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Options in year 8 versus year 9

(48 Posts)
notnowbernadette Sat 22-Apr-17 10:54:21

I'm considering secondary schools for my dd and I've noticed that one of the key differences between local schools is that some choose GCSE options in year 8 and others in year 9. This means pupils could have no further lessons in subjects like geography beyond year 8. I cant help but feel Year 8 is particularly early especially for a child that struggles to settle into secondary school or is young in their year. I guess schools feel they need to do this to get good grades but I would be interested to know which approach you think is best.

portico Sat 22-Apr-17 10:59:43

I think it is too soon to choose options in Y8. Kids still have not explored subjects well enough to gauge their level of interest and competency for a subject. Even Y9 has to be done with caution. DS chose his options in Dec Y9, and prioritised remaining Y9 revision on GCSE subjects - which is unfair to other children and teachers.

I think options need to be broached in Spring term Y9, and confirmed after Y9 EOY exams - involving discussions among, chil, parents and teachers.

This is part of my wider rant about 3 year GCSEs. They should all be two year GCSEs. How on earth can you remember content more than years years ar back.

TeenAndTween Sat 22-Apr-17 11:48:01

I think y8 is too early too for subjects such as geography.

Our school does a mini-options going in to y9 which I think is OK. You pick your favourite 2 tech subjects and drop the others, or you can take up a second language in favour of one of the techs. I think you can also choose preferred performing arts. They say it doesn't prevent a child changing their mind for GCSE selections.

Nothing to stop them starting GCSE syllabus in y9 before options if desired to get through content (especially e.g. science where everyone has to do some science for GCSE).

AlexanderHamilton Sat 22-Apr-17 11:52:11

I think it's too soon. Dd loved history & geography but was unable to choose them for gcse as she chose French & RS instead. She really benefitted from studying them until Year 9. However she could have done with being able to drop art earlier to concentrate on music.

Ds is in year 8 & has just chose limited options. They keep 1 language & all humanities but get to choose between 1-3 arts subjects to keep or a second language. Proper gcse options are then taken at the end of Year 9.

AlexanderHamilton Sat 22-Apr-17 11:54:16

I should have said arts/tech. So he's chosen Home Ec, DT & Music & dropped art & textiles. He hasn't chosen a 2nd language.

CauliflowerSqueeze Sat 22-Apr-17 11:57:10

I think it's fine. Allows them more time to study the subjects they really want to for gcse.

Twinkie1 Sat 22-Apr-17 12:16:17

We took DD out of a school that chose options a year early. We thought, and have been proved right, that the kids were missing a year of subjects which were imperative to their education and that if the school couldn't get the results they needed teaching the GCSE syllabus in the time taken at other schools something was seriously wrong.

The school that chooses options early has gone right down in the league tables and the groundbreaking headmaster has scarpered!

notnowbernadette Sat 22-Apr-17 16:35:20

I'd be comfortable with small scale options in year 8 eg picking tech subjects, it's dropping what I would call core subjects such as humanities that I'm not so sure about. My gut feel is that schools that pick options in year 8 are prioritising league tables over a broad education but I'm not close enough to these reformed GCSE to know if schools have no other option.

Pinkandwhiteblossoms Sat 22-Apr-17 16:39:11

I think it is because sometimes some lessons like Art and Music can become nightmarish for the teachers.

TheSecondOfHerName Sat 22-Apr-17 16:41:32

DS1 dropped non-GCSE subjects at the end of Y9. DS2 (same school) dropped non-GCSE subjects at the end of Y8 and is doing a three-year KS4.

Having experienced both systems, I prefer the three-year KS4. It gives more focus to Y9, and the students seem more motivated, possibly because they have had some involvement in choosing their courses.

emochild Sat 22-Apr-17 16:53:34

Dd2 has just done her options (year 8) and spent the holidays moaning about the fact she had geography, art and computing homework as there is no point as she's not doing them at gcse

She's not chosen any tech subjects but other than that has a good mix

The school say it's to give more time for gcse content but I'm sure it's a behaviour management strategy

CauliflowerSqueeze Sat 22-Apr-17 16:59:53

It's far more expensive for schools to put students in option subjects for year 9, so those juggling difficult finances would be bearing this in mind, too.

Freshprincess Sat 22-Apr-17 17:12:38

we've just been through this with DS. I really think it's too early, honestly think they're still too immature to choose (friend is doing this, don't like the teacher, good tech is easy etc). Plus there's the mindset of 'well I'm not taking it so why bother?' Which I don't like.

I hadn't thought about it from a behaviour POV though. After watching DS's dramatic 'performance' at parents evening, him dropping it at the end of the year will be no great loss to the department.

BigDeskBob Sat 22-Apr-17 17:41:03

I don't think it should be a deal breaker. I was a bit sceptical when I first found out DC school pick options in year 8, but I can see advantages.
Much of my dd current timetable is spent doing subjects that most children will not take for GCSE and will probably not enjoy (art, drama, music, performing arts, it, the tech subjects ...). Instead of doing all of these subjects for an hour or two a week, it will be better for children to take one or two that they enjoy and can spend more time on. It must be better for teachers to have enthusiastic children in their classes.

