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Limited number GCSEs

(28 Posts)
Bonkus Wed 07-Feb-18 01:05:11

Relocating to the UK from the US and my DS is applying to a regular boarding school (not a crammer) that offers GCSEs in a year. The school is focused on ensuring that while the students get exposure to a broad curriculum the goal is really good grades in a limited number of core subjects. While they can study a few more subjects, the program recommends only 5 GCSEs. DS will likely stay on in the same school and proceed with either A levels or IB and the plan is to proceed to a UK university.

Appreciate hearing thoughts on the limited number GCSEs and if any potential implications.


FastWindow Wed 07-Feb-18 01:29:15

Well, how old is he? Normally you'd be 16/17 when you take GCSE over here, after two years of study

GeorgeHerbert Wed 07-Feb-18 07:01:08

5 sounds too low a number. By the time you have factored Maths, 2x English, a MFL and at least double science, that's 6. Most state schools in my area enter kids for between 8 and 10.
It might limit which A levels your ds can choose - e.g. big step up to science A levels unless students have triple science.

pipilangstrumpf Wed 07-Feb-18 07:04:39

That sounds too little imo. As Alevels are already so narrow in terms of only taking 4, I think it's important kids get a broad education until then.

Most take 10 GCSEs at our school and even with that, they've dropped some humanities for example

MaisyPops Wed 07-Feb-18 07:04:41

5 is low. We only entrr students for 5 GCSEs if they've spectacularly wasted KS4 due to poor attitude and behaviour (last ditch attempt to get them into college) or they have had long standing medical issues where thry need a lighter load.

Our core is 6-7 GCSEs depending on MFL entry. Then they get 3 option subjects.

8-10 would be standard

LIZS Wed 07-Feb-18 07:08:59

5 would limit the range of unis he could apply to. Presumably that is Englishx2, maths, double science which are really bare minimum. What destination do such leavers progress on to? What does he hope to do at uni?

brizzledrizzle Wed 07-Feb-18 07:14:58

5 is not enough, 8 would be a decent number imo.

AnotherNewt Wed 07-Feb-18 07:22:09

If it's the school I'm thinking of, then they will be studying more subjects. They have to do a minimum of 5 GCSEs then can pick from a range of other courses, including more GCSEs or other qualifications.

Does that sound as if we're talking about the same school?

If so, people are usually choosing it because of the liberal ethos, and so having a liberal exam policy (with non-standard qualifications on offer) does fit what the school is about.

TheSecondOfHerName Wed 07-Feb-18 07:26:56

If he is trying to do them in a year, then more than 5 or 6 would be tricky; I can't see how they would fit the content of 8 GCSEs into a one-year timetable unless he does ten-hour days.

sashh Wed 07-Feb-18 07:40:46

5 is the minimum to get in to college / uni but it will really narrow options for A Levels.

BUT if this school have done this before and there are options to study other subjects then might be a good option.

Another option might be to take GCSEs over 2 years, even if this is 'keeping him back'.

How old is your ds? Are you expats or US citizens returning? I ask because you will have different experiences of schooling. Has your ds spent any time in the English system (Scotland has a different system).

titchy Wed 07-Feb-18 08:08:47

Why do GCSEs in one year - why not two? They're two year courses and 5 will seriously limit his post-GCSE options.

TeenTimesTwo Wed 07-Feb-18 08:31:18

Will it really limit post-GCSE options if he has extenuating circumstances of coming from a different schooling system? (Genuine question).

Home Eders often do fewer GCSEs but still can go to 6th forms for A levels or whatever.

Maybe you need to contact the 6th forms in the area to see what their reaction would be to this situation.

LIZS Wed 07-Feb-18 09:02:16

Not necessarily but potentially especially in more competitive degrees. There is a dc in dd year who transferred from US with no gcse equivalent and is taking A levels. Alternatively op could look at the small number of UK schools offering IB throughout.

sashh Wed 07-Feb-18 10:18:48

Will it really limit post-GCSE options if he has extenuating circumstances of coming from a different schooling system? (Genuine question).

I taught a girl in VI form, she had come to Britain not knowing a word of English aged 14, at 16 she had 10 good GCSEs, but not English language, she got a D. This meant she had to take 3 A levels and GCSE English instead of an AS - few years ago.

I tried to advocate for her to a university, they would not budge.

Other than that the US system is roughly 2 years behind unless you are taking AP classes, school starts later and is broader based.

Teenmum60 Wed 07-Feb-18 10:43:17

She will need at least 6 subjects in order to do the IB - which is 3 subjects at higher level and 3 at standard level.

Soursprout Wed 07-Feb-18 12:43:33

Which 5 are they?

AlexanderHamilton Wed 07-Feb-18 12:55:40

Normally students would study 8/10 GCSE’s over 2-3 years.

Taking them in one year (which in reality is only two terms or 7 months by the time you’ve accounted for holidays) you would struggle to cover the syllabus for more than 5.

AlexanderHamilton Wed 07-Feb-18 12:57:21

I do know of Home educated children who only took 4/5 GCSE’s (due to cost & logistics) who went into A levels & university.

ems137 Wed 07-Feb-18 13:11:40

I've only got 5 GCSEs, nearly everyone in my school only had 4-7 GCSEs. Unless things have changed since then, most of my classmates went on to college and University

Bonkus Wed 07-Feb-18 13:19:57

This school have been offering this for a few years primarily for students like my DS coming in from another system. The recommendation is for students who go through that programme to proceed on to their IB programme or could do A Levels at the school. Our concern is how that may be received by universities. The other option is to continue with US system at one of the US schools in Surrey and get on the IB programme there. We would much rather get him back in the UK system though so that's our dilemma.

Soursprout Wed 07-Feb-18 13:41:04

I guess Limiting it to 5 does free up the timetable and give them enough time to cover the syllabus. Are they core subjects?

Teenmum60 Wed 07-Feb-18 13:42:07

Bonkus - not sure how old your DS is? Some Indie schools allow DC to fall back a yr so if they should be in say Yr 11 go back to Yr 10 and complete the full GCSE course and then continue their education. (There are a couple of girls in my DD's year that have done this for various reasons). Not sure whether this is a consideration?

Caddyshack Wed 07-Feb-18 13:44:06

Question - why not simply have your DS enter Year 10? Not because he's behind, but because it's a more natural entry point if there is space in that year. It would offer some breathing room to settle back into the UK system, and he would wind up with a broader range of GCSEs.

I've had children in both U.S. curriculum and British schools here, so I'm pretty familiar with both systems. Independent schools can be open to taking kids our of their year, so if DC is open to it, it might be a good solution and ease the transition.

ZBIsabella Wed 07-Feb-18 13:56:55

It sounds very risky to me. I would expect 8. My sons took 9. it would be much better to spend 2 years at it and do 8 - 10.
You would expect to see English lit and lang and maths, a language eg French, 2 or 3 sciences - that is 7 already probably plus say history and geography and then mine did something extra like music and plenty might do RE or drama as their extra.

Astronotus Wed 07-Feb-18 14:02:03

Now that AS level grades will not be available to universities (AS are being dropped), they will pay much more attention to GCSE grades as that will be the only information they have from applicants before they receive their A level grades. Good to very good UK universities generally like to see a higher number of GCSEs taken in one sitting (one exam period). Even if your DS has a minimal idea of what he would like to study at university it would be well worth you ringing a few university admission departments to ask how many GCSEs they would like to see and whether 5 in one sitting is too small. They may have specific information (not in their prospectus) for applicants who have lived abroad for some of their school career.

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