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Academically able children - As level or early GCSE?

(28 Posts)
tatt Mon 31-Aug-09 22:15:14

If your child is doing well at school does the school put them in for Gse early or have them do AS level or iGCSE instead of standard GCSE? if so what do you think of it?

Piffle Mon 31-Aug-09 22:25:25

My son did 2 GCSEs early, well the more able students did maths stats and an additional advanced maths qualification thingy. Plus bigger load of gcses... He is doing 14.5 in total
You have to have done the gcse to do the as/A level I expect.

MmeProf Mon 31-Aug-09 22:40:14

Mine do their GCSEs in Year 10 and AS levels in Year 11.

tatt Mon 31-Aug-09 22:41:34

the Times was suggesting some schools skip GCSE and go straight to AS level. I've also heard of a school doing Critical thinking AS at the same time as GCSE and quite a few seem to do maths/english GCSE early.

Do you think the 14.5 GCSEs help him? What are the extra ones in?

tatt Mon 31-Aug-09 22:42:39

MmeProf - how many AS do they do? Does that mean making career choices early?

MmeProf Mon 31-Aug-09 22:48:04

My DS did French AS in Y11, and a further 5 AS levels in Y12. He has forgotten about his French and it makes no impact on his career choices. I'm sure there are fellow students who took A2 in Y12 and that it is something that they are thinking about keeping up in the future.

cat64 Mon 31-Aug-09 23:05:16

Message withdrawn

KembleTwins Mon 31-Aug-09 23:14:39

Don't think an AS Level instead of a GCSE would work in some subjects. They're too different, IMO. Doing an AS in a subject not taken at GCSE (critical thinking, pyschology, etc) would prob work.

snorkle Tue 01-Sep-09 00:27:30

Our school offers Computing AS as a GCSE option for more able students and another local school does the same with Critical Thinking. I suspect quite a few kids would be able to cope with AS levels in place of some GCSEs.

As for iGCSEs I don't believe there is all that much difference between them and normal GCSEs, though they are supposed to be a bit harder/more traditional.

tatt Tue 01-Sep-09 08:55:31

We haven't yet got to AS level, that is something I have yet to learn about and my children's school are not very informative.

snorkle Tue 01-Sep-09 10:49:38

Tatt, I would have thought doing early ASs would allow you to keep more career choices open rather than the other way around.

What subjects do you think wouldn't work KT? I can't think of any.

A grammar school where a friend's ds goes offers ASs in English Language, General Studies, Performing Arts and Science for Public Understanding in year 11. They all do English GCSE early then I think either retake or do the AS and the science GCSE modules are sat early too, again some retake & others do the Science AS or focus on other GCSEs.

I don't really know how that sits with sixth form studies - I imagine if you are science-oriented you would really want to do some combination of Bio/Chem/Physics rather than take Science for Public Understanding further and English students might be steered towards English Literature rather than Language, so maybe they tend to start a new set of ASs in L6 and do sixth form in the usual way but end up with a wider range of AS levels than usual.

My dcs school plan to offer Computing A2 as a yr12 option (as a 4th or even 5th AS choice), but the disadvantage is if you decide you don't like one of your other AS choices you can't drop it for A2 because you can't continue further with the computing if you see what I mean (ie if you did maths, physics, french AS and computing A2 in yr12, planning to do maths, physics & french A2 in yr13, then decided you really, really didn't like physics, you wouldn't have another subject to do in its place at A2 level). The other option if you have done early ASs is to do different subjects for a year and then resume some old ones in U6 - giving you more choice of A2 (and maybe careers) at around the same time as you are choosing university courses - so that keeps your options open for longer really. Ds is hoping to do Chemistry AS early, do a different AS in its place in yr12 and probably then pick it up again in yr13 for example.

mumoverseas Tue 01-Sep-09 12:51:01

maybe I'm being a bit thick but how can you do half a GCSE (I'm old school, O 'levels) so showing my age here.

My DS did a few GCSEs early, french at 13, law at 14 (independently not at school) and then maths at school at 15 with a few of his peers and they then started on the AS level in maths.

He has just done the rest of his I/GCSEs and will start A levels later this week so hopefully the headstart in maths will help as he is doing Maths and further maths

snorkle Tue 01-Sep-09 13:12:11

They offer 'short course' GCSEs in some subjects nowadays mumoverseas which are worth half a full GCSE. The most popular one seems to be RE, presumably as schools have to do some RE and so think children may as well get a qualification in it, but don't want to timetable a full GCSEs worth of study. Another one you often see is ICT, there are probably others too.

