Science BTEC compared to GCSEs - I don't believe it can be worth 4 GCSEs

(61 Posts)
bargainmad Thu 17-Sep-09 12:50:46

My son is in year 10 and is just starting his science GCSEs (2) or so I thought he was. I phoned the school last week as he told me he has been put in a lower ability group with disruptive pupils and I wasn't happy, neither was he.

I have just received a phone call from his teacher to say she can move him but he will be in a BTEC science group where potentially he can get 4 GCSEs.

This is the same teacher who last year told me if my son didn't pull his socks up he would be doing BTEC science which, and she said this to me on the last parents evening "has the same stigma as doing CSEs in the 80's compared to doing O levels".

When I heard this I made him work his socks off for the end of year exam and he did a lot better than expected.

She denied she said this and I am absolutely fuming they are now backtracking.

In my opinion they are doing this to "cook the books" and have more children leaving the school with a higher number of GCSEs.

I have told them I want my son to do 2 straight science GCSEs.

siouxsieandthebanshees Thu 17-Sep-09 23:13:34

Go see the school.
Because -

BTEC Introductory Diploma - Level 1 qualification, roughly equivalent to 4 GCSEs at D-F grades or a Foundation GNVQ
(from wiki)

So yeah, I agree its CSE over O Levels like she said.

2shoes Thu 17-Sep-09 23:16:56

i thought a BTEC WAS WORTH 2 GCSE'S

TheFallenMadonna Thu 17-Sep-09 23:18:00

It may be the BTEC First Diploma in Applied Science, which is indeed the 'equivalent' of 4 GCSEs at grade C or above, but is not a preparation for A level sciences.

And yes, it does help the schools numbers. But for some children, it is a more appropriate course. What is his target grade for GCSE? And what are the 'low ability' group studying for? IME these are the groups that do BTEC, although it's not the group targetted by the exam boards for it.

TheFallenMadonna Thu 17-Sep-09 23:18:42

Depends on the BTEC 2shoes.

siouxsieandthebanshees Thu 17-Sep-09 23:23:25

I copied and pasted my statement from wiki.
But, I had a discussion last week at dd's school about what BTEC's are equal too.

KembleTwins Thu 17-Sep-09 23:23:31

But there are also BTEC firsts (Level 2 qualification) and BTEC Nationals (Level 3) which can be, and are, taught alongside GCSEs & A Levels. BTEC firsts are the equivalent of 4 GCSEs, and it is possible to get the "equivalent" of A/A* grades. I have taught BTEC firsts and BTEC Nationals, admitedly in Performing Arts, and the qualifications ARE seen as just as good - within the right contexts. What I mean is, sixth forms would accept that a BTEC First in applied science is as good as a GCSE in Double Science, and would understand what the grading system means. So your DS would not be at a disadvantage. IME, the prolem is with perception, and often parents do not get the full story, and therefore assume that the BTEC is not as good a qualification. In your case, OP, it seems that the teacher herself has been unfairly misleading, and is clearly now trying to backtrack. If I were you, I would make an appointment to see the head of science, and get all the facts about the two courses, what they mean for your DS and how he is likely to perform in both cases. Then make the decision based on what is best for him - in terms of qualification AND teaching group.

TheFallenMadonna Thu 17-Sep-09 23:28:39

Hmm - While schools may recognise the equivalence for the purposes of entry to the sixth form, I would say again that the BTEC First Diploma is not a preparation for A level Sciences. I am a Science teacher and I teach the BTEC First Diploma and A level. But yes - you need the full info before he moves sets.

ravenAK Thu 17-Sep-09 23:28:58

Depends on his (realistic) target. If he's likely to get a C or above, I'd be unhappy at seeing him entered for BTEC.

They are a very good way for schools to bean count - our current Y11s are doing a BTEC in 'Work Skills' which has been sold to them as a) 'equivalent to a grade B GCSE' hmm & b) 'just putting lots of stuff you do anyway into a folder'.

If he is currently in a lower set for GCSE Science then the question should be 'Can he be moved up, & if so what are the targets he needs to hit to show that he could cope in a higher set?'

However, you may have to accept that he wouldn't be able to access the work in a higher set: in which case it probably is most appropriate that he's in the lower GCSE set or the BTEC group. It would be helpful for you to know what the average GCSE target for his current set is - if he's likely to exceed it then he has a fighting chance of moving up.

bargainmad Fri 18-Sep-09 13:14:31

From his tracking (which I don't believe is accurate and would be for another discussion altogher!) he is a straight A student.

I think he realistically should get a mixture of As and Bs. I don't see any reason why he shouldn't at least get Cs in science.

I really do think that BTECs are for pupils who can't pass GCSEs.

