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GCSE options

(27 Posts)
Figure17a Thu 26-Jan-17 11:15:04

DS2 has to decide in a couple of weeks.

Maths, English Language and Literature plus double science are compulsory and school have decreed that all students will follow ebacc so they have to choose a language and a humanity.

So, he has to name 6, in order of priority and will be allocated 4 (as far as poss the top 4) one of which must be a language plus at least one of History and Geography.

If he had free choice he'd do triple science (which counts as one option in addition to compulsory science) geography, computer science and engineering (offered as btec)

As he has to do a language and hasn't done very well in French so far (he's very science and maths orientated) he's considering Mandarin. That's offered as either a double or single option to allow extra teaching time.

So if he takes Mandarin as a double option, then triple science and Geography, he doesn't get any lighter non ebacc choices at all.

He's a set 2/3 boy except in science and I'm worried this very academic programme will be too much for him. It also seems a shame for him not to do the subjects he's genuinely interested in.

Should I steer him away from mandarin (in which case he'd have to do french, which he hates) be suggesting single mandarin to allow another option, or should I be trying to get the school to allow him to drop the language altogether?.

For a child who's unlikely to be applying to Oxbridge, does ebacc even matter? I have a suspicion it's in the school's interest re league tables etc more than it's in the student's interest?

Figure17a Thu 26-Jan-17 16:55:09


Leeds2 Thu 26-Jan-17 18:24:10

A friend's son (now at Cambridge reading natural science, so a bright lad!) took Mandarin from Year 9 to GCSE. He found it very hard, but this seemed to be mainly because many of the pupils in his class spoke Mandarin at home so were at an obvious advantage. Seemed a bit unfair to me!

On a more practical level, I think it would be quite hard to get up to GCSE standard in just two years. He may be keener to learn it than French, which would help, but I imagine it would be very difficult for him. I would steer him towards French although I would probably also see if the school would let him drop a language altogether. Do you know if anyone in the year above him was allowed to do this?

My own view is that Ebacc doesn't matter for the student but may for the school if they are concentrating on league tables. Maybe tell them that he won't get the Ebacc anyway f he takes a language and fails (suggest not saying this to DS of fear of demotivating him!).

PossumInAPearTree Thu 26-Jan-17 18:28:17

I would argue against the language. It makes no difference to the child even though teachers will say he will never get into a Russell Group uni, etc. It's all bollocks.

Dds school sneakily have two different option forms, the more academic kids get given one which looks like language is a must. And without publicising it the less academic kids get a form where they they don't have to pick a language and tr

PossumInAPearTree Thu 26-Jan-17 18:29:26

Cont from previous........triple science isn't an option.

I had to argue for dd to be given the less academic option sheet.

lljkk Thu 26-Jan-17 18:35:15

Since he hates French, I'd give Mandarin a chance.
I'm not sure I understand all your other choices, sorry. He still gets to do engineering, triple & computing which he likes, right?

Figure17a Thu 26-Jan-17 18:44:57

No, lljkk, sorry, I did try to be clear!

He gets four option subjects.For all but the brightest students Mandarin will count as two options (to allow extra lessons) and if he does triple science that will use up an option choice. He then has to do geography or history, which leaves no choices left for Engineering or Computer Science.

This is the first year they've made a language compulsory Leeds.

Tweasels Thu 26-Jan-17 18:53:27

Why does he hate French? My concern would be that he just doesn't enjoy languages in which case Mandarin isn't going to be much better and he has to start afresh and do more of it. If he ends up hating it, it's going to be a pretty miserable two years.

My advice would be to tolerate French. No the Ebacc won't matter unless he's really academic but if the school are insisting - like it or not he has a greater chance of success at GCSE with a subject he's more familiar with. And do computer science. I'm not sure about engineering, it won't lead to anything and won't count towards the entry requirements to post 16 learning unless he chooses to do L3 engineering.

FuzzyWizard Thu 26-Jan-17 19:07:10

Is he Year 8 or year 9? If the latter then the school may budge on the language. If he's year 8 then that is a different kettle of fish as that is the year group that by government decree all have to do the EBacc and the school don't really have any choice in the matter.

Figure17a Thu 26-Jan-17 19:14:04

I think the French thing is just that languages are not his thing, so there's no reason to expect he'd enjoy mandarin either really, but he fancies trying it if he has to do a language.

We realise engineering isn't really of value as a qualification but might offer a bit of a break from all the academic subjects with some practical work. DS is veering towards CS anyway though

Figure17a Thu 26-Jan-17 19:15:18

He's yr9

ExitPursuedBySpartacus Thu 26-Jan-17 19:18:30

I'd argue against the language. DD didn't take a language. Well she did, but it was Latin which hardly counts as MFL

lljkk Thu 26-Jan-17 21:23:40

Gotcha, in that case I can see why you'd want to ditch language & get 2 choices he can excel at, instead. Best of luck smile.

