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Triple/Double Science

(55 Posts)
user1498121176 Thu 22-Jun-17 09:57:43

Hello! Sorry about username - I'm ever so new.
My daughter's school has just announced that it will no longer be offering the triple science GCSE. She's about to enter year 10 and had thought she would be doing the triple.
The school says that it's to make sure that they get good grades and that 6th forms don't ask for triple and universities don't look at GCSE's. I'm not convinced by this at all. If a university is looking at offering a place to a student surely the one who has done the individual sciences will look better than those just doing a combined science. And I know that they do look at GCSEs as my bosses daughter couldn't do medicine because she didn't get an A* for chemistry GCSE.
However I'm well aware that education changes rapidly these days so my information may be outdated. So I guess does I would like to know your thoughts. Does it matter if they only do the double? Would it be harder to do the science A-Levels if they only do the double at GCSE? Do universities now not care about GCSEs?
Thank you so much!

ifonly4 Thu 22-Jun-17 10:39:17

My DD reluctantly did triple science (it wasn't her thing two years back) but is glad she did as she's had the opportunity to gain more knowledge and had chance to realise she enjoys biology.

A year or two ago, most subjects you'd just need a B in order to do an A level. My DD is changing schools for Sixth Form and they require an A in their chosen A levels subjects, I also know of another school with this requirement. Her present school have changed that to an A in languages and maths this year (obviously it'll be the new number grades in time).

I wonder if she'd done double if they'd be looking at even A* as they'd have had to put less work into their science subjects and therefore had more time to understand.

I'm not sure how universities will feel about this. It might be worth talking to her present school about their requirements for Sixth Form and even another couple of local ones she could consider to ensure she'd get in with double.

user1498121176 Thu 22-Jun-17 10:46:02

Thanks for replying. I think all the change is confusing and schools and FE don't really seem to know what's going on. I feel bad for these transitional students.
I will talk to the 6th forms, that's a good point. Her current school doesn't have a 6th form. And I suspect that the universities aren't thinking that far ahead. I might try calling a couple up though. You never know!

cantkeepawayforever Thu 22-Jun-17 11:18:42

Some years ago i looked into this. It will be a little out of date because of the new 9-1 system. However, at that point I found that:

- Doing double science at GCSE didn't seem to affect A-level results at the same school if they only offered double, because they taught from the starting point of the double science syllabus. Comparing A-level science take up and results from schools with similar cohorts who offered double / triple science respectively showed no significant difference. this will probably be even more so for the new science GCSEs because the double has more content than it did.

- Transferring from a school that did only double to a school or college where the majority of A-level science students had done triple was a disadvantage, though from taking to A-level science teachers at different schools, not an insuperable one for reasonably able students.

- Very selective universities (I contacted my old Oxbridge college) didn't care about double vs triple at GCSE if only double was offered. So they treated double from a double-only school as equivalent to the same grades in triple from a triple-offering school, but might look a little less favourably on someone who did double at a triple-offering school.

user1498121176 Fri 23-Jun-17 11:57:03

Thank you so much! That's helpful x

cantkeepawayforever Fri 23-Jun-17 12:04:42

I think in your position i would call the most likely sixth forms for their views - though they have not had the first 9-1 students arriving yet so will not necessarily have adjusted their thinking to take the fact that these courses will be harder (and maybe more schools opting for double science) than is currently the case.

I think the crucial questions to ask are:
- Currently, what % of your students doing one or more Science A-levels have done double award science GCSE?
- How do the A-level results of those who have high grades in double Science compare with those who have similar grades in triple science? (So e.g. A/A or above in double vs A/A/A in triple)

user1497480444 Fri 23-Jun-17 19:24:06

Doing double instead of triple does not limit anyone's future choices in any way at all.

TeenAndTween Fri 23-Jun-17 20:13:19


It doesn't limit the choice per se, but it may make A level sciences harder to achieve (especially if most others have done Triple), and lower A level grades would affect university options.

user1497480444 Fri 23-Jun-17 20:52:24

it really has absolutely no affect what so ever.

Blanketdog Fri 23-Jun-17 21:42:55

To catch up on one third of a GCSE course isn't that hard if you want to study it to A level - I mean you have to develop a self learning approach and if you can't take one unit on and go through it yourself it doesn't look good for your prospects.

Rosieposy4 Sat 24-Jun-17 10:00:56

It is no longer an extra discrete unit, and i think might be very hard for a child to identify which extra bits they need.
To be honest the new spec is so hard i am not that surprised, loads of stuff cascaded down from A level. Certainly for biology, looking at both the new specs for A level and GCSE i do not think there will be a substantial disadvantage to have only studied combined.
We always have a heap of students who have not done triple at A level as a couple of "feeder" schools don't offer it. At the end of the A level course you would not be able to pick out the combined and triple students based on results.

