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How many GCSEs

(21 Posts)
Seasonaldisorder Fri 17-Jan-20 14:29:20

DD is in year 9 and the school are starting to discuss GCSE options with them. DD is bright enough but not interested in academics. She's maintained a steady "acceptable" level for the last couple of years- last end of year exams had a couple of As, remaining Bs and Cs. This is with minimal effort.
She's been struggling a lot recently and grades fallen, alongside some big emotional problems. The psychiatrist we saw thinks she has undiagnosed ADHD which in fact makes a huge amount of sense. She's never still, plays 4 sports well, huge issues with focus, concentration and emotional regulation. She's started on low dose ADHD medicine this week and we will see how it goes.
Her school usually suggest 9 GCSEs with the most able doing 10. They have offered her the option to do 8, with the remaining 3 hours a week spent in the learning support centre getting extra tuition as needed and help with learning and revision. My first question is - how bad is it to only do 8? Will it limit her chances of getting into a good sixth form or university?
Secondly she doesn't want to do a language. She's little facility with them plus the amount of memorising vocab/ verbs etc really doesn't suit her.
She'd like to do English Lang and Lit, RE, Sports studies, Maths, biology, history, geography (8 gcse) or chemistry if she does 9. Is it really bad not to have a language?
Im trying to balance what's best for her now with what might be best for her later, especially if she responds well to the medication or finally finds some motivation. Her last lot of termly test results were uninspiring Bs and Cs BUT this was with her usual minimal effort, no medication plus it appears that the school are teaching at GCSE level for most subjects now so the questions were from previous GCSE papers. For example she got a C in maths but her teacher told me he had her tracking for a 7 which I think is a high B? This shows me that there might be some more potential there- but I don't want to force her down an academic route if she's going to be really unhappy.
Does anyone have any advice?

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TeenPlusTwenties Fri 17-Jan-20 14:41:25

A 7 is an A not a high B.

Will her school let her do only 1 (or 2) of the sciences. Most schools (unless private) tend to timetable to either do combined (2 GCSEs but all 3 subjects) or 3 single sciences?

8 won't generally stop her doing anything, except by narrowing choices in as much as if she doesn't do something at GCSE she might not be able to do it at A level.

Better to do 8 well imo than flip out and crash attempting 9.
(I think I may end up asking for DD2y10 to drop a subject as she has various processing issues which make her exhausted after a day in school and learning/revision is slow.)

RedskyAtnight Fri 17-Jan-20 14:45:40

8 GCSEs is fine - many schools only offer this.
Also fine not to have a language - this isn't a requirement for future study, although it will prevent her getting the "EBacc" (which is an artificial construct anyway!).

Bs and Cs with minimal effort if she's already doing GCSE standard work sounds pretty good to me - not sure why you think this is uninspiring?

The unusual thing about her suggested subjects is only taking 1 science. If she wants to go on study anything vaguely scientific, she really needs to take combined science.

My view (with a DS who is currently crumbling under too many GCSEs) is that you should keep the number of subjects down if she's likely to struggle. Just to flag up that her list of subjects has a lot of "extended writing" type subjects - you will need to consider if these are appropriate for her.

Hemst Fri 17-Jan-20 14:48:20

I think a '7' is an A not a B.

I'm no expert, but doing 8 GCSE's is fine! Far better to have 8 good grades and a mentally less stressed DD. Can you get her officially recognised as ADHD? That would help too, as whatever she does next will need to take it into consideration.

fwiw, I think schools push languages as kids need to have ticked that box for their Baccalaureate stats. That's about the school though rather than your DD. Where do you think she'll want to go for sixth form? Have a look at entry requirements. I bet having a language won't matter.

Seasonaldisorder Fri 17-Jan-20 14:48:31

It's a private school and they are pretty flexible except compulsory RE. She's there on a sports scholarship hence needing to do sports science GCSE as well.

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Alsoplayspiccolo Fri 17-Jan-20 15:05:06

DD is in year 11 and has ADHD.
Her school (selective indie) was happy for her not to do a MFL; she’s taking combined science, history, geography, drama and Latin.
They tried to encourage her to drop a subject at the start of year 10 but she was adamant she wanted to do 10 (she’s already taken ICT early).
Had her school offered support sessions in the frees she’s have got from dropping a subject, I might have encouraged it, but they didn’t.

Hercwasonaroll Fri 17-Jan-20 15:09:32

8 is fine.

Make sure science isn't just the single eg just physics or just chemistry. You need a combined double award where she studies all 3 and gets 2 GCSEs.

averythinline Fri 17-Jan-20 15:23:53

My DS dropped language for same reason
Geography is good as not essay based.
He is doing chemistry and physics as maths ok and less drawing/labelling than biology (dyspraxia)
Music again not essay !
Even though he loves history it is massively essay/date based and he was advised against chunk of rote learning

TeenPlusTwenties Fri 17-Jan-20 15:24:45

You need a combined double award where she studies all 3 and gets 2 GCSEs.

Depends what you mean by 'need'.

