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Are BTECs better for disorganised teens?

(33 Posts)
lljkk Sat 20-Apr-13 14:56:33

Or maybe I should ask, which GCSEs involve the most in-class work vs. lots of home revision?

DS does decent/good standard of work in class but he hates nearly all forms of homework and does only the bare minimum (I know this is common). I have been browsing about books to transform lazy/disorganised teens but I am not the kind of person to make those strategies work (they seem to all involve me being closely involved with managing his homework load). Sorry if that makes me a crap parent, I just can't do it. So am considering other strategies if DS never decides to self-organise.

Do BTECs work differently from GCSEs dependent on homestudy, are BTECs more about standard of work produced in a working environment and less on pouring over books at home? I know DS could do quite well at that.

KelleStar Sat 20-Apr-13 18:50:17

I think it varies by subject, the exam boards usually have a breakdown on their websites of the assessment type. BTEC First is the same level as GCSE's, the Award is equivalent. To 1 GCSE, Certificate 2, and Diploma 3 iirc.

I am on my phone so can't link, but it may be worth thinking of a subject available in both GCSE and BTEC and comparing the assessment methods.

Rosesforrosie Sat 20-Apr-13 18:54:14

If your DS is bright a lack of GCSESs in favour of BTECs on his CV will be limiting. Be very careful.

lisad123everybodydancenow Sat 20-Apr-13 18:57:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lljkk Sat 20-Apr-13 19:13:27

Oh Fig, BTECs sound complicated, too. BTEC First?

Guess I am trying to figure out which age-16 qualifications require the bulk of the work, or the most important part of the work, done in the classroom during school time, rather than homework he has to organise himself.

DS will have to do a min. 5-6 GCSEs at his school, anyway, it's just what kind of options he would do as well. No idea if DS qualifies as "bright", but I imagine an A at BTEC (or whatever highest mark is) would be better than an E/F in GCSE.

greenteawithlemon Sat 20-Apr-13 19:20:10

He probably shouldn't do art, or a tech- graphics, textiles etc.

Aside from that, he'll be fine. He may find the GCSE pressure gives him a kick up the bum.

flow4 Sat 20-Apr-13 23:34:54

There are level 2 BTECs and level 3 BTECs. The former are also called 'BTEC firsts' and are at the same level as GCSEs. They tend to be vocational/practical/applied subjects rather than theoretical/academic ones. So for example media, childcare, music, IT, engineering...

There's a list of all the BTEC subjects offered by EdExcell (the biggest exam board) here.

If it's any consolation lljkk, my son did no homework for his GCSEs (and I mean literally none except for less than an hour when I practicially nailed him to a chair to get him to look at maths past papers) - the school organised sessions within the school day for the kids who weren't self-motivated to do the revision and coursework they needed to do. He still got 5 including English and maths, which is all a teen needs to go on to do A levels or a BTEC level 3 course at college/in sixth form...

greenteawithlemon Sat 20-Apr-13 23:37:43

Aren't the BTECs practically all coursework? And by the sounds of it that wouldn't suit OPs son at all.

Rosesforrosie Sat 20-Apr-13 23:52:28

Better than an E or an F yes, but if your DS is year 9 how do you know what his work ethic will be like over the next few years. I've seen many a ks3 wastrel turn it around once they are doing subjects they deem important/ have public exams looming.

What does the school say?

seeker Sun 21-Apr-13 00:03:41

"but I am not the kind of person to make those strategies work (they seem to all involve me being closely involved with managing his homework load). Sorry if that makes me a crap parent, I just can't do it"

Yes you can. I'm afraid it goes with the territory.

CarpeVinum Sun 21-Apr-13 00:09:14

I've seen many a ks3 wastrel turn it around once they are doing subjects they deem important/ have public exams looming

<feels more cheerful>

Maryz Sun 21-Apr-13 00:21:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sashh Sun 21-Apr-13 07:09:27

BTECS are 100% course work.

A lot is left the way the teacher delivers and the equipment available.

eg my subject is Health and Social Care, one unit (and I think most BTECs have this) in health and safety. Part of this is to identify 10 hazards in a parrticular setting

I do it with a resuscitation doll sat up in bed with an oxygen mask on, the oxygen tube trailing across the floor where there is a pile of dirty washing.

There is usually some vomit about (porridge) and a plastic dog turd. some times in a commode, sometimes in the sink. There will be a used examination glove, which may or ma not have had a finger dipped in nutella.

I have a tick sheet, the students come in and list the hazards they see. Once they get to 10 they have passed. I then ask supplementary questions about each hazard and record the answer.

Now another teacher may simply give a piece of homework that says:

"identify 10 hazards in the work place and state why they are a hazard"

The latter isn't any better or worse (and if you don't have the luxury of a clinical room may be impossible) but it is more 'dry'.

From what you have said OP I would guess the former would appeal but the written would not.

