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Small disaster with GCSE options for next year

(172 Posts)
JoanCallamezzo Fri 03-May-19 15:53:59

DD (yr 9) was told yesterday that school can’t accommodate her GCSE options now that they have worked out the timetable – she can’t do Geography, History and Art together and has to drop one. She loves (and is pretty good at) all 3 but is most committed to Art and Geography, so it looks like she’ll have to drop History. However, the only alternatives she’s been offered are Music (she doesn’t even play an instrument), Photography (not allowed in combination with Art), 3 vocational non-GCSE courses (Hospitality, Child Development, Health - none of which are right for DD) and Sociology (which is the only viable option but DD has zero interest in it and I feel it is quite limiting as a subject compared to the breadth and scope offered by History).

We are deeply disappointed and feel that DD, who works hard, and was on track for good grades in all three of her choices, is being let down quite badly by the school. She's really upset and stressed. It is being presented as a fait accompli and DD was told she had to decide by today (we have asked for more time and for a meeting to discuss.)

Has anybody managed to resolve a situation like this or do we just have to suck it up and find a way to help DD feel happy about Sociology and less sad about dropping History?! Any ammunition for our meeting next week would be great, as would opinions on Sociology over History at GCSE!

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clary Fri 03-May-19 16:08:08

We're there any other options she might have picked (eg RE, drama, MFL)? Could you argue those should be offered?

Was she not asked for several prefs? Ds2 is doing PE and comp Sci but also put down RE and food tech as his 3rd and 4th choices.

Ihatemyseleffordoingthis Fri 03-May-19 16:12:16

That's pathetic on the part of the school. It's not like those are niche subjects.

Would she want to do photography if you insisted that she wanted to do both that and Art? What subjects could she do if she chose to do History over Geography?

IncrediblySadToo Fri 03-May-19 16:15:39

Most schools seem to offer things in ‘blocks’ so it should have been obvious if it was impossible to take these three options together. I don’t get why they’re saying it’s not possible unless it’s now a numbers thing?!

There’s not much anyone can say until you’ve spoken to them to see how this has come about.

If it turns out to be utterly impossible, could DD do an ‘easy’ subject and do the third subject at home with some tutoring and sit it at the same time, if she/you really feels she’d benefit from doing it?

mummymayhem18 Fri 03-May-19 16:30:52

My daughter is in Year 8 but they had to choose their options about a month or so ago. She has chosen Art,Geography and History. I don't know yet what she will get as they had to choose their top 5 choices and then another 3 as back up and she doesn't find out what she will get until the summer holidays. I don't get why your school can't accommodate her for those especially if she's likely to do well in those subjects.

ragged Fri 03-May-19 16:35:51

It's insane... but I guess I would ask about self-study GCSE for history OR simple having a free period in her timetable (where history would have been) when she can try to keep up with the Art. Deserves 2 GCSE slots, anyway.

TeenTimesTwo Fri 03-May-19 16:50:16

I see that it is disappointing, but that is timetabling for you. There will always be a few who can't get exactly what they want.

I know you have said drop History, but you don't like the other options for that.

So what if she dropped Art? Every year there are parents on here moaning at what a time-eater Art is, and how it is stopping their DC do the art they enjoy because they have to do the Art for the GCSE. So if she dropped Art instead, what options would that make available?

(I think but am not sure you can't do Art AND Photography because there is overlap).

JoanCallamezzo Fri 03-May-19 16:56:38

Thanks all for replies.

She did pick reserve options - RS and Textiles - but both of those have now been placed in the same block as Art and History, so are also not possible.

It seems so bizarre that they didn't present these as blocks originally at the stage of choosing the options - it seems they have produced these blocks in the process of slotting the timetable together and now we just have to fit into that. The balance of subjects between the block that has the clashing subjects (Art, History, RS, Textiles, Comp Sci) vs the block that DD now has to choose from (as listed in my op but skewed towards vocational rather than academic subjects) seems totally off-kilter.

Clary - I think the school have been so adamant about the amount of coursework involved in Art and Photography that DD would be too scared to do both now, even if they allowed it.

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JoanCallamezzo Fri 03-May-19 16:58:04

Sorry - that last bit was in reply to Ihatemyselffordoingthis not Clary!

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JoanCallamezzo Fri 03-May-19 16:59:11

The option of self study had occurred to me but I think it would totally stress DD out and not be fair to her.

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JoanCallamezzo Fri 03-May-19 17:01:17

TeenTimesTwo DD won't even countenance the option of dropping art! She's been strongly encouraged by her teacher who said at parents' evening that she's one of her strongest students. But it also doesn't make any difference to the alternative options - she'd then be doing Geography, History and Sociology.

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TeenTimesTwo Fri 03-May-19 17:11:22

I'd go with sociology. I think it sounds quite interesting myself.

Does she have any idea what she might want to do for A levels / career going forward?
e.g. if she wants to Architecture then she 'needs' maths science and art. But if she wants to do e.g. law then keeping history but dropping Geography might be better.

Where will/might she be for 6th form? What do they say about doing any of those 3 A levels without having done the GCSE?

