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GCSE and other choices

26 Feb 2010 9:07AM
Are there any parents in the same boat as me at the moment and trying to father GCSE choices for their children? I went to an Options meeting last night and there are so many choices for my daughter. Its going to be a difficult decision but she is not even sure what she wants to do with her life yet. I know some children make up their minds very early about what they want to do but what do you do if you are unsure?

The whole system is in the process of changing soon with Apprenticeships, diplomas etc being brought in in addition (as I understand it) to GCSEs.

Apart from the compulsory subjects of maths, english, science etc there are 3 optional choices from a list of 13 other subjects, she is struggling to get these down past 8 at the moment!

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Stewy Plus
11 103 2 England
26 Feb 2010 10:02AM
It is hard isn't it. I think you are very lucky if you know what you want to do for the rest of your life when you are just 13/14!

With my son, he's nearly 17 now and into his A Levels, it was easier, as he knew he wanted to do something to do with sport, (physio/tranining, that sort of thing), so he took the three sciences as separate subjects, rather than just the "standard" science. The advantage of this is that gives you three subjects rather than just the one. Helps eliminate some of the others. Smile

If you dauhgter likes/is good at these that might be one idea.

As a general rule I would say do what she likes/is good at. I know that might sound obvious, but if you are unsure what to do, there is a temptation to "do what your friends do", just so you be with them and "have fun", rather than thinking of your own future.

At the end of the day, at this stage I would say it is better to get more good grades in as many subjects as she can, rather than be too concerned with the actual subjects. It is the next stage, A Levels which are more critical choice wise, as the choice here will ultimately narrow her options if she is planning to go on to university.

I hope this helps in some way. Good luck. Smile

Gaucho 16 2.8k 2 United Kingdom
26 Feb 2010 10:04AM
I would strongly suggest a language be included, spanish potentially being the most useful. After that it depends on what subjects she enjoys, or more likely Smile, will tolerate. There are a few sites that may help. We allowed our two to more or less make their own decisions, me having been pushed into a career path I never really enjoyed. They chose the arts, and though they may never be multi millionaires they are both well rounded individuals and, crucially, happy. Good luck!

crookymonsta Plus
10 837 10 England
26 Feb 2010 11:04AM
A very difficult time for you and your daughter but in some ways you are lucky as she does seem to enjoy so many subjects. There are several methods you could use, try to get her to list the eight remaining subjects in order of preference on paper or put them in pairs and chose one from each pair, then there will only be one to elliminate. Check back through her exam results to see which subject she excels at. Put a slip of paper with each subject in a hat and draw three out, she will soon say if one she really wants to do doesn't come out.

If your daughter wants to travel at some point a language could be beneficial but beyond that the core subjects should ensure that she can follow any career path, the other subjects chosen really don't matter too much at this stage. The main thing is that she feels happy and confident with the subjects.

Good luck.

Overread 9 4.1k 19 England
26 Feb 2010 11:23AM
A language is normaly on the core requirements - at least when I did them you couldn't get out of doing a language (even if you could prove you were hopeless at it Tongue ). I agree don't dry to force them into taking subjects they don't want to - if they don't want to or like the subject they won't work and won't get the grade (and sadly these days the grade is about all that matters - the actual info you learn is not really that important to employers and even most uni courses cover the basics and more in the first year).

A-levels are the more important - but if you think either of them are hard uni is a darn impossibility Sad
Soo many options even in the same subject and big differeneces between the unis in what they offer. I would even argue that unless they have a dead certain plan of action (ie they really love the subject and just want to learn or they have a career path in mind) I would not even push them in that direction - very easy to get 2 years in and find its the wrong course
Imagine23 11 241 United Kingdom
26 Feb 2010 4:03PM
It doesn't really matter what subjects she does at GCSE level - A-level choices are more critical, as has been mentioned. I'm in agreement that selecting subjects that she enjoys doing would probably be a good move, as shes likely to get better grades in those ones. L Smile
whipspeed 13 4.2k 22 United Kingdom
26 Feb 2010 5:15PM
Best to go with what she enjoys as they will probably be what she is also good at & get the best results.
We were very lucky, Simon knew from really quite early that whatever he did would be science based, so all the way through took separate sciences at GCSE, along with English, Maths and History and then took all three sciences at A level and Maths to AS. He did find it hard at times, but now is at uni studying biomedical science and has a bursary from the local hospital to pay his fees and wages for working in the holidays and a hopeful job afterwards. So from our experience at least, what he enjoyed he worked at.
26 Feb 2010 5:16PM
Thanks for all your advice Smile She is taking Spanish as a GCSE, French is on the list as optional but although I'd love her take this at GCSE if she does then that limits the other subjects she wants to do. She is very much geared up for the Arts and Design (her DT Teacher said she is one of the best he's ever taught!) but being at language school has also been good for her, she wants to do Russian next year!

