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GCSEs - is 8 enough?

(85 Posts)
trsv Tue 28-Feb-17 10:29:13

My DD's state school is allowing only 8 GCSEs to be made in Year 9 (East Midlands if it matters).

Compulsory GCSEs are maths, English language, English literature, double or triple science - so this leaves my daughter with only 2 more GCSEs to choose from as she's taking triple science.

Since EBacc is recommended and it requires to have one humanities GCSE and one foreign language GCSE, this effectively means she has to choose French (the language she studies) and Geography or History.
She says she wants to do both humanities subjects and wanted to do BPE as well - but not enough GCSE slots for this.
We discussed she could do BPE in Year 10, but it cannot be done as the school only allows for 8 GCSEs to be chosen.

The school won't accept more GCSE applications unless under exceptional circumstances. I understand they're coming from offering good support for 8 GCSE subjects so students who are not excelling academically can also reach their potential, but this leaves brighter children disadvantaged - or am I being too much if a Tiger mum?

What are our options - a mix of GCSEs and iGCSEs? Do I have any case to try and persuade the school to offer additional GCSE just because my daughter wants to do it?

At the end of the day I guess eight is just about enough since universities are looking at the strongest 8 - but I'm just not happy with not being given a chance for those who feel they can do more to try and achieve it.

Any ideas or thoughts are appreciated.

Sixisthemagicnumber Tue 28-Feb-17 10:36:43

It is likely the school have timetabled it so that everyone does 8 so i can't imagine that making a request for your dd to do additional subjects will be allowed. Unthinking is disgraceful that they are only doing 8 though, it leaves no room for choice really. Are they defienetly counting English literature as two subjects as my Sons school just count English and English lit as one subject and the study the two elements together (but obviously have separate exams).

trsv Tue 28-Feb-17 10:44:05

They do count them as separate GCSEs, Sixisthemagicnumber sad
It was clearly marked in the GCSE choices booklet and confirmed at the choices evening.

Kimlek Tue 28-Feb-17 10:46:13

Have they always offered 8 GCSEs or have they recently reduced the number in light of them becoming more difficult?
Also, what is BPE pls?
One thing I found out recently is that each school sends in the years results to UCAS who then give the universities a 'context' to your child's results. So if a school offers 10 GCSEs but your child does fewer it could be unfavourable. Whereas if your school offers 8 and your child achieves high grades in all 8 (which I'm guessing is likely as able to focus on fewer) then the uni will view this favourably. The issue is more about keeping her options open for further study e.g. A levels etc. I'm not sure what BPE is but if it's something she wants to do to A level then I think you got a could case if they can timetable it in or she can do after school?

Sixisthemagicnumber Tue 28-Feb-17 10:48:36

sad even in my day at my rubbish school we had to do 9 GCSEs and there was only single or double science on offer which left more flexibility for other choices. A minimum of 10 GCSEs seems to be the norm nowadays. Doing only 8 doesn't even allow for the child doing more than one language. I would speak to the school sooner rather Than later before timetables are set in stone. Did the school only do 8 last year too?

AlexanderHamilton Tue 28-Feb-17 10:50:27

I personally don't think 8 is enough as it doesn't give a safety net.

From looking at 6th form requirements most require at least 8 good passes. Taking 9 not only gives more breadth in terms of being able to take an arts/tech subject but gives leewa in case one subject goes badly wrong for any reason.

Both my children's schools (1 private selective, 1 vocational none academically selective) offer 9 GCSE's.

TigerMa Tue 28-Feb-17 10:52:14

They have reduced the number this year - I believe they offered 10+ until last year.
They are following the new curriculum with the new progress 8 implemented.

BPE stands for Beliefs and philosophy - sorry I thought this is what it is commonly referred to everywhere.

With English, maths and triple science I am guessing she has most of her A levels and uni options opened to her, but it just leaves no room for choice sad

AlexanderHamilton Tue 28-Feb-17 10:55:10

Both my children's schools class RE/Philosophy as a humanities subject even though it strictly isn't for ebacc. It's dd's favourite subject. She chose it instead of history or geography. If your dd wants to do it I'd tell her forget ebacc which is meaningless anyway.

TigerMa Tue 28-Feb-17 10:59:01

I am also thinking there may be other things that came into play for the school's decision to offer only 8 GCSEs. They were rated as 'requires improvement' by Ofsted in 2013 and have been fighting since to gain back their 'good' rating. They are have reasonably strong Sixth form and reasonable GCSE performance, but with so many restructures on administrative level as one would expect with an underperforming school I am guessing they are just taking the easier route - supporting the students with only 8 GCSEs thus securing better performance, rather then offering more and having to source out additional support so performance is still good.

TigerMa Tue 28-Feb-17 11:12:36

AlexanderHamilton I've inquired with the BPE teacher during the options evening and she confirmed her subject is not classed as humanities confused
Even if it did, there is no slot for it - DD gets to choose only two subjects, when she wants to choose 3 to 4 more. If it was up to her, on top of the 5 compulsory she would choose history, geography, beliefs and philosophy, food preparation and possibly drama. Narrowing them down to only 2 was really hard.

