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DS worried he has chosen the wrong GCSE subjects

(13 Posts)
Neverjoketodogs Sun 26-Jun-16 17:17:00

My DS is coming to the end of year 10 and is worried that he has made the wrong subject choices for his GCSEs. His school encouraged him to take triple science as he is in top set and he opted for computer science thinking he would enjoy it and it would be more useful than ICT. He is not enjoying these subjects and is struggling a bit in chemistry, physics and computer science. He is also doing German (and struggling), history and geography plus maths and English obviously.

Halfway through the year he took an aptitude test to help him identify which careers might suit him and he came out strong in art/design type careers such as interior design, architecture, graphic design, advertising etc. This appears to have been a bit of an epiphany as prior to this he was bored and uninspired at school. He is now excited about this path and wishes he had done art GCSE. He worried that not doing art will hold him back especially as he has decided he wants to do graphic design after GCSEs.

I an unsure how to advise him as he is now halfway through his GCSE courses so I don't think he should switch subjects but on the other hand I want him to stay focused and engaged at school. He also wants to drop to double science but again I don't know what he should do the best.

Any advice greatly appreciated.

TeenAndTween Sun 26-Jun-16 17:42:26

I think there is no way he would be able to switch subjects, so he should get that out of his mind. He is well over half way through as subjects finish actual teaching by Easter y11 at the latest, if not by the Feb half term.

Is he doing 'accelerated' triple science (ie in the same hours as double)?
If so then he may be able to switch sets back down to double which would mean he can lose the hardest third of each of the sciences.

You need to research where he would do A levels (school or college), and ask them now about Art A level and associated subjects without any Art/Design GCSEs. They may want a portfolio of work to permit this. If so, by finding out this side of the summer holidays, he would be able to work on this over the summer as relaxation (and see whether he was really interested).

Why is he not taking any art/design at GCSE? Did he discount them as not enjoyable (which maybe indicates that it isn't the way to go), or was it more that you/he/the school guided him towards the strong traditional academic subjects without taking interests sufficiently to account?

(Architecture needs strong maths and physics as well as creativeness, and is very difficult to get in to I believe).

bojorojo Sun 26-Jun-16 18:07:01

The best architecture courses, and those where graduates are more likely to get employment, are competitive to get into, but others are not. There are also architectural technicians who do not require such high A level grades. Doing Art is better preparation for some of the courses/careers you mention, so is there any way he could join an art club? I agree changing to art now may be difficult but it would depend on how the course is structured at his school and how much work has been done in Y10'towards the portfolio. Obviously technique is another issue. Seems odd he was not keen on art earlier and you nay need to consider how talented he is.

I tend to think that art gets a bad press on MN due to the fact it can be a lot of work. However, doing a subject you like is more satisfying than doing triple science if this is not needed. Drop to double if he can. I think you need to research pathways to his career choices and see which is best. It may be A levels, it may be that more practical courses would be better so he could possibly catch up. Check it all out ASAP.

Neverjoketodogs Sun 26-Jun-16 20:30:04

He has always enjoyed art but didn't choose it as an option because he didn't think he would be good enough (although I assume he would get better if taught well?) and to be honest neither DH or I encouraged him in this direction as we both have a scientific/engineering background. His school also didn't suggest he do art (perhaps because he isn't good enough?) and at the time he hadn't really given his future career much thought.

I think we will approach the school about his science and ask that he drop to the double award as he is feeling the pressure and he really doesn't think he wants to carry on with any of the science subjects after GCSE. I don't think he particularly wants to do architecture, he has been talking more along the lines of graphic design. The local college does a BTEC in graphic design but you need art GCSE to get onto the course.

I think it is a good idea for him to research whether there is a local art course he could join (maybe a Saturday club?) and this may help him decide whether he really has the aptitude and interest to follow this path.

His other thought was to do GCSE art alongside A levels but I don't know if this will be enough to get him onto a graphic design degree course if this is the route he wants to go down. More research is clearly needed....

VoleSnuffle Sun 26-Jun-16 22:10:34

The Russell Group show you how to reverse engineer your degree course.

www.russellgroup.ac.uk/for-students/school-and-college-in-the-uk/subject-choices-at-school-and-college/

Scroll to the bottom, download the PDF and Art is under The Artist on page 32 and then Art & Design on page 36.

Hope this helps.

clary Sun 26-Jun-16 22:18:04

My advice is first off to talk to school - esp about the move to double science. How does he do science? Is it an extra class (eg twilight), an option, or just taught faster (which is what my DD does). If the latter then switching to double should slow down the pace and make it a bit easier.

You won't be able to change subjects now. But I wouldn't have thought not doing art GCSE would hold back from a graphic design career - would have thought computing (tho I am not an expert on that!) would be as useful there.

lacebell10 Sun 26-Jun-16 22:55:50

Graphic design is done a lot on computers these days. Rather than worry about art gcse, concentrate about getting a portfolio together. Use a variety of different mediums including photography and computer aided designs. A good art based course will always take a good portfolio over a paper grade. Take holiday courses and enjoy it.

bojorojo Sun 26-Jun-16 23:01:39

As far as I can see, Graphic Design degrees require a portfolio and these are art based. Therefore he is going to be at a serious disadvantage. One way of getting back on track may be investigating the Btec route or an Art Foundation Course after A levels. The issue will now be getting on the post 16 course he needs. I think asking admissions at colleges is the only way forward.

I still think arty people know they are arty! They are just good at it. Although, excellent teaching helps as my DD found out with A level. Also, it is easily possible to do A level photography without a GCSE. Might this be an alternative?

Neverjoketodogs Mon 27-Jun-16 07:09:39

Thank you for the link vole I will get DS to look at it this evening.

He enjoys drawing and sometimes uses his spare time doing mainly pencil drawings but perhaps he could expand this to using other mediums and get his own portfolio together.

It seems as though all is not lost if this is really the way he wants to go so that's reassuring.

Thanks all.

catslife Mon 27-Jun-16 10:19:42

Hi there my dd has been offered a place on BTEC level 3 Graphic Design next year without GCSE Art. However she is taking DT Product Design and ICT in Y11. They are looking for a Creative subject (preferably Art) at GCSE and being good at computers so would suggest keeping the Computer Science going for now. I think they do consider other candidates with a suitable portfolio but there is an option of a BTEC level 2 course for those who show aptitude but don't meet the entry requirements for level 3.

bojorojo Mon 27-Jun-16 14:41:40

May I just say, that he really cannot just get his own portfolio together unless he really understands what is required. You may not realise that students often use the whole of a Foundation course to get a portfolio together for an Art type degree and it is a lot of work. My DD did it whilst doing Art, Photography and Busiess studies A levels and it was seriously hard work because the universities do not always want the same thing, or have it presented in the same way. You must have a wide variety of work and ideas to call upon. Pencil drawings with a bit added on really will not cut it. Students have to present finished work with research and notes, sketch books and ideas. They must also discuss their portfolio in detail at interviews.

In the circumstances, catslife has given you the only realistic way forward.

catslife Mon 27-Jun-16 15:05:01

Also need to add that the level 2 BTEC course isn't full-time and can be done alongside other A level course(s) or GCSE resits (if needed for either English or Maths).

chocolateworshipper Mon 27-Jun-16 16:57:39

I doubt he can take up a new GCSE, but he may be able to drop something in order to better focus on the remaining subjects. This what my DD did and it really helped her. Do talk to the school

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