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Sitting GCSE early

(45 Posts)
Shoeshelpplease Fri 27-Dec-19 13:06:41

Hi can anyone offer insight into children taking GCSEs early? What are the positives and negatives?

How early can they take them? He is at an independent senior school and I haven't approached them yet but sure they will be supportive if they think him capable.

Is there a minimum age?

It's computing he's interested in.

OP’s posts: |
daisypond Fri 27-Dec-19 13:13:16

Why do you want him to? Are you planning on him taking it outside of school? Some schools used to have designated early GCSE schedules for some subjects. One of mine did music in year 9, for example - this was before the new GCSEs. The general consensus a couple of years ago was that early entry affected the grades students got - yes, they passed them but probably not with the grades they could have got a year later.

PotteringAlong Fri 27-Dec-19 13:18:23


flickeringcandle45 Fri 27-Dec-19 13:28:39

I would be asking

- what grade are they predicting? Only worth it if he is going to get 9/A*
- what will they offer for the time this frees up? Further lessons in computing if he plans to take it for A level? Extra time on other subjects if he intends to drop it and do other subjects at A level. There is no point in taking a subject early and then having a gap for a year before picking it up again at A level.
- FWIW our DC took early GCSE in MFL and Maths. They were bored in the standard GCSE classes. There were a few children in a similar situation and the school then offered small group, non exam orientated tuition in these subjects in Y11 before the start of the A level courses. This worked well as it kept up their interest.

clary Fri 27-Dec-19 14:16:07

Not really any positives unless as a pp says, they are so advanced that they are bored in yr 9/10 lessons and will ace a grade 9.

Bear in mind that some unis and even post 16 destinations want GCSEs taken all at once.

Why are you looking at this op?

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 27-Dec-19 14:16:57

You need to bear in mind that universities are in interested in the best 8 GCSEs taken at the same time. So getting a 9 in year 10 in computer science could be disregarded.

Shoeshelpplease Fri 27-Dec-19 15:10:09

Thanks for your replies so far. This has just come up in conversation so it's early on thinking.

The reason is he is absolutely mad on computing, loves coding for example and anything tech. It's his passion and his hobbies and main interest.

He does hear he can outside of school and gets involved with local technical projects as well as being a student and volunteer at CoderDojo.

He's keen to get his teeth into working towards something that he can work towards beyond what school offers in his year group.

Any ideas on anything else would be welcome.

OP’s posts: |
Lonecatwithkitten Fri 27-Dec-19 16:26:27

All of my friends who ended up in coding/ hardware roles were constantly coding their own programs setting themselves challenges etc at this age.

sd249 Fri 27-Dec-19 16:29:46

I would say that there is no need to do an exam early. Especially computing. Surely he can do some amazing and FUN things with coding in his own time rather than following an exam specification. All students that I see sitting their GCSEs early (I teach maths) end up struggling further on as they tend to be tutored to exam technique and lose their love of the subject by the time they get to do A Level early and then run out of things to do...

Also - who came up with the idea - was it his idea or yours?

scarecrowhead Fri 27-Dec-19 16:42:37

How old is he ?

CanIHaveADrink Fri 27-Dec-19 16:50:41

My dcs have done this. They are also in a private school.
It depends a lot in the reasons why he wants to do that.
Both did french 2 years early (they could have done that 3 years early and still get a 9)
Good sides:
They have one subject less to do for their GCSE so they have more time to do other things
Down sides:
The school didn’t Support them as they still had to carry on doing french and it made it much harder for them. They also strongly discouraged children to do things early (because the chance of them getting too marks is lower...)
They still had to attend the classes in french even though they already have done the exam
They prepared fir an exam so I can’t say they really learnt ‘new things’

If I my sim was to encourage my child to learn more in a subject, I would do it another way and look side ways rather than looking at exams.

TreeSwayer Fri 27-Dec-19 16:52:02

What would he fill that slot in his timetable with?

My niece sat English lit in year 10, they all do at her school, she was annoyed because another year of maturity etc would have benefitted her she feels. They then just did English language throughout year 11.

The school my sons attend/attended do not sit any exams early, they believe that you should cover the full course without rushing, develop a well rounded understanding of the subject before taking the exam.