KembleTwins Tue 01-Sep-09 13:12:13

I only meant that doing AS Levels instead of GCSEs wouldn't work in certain subjects - things like doing English or Maths AS rather than GCSE (which is what the OP was hinting at, I think - may have misunderstood) If a DC does GCSE early, then AS at Yr 11 is fine.

Hypothetically speaking, though, I think it would be great if someone somewhere could come up with something that bright or hard-working kids could do to enhance their curriculum rather than just doing more of the same. At the end of the day, having more than 4 or 5 subjects at 6th form level becomes irrelevent once the student has graduated onto the next level. Obviously there is a lot to be said for studying a wider range of subjects, and I'm all for learing for the job of it, but wouldn't it be nice if there was a genuine alternative to just doing the "normal" stuff early, or doing more of it?? Just pondering...

KembleTwins Tue 01-Sep-09 13:13:21

learning for the joy of it - sorry. Am eating lunch at the same time as typing.

snorkle Tue 01-Sep-09 13:27:14

I agree the curriculum isn't best suited to the more able Kembletwins, but I don't think there's an easy solution, so breadth of subjects and extra curricular stuff is about the best option. I still think doing AS instead of GCSE might work more often than you think - obviously for something like maths you would have covered the GCSE work as well, but not necessarily have sat the GCSE exam. I think there's a bit of a tendency to over-examine children these days and I don't really see the benefit of a GCSE certificate if you have or will have an AS.

Karam Tue 01-Sep-09 13:54:18

At the college I teach at, some schools make their brightest students do GCSEs in year 10 and then they do one/two AS levels alongside the rest of their GCSEs. The most common subjects are... Critical Thinking, Some kind of biology (not sure if it is human biology), maths and ICT.
HTH

KembleTwins Tue 01-Sep-09 17:16:53

I do wonder, though, snorkle, whether the rest of the world would realise that AS instead of GCSE is fine for brighter kids - or would they spend time explaining why there is no grade for GCSE Maths or English on job application forms?

I do agree there is a tendency to over-examine, though, and don't think that "more of the same" is particularly useful. When I was at 6th Form College (many moons ago) there was one feeder school from which all kids came with 12 or 13 GCSEs. Those of us who just had the standard 9 did wonder what the point was - after all, 5 would have done to get onto the next stage of education.

llareggub Tue 01-Sep-09 17:21:26

Some schools are supporting children through OU courses. I'm pretty sure there was an article in The Times on it. I thought that seemed like a good idea, allowing the student to develop research skills etc

KembleTwins Tue 01-Sep-09 17:24:49

How much is too much though? Developing research skills and independent learning sounds really worthwhile, but at what point does it stop? If a DC does GCSEs at yr 9 and AS/A2 Levels at Yr 10 or 11... I am really dubious about things happening too soon - who does it really benefit? I suppose it's quite unusual for a school to put students through the full range of GCSEs a year or two early - it's more likely to be just one or two. Even so...

Maybe I'll change my tune when my own children are in the secondary system - they're only 3 at the mo.

snorkle Tue 01-Sep-09 19:03:37

KT you may be right about the world view of GCSEs, but I'm not sure I'd want to work for someone who couldn't see that GCSE maths was redundant if you had maths at AS or A2.

KembleTwins Tue 01-Sep-09 19:09:23

I completely agree. Just think it would be nice if someone could come up with some fantastic alternative for DCs who are bright and ahead of the game, which is more imaginative than taking the same exams earlier. Maybe I'll suggest it to Gordon Brown (and David Cameron - let's not cut off options) and they can pay me an enormous amount to sit and think about it.

katiestar Tue 01-Sep-09 20:45:45

My DSs school (grammar) don't put any children in for early GCSEs.They can do AS Engineering if they want to (and pass their very stringent criteria).Otherwise they only do GCSEs.
Don't know why ?

katiestar Tue 01-Sep-09 20:47:50

probably looks better to have 10 A/A* GCSEs gained in one sitting and a range of extra curricular achievements, than doing GCSEs and AS levels early ??

tatt Wed 02-Sep-09 09:00:17

I was guessing that the schools that offer AS instead of GCSE don't expect children to do the full range of subjects offered at GSCE level. Therefore they'd limit what they could study at A level. But I don't know which schools do offer AS early, apart from one where I know its just critical thinking AS alongside GCSE.

Universities like a certain number of GCSEs obtained at one sitting - shows they aren't retakes and is said by schools to indicate being able to cope with a high workload.

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