At dd school, it's possible to take two languages and two humanities, so I don't think its given that children will miss out academically.

Also, the school have said its possible to change subjects through year 9, so mistakes can be rectified.

BelafonteRavenclaw Sat 22-Apr-17 17:46:09

I'm a teacher and my head recently suggested this as a possible idea for the future. I'm very interested to hear everyone's opinions as I can see pros/cons for both.

Acornantics Sat 22-Apr-17 18:01:10

DS has just picked options in yr 8 at , I don't see it as a disadvantage. I think him being able to focus on the core GCSE subjects and a selection (which only amounts to a language choice, humanities choice and one other in arts/IT etc) for three rather than two years is positive.

His school (in top 10% in country in terms of state school results) do an extra subject in Yr9 then drop it in Yrs 10 and 11.

ragged Sat 22-Apr-17 18:05:00

DC school have them choose in year 8. Has been fine. We were told that geography & history still compulsory in year 9.

Wh0Kn0wsWhereTheTimeGoes Sat 22-Apr-17 19:23:53

My DS's school make initial choices in year 8, essentially it allows them to drop a couple of subjects that they really haven't taken to, final GCSE options are made in year 9. I'm happy with it as he has no interest or aptitude in some subjects and it will make more time in his timetable for others.

bojorojo Sat 22-Apr-17 19:28:39

My nephew has chosen 3 options for yr 9 plus 3 sciences, Maths, Ethics, English Lit and English Lang. The school has historically struggled to get consistently good results and I think now that GCSEs are more demanding, they can see that the current Y10 will not be as good as expected. Therefore, doing fewer subjects over 3 years, starting with Y9 in September as a new policy, should boost results for subsequent years and result in better behaviour because those who are not interested are largely removed.

The other side is, I think that the brightest might get bored. They do not have the other subjects to stretch them intellectually and the education becomes pretty narrow, especially if choices are only 8 subjects. It is definitely aimed at the less bright child and boosting school results. However, I think university applicants should have to declare if they covered the syllabus in two years or one. Surely the brightest will cover the syllabus in two at the most academic schools but will be competing with children who have had the subjects drilled into them for three years.

I also think that 3 options cuts out a lot of general knowledge. Even if children are not doing a subject to exam level, a further year of a humanity, an art or a tech subject surely adds to the all-round education of a young person? We just seem to want the basics in this country, and not much more when children will only study some subjects to a reasonable depth for two years!

BigDeskBob Sat 22-Apr-17 20:28:34

I think the number of GCSE the children do is another factor to consider. Some schools seem to want 8, others 10 or 11.

RedSkyAtNight Sat 22-Apr-17 20:48:35

I suspect it may be too early if your DC is undecided, but for DS picking options in y8 was a godsend - there were several subjects he absolutely loathed and not having to study them any longer makes school so much more bearable. Plus if he had been forced to study them for another year, I really don't think he would have got anything out of them - education works best when the child actually wants to learn!

bojorojo Sat 22-Apr-17 22:12:46

Yes, Red, but why are children allowed to pick and choose aged 13? They are barely informed about the subjects. It is teaching them that they only have two years to do subjects they don't like and then can get out of doing them, so why bother to make an effort in the two years? It does not bode well for adult life when you, generally, have to do things you are not so keen on. It is rewarding poor effort, poor attitude and that if you "down tools" you will be rewarded by never having to do that subject again. It certainly does not help enthusiastic children who enjoy most subjects and certainly does not encourage overcoming any problems you may have with a subject. You don't bother and that is ok. You give up.

bojorojo Sat 22-Apr-17 22:14:37

In my earlier post I meant two years or three! Obviously!

HPFA Sun 23-Apr-17 07:17:16

DD chose to go to a school where they pick options in Year 8 - it was the one bit of the school I wasn't too keen on. However, now she's actually chosen I feel more positive. When she went into the school she had a liking for almost all her subjects, now she's much more certain about what she likes and doesn't like. Looking back on my own Year 9 I cannot think of any benefit I have gained from the extra year of Art, Music, Physics, German and DS that I did. Too soon to tell but I think the extra time focussing particularly on her weaker Maths and Science subjects will be helpful.

ragged Sun 23-Apr-17 08:37:54

I didn't find that DC slacked off in subjects from start of yr7... they couldn't know that early which ones they would do for GCSE. The choice is hard enough half way thru yr8. If they dissed a subject in yr7-8 it was b/c they hated it anyway, not b/c they could know whether they would continue at GCSE. DS will never do catering GCSE but he is going to try to put in a decent effort nevertheless on the last homework. DD found computing ridiculous, stupid, impossible in yr7, but is now doing well in it in yr10. They grow & change.

DS made initial & probably final option choices when age 12, actually. Fine for him. I am so looking forward to back of all creative subjects & homework (esp. catering). DS needs huge hand-holding to do their homework.

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