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BTEC or GCSE

(26 Posts)
JeezYouLoon Fri 15-Mar-19 06:14:35

Hello everyone, my head is spinning and I need help please.

My DC is currently in year 9 and they have their options to decide. They are really bright and in the top sets, all the teachers said they would happily have them their subjects, a couple were literally begging them hmm

My question is do BTEC qualifications carry the same gravitas as GCSEs? I understand that BTECs are more vocational but sometimes have the stigma of being 'the soft option' is that still the case/fair?

OP’s posts: |
sar302 Fri 15-Mar-19 06:25:37

Yes, they are the soft option. They are vocational rather than academic. However, if your DC is particularly skilled and interested in a practical subject, and has got a mixture of other academic subjects covered (and is going to score highly ), then it might be ok?

JeezYouLoon Fri 15-Mar-19 06:34:13

Thank you sar302 that's what I thought, but obviously a 14 year old knows better. To be fair they're the ones taking the exams/coursework, however I don't want them to coast along.

OP’s posts: |
TeenTimesTwo Fri 15-Mar-19 06:39:08

I wouldn't expect a top set academic child to do more than 1 BTEC at this level. No one, not even 'Oxbridge' will blink an eye at 1 BTEC, but more than that could raise an eyebrow unless there was a clear reason.

Doing a BTEC will develop slightly different skills to GCSEs and so it could be a very positive move. Additionally getting it more out of the way before the y11 exams means more time available for revision for other subjects. Could be a win-win.

Whynotnowbaby Fri 15-Mar-19 06:47:30

A lot of schools will strongly discourage bright academic children from doing BTECs, they are definitely less rigorous than the GCSE qualifications and based on skills rather than knowledge and understanding. So for example a BTEC in ICT is about being able to use a computer- make a simple spreadsheet, use word processing, create things using publishing software, GCSE computing teaches the principles of programming and lays the foundation for a much deeper understanding of how computers work.

chocolateroses Fri 15-Mar-19 06:48:21

I'm working in one of the country's top grammar schools (top of league tables that is). We don't even offer BTECH exams, because if your a 'top set' kind of kid who wants to go to a prestigious uni you shouldn't really be considering them.

I guess it depends on your child's goals though x

TeenTimesTwo Fri 15-Mar-19 06:51:53

Without deep knowledge, I too wouldn't encourage a bright child to do BTEC in ICT over Computer Science GCSE.

However a BTEC in PE or Engineering, or Cookery, or Health & Social Care, or Animal Care for example could be different.

TeenTimesTwo Fri 15-Mar-19 06:53:07

And it depends on the alternative. If it is between a BTEC he is very interested in v a GCSE that doesn't excite him, that would be another reason to go for a BTEC.

TapasForTwo Fri 15-Mar-19 06:54:36

DD's old school only offered BTECs to students who struggled with academic subjects. And they were only available in subjects like hairdressing.

JeezYouLoon Fri 15-Mar-19 06:58:33

Thank you everyone, it's confirming what I already thought. Just need to get that through to a stroppy teenager!

They have huge aspirations for themselves, which is brilliant as I'm totally convinced they can achieve them however with a refusal to take a language and the insistence of taking 2/3 BTECs my patience is wearing thin.

Unfortunately we are not in the catchment of the 'brilliant' schools and the school DC goes to pastorally is fabulous. However academically it rarely pushes students (in my opinion).

I may have to rope in respected family members/friends 'to have a word'.

OP’s posts: |
TeenTimesTwo Fri 15-Mar-19 07:02:52

The other thing is, because BTECs tends on average to be done by less academic pupils, he could find the pace of the lessons frustrating.
(Unless maybe the BTEC is something like Engineering).

titchy Fri 15-Mar-19 07:43:44

Ok so what are we actually talking, and what GCSEs? 8 or 9 decent GCSEs and 1 or 2 BTECs - fine. 7 GCSEs and 3 BTECs - starts to look flakey academically. (Do not worry about a language btw - no one will care. Don't tell him that yet though - might be useful as a bargaining chip though wink).

JeezYouLoon Fri 15-Mar-19 08:08:05

So compulsory will be English, Maths, 3 sciences.