I think it is better educationally, in general. And it will be the 'standard' that becomes expected as that is what state schools do. And only doing 1 science GCSE pretty much rules out a career in sciences (especially with no Chemistry which is the one that underpins everything.) But if going to do say History at university the lack of 2 science GCSEs is unlikely to be a problem.

lanthanum Fri 17-Jan-20 15:39:45

I think state schools have to offer double science or all three.

I've just checked exactly what primary teacher-training requirements are, as I know they are an example of where you might need a science gcse - it does say "a science subject", so one would be okay.

LolaSmiles Fri 17-Jan-20 15:46:52

9 is standard at my school with some students doing 8 from the start of ks4
I'd say it's better for a student in your DC position to do 8 and do well than 9 and be unhappy/struggle/get lower grades.

Seasonaldisorder Fri 17-Jan-20 16:11:29

School don't offer combined science- just a choice of individual subjects. She's super unlikely to end up doing something very sciency but I think she might want to do something sport related in which case I think chemistry might be useful?
I hear what you all say about data/ essays etc with her choices. It seems a lot. History doesn't interest her much but weirdly she does quite well in it, hence selecting it. Best subjects sport, geography and RE.

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Seasonaldisorder Fri 17-Jan-20 16:15:11

In answer to the question upthread i suppose i think her grades are uninspiring (which prob wasn't the right choice of words) because it's an academically selective school in London and she's surrounded by people getting all A grades, doing 10 GCSEs plus EPQ so she feels a bit dumb (her words) in comparison.
I sometimes wonder if it was the right choice for her- but she does get tremendous support and encouragement with her sport which wasn't available anywhere else. She's also happy socially and getting a lot of support with the ADHD.

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TeenPlusTwenties Fri 17-Jan-20 16:53:06

I think I'd try for Chemistry and drop one of History/Geog/RE. I think the Chemistry will go would with Biology for Sport.
e.g. If she did a sports science degree.

cologne4711 Fri 17-Jan-20 17:25:24

8 was standard at ds' school with some doing 9 if they did triple science and 10 if they added an optional subject after school.

Alsoplayspiccolo Fri 17-Jan-20 17:45:10

Wouldn’t biology be more appropriate for later use in sport?

I’d second what a PP said about history. The content is huge and plenty of neurotypical students struggle to learn all the dates and facts.

TeenPlusTwenties Fri 17-Jan-20 17:55:16

re Chemistry. I'm just thinking that A level Biology might be hard without a knowledge of GCSE Chemistry to 'support' it. (I'm saying this based on general knowledge, no specific knowledge of A level biology).

Even GCSE Biology needs some Chemistry understanding (eg DNA having 'weak hydrogen bonds').

MAFIL Fri 17-Jan-20 18:14:54

My DS is the same age. He has been looking at the requirements for the courses he is interested in at university and has worked backwards from there to decide on his likely A levels and then GCSEs. He is also interested in a career within sports and at the moment he is thinking of doing either Biology, Chemistry and PE or Biology, Psychology and PE at A level. He doesn't get much choice at GCSE to be honest. He must do Maths, English Language, English Lit and 3 sciences and then either history or geography and a modern language. He then gets one totally free choice (he is doing PE) to make up 9 GCSEs. Until a couple of years ago it was routine for pupils at his school to do 10, but with the change to the GCSE syllabi they have reduced to 9 as the courses are rather more onerous now. The reason we were given is that it is better for the majority of children to attain a smaller number of better grades than to do more but perform less well. I believe a lot of schools have reduced the number of GCSEs their pupils sit. The days of lots of pupils taking 12 or 13 seem to be long gone, and 8 or 9 is far commoner now. I certainly wouldn't think it is worth risking her overall well being for the sake of one more GCSE.
Personally, unless the school have a good argument to the contrary I would go for 8, and the subjects she is likely to do best in so that she has the best chance of an overall good set of grades. Remember that there are A levels that you can do without having done GCSE (or that don't have a GCSE) so she won't necessarily have to pick her A levels from her GCSE subjects. If she has an idea of what she wants to do after school it is well worth looking into the current entry requirements as that may help with the decisions.

Alsoplayspiccolo Fri 17-Jan-20 18:24:15

Teen, I was responding to the OP’s comment about doing chemistry ( only, I assumed) for sports. You make a good point about doing both, if possible.

Ginfordinner Fri 17-Jan-20 18:25:34

Geography is good as not essay based

DD took geography GCSE in 2016, and it was reasonably essay based.

re Chemistry. I'm just thinking that A level Biology might be hard without a knowledge of GCSE Chemistry to 'support' it

You are spot on. A local 6th form college won’t allow anyone to take A level biology without having studied chemistry at GCSE.

I don’t understand why some private schools don’t offer combined sciences. It makes for a much more rounded education. If your DD is doing sports science then biology is a must. Chemistry is useful with biology, especially if it is taken at A level as there is a fair amount of related content. DD did chemistry and biology A levels and found that there were some questions in the A level paper that her friends who didn’t do chemistry couldn’t answer.

Seasonaldisorder Fri 17-Jan-20 23:15:07

Food for thought. Thanks everyone. She's thinking of switching chemistry for history if she does 8. School also offer the option of her trying 9 and dropping one if she isn't coping. Happy that she can seemingly stop MFL with no impact!

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