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GCSE: two individual science subjects instead of combined science?!

(83 Posts)
gcsepanicmum Wed 21-Oct-20 20:35:31

DS's school doesn't offer triple science so everyone was supposed to do combined science. It was a bit of shame as he was really strong at maths and science. But it was still OK as I knew triple science wasn't a necessity to study a science subject for A-level and at uni.

Today, I found out that the school was planning to drop combined science and instead encouraging the pupils to do chemistry and biology as a separate subject (no physics). DS knows it will narrow down his choices for A-level so feels a bit sad but says he would do chemistry for A-level anyway. It's true he really likes chemistry at the moment but he's as good at physics. He might change his preference then regret he let physics go so early. They still cover physics in lessons though, at least for now.

I am trying to understand the impact of this for his future. I see physics will be 100% out but what else I should know? Doing only two individual science subjects is going to be a disadvantage if he wants to pursue a science subject/career later? I am seriously thinking if we should move him before too late. He's very capable academically.

OP’s posts: |
TheLetterZ Wed 21-Oct-20 21:00:38

This makes me very cross (physics teacher). Why not stick to the combined and if they insist on dropping to 2 why not give a choice!

This is ruling out a lot of careers - physics, all the engineerings, possibly architecture. Plus physics is a good coordinating subject for further maths studies. All of which we need more off not less!

It also perpetuates the myth that physics is the harder of the 3! You could try to challenge that they aren’t providing a broad and balanced curriculum.

Does he know what he wants to go on to do?

OnTheBenchOfDoom Wed 21-Oct-20 21:01:54

What year is he in now?

It seems strange that they don't get to choose which 2 science subjects they do study. Is it a lack of physics teachers? Have school given a reason for this?

TicTacTwo Wed 21-Oct-20 21:05:33

It is worrying that future physicists, engineers, computer scientists... are being deprived of the chance to study GCSE Physics and beyond. I would move schools over this decision tbh

KetoPenguin Wed 21-Oct-20 21:13:42

My dd did combined science and was able to go on to do a physics A level which she seems to be keeping up with well so far. I think this is so limiting to anyone who likes physics and wants to do an engineering type career.

KetoPenguin Wed 21-Oct-20 21:15:58

I meant to add dds pathway shows combined science is a much better choice if the aren't offering triple science as it means you can choose any science A level if you get good grades.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 21-Oct-20 21:24:27

That's a simply appalling decision by the school. shockOnly doing combined science rather than allowing able students to do all 3 is bad enough, but limiting them arbitrarily to two is unconscionable. Don't they realise that physics is essential for most engineering degrees? That's a massive field, even before you get to physics itself.

* I am seriously thinking if we should move him before too late. He's very capable academically.*

I would, for sure.

Misssugarplum12764 Wed 21-Oct-20 21:26:59

V odd and I’m sure state schools aren’t allowed to do this!

TheFallenMadonna Wed 21-Oct-20 21:28:55

Encouraging them?

TheLetterZ Wed 21-Oct-20 21:30:29

Misssugarplum12764

V odd and I’m sure state schools aren’t allowed to do this!

They aren’t really but some keep up a little bit of physics teaching (with no exam) as a box ticking exercise.

Combined is perfectly fine to go onto A-levels, there is no requirement to do the three separates. Personal opinion is that it is better to do 2 than squeeze 3 into the same time. If enough time given then it should be student choice.

cantkeepawayforever Wed 21-Oct-20 21:33:37

DD is doing Science A-levels on the back of combined - no issue at all, very high up in her groups despite almost all of the others having done triple (she moved schools for 6th form).

I would probe the school very carefully, including writing to the governors, getting absolutely everything in writing and, if necessary, raising the question with Ofsted, as my understanding that this 'cherry picking' of single sciences isn't allowed. I suspect they're a teacher or two down and are hoping to cover up.

cantkeepawayforever Wed 21-Oct-20 21:35:10

I am seriously thinking if we should move him before too late.

If that means he is currently in Y9 - do it.

gcsepanicmum Wed 21-Oct-20 22:33:05

No he doesn't know what he wants to go on to do but wants to do maths for his A-levels just because he likes it rather than having a particular career in mind. The other subject he always liked was chemistry but he also reads lots of physics related books for fun so he seems to enjoy both. He's less keen on biology but still good at it too.

The school hasn't announced the change officially yet. Apparently they are going to inform us next term. So I don't know the real reason for this change yet. They don't offer physics for A-level so that might be a reason for dropping physic from GCSE? We always thought DS could move for A-level if he wanted to study physic after GCSEs - it was perfectly manageable with good double science grades.