Ds1 is doing computer science A level (he got a 9 at GCSE) and intends to take it at university too. He also does lots of extra stuff outside the classroom which is not covered in either the GCSE or A level spec.

bsc Fri 27-Dec-19 17:07:03

Why bother with a qualification for 16yos that he will eventually do anyway? The while point of being able to programme is that you can create anything... What is he waiting for?

Pipandmum Fri 27-Dec-19 17:14:34

Only people I know who did GCSE (a year) early were children taking language exams in their own language and self taught. They did it so had less exams or could do the usual amount of exams in Y11 but have the extra qualification. The private school did not offer tuition the kids had to do that themselves but did take the exams with the other students.
It seems your child can do work on his own and take exams in the usual time, I can't see how doing it early helps him particularly.

Shoeshelpplease Fri 27-Dec-19 17:15:48

Yes some great points. Sounds like a bad idea.

It was his idea. He is a super bright kid. Was put up a year in his state primary as they couldn't cope with him. It was a good school but they didn't have the resources to allow him to thrive.

We moved him to independent school in year four and he has thrived with al the breadth they have offered. Including music, drama, languages and yes mainly tech.

He is now at a fantastic senior school that leads on tech (v few text books, everything on iPads, computing not a discrete subject but integrated into all they do).

He is building his own website, volunteering on local tech projects but he really wants something to work towards (his words).

I see the GCSE would be a bad idea though now.

OP’s posts: |
Shoeshelpplease Fri 27-Dec-19 17:18:53

I should probably be having this conversation with his teachers, thanks for the steer.

OP’s posts: |
Comefromaway Fri 27-Dec-19 17:22:36

There is almost no advantage.

One boy in dds school who had lived in France for 3 years did GCSE French in Year 10; then did AS level in Year 11. Another friend of hers who was at a private school did Greek as an enrichment GCSE (she is a genius in the proper sense of the word) and I know that the same school occasionally enters phenomenally bright children who are guaranteed the highest grade into maths a year early and they then start AS level early.

But these are complete exceptions.

CanIHaveADrink Fri 27-Dec-19 17:26:50

What he is doing is exactly what he should be doing !
The school is going to find it hard to give him more ‘to learn’

ErrolTheDragon Fri 27-Dec-19 17:29:57

Computing has a project element (developing code, writing report type of thing) , so it wouldn't just be a matter of 'taking the GCSE early' anyway - I'm sure it would need active input from the school.

DelurkingAJ Fri 27-Dec-19 17:32:41

We all did Eng Lang a year early (mid 90s) and I am still grumpy that I got an A (got an A* in Eng Lit the next year so I suspect the additional year’s maturity might have let me get the A*). Can’t see an upside unless a child is bilingual.

clareykb Fri 27-Dec-19 17:35:26

Interestingly DH who works in computing reckons that really solid good grades in maths is more important for University level computing and employment than computing gcse and A level. Loads of schools I know of do maths early and further maths in y11 would that be an option?

Comefromaway Fri 27-Dec-19 17:38:30

Computing has a project element (developing code, writing report type of thing) , so it wouldn't just be a matter of 'taking the GCSE early' anyway - I'm sure it would need active input from the school.

Yes, Ds is taking it and they had to complete so many hours under supervision.

MomOfABeast Fri 27-Dec-19 18:52:56

The reason is he is absolutely mad on computing, loves coding for example and anything tech. It's his passion and his hobbies and main interest. This is no reason to do a GCSE early. Computing is a great hobby that happens to be great for his future. It's very easy to progress independently at computing in his own time. For kids that are really excelling in a subject the GCSE syllabus doesn't offer much challenge - it's just learning the very basics and repeating them parrot fashion. He probably could do it early but there would be no benefit.

He should work his way through the Euler problems (he can google it) in whatever language he likes, focus on his maths as he'll need it for top uni's to do CS. Have a look at some coursera courses. When his maths is better he could do the Stanford machine learning course which is straight forward but really informative. If he happens to be in London he could try an SMP course which are great.

TeenPlusTwenties Fri 27-Dec-19 19:33:06

I expect things have changed a lot in 40 years, but I just set myself my own challenges.
e.g. Enter date of birth and a year and it told you what day your birthday would be. Or a prime number generator. (I preferred algorithmic stuff.)

cantkeepawayforever Fri 27-Dec-19 20:44:35

Some of the GCHQ CyberFirst opportunities may be of interest?


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