I realise since I come from a different education background where we were pushed to do as much as humanely possible, I may be a bit of an over-achiever, but I honestly think only 8 GCSEs are at the children's disadvantage.

AlexanderHamilton Tue 28-Feb-17 11:23:06

My dd is taking English Lang, English Lit, Maths, Triple Science, French, RS & Music. It's a good mix for her though she would have liked to do Geography but ultimately chose triple science.

At ds's school they have to take English, maths, double or triple science, a language, & then one out of either history, geography, RS or classics. If they chose triple science they get 1 further option, if double 2 options.

I think that more than 9/10 is too and spreads them too thinly (the new maths & science GCSE's are really hard).

It figures that your dd's school is required improvement. Unfortunately your dd is bearing the brunt of this to the detriment of a broad education.

AlexanderHamilton Tue 28-Feb-17 11:24:44

Just a thought - as your dd seems very humanities inclined why doesn't she do double not triple science to give her an extra option?

Freddorika Tue 28-Feb-17 11:25:23

Don't bother with triple science.

TigerMa Tue 28-Feb-17 11:32:02

DD and I thought triple science would be better for her given her current wants for future profession. Not yet 100% what she wants to do (no wonder, given I'm 38 and I still haven't figured it all out!), but the path to all her current desires is basically science + maths. Both the career advisor and the science teacher advised the best route would be triple science. This doesn't mean if she chose double she wouldn't still achieve what she wants one day, it may be harder though.

If the school firmly refuses additional GCSE, is iGSCE something we should consider or is it going to be too hard to mix GCSEs with iGCSEs?

AlexanderHamilton Tue 28-Feb-17 11:34:25

Do you mean online self-study for an igcse? I guess that depends on how self motivated your dd is.

AlexanderHamilton Tue 28-Feb-17 11:35:49

If her desires are science & maths then she has to realise she can't do everything & she has to start to specialise.

I do think she should be allowed one further option though.

TigerMa Tue 28-Feb-17 11:38:57

Yes sorry, I should have specified - iGCSE as self-study subject. It is not offered by her school, but there is an examination centre an hour or so away, so in theory it could be done.
I'm not entirely sure how iGCSEs work for self-study though and whether it is worth the money and effort.

gleegeek Tue 28-Feb-17 11:45:57

Could it be your school is struggling to recruit well qualified staff and have had to pare down the offering to ensure good teaching? I know our school are desperately recruiting science and maths teachers but it's proving really difficult. Also the new gcses sound a big step up, I suspect your school are not alone in only offering 8...

AlexanderHamilton Tue 28-Feb-17 11:46:30

Costs about £350 plus entry fees for an online/correspondence type course.

TigerMa Tue 28-Feb-17 11:50:50

gleegeek you may be right. I know they had trouble with keeping their staff in English dept and also Maths, don't know about science, but there was no head of Drama for more than a year...

The school is under new management now and became part of a trust that helped other schools to become rated good; unfortunately until this happens, we have to manage with what we're given and I am not sure what is best for my child under the circumstances.

reup Tue 28-Feb-17 11:56:43

They gave us 9 choices at my son's school or 4 really after the compulsory 2 English, maths and 2 science.

Why are you so keen for the ebaac? Or is the school insisting? It was a ridiculous thing devised by Gove.

My son doesn't want to do mfl and would prefer geography and history and that's what he's doing. Universities don't judge on the ebaac - just the subjects and grades.

TigerMa Tue 28-Feb-17 12:11:17

My daughter wants to do French. In my not so humble opinion after 2,5 years of learning French in school and always be praised for it I still speak it better than her and I've never in my life learned the bloody language too smile
But in general I am fan of people learning at least one foreign language, so if she wants to do it I'll support her gladly.
I'm not sure Ebacc matters as much as they try to push it, judging from other discussions on MN re ebacc.

Freddorika Tue 28-Feb-17 12:13:48

if she already wants to do science and maths at A level then tell her to concentrate bloody hard on getting a high grade at Maths and Sciences GCSE

the jump is HUGE

it doesn't really matter what she does for the other two in that case.

TigerMa Tue 28-Feb-17 12:19:36

Thanks, Freddorika!
Yes, she has to do A levels in maths and science if she is going to pursue any of her current choices for future profession. You think there's no need for 9-10 GCSEs then?

Sorry if my questions are somewhat daft. As I am a product of a very different educational system, I am not always sure what's best for my child in this educational system despite all the research and reading.

MaQueen Tue 28-Feb-17 12:19:42

Sounds to me like the school are prioritising the needs of the many, by sabotaging the needs of the (academically very able) few. Understandable, but pretty unfair.

I really don't think 8 GCSEs is many at all, especially as your DD will be up against pupils with 11+.

At my DDs' grammar (also East Midlands) they all take 11 GCSEs (triple science and RE are mandatory), though DD2 will take 12 because she is top set for maths so has to take an additional Further Maths GCSE, too.

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