The school is perfect otherwise. DS is really happy there and wouldn't want to move.

OP’s posts: |
ErrolTheDragon Wed 21-Oct-20 22:52:33

* They don't offer physics for A-level so that might be a reason for dropping physic from GCSE? We always thought DS could move for A-level if he wanted to study physic after GCSEs - it was perfectly manageable with good double science grades.*

It's bad they don't offer physics at A level as it's a crucial subject for so many further options, but as you say, pupils can go elsewhere - if they've done the gcse or double science. Physics teachers are in short supply so maybe that explains the A levels, but graduates from most other STEM disciplines should be able to cope with teaching the physics element of double science I'd have thought.

TeenPlusTwenties Thu 22-Oct-20 08:14:15

That is atrocious!
I'd seriously consider moving elsewhere.

Aknifewith16blades Thu 22-Oct-20 09:05:07

I would have significant concerns that not providing GSCE level education in Physics would affect learning in other subjects (the other sciences and maths), both now and in the future.

Perfectly fine to offer combined science across all 3 subjects, but to randomly stop one is deeply concerning and I would be complaining to the governors/ thinking about moving school.

Comefromaway Thu 22-Oct-20 09:10:00

That is really odd.

Ds's school (he left last summer (Easter due to covid)) only offers single sciences but it offers all three and you have to do at least two.

TicTacTwo Thu 22-Oct-20 09:17:23

Is it a very small school if there's no A-level physics? I would have thought that the 3 sciences were taught at all schools, especially when physics is useful for many jobs like engineering and computer science.

My dd is predicted an A at A-level biology and did Combined Science

CarrieBlue Thu 22-Oct-20 10:44:31

Physics gcse is easier than biology if you can stick numbers in an equation - loads easier than making sure you include precisely the right word in an explanation.

Teachers should be qualified to teach all three sciences even if not a specialist physics teacher so there’s no excuse for such a terrible decision. If you can move your child, I would

Quarks69 Thu 22-Oct-20 11:22:03

cantkeepawayforever

DD is doing Science A-levels on the back of combined - no issue at all, very high up in her groups despite almost all of the others having done triple (she moved schools for 6th form).

I would probe the school very carefully, including writing to the governors, getting absolutely everything in writing and, if necessary, raising the question with Ofsted, as my understanding that this 'cherry picking' of single sciences isn't allowed. I suspect they're a teacher or two down and are hoping to cover up.

Definitely write to governors...and ofsted. If a school fails to provide a core subject like physics then ofsted need to know.

All Science teachers can teach to combined level in The other two subjects (even if begrudgingly!) this is totally unacceptable.

As a physics teacher I think this is very strange and reflects both their lack of ability to find physics teachers (possibly not their fault) and the inflexibility of their chemistry teachers (definitely their fault!)

TeenPlusTwenties Thu 22-Oct-20 11:32:15

Is this state or private?
If state I am amazed they are permitted to do this.
If private I am amazed paying parents would be happy with substandard service.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 22-Oct-20 11:33:20

* All Science teachers can teach to combined level in The other two subjects (even if begrudgingly!) this is totally unacceptable.

As a physics teacher I think this is very strange and reflects both their lack of ability to find physics teachers (possibly not their fault) and the inflexibility of their chemistry teachers (definitely their fault!)*

There's a shortage of chemistry teachers too, tbf.
But I'd have thought physics could be taught by some of the technology type teachers who unfortunately may not be being employed much in their specialisms nowadays.

....all these shortages of STEM teachers will only be compounded if schools are allowed to exclude their pupils from multiple branches at once by not teaching physics (some of the S, most of E and T, some of the M).

gcsepanicmum Thu 22-Oct-20 11:36:12

I understand the majority of schools offer at least combined science. Is there any school where they offer separate and let pupils take only two? If so why? I heard a single science is almost no point of doing. But how about two? For me, it has to be all three for GCSEs so either combined or triple.

OP’s posts: |
Seeline Thu 22-Oct-20 11:38:31

IF your DS is really keen on maths and sciences, I would be extremely concerned that he was effectively having to rule out A level physics at this stage. It is the cornerstone for many - if not most - engineering type degrees (of which there is a vast array) as well as computing, maths, design etc.

I would seriously consider moving him if this really is what the school are planning.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 22-Oct-20 11:41:18

DDs school (a GS, and before the reforms so not exactly comparable) only did single sciences. But they all had to do all three; literally one or two who were struggling were allowed to drop one of them (it was always chemistry, I think).

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