Bensyster Thu 26-Jan-17 21:30:45

No University insists on a language - UCL want a GSCE C but will allow you to do a language unit while there instead.
I see very little point in studying a language you hate. The EBacc is a school performance measure - the Universities don't recognise it.

lljkk Fri 27-Jan-17 10:12:15

Our school still talks at length about EBacc. It's confusing when all I read about on MN now is Progress 8 & our school never mentions P-8.

At the GCSE talk the guy said that KCL required a language... I protested out loud about that, but heyho. DS is doing ok in French so a reasonable choice for him, anyway. We struggled with some of the other choices. Bound to struggle no matter when DS chose. Am another one wishing there were more math teachers & statistics could be offered.

ifonly4 Fri 27-Jan-17 10:22:28

He needs to go and speak to the school himself and explains how he feels/what he's thinking. My DD's friend did this herself and didn't continue with languages.

Bensyster Fri 27-Jan-17 12:55:37

Our school mentioned the Ebacc and kept mentioning it but never once mentioned that Universities didn't recognise it - you would have thought the very current "Informed choices" booklet written by the Russell Group Universities would have been a good resource to point parents/pupils to, to help them plan GSCE choices with one eye towards A level requirements and University entrance requirements. I felt slightly mislead.

SallyGinnamon Fri 27-Jan-17 13:02:37

I'd be wary of the Mandarin. DS did it and got A* but it was very hard. At his school only the best linguists were able to do it.

Evergreen777 Fri 27-Jan-17 14:29:04

My DS was pushed by his school into doing a language because of the Ebacc thing - and told a load of lies about how he would need it for uni angry

He took it, and then discovered a lot of others had been let off. And then had loads of problems with poor teaching, teachers leaving, etc and was completely failing by the end of Year 10, and they eventually relented and let him drop (by then it was looking unlikely he'd get a C anyway, so wouldn't have helped their statistics to keep him on the course).

I really wish I'd pushed harder to let him drop it at the end of Year 9. If they don't enjoy learning a language it would take a really good teacher to get them up to a good level. I wouldn't go for Mandarin either - learning any language in just two years is hard, and if he's not much enjoying French, I wouldn't have thought he'd find it any easier.

Worth pushing the school on what's really best for DS, rather than their Ebacc stats.

sendsummer Sat 28-Jan-17 01:57:29

Mandarin requires a lot of rote learning and repetitive drawing of characters. If your DS is happy to keep on top of that then fine but I am guessing from what you say it will be a struggle. If there is no negotiation for the MFL stick to French which at least gives him another subject slot.

Figure17a Sat 28-Jan-17 06:54:30

Thank you for all your views. I am coming to the conclusion that the school are a disgrace for pushing chikdren down this route when it's only in the school's interest and possibly/probably against the interests of the children, although appreciate it's the"system" that causes it.

I think, actually, rote learning of characters might suit him better than French but Computer Science/Engineering/Product design would interest him more (and he'd have a better chance of passing)

The teaching of Mandarin bothers me too. It's actually taught by a science teacher who happens to be Chinese, but if she left, I can't imagine a Mandarin teacher is easy to replace. Mind you, I wonder how they're going to staff the languages depts in schools anyway, if all of a sudden everyone has to do a language. As I understand it MFL teachers are already hard to recruit.

So, how to deal with the school....

Figure17a Sat 28-Jan-17 07:04:27

Benstyer, I've had a look at the Informed Choices booklet, thinking that it might support my argument, but it seems to be about A level choices. Have I missed something?

Evergreen777 Sat 28-Jan-17 11:40:10

It only helps the school's stats in your DS is likely to get at least a C. If he lacks interest and natural flair, you could try arguing with them that he'd be better off not doing it. I would guess they'll already be making exceptions for lower ability kids.

Bensyster Sat 28-Jan-17 14:05:07

Figure look under "Pre-16 qualifications and university entry" it starts on page 22.

ErrolTheDragon Sat 28-Jan-17 14:34:19

If he had free choice he'd do triple science (which counts as one option in addition to compulsory science) geography, computer science and engineering (offered as btec)

Its highly unlikely he would be able to do another subject instead of a language, they won't timetable to allow it. So imo, as what he'd like to do sounds good but he can't choose all those, best not to spend two options on the mandarin (which he may not be good at even with the extra time), and do french instead of either the engineering or the CS. It might not be wise to do both of those anyway because (I think) they both have significant coursework, which can be very time consuming.

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