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GCSE options for Year 8 – desperately need advice!

(14 Posts)
hampshiremum321 Sat 18-Feb-17 12:01:03

My DD is in the process of choosing her GCSE options. She is in Year 8 – her school follow a 3 year GCSE. English/Maths/Science compulsory as normal, and they are required to take either a humanity or a MFL in one of their choice blocks – she has chosen Geography. A MFL isn’t compulsory although “highly advised”.
She wants to take Art as well as DT Textiles and would be devastated if she couldn’t do one of these. I have relented as she feels a real passion for these.
We are stuck on the 4th subject. Her French teacher has basically said that she would struggle to achieve a C at GCSE level. DD has no real interest in learning French which is also part of the problem. She came home the other day saying she “might” be interested in learning Italian (!) as it seemed easier, however, she would be starting from scratch – but if she was at least interested in learning the language, unlike French, she might put in more effort and do okay?
Then there is Music. She is Grade 2 Cello, however, her sight reading is almost non existent, even after doing it for some years. She was heavily coached before the exam and still missed a pass in sight reading by a point. However, she did outstanding in her pieces and particularly in aural. She has a very good ear for music and I will often hear her playing pieces on the Cello or even the keyboard by ear. Her music teacher seems pleased with her.
She has also shown an interest in Computer Science. She is not particularly academic though and is average at best at Maths, so I worry she would struggle. Both her father and myself have studied and worked in IT and know programming so would be easily able to help her!
So the choice is between a language, music or computer science.
Any advice?
Sorry I have been rambling on!

golfbuggy Sat 18-Feb-17 12:10:50

I wouldn't start another language if she doesn't enjoy the one she's already doing!!

She sounds very similarly musically to my DS (also Year 8) and his music teacher has said he has no concerns about GCSE music.

Personally I'd speak to Computer Science teacher about whether s/he feels your DD is able to do Computer Science - I know DS's teacher was very clear at parents evening if he felt DC were up to Computer Science (or should focus on BTEC IT). Other than that I'd say go with what she enjoys ... Does she know what she wants to do longer term?

SayNoToCarrots Sat 18-Feb-17 12:15:15

I think I would forget a language. They are all taught in a similar way, and if she would struggle for a C in French it's not just because she doesn't like that particular language. Also, I have GCSEs in French and German and they are not particularly useful unless I'm looking for directions to their town hall.

With the music, is her Sight Reading poor because she struggles to read music? Because that might improve with lots of practice. Also, the fact that she seems to have an innate talent is a positive.

As for the computer science, perhaps you could find out the exam board and download the specification / a past paper to see how much maths is involved. The fact that you have experience with IT is a positive too.

Somerville Sat 18-Feb-17 12:16:56

I think music, art and textiles would be a lot of ongoing creative work, and potentially quite a distraction from revising her core subjects.

Read through the syllabus for whichever exam board her school uses for computer science with her to see if the topics appeal. You two being able to help her a lot with that (and presumably not so with Italian?!) sounds good.

butterfly990 Sat 18-Feb-17 12:31:45

Our school said not to do a language if you haven't already been studying it in year 7 & 8.

My DD's prospective school (she attends middle school so waiting for a place for yr 9), offer Information and Creative Technology

"- To inspire and enthuse learners to become technology-savvy producers of products and empower them to play an active role in the digital sector, rather than being simply consumers of digital content.  This is a tailor-made course to meet the needs of today’s creative industries, the qualification covers graphics design, computer game production, web development, and multimedia design such as audio and video. It gives learners the opportunity to gain a broad understanding of the Information Technology sector and the creative industries.  To explore the fundamentals of technology and gain the practical skills, knowledge and understanding to design, make and review digital products.

The course is ideal for students who want the opportunity to be creative with technology and enjoy creating high quality IT products. "

The Headmaster said that the Computer Science GCSE was about coding and unless you had a high ability in Maths it would not be a good choice. The school also would be assessing the compatibility of the applicants to the course.