Basically we get a choice of 4 - DT, history are the two we 'agree' on. Then things get tricky BTEC travel and tourism and IT (Creative Media Production) have been mooted. Although Business and Computer Science are both GCSE and I think would be better? At this point I'm giving up on the language one grin

OP’s posts: |
Pythonesque Fri 15-Mar-19 08:26:09

To be honest, I think there is a point where the school should be stepping in and saying to some students, no, these subjects would not be appropriate for you. I'm sure they would do it to a less academic student insisting on doing a subject they were already struggling with. I don't know enough about BTECs to make fair comment, but my instincts would be absolutely with yours!

TeenTimesTwo Fri 15-Mar-19 08:27:57

DD1 did a level 3 ( 3 A level equivalent) BTEC in Travel & Tourism.
I really, really, wouldn't do that at GCSE level for an academic child.

Creative Media Production sounds like it could be quite interesting, and would add something creative to the mix, though I see now he has DT already.

I would do Business and CS, or Business and the Creative Media BTEC.

(The Creative Media and the CS together would make his choices a bit lopsided perhaps)

LIZS Fri 15-Mar-19 08:32:36

Level 2 Btecs tend to be aimed at the less academic student and are rarely in subjects which cannot be picked up later on at a higher level. They are often used as ways to reinforce basic skills while teaching topics which may be more engaging or to prepare for apprenticeships at 16.

DN37 Fri 15-Mar-19 08:38:47

For my Dd btechs are a godsend she has SENDS, problems with working memory, auditory processing dyslexic etc to name a few and if it was for Brecht she would leave shook with nothing, she can not retain and recall information so can't study a subject for years then do exam at end, so the coursework and marking throughout really helps her along with amazing teachers in both these subjects thst support her

She's year 11 and will get a least a merit in both pe and health and social Btechs

whoamitojudge Mon 18-Mar-19 15:08:30

So if my daughter wanted to do dance (yr 8 currently) which would be the best one GCSE or BTEC?
She does dance as an extra curricular but wants to carry it on

TeenTimesTwo Mon 18-Mar-19 15:14:50

So if my daughter wanted to do dance (yr 8 currently) which would be the best one GCSE or BTEC

Whichever one the school offers. smile

cricketballs3 Mon 18-Mar-19 17:01:12

I will copy my response in the options thread about BTECs in a second, but I really need to address PP assertions that they are easy and only skills based.

They are not easy, they are just a different way of assessing/learning. The new specifications include an exam which accounts for 40% of the final grade and there are no longer allowed to keep redoing coursework.

To get a merit/distinction students have to analyse and evaluate in detail which requires the higher order skills as per top grade GCSE candidates

cricketballs3 Mon 18-Mar-19 17:02:57

Options thread response

"Can I just offer reassurance re BTEC/VCERT/OCR L2 qualifications

Yes, if your DC has more vocational than GCSEs then it does concern unis, however holding one BTEC together with the rest being GCSEsdoes notconcern universities not even Oxbridgedespite the usual MN suspects claiming you are doomed for life to even consider taking one

I have previous students who have gone on to lots af various paths, including Oxbridge but more importantly they enjoyed the different way of learning/assessment for the one subject"

Comefromaway Mon 18-Mar-19 17:08:56

So if my daughter wanted to do dance (yr 8 currently) which would be the best one GCSE or BTEC?

Neither unless it’s in place of a subject she really hates.

Ds is doing Btec dance because it means he’s allowed to not do PE. He enjoys dance a lot but is not a serious dancer.

Dd is a serious dancer and is currently in professional training. Her vocational school didn’t offer GCSE or A Level Dance as it was of a Lower Standard than kids like Dd had reached.

The GCSE does have significant written content which can help develop analysis skllls but practically GCSE is about Grade 4/5 level. Most serious dance school kids will have reached that standard around he age of 12/13

whoamitojudge Mon 18-Mar-19 17:58:00

Whichever one the school offers. smile
Thanks for the constructive reply.
Actually her school offers both

TeenTimesTwo Mon 18-Mar-19 18:06:45

Sorry. blush

I think don't pick on BTEC v GCSE, pick the one your DC thinks will be most enjoyable based on the syllabus, how they are examined etc.

whoamitojudge Mon 18-Mar-19 20:21:34

@TeenTimesTwo
Thank you, I'll contact the school and see what they say
@Comefromaway I don't think my DD will be auditioning for the Royal Ballet anytime soon ( her words not mine) so I guess I'll have to speak to the school direct, she's had a lot of experience so she doesn't want to do anything that won't be a challenge

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