that involves a great deal of reading and sifting through complex written info (so not law or medicine for instance). Could go in many different directions.

Thanks for the helpful advice coffee and lonacat. Interesting that it counts for the school in their performance measures!

Her GCSE options are currently triple science, maths, English, history, Art, PE, RE, IM&T, Spanish. I'd like her to drop Spanish and do something like drama, music or photography.....

hmcAsWas Fri 06-May-16 14:06:40

I like your robust response lljkk!

educatingarti Fri 06-May-16 14:08:32

Suspect it is more about school league tables than university entrance.

hayita Fri 06-May-16 14:10:05

Imperial requires student to pass a language thingy class before can get a degree from them. Which is waived if they have already GCSE in a MFL.

UCL, not Imperial.

hmcAsWas Fri 06-May-16 14:11:05

This is encouraging. Will chat to dd tonight and confirm that she is happy with dropping Spanish (am pretty sure that she will be enormously relieved), and then will discuss with the Head.

ShanghaiDiva Fri 06-May-16 14:15:47

Back in the 1980s we were encouraged to take a MFL if planning to go to university, but as lljkk puts it this would now appear to be utter bollocks!
DH managed an E in O level French and this didn't in any way affect his university application smile
The only reason to take a MFL would be if you were planning to take the IB instead of A levels as a foreign language is compulsory.

hmcAsWas Fri 06-May-16 14:20:20

Pretty sure we'll go the A level route - thanks Shanghai

lljkk Fri 06-May-16 17:58:52

ta @ Hayita.

KleineDracheKokosnuss Fri 06-May-16 18:10:01

They had to drop that requirement (which I think only applied to GCSE) years ago because the students coming from the state sector generally didn't have access to the teaching needed and it wasn't compulsory at school so many bright kids were not taking languages and then getting tripped up later.

BoffinMum Fri 06-May-16 20:33:33

I work in universities and over the years I have done a fair bit of admissions work.

There are few if any GCSE requirements for universities because Britain is the only country that does exams at 16 and so most overseas students would not get into university if this was made a requirement.

Occasionally GCSEs are looked at in the case of a tie break for a place, or at Oxbridge they are looked at in conjunction with the average GCSE score for your school, to try to make things as fair as possible for those from deprived backgrounds. However it would technically be possible to get in with no GCSEs at all if you aced your A Levels and interviewed amazingly.

So they are not a requirement.

FWIW I think all kids should do a language, though.

cressetmama Fri 06-May-16 21:26:44

Some careers do demand an MFL, even at a low level like GCSE.

RandomMess Fri 06-May-16 21:30:56

The DDs school have FML as compulsory, can I challenge that and insist she doesn't have to do it? I was lead to believe it was NC that they continue sad

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 06-May-16 22:20:16

They had to drop that requirement (which I think only applied to GCSE) years ago because the students coming from the state sector generally didn't have access to the teaching needed and it wasn't compulsory at school so many bright kids were not taking languages and then getting tripped up later.

I'm don't think this is true. MFL was a compulsory GCSE subject up until 2004. If there was a requirement by university admissions to have an MFL, it was dropped before then. It certainly didn't exist when I applied in the late 90s. However, I'm not sure there has ever been that requirement.

As lljkk says, it's only UCL that ask and even they have a way round it. It's also perfectly possible to avoid UCL and apply to other RG unis. There's no reason why having no MFL GCSE should have an adverse affect on her future.

You might want to think about workload with art + photography though. They can both be quite time consuming. That might be something to consider if she will need to put extra effort into the academic subjects.

sashh Sat 07-May-16 03:31:35

Well if she isn't going to get a C at GCSE there is no point taking it even if universities did want it.

I'm dyslexic and had a similar situation but this was in the days of O Level and CSE and although I could get a CSE in French my art teacher always had a small group who did O Level in other years classes.

I just kept repeating that an O Level was better than a CSE.

The same (almost) applies here, an A grade in a different subject is better than a G in Spanish.

And now she has the advantage that the law is on her side in that the school have to make a 'reasonable adjustment' for her dyslexia.

HSMMaCM Sat 07-May-16 07:20:36

Pick something else for her. As a PP said, arts subjects have a lot of work, so adding drama to art and photography could be a heavy load. If you have a list of option blocks, just have another look at the choices.

hmcAsWas Sat 07-May-16 07:23:27

Which careers require a MFL Cressetmama?

hmcAsWas Sat 07-May-16 07:24:15

Exactly sashh - I can't see her achieving a C grade for Spanish. Not in this life!

RalphSteadmansEye Sat 07-May-16 07:27:10

Especially as a year 9 - she'll be taking the new, harder GCSE which is no longer just a test of memory but actually testing whether they've learned the language.

Bluelilies Sat 07-May-16 07:32:45

Ds's school did that to him. He took French, thinking he had no choice but then found that lots of others had managed to wriggle out of it. A year on it was going dreadfully. He hated it, wouldn't learn, couldn't learn. Poor and disrupted teaching didn't help, but the school finally admitted he was not on track to pass and after much pressure let him drop the subject at the end of year 10.

I very much wish we'd made more fuss at the stage you're at and not started it in the first place.

It has not affected his offers from sixth forms, and is not required by universities. It does affect the school's performance measures, but only if they get a C or above. Your best bet is probably too try to convince them she isn't, then they've no reason to push her to do it.

mercifulTehlu Sat 07-May-16 07:35:12

I'm an MFL teacher and, while I think that most kids really benefit from learning a foreign language, I do think that exceptions should be made for some students. All should get to start an MFL in year 7, so that they get to experience it, but those with a good reason for not continuing should be allowed to drop it after yr9 and focus on other things which would be more helpful.

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