Blanketdog Sat 24-Jun-17 10:15:14

I bought the Triple science text books - while ds hadn't decided whether he wanted to do triple or double and it's pretty easy to figure out where double ends and triple starts - granted it's not just one discrete unit but the subsections at the end sometimes too - with the syllabus it's not impossible to work out . I know if ds decides to do A level science he'll put the extra work in. But for now with really poor science teaching (our school really struggle to recruit good STEM teachers), increased content and difficulty and no extra teaching time allocated - triple is too risky.

One of my friend's dd is doing the new Biology A level and is finding it an absolute nightmare...despite being a Triple A* student at GCSE, she is really struggling to understand what the questions are asking her for - even the teacher is confused, she knows her stuff but it's not helping.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 24-Jun-17 10:32:12

I don't think affects anything much either.

And I wonder, if this might be linked to school recruitment issues in science? Many schools cannot fully staff science departments with specialists at the Monet.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 24-Jun-17 10:33:03


Dunno what Impressionism has to do with anything smile

cantkeepawayforever Sat 24-Jun-17 11:00:42

Blanket, I don't know how recently you bought the textbooks?

My understanding is that the structure of the new 9-1 qualifications are different, in that previously it was like a layer cake: core science was 3 units, 1 for each subject, then 3 more for the second award for double, then a further 3 for the triple award.

Now, though double retains the same 'layer cake' structure, triple is a vertical pillar subject-based organisation, which is wholly separate from the double.

Blanketdog Sat 24-Jun-17 11:54:24

Can't I have the latest 9-1 GCSE versions of the text book for each separate subject and the cgp 9-1 version for combined - I have twins, so I needed 2 copies!

cantkeepawayforever Sat 24-Jun-17 12:02:26

Perfect! I just know that at points where there is a changeover between syllabi, it can get quite confusing with people giving advice / views based on the old syllabus mixed with those commenting on the new ones (witness Maths / English GCSE threads for current year 11s)!

OddBoots Sat 24-Jun-17 12:17:31

I don't know if it is the same for all exam boards but I know the new AQA science GCSE is formed in such a way that there is huge overlap between double and triple so schools can decide quite late into Y11 what exams to enter each student into.

Blanketdog Sat 24-Jun-17 13:03:27

And I think now the Russell group universities have stated quite plainly that combined science is acceptable, that it's the top 8 grades achieved that matters and doing more than that will not put you at any advantage one starts to wonder what the need for triple is unless you really want to pursue science. I want to encourage my kids to enjoy school, feel challenged etc but I also want them to have to have a good balance between education, sports, other interests and just some down time which they desperately need for good mental health.

cantkeepawayforever Sat 24-Jun-17 13:58:38

Exactly. Doing double science has enabled my DC's school to keep 5 GCSE option blocks (only compulsory subjects double science, maths, 2x English), and that relative freedom to do 2 languages, or 2 design subjects, or 2 humanities, or music / art / drama while still keeping a good range of future options open is not one i particularly want to sacrifice to triple Science. And I say this as a PhD scientist with a DD who may pursue Science - but may also pursue art, textile design, history or dance, all of which she excels at!

cantkeepawayforever Sat 24-Jun-17 14:00:00

DS has done 2 languages, 2 humanities and music plus double science and English / Maths - a really balanced base he has been able to take into his A-level choices.

Fifthtimelucky Sat 24-Jun-17 17:25:04

My children's school was not keen on them doing science A levels unless they had done triple science, on the grounds that there was a lot to catch up on. My recollection is that they were less worried about in relation to biology, and would give children extra reading to do over the summer holiday, but thought it was more difficult to catch up on the missed chemistry and physics.

I suspect the issue was less about whether the individual children could cope, and more about how to pitch teaching in the 6th form if most of the class had done triple science and a few hadn't. Far easier for the teacher if everyone has covered the same material before they start.

It may be different with the new style GCSEs as they should be harder and therefore less of a gap between GCSE and A level.

mumsneedwine Sat 24-Jun-17 17:43:16

I tell students to only do triple if they love science and there is nothing else they'd rather do. Don't drop a loved subject just for triple. And I'm a science teacher !!
Have a medic daughter who did double science and did A level chemistry and biology and she took about a month to catch up.

dandeliondelilah Sat 24-Jun-17 18:02:26

The new 9-1 GCSE Science Curriculum is a lot more demanding than that for the old A-G GCSE.
Many outstanding and very selective schools I work with (I work in education but not as a teacher) have decided to timetable extra lesson time to cover the ground for new GCSE, or reduce the % of kids offered triple science because the new exam is deemed a lot harder. Science teachers are overwhelmed by the amount of extra ground they now need to cover. This is probably behind your school's decision.

mumsneedwine Sat 24-Jun-17 18:48:48

We have always timetabled triple extra lessons and only let the more able do it. The new exams are harder (with stupid mark schemes) but we've kept to the same principles and somehow are further ahead in teaching year 10 than normal. Think we were so scared to be behind we've worked overtime. So going to have lots of time for revision which is great

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