I really don't think he would want to study any sciences past GCSE level but it is the principle of the matter.

They are pushing students to do BTEC so it makes their figures look good.

The ridiculous thing is the school has "specialist science college" status.

He is doings straight GCSEs in all his other subjects except music which is a BTEC also (and which again we have been told is worth 4 GCSEs).

He could fail everything and get excellent results in science and music BTEC come out with 8 GCSEs. This says it all.

VulpusinaWilfsuit Fri 18-Sep-09 13:43:13

I would absolutely refuse if this happened to my kid. Insist on the separate science GCSEs, and consider ways of getting him re-streamed?

Specialist science college doesn't necessarily mean they are good at science; in fact it can (and often does) mean entirely the opposite...

TheFallenMadonna Fri 18-Sep-09 17:44:07

If he is getting As then BTEC is not the course for him. I wouldn't necessarily insist on separate sciences (although someone with As predicted should certainly give it consideration), but certainly dual award GCSE, and not Applied anything.

TheFallenMadonna Fri 18-Sep-09 17:46:45

What group is he in now BTW. You said 'low ability', which someone targeted an A certainly isn't, but I do know from experience that that can mean quite different things in different schools. What is the range of target grades for the group he is in?

mumeeee Fri 18-Sep-09 21:34:40

a Btech first diploma is worth 4 GCSE's at A-C level. The qualifications are just as good as GCSE's. They are not just for pupils who can't pass GCSE's but may be better suited to those who struggle with exams. There is still a lot of work but it is on going assesments rather than big exams at the end.

KembleTwins Fri 18-Sep-09 21:39:21

I find this all a little distasteful - it's no wonder that newer qualifications have such a poor reputation when supposedly educated parents are so down on them. Is this how it was when GCSEs replaced O Levels? BTECs are assessed in a different way, but are not for thick kids who can't manage GCSEs. How helpful do you think it is for your own children if parents are condemning the courses they are taking? It's the sodding Daily Mail exams-ain't-what-they-used-to-be crowd.

TheFallenMadonna Fri 18-Sep-09 22:27:44

I teach the BTEC. In fact, I've introduced it to my school. I'm not 'down on it'. It is not the right Science course for a child who has a target grade of A, because it isn't good preparation for A level Sciences, and the beginning of year 10 is early to be closing those doors unecessarily.

KembleTwins Fri 18-Sep-09 22:33:45

I teach BTEC too - but Performing Arts not Science, so perhaps my experienes are different. I think more and more schools are moving towards it, though, for a variety of reasons, and therefore really do think that parents have to get away from the idea that it is a sub-standard qualification. Several of the students I have taught BTEC Higher PA to are off to perfectly credible universities this week or next. It didn't seem to affect their ability to get in. I will say again, though - I fully accept that Performing Arts may simply be a more appropriate subject for BTEC.

TheFallenMadonna Fri 18-Sep-09 22:37:16

I think its a great course for many students. But not for a child with a target grade of A. Not in Science.

KembleTwins Fri 18-Sep-09 22:51:37

I disagree that it's not a great course for A graders. Not if you're talking in general terms. Again, I admit I do not know the ins and outs of the Science course.

TheFallenMadonna Fri 18-Sep-09 22:57:18

It isn't a good course for students targeted an A because it doesn't lead well into the A level Science courses. Now of course that might not matter if a child is absolutely certain that they don't want to take A level Sciences. But that is a big ask of a child just starting KS4. I know that in my school the situation with Art is quite different, and so am not surprised that Performing Arts would be the same. But the OP was talking about Science.

KembleTwins Fri 18-Sep-09 23:03:02

Fair enough. Just got hmm about the posts which seemed to imply that BTECs are for numpties. Or just so schools can try to artifically up their A*-C figures.

TheFallenMadonna Fri 18-Sep-09 23:04:58

To be fair, they are much-loved of SLTs for that reason...

KembleTwins Fri 18-Sep-09 23:06:56

True. grin

Bigboots Fri 18-Sep-09 23:28:37

I teach the Performing Arts Btec First and as a course, love it! Brilliant for the kids, great to teach. However my friend is head of science and was considering it for those who struggle with the applied science course - she was told on a course by the Edexcel tutor that (as KembleTwins has said) it DOES NOT equip students for A level - despite the 'equivalent to 4 GCSE's' statement. She has disregarded it for this reason. Make an appointment with his teacher!

TheFallenMadonna Fri 18-Sep-09 23:31:28

But the applied science course doesn't prepare for A level either. We've replaced our Applied GCSE with the BTEC First in Applied Science. We've kept triple and dual award for those who might conceivably do Science A level. I much prefer it to 21st Century Addtional Applied - that really was awful.

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