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Call to the hive mind - is it possible to be flexible with GCSEs?

(14 Posts)
Scout63 Tue 13-Sep-16 08:59:26

Does anyone have any experience of schools offering a flexible GCSE curriculum? My 15yo daughter missed several months of Y10 due to a crisis in her mental health (anxiety, depression, panic attacks which intensified to the point where she just couldn't cope any more and became suicidal). She is now at the beginning of Y11 and regarding the mountain she has to climb if she wants to achieve the exam grades she wants and is capable of. She has dropped a couple of subjects to make the load more manageable, and the teachers at her large comp have responded in various ways to the challenge in front of her. The pastoral team HOY and Head of KS have been outstandingly supportive and kind. Overworked subject teachers variable. Some have kept in touch with her through her months off and as a result she has kept her confidence in their subjects; some have told her to teach herself; some are telling her it doesn't matter how hard she works she can only get average grades. I feel there must be an imaginative response which will allow her to thrive again, but our school is not known for imaginative responses so I may have to suggest some myself. Hence this call out to the hive mind. Has anyone had any experience of flexible GCSEs over the last few years of school? I'd rather she took longer and did better than stick slavishly to the same timetable as her peers if it does her more good in the long run. I'm wondering if in Art for example she could be taught in her existing class but to an exam timetable in Y12? Or other ideas?

lacebell10 Tue 13-Sep-16 09:23:59

I'd start with talking to local college and their offering. They will offer courses at various levels. It would be an idea to start talking to their disability officer anyway if there is a chance she might opt for it for year 12 as they can let you know what counselling, mentoring is available.

lacebell10 Tue 13-Sep-16 09:29:51

Sorry missed some out to say ..... Colleges can often offer a wider range of courses that are suitable for not having 8 GCSE'S grade C plus. Often their courses level 3 require 5 a to c GCSE'S or level 2 5 at a lower grade. I'd look at what she wants to achieve and go backwards.
She may qualify under the Equality Act if you need to get heavy wit some teachers.

TheSecondOfHerName Tue 13-Sep-16 10:40:14

DS1 was ill from the end of Y8 to the middle of Y11. The school allowed him to drop from 11 subjects to 8, so he could use the free periods to work independently and try to catch up with topics he'd missed. They also offered some 1-1 sessions with specialist subject LSAs in some subjects. He worked steadily from the February of Y11 onwards to catch up as much as he could.

He did not get the grades that he was heading towards before his illness, but he did get enough to meet the entry requirements to get into the sixth form and study the A-level subjects he wanted.

TheSecondOfHerName Tue 13-Sep-16 10:43:27

If there are any subjects where she is less confident, there may be a level one certificate that she could sit instead of the GCSE. I think she should put her focus into Maths and English, as those are the ones she'll have to retake if her grade isn't high enough.

yeOldeTrout Tue 13-Sep-16 11:06:50

You could go private, maybe. Many 6th form colleges offer catchup GCSEs, taking them in yr12 effectively. What the 6th forms offer tend to only be the most basic GCSEs, the ones they most need: double science, English + Math & maybe a few other subjects. Nothing intensive like Art.

EatonGate Tue 13-Sep-16 14:55:58

I missed most of y10 due to illness too and was able to drop down to 7 subjects in y11 when everyone else was doing 10 or 11 (I just did English, English lit, Maths, Science, Spanish, RS, History).

One thing my school did which was helpful was relaxed the coursework requirements - most students did a number of pieces and just had their best marks put forward - I did the bare minimum (which meant, for example, no Biology c/w).

If she is doing a language and struggling, it's quite common for people to do a GCSE in their AS year, so putting that off until next year could ease the pressure further

Scout63 Tue 13-Sep-16 21:34:36

Thanks everyone. Some good thoughts here. I think we will probably be exploring a combination of fewer subjects and perhaps taking longer over some of them. Life is long, even if it doesn't feel that way at 15...

Gmbk Tue 13-Sep-16 21:45:36

Very difficult to organise in the current climate as GCSEs are going through huge reform. For example she will sit the "new" GCSEs in English and Maths next summer. However all of her other courses won't be examined under the new criteria until 2018/19. This means she could study year 11 art this year, but if she took the final exam in 2018 it would be very different to 2017.

She should focus on English and Maths. I don't think you or her can expect and further teacher time for this, she will have to independently study and use resources she is given.

I second the idea of colleges to "mop up" any subjects she hasn't taken this year and wants to get GCSES in.

Longlost10 Tue 13-Sep-16 22:47:46

how much did you study independently when she was off school?

Longlost10 Tue 13-Sep-16 22:48:44

if you need to get heavy wit some teachers

erm, what?

Scout63 Tue 13-Sep-16 23:12:08

We tried hard to help her keep studying independently while she was out of school, but depression is a bitch and for a large stretch of time she was unable to concentrate on work or to motivate herself while getting "back to normal" seemed beyond her. One of her teachers went above and beyond and kept her in touch with the work of the class through weekly emails and homework which she took in and marked. We had a maths tutor come twice a week and so she is not as far behind as she might have been. We worked on history together and after a period of time she found herself able to work at art again. I had hoped she would be able to use schoolwork to help herself re-engage or as a distraction, but the truth is if she had been well enough to work and keep up out of school she'd most likely have been well enough to be in. Things are a little better now and she's stronger, willing and able to work again, but she feels she has a mountain to climb by next June to catch up on work missed and keep up with everything new.

ChablisTyrant Tue 13-Sep-16 23:18:30

The school may not like this, but I'd focus on getting the best possible grade in just 5 or 6 subjects. I interviewed for a Russell group uni for years and we regularly accepted students with only 5 GCSEs due to unusual circumstances.

Looking into FE college options is also a good idea.

Runningtokeepstill Wed 14-Sep-16 08:53:13

Ds3 missed most of secondary school due to a chronic pain condition. Yes, like your dd he worked at home but brain fog and some very difficult family circumstances meant this wasn't always successful. He had to join a new school towards the end of year 10 (after being out of school for 18 months). We had to appeal to get in as the school the LA offered thought he could catch up and do 13 GCSE's, even though the pain condition was ongoing. The school he went to was much more sensible and recommended a reduced load.

The new school let him do 6 GCSE's and use free periods to study. Not all teachers were supportive in helping him catch up, especially when he had a major blip and was off again for months BUT... he ended up taking 5 GCSE's and passing at C+ grades including maths and English so he could go to college. However, we'd got an agreement that they'd take him with 4 passes for level 3 courses if needed as we had supporting evidence that he was more capable than his results would show.

The biggest problem at this time was his feeling that if he didn't do everything at the same age as his peers then he'd somehow failed. He's got over this now.

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