I teach level 3 and most student go into health care and because of the practical elements IMHO it is a better grounding than A Levels.

Again IMHO the students that do best are the one that put the effort in.

lljkk Sun 21-Apr-13 09:32:27

Darn, doesn't sound like anything will suit DS better than any other option. Other than avoiding the most homework-intensive things (like Art & cooking).

seeker Sun 21-Apr-13 09:59:32

Would it be very unkind to say that you really need to get a hold on this? He will be closing so many doors on himself if he doesn't get at least the mare minimum GcSEs- what does he want to do when he leaves school?

lljkk Sun 21-Apr-13 10:30:31

Yes, very unkind.

flow4 Sun 21-Apr-13 10:51:05

I don't agree with that, seeker. IMO, doors don't close at year 9 because a young person chooses BTECs rather than GCSEs: doors close because they get turned off education, and disengage. The most important thing - and the challenge - is to help them find something they want to do - whatever that is. Motivation is the key.

At GCSE level, they need 5 passes grade A*-C to get onto A level or BTEC level 3 courses. That's all. They don't need the 10-11 GCSEs schools put them through, and if they go on to do well on their level 3 courses, no-one will ever ask about their GCSEs ever again, except to check they have English and maths.

I know several bright kids who have taken the BTEC route, and gone on to university.

I taught on an 'access to HE course', designed for adults who had left school with few/no qualifications, but who had now become motivated to go to uni. When they left school, they thought doors were shut to them... But it's literally never too late to push on a door, and discover you can actually open it if you want to.

BTECs seem much better at motivating some kids, probably because of their practical nature. (Oh and btw, 'coursework' doesn't mean 'homework': most BTEC coursework is done in class). My own DS1 hated GCSEs and did the bare minimum (or less), and was talking about spending his life on the dole... Now he's on a BTEC media course, really enjoying it, and is talking about uni...

lljkk, my advice (FWIW) would be to help your DS find something he loves, or at least likes, that will keep him engaged. Don't worry about what he 'should' be doing: think about his motivation, because if there's something - anything - he wants to do, he'll be alright in the end. smile

seeker Sun 21-Apr-13 11:23:59

Doors aren't permanently closed, obviously. But it's easier if you can get the basic bits of paper at the same time as your peers do.

Maryz Sun 21-Apr-13 13:10:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lljkk Sun 21-Apr-13 15:19:15

DS is motivated to play video games, paint Warhammer figures and to search for pornography online. Not sure which qualifications are available for those things, though. wink

I am foreign & find the English secondary education system bewildering.

Rosesforrosie Sun 21-Apr-13 18:11:42

It is bewildering. The 'safest' advice I can give you is to stick with the traditional. Ideally a min of 7 (max 9) GCSEs A-C (including English, Maths and some kind of Science).

I wouldn't divert to 'equivalents' unless you genuinely believe your DS will FAIL to achieve the above. The school will be able to advise you as to the liklihood of a clutch of A-C if you ask the question, but bare in mind they may have ulterior motives for pushing 'equivalents'. 'The best' UK schools don't do this, because it is limiting for those with reasonable intellect.

This opinion might get me a flaming in some quarters but it is my advice. -teacher at leading independent school, who regularly sees kids get top university places, despite being 'moderately' intelligent, and disengaged in yr9

havenlady Mon 22-Apr-13 08:16:46

My DS is disorganised and did bare minimum for GCSEs. Managed to pass them all (just). Teachers spend a lot of time going over stuff in class up til study leave, so they are effectively revising in class.
Now he is doing A levels. Still not a high flier, but it more motivated because he has chosen the subjects. And yes the more vocational A levels do suit him better, principally because more is done in class, which helps with his disorganisation.
So I would say get him through as many GCSEs as is reasonable - this may involve enforcing an hour a day or whatever, to get him to the next stage.
BTW has he been screened for any difficulties? My DS is Dyspraxic - hence poor concentration and lack of enthusiasm for school in general!! A diagnosis doesn't solve many problems, but help you get a bit more support.

LIZS Mon 22-Apr-13 08:22:51

If the only reason he might fail GCSE (E/F) is that he is too lazy to apply himself then he shouldn't go down the BTEC route. The coursework and research is also done in own time and these are perceived less favourably by non-vocational employers. He won't be successful at either unless he does some work.

sashh Mon 22-Apr-13 09:40:36


This is why I think all children should be given the option at 14 to leave school and go to college. By the time they are 16 they are totally turned off learning and it's hard to reengage them.

With the best will in the world most school teachers would have to give the written form. Schools are not set up for vocational qualifications, well some are, but it tends to be in just one field.

lljkk Mon 22-Apr-13 09:47:10

Don't some GCSEs require a lot more out-of-class work than others? I think Art is usually cited as a GCSE that requires a huge amount of work. Which GCSEs require the least out-of-class work, or just the least work overall?

Just found out DS may not have to do a MFL; hooray! That was a surefire F.

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