She has to pick 3 from Art (including Art Textiles), Child Development, Citizenship (she always gets 100% pass mark), DT Graphics, DT Textiles, French, History, ICT, Music, Sports Studies, Business Studies, Chinese, DT Electronics, DT Resistant Materials, Food and Nutrition, Geography, Humanities, Media, Performing Arts, Personal & Social Development.
LensYews 9 1.3k 1 United Kingdom
26 Feb 2010 6:54PM
If she doesn't know want she wants to do yet, the languages and sciences would be good choices that can be adapted to most areas of life (most good universities will require a language, a European Union job requires English, French & German). The subjects she likes are good choices as they increase the enjoyment of the course and the liklihood of better grades at the end of the course. The other route is to choose courses that will develop her as a person, on the basis that understanding yourself better increases your self confidence which can be a crucial life skill (performing arts or Personal & Social development). Finally the future is going to be Chinese (very tough, I tried to learn Manderin a couple years ago and couldn't train my tongue to pronounce the words), health focused (Food & Nutrition?) or environmental sciences (Geography) which might be a consideration. I'd avoid business studies at this age and would question the value of media and Citizenship as well.

So perhaps sit down with her and talk through the pros and cons of each of the courses, and help her to make an informed choice.

I know what you mean by being pushed down a career path, I had the same experience and didn't really know what I wanted to do until a couple years after I left university. I was lucky and my studies were close enough to what I wanted to do to allow me to change direction without retraining.

What on earht is "DT Resistant Materials", perhaps light when presented with a digital camera?
blackbird 11 159 15 United Kingdom
26 Feb 2010 7:35PM

Quote:What on earht is "DT Resistant Materials",

he he Smile Design technology, basically woodwork and metalwork updated!
camay 11 139 3 England
26 Feb 2010 8:55PM
I know in theory that all subjects are classed as equal, but I would imagine that the more traditional universities would still prefer passes in the more traditional subjects, because of the rigorous grounding given in them. So I would pass by the Citizenship and Child Development etc and concentrate on the French, History, Geograpy and Humanities.
Overread 9 4.1k 19 England
26 Feb 2010 9:49PM
GCSE level they only really look to for the core subjects and if any specific ones are in line with your degree choice (eg if you go for say a language or art course they would like that you have a GCSE in that but its not essential). Mostly they only look at the grades for GCSE - its Alevel where both subject and grade matter a lot more.

Only the big units (Cambridge - Oxford type) really put much weight on the GCSEs and they have given up with them now (so many applicants with straight As) that they have their own internal examinatins for entry to try and filter the students.
28 Feb 2010 6:21PM
Thanks very much for all your advice its beginning to make more sense now Smile
Squirrel 11 450 6 England
28 Feb 2010 10:50PM
I hate to depress you but just wait its gets worse.

My daughter is doing GCSE's in may. They have 5 compulsory subjects at her school English, Maths, Science, RE and PE. plus she has chosen Graphics, Spanish and History. She applied to the school sixth form last december. To get into the sixth form she must have minimum 5 GCSE's grades A-C. and must have passed the subjects she wants to study at A level with grade A or B.
Sus 13 3.2k 9 England
28 Feb 2010 11:03PM

Quote:She has to pick 3 from Art (including Art Textiles), Child Development, Citizenship (she always gets 100% pass mark), DT Graphics, DT Textiles, French, History, ICT, Music, Sports Studies, Business Studies, Chinese, DT Electronics, DT Resistant Materials, Food and Nutrition, Geography, Humanities, Media, Performing Arts, Personal & Social Development.

OK, I'm gonna look at this brutally, from my perspective, and knowing nothing about your daughter:

Many of these are OUT for me, as has been said, A level more crucial, but many of these mean nothing to me and will mean even less to universities. I would honestly stick with the more traditional subject titles, Geography, History, ICT are the only ones that stand out for me. Electronics and Resistant Materials - if this means physics then great, go for it. I loved food and nutrition but it was my luxury subject. I don't think personal and social development will mean much at that age, you have to be middleaged to really appreciate the mistakes you made Smile

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