I like the idea of the creative IT course as even if she doesn't become a web designer etc. in the future it is still teaching her valuable transferable IT skills.

hampshiremum321 Sat 18-Feb-17 12:36:06

Thanks for all the feedback so far!
Long term - she is interested in the arty side of things (graphic/interior design), but also loves animals and considering being a veterinary nurse. (She already volunteers at an animal place once a month).
Yes - she struggles to read music and dislikes the "technical" side of music. Believe me we have tried very hard to get her competent at reading music but it has been an ongoing struggle. Her strong point is her good ear. I do worry though as it seems as if a lot of children choosing GCSE music are already at grade 4/5 on their instrument.....
We are having a parents evening after half term so will speak again to Computer Science and Music teachers. Would be useful if there was some sort of online aptitude test for computer science.
Thanks again

GU24Mum Sat 18-Feb-17 13:09:48

Could she take another humanity ie history or RE? I think RE is more of an ethics course and apparently the syllabus is good.

TeenAndTween Sun 19-Feb-17 17:18:10

I believe the best indicator of aptitude for computer science is maths.
Have they been doing any programming up to now, e.g. python? If so how has she got on with that?

Drama, History and RE all ruled out?

Check with music teacher the syllabus and need to sight read.

Triple science instead of double? (Or is she doing triple already)

KittyVonCatsington Sun 19-Feb-17 19:18:49

Computer Science teacher here-programming in the new 9-1 GCSE only takes up 20% of the course. Algorithms and Problem solving take up more. Your daughter will do well in the subject if she has good problem solving skills and does well at memorising a great deal of definitions and is good at the physical/logic side of Maths, not just Maths per se. In my honest opinion and experience, those who are good at Physics and Languages always excel at the subject, rather than just good at Maths. However, if a pupil genuinely wants to do the subject, I never prevent them and haven't got a U grade yet!!

Don't worry about poor sight reading in GCSE Music-they don't actually sight read in any part of the GCSE course.

My advice to parents is always for the student to choose subjects that they will enjoy studying for (in your case) three years. What matters are the grades she gets, not what subjects she does (bar the English and Maths)
Your daughter would do well to look at online past papers for the subjects she is considering and see if they entice her. If she wants to do Art and DT Textiles, can she do both?

lljkk Sun 19-Feb-17 19:29:27

DD is doing computing Sci GCSE right now, very little math so far & I don't think there was much math when DS did CSci GCSE either. More like lots of logic & lots of concepts, like what is DNS, ROM vs. RAM, industry vs. proprietary standards, etc.

What about graphic communication, catering, iMedia, Drama?

DS was going to do music GCSE.. he doesn't even play an instrument. I would look closely at what's required before ruling that one out. Just ask if sight reading is required.

TeenAndTween Sun 19-Feb-17 19:39:46

To clarify, I didn't mean it uses maths, just that those who are good at maths tend to have the kind of brain that is also good at software. But if only 20% is designing and programming it becomes less relevant I guess.

KittyVonCatsington Sun 19-Feb-17 20:18:27

Actually, the syllabus has changed drastically for the Computer Science 9-1 GCSE and there is a lot more regarding Mathematical constructs (I say constructs because no calculators are used in the course so it's more the methods as opposed to the Maths)-way more than there used to be, IIjkk -is your DD in Year 10 or Year 11?

They have added binary logical and arithmetic shifts, adding, multiplying and subtracting positive and negative binary digits, carrying out calculations using only assembly language (a low level language close to machine code) the binary logic gates have increased in complexity, all sorting algorithms now have to be displayed in it's equation form when writing pseudocode etc. All exam boards now have two exam papers instead of one. The second paper has been brought in to test problem solving skills; algorithms have to be constructed for a lot of logical mathematical problems (think Fibonacci, Pythagoras etc.) You don't have to be top set Maths to do them but you do have to be able to see patterns and write solutions in a series of steps.

As with all new 9-1 GCSE courses, Ofqual have insisted on more content and different styles of questioning.

lljkk Sun 19-Feb-17 20:30:36

DD will complete the CSci GCSE this yr. So... letter grade version?

She is Currently explaining search algorithms to me (funny, I had to learn all that stuff almost 30 yrs ago). Onto vocab... entity, attribute, field... Mock this week, can you tell?

KittyVonCatsington Sun 19-Feb-17 20:52:55

Love it! Hope she does really well in her Mock grin

Yes, she is still on the old syllabus, so only has one exam paper and lots of controlled assessment.

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