TeenTimesTwo Fri 03-May-19 17:15:47

When they option block and you pick from that, pupils are disappointed at choosing time, but then get over it.
When they give free choice but then tell pupils they can't have their choice I think the disappointment will be worse.
Our school has moved from blocks to free choice this year as they said that overall it will enable to keep more children happy.

DD2 is in y9 and we are hoping that 'no news is good news' so far.

FreeFreesia Fri 03-May-19 17:18:43

Unless she plans to pursue art then geography, history and photography is the same balance of two academic and one arty. I see what you have written but just because the teachers want her to do it doesn't mean she should if it is going to close other doors. Teachers say lots of nice things to keep up the numbers in their subject.

If she is doing 8 including art and sociology it could be made a more robustly academic hand if she feels she may want to do an oversubscribed academic degree.

TheInvestigator Fri 03-May-19 17:18:57

When I was in 6th year (Scotland in 2007) I wanted to do advanced higher maths and a crash higher in physics (which means I didn't do the standard grade in physics so would need to get through that coursework over the summer). Advanced maths and physics were on at the same time so I went to half the maths classes and half the physical classes and they gave me the lesson plans so I could do the classes I skipped by myself. I just had to make sure I kept up to date so I wasn't going into a class without having done the previous work. It's a bit stressful but totally possible if the school will allow it.

JoanCallamezzo Fri 03-May-19 17:19:53

Thanks TeenTimesTwo.

It's made a bit harder because DD really doesn't know what she wants to do going forward. Her strongest subjects are these three options, she's definitely a humanities buff and she's not so strong at science although she likes it (is doing combined for that), less strong again at maths, and is fairly good at English. So these three options were really about keeping all doors open and pursuing the areas she is interested in. I'd imagined that she would choose either History or Geography at A-level (or possibly even both), depending on which she had found most interesting in years 10-11 – but now she's being denied the opportunity of finding that out. She will most likely stay at this school for sixth form and I'm pretty certain they will say she can't study History A level if she hasn't done it at GCSE.

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TheFirstOHN Fri 03-May-19 17:20:44

If she does:
- Photography (instead of History)
- Geography
then what alternatives are there instead of Art? Could she choose History in that block?

JoanCallamezzo Fri 03-May-19 17:23:56

^When they option block and you pick from that, pupils are disappointed at choosing time, but then get over it.
When they give free choice but then tell pupils they can't have their choice I think the disappointment will be worse.^

Totally agree on this - if she hadn't had these options to begin with - and such a big build up to making her choices, with lengthy discussions with her teachers etc, she would not be feeling so gutted now. Nothing ever led us to believe that she wouldn't get these three traditional, facilitating subjects.

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JoanCallamezzo Fri 03-May-19 17:28:17

FreeFreesia Yes, that's worth thinking about, although DD was so upset at the thought of dropping Art I really don't think I could ever talk her round to Photography.

She's doing 9 (2 English, maths, 2 science, French, Geog, Art plus the undecided subject)

TheFIrstOHN Yes she could do Art instead of History. History and Art are in the same block as each other.

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JoanCallamezzo Fri 03-May-19 17:30:57

I've got to go for a couple of hours but will check back later! Thanks to all who have commented so far.

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PotteringAlong Fri 03-May-19 17:32:05

I did Geography A-level without having done it for GCSE. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility.

I’d do sociology. I’ve taught GCSE sociology; it’s a really interesting subject and will go well with what she’s picked.

pearldeodorant Fri 03-May-19 17:36:25

I'd go with sociology. Essay writing skills will be useful if she wants to take an essay subject at a level and she might just enjoy the subject. Think of the transferable skills she will get from it if she's not that bothered about the actual subject.

It's really unfair and I'd be so disappointed if I were your daughter, it sucks. But I remember a few girls in my (private) sixthform that couldn't be accommodated and eventually they went elsewhere. My best friend took the subjects she had originally wanted in a new school and ended up hating two anyway! You never know how things will turn out

And finally, it may not seem like it now, but gcse options aren't the be all and end all. At med school all sorts of us had done weird and wonderful subjects (I did Dance and music for example) and nothing held us back ; less or non academic subjects were what we enjoyed so why not. I agree sociology is not quite history but she will undoubtedly get a good grade if she enjoys humanities subjects and she might just end up enjoying it along the way

Best of luck to her, things will turn out ok smile

Ariela Fri 03-May-19 17:52:02

Is there a business studies option? Only that is a very useful GCSE, my daughter took it and often says how useful it was, and also found it quite easy.

Ihatemyseleffordoingthis Fri 03-May-19 17:59:53

It's not the be all and end all of course, but it is still 2 years studying something you're not interested in (and as there are so many compulsory subjects already that can be hard going)

It's just weird that a school would choose to organise its timetable in such a way that someone would be forced into doing Sociology or some random and in this case inappropriate vocational course over conventional curriculum cornerstones like History and Geography. What they are offering in this case in inadequate and I would not make it easy for the school.

SaltSpoon Fri 03-May-19 18:02:35

FGS, just get her to do Sociology. Timetables happen, that's life. What on earth do you expect the school to do?!

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