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Advice from Secondary Heads

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by MrsC@TheGates, Jan 28, 2011.

  1. Hi,

    I'm a primary head, but my question is as a parent of Y9 child, currently taking options.
    Would your advice be about ensuring the range required for baccalaureate? In your opinion, is it really going to be necessary for university access and is RE likley to be included?
    I think it's really unfair that things are changing so rapidly and my poor daughter, or her teachers, don't seem to be sure about any of this.


     
  2. Hi,

    I'm a primary head, but my question is as a parent of Y9 child, currently taking options.
    Would your advice be about ensuring the range required for baccalaureate? In your opinion, is it really going to be necessary for university access and is RE likley to be included?
    I think it's really unfair that things are changing so rapidly and my poor daughter, or her teachers, don't seem to be sure about any of this.


     
  3. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    It's very, very difficult to predict how the Russell group of universities will respond at the moment (the rest are unlikely to narrow their entrance criteria so much, but those in the top 20 might do), but given the difficulty in sorting the abilities of candidates based purely on A level grades, I wouldn't rule out the proposed five subjects being deemed essential for many subjects at the most popular universities.
    I can't see RE being included, I really can't - teaching the full GCSE to the numbers involved would stretch most schools to breaking point, apart from anything else. if I were you, however, I'd ensure she does choose a modern language (or classical, if that's on offer at her school) and either double science or two or three separate ones.
    Doe she have any particular strengths at the moment which give an idea of what she might be heading for at A level, or is she still a generalist? Any specific weaknesses?
     
  4. frymeariver

    frymeariver New commenter

    I told the parents at our Options Evening that I would advise my own child to opt in as we don't yet know the impact of opting out. I know that the admissions tutors for medicine at Birmingham City University already use GCSEs to filter applicants: we were told at a G&T event there you need at least 5 A*s to be conisdered for an offer whatever your A Level predictions might be. How long before the 5 E Bacc subjects are used for the same purposes?
     
  5. Thanks both (and glad you are still speaking to me Middlemarch!).
    I do feel for secondary schools- it seems so unfair that such sweeping changes can be brought so quickly. How will they work staffing and timetabling around the significant differences in numbers in some subjects? I can't see how The Government can expect further improved results in the first few years of such an upheaval and I assume that in some schools many teachers may be required to teach well out of their expertise??
    Your responses did confirm what my daughter and I have been thinking- best to ensure she covers the subjects required.
    She's still quite a generalist, with a strength in English but on track for A-C in all subjects. Her school makes RE compulsory and with the other compulsory subjects it doesn't leave much 'option' at all really. But she has vastly different opinions towards some of the subjects- even though she achieves similar levels/progress rates. I am concerned that this might be down to the individual teachers, who might not necessarily teach her in the GCSE courses.
    Although currently in the G&T streams, I don't think she'd be looking at the top 20 universities (but obviously wouldn't rule it out if she was prepared to work for it)- better start getting quotes for re-mortgaging the house now!
    She's only choosing to do one language and, yes, all 3 sciences. I think the big choice is whether to take geography (she's not keen on history which dismays me as I love it). However, I think by taking geography she will have to drop either music or drama which were the more enjoyable subjects (as she perceives them).
    Career wise- well we'll see, but she has mentioned being an English teacher! I think her current teacher has inspired her. And, she's also keen on music and performing.
    Just when you think being a HT is heard, you realise that being a parent is always more difficult.
    Thanks again for responding. It's really difficult to support her now she is our of the primary phase- even some of her homework is getting a bit hard for me now! :-(
     
  6. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Get away with you! [​IMG]
    It's criminal that she might have to choose between music and geography, purely because Gove's deemed geography as one of the subjects you can't get through life without doing. Music is far more challenging than geography at GCSE (the latter being a bit of a walk in the park as far as I'm concerned - history is much harder).
    She must be reasonably bright at least if she's doing all 3 sciences, however - why don't you think she'll be on for one of the top 20?

     
  7. Thanks.
    I'm not sure she's as G&T as the school thinks (staff don't see the tears at 11pm when she can't do her homework and my tears when I can't do some of it either!) and she's making only very steady progress in most subjects (in my opinion) across KS3. She's able, but towards the bottom of the top set in a school producing average results. So, top 20 universities might not be what she will aim for. And, I'm not sure as yet if she will have dedication (she's not great fan of school I'm afraid).
    Maybe GCSE courses will change this a bit.
    I'm rather frustrated as a parent, as I am sure the teachers and head are because nobody seems to know what is going on. The school has said it may allow students to take additional GCSEs but I assume this will depend on capacity. It also adds a lot more pressure to students.
    I agree, it's a crime to have to drop music for geography. She plays guitar, mainly self taught, and is a good singer. I was hoping this would make her workload during GCSE courses a little lighter as that and drama are hobbies that she could score good grades in while having fun. I think with her disposition she'll see the other subjects as more of a chore.
    Really not sure what Gove thinks he's playing at making a changes to Y9 just as students are taking options. Why not start with the current Y7 cohort if changes are really necessary and give schools a bit of time to plan for it. Typical government- no matter what colour they are!
     
  8. A motion has been tabled in the House of Commons to try and get RE considered a Humanities subject for the EBacc, along with History and Geography, however, I doubt that anything would be changed for this coming academic year.
    In our school those considered capable of meeting the EBacc curriculum are being strongly persuaded to go down that route - like others have said I think that the Russell Group may use this eventually as another selection route.
     

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