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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 12:10 pm 
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I have been told by DS's French teacher that if he takes French a year early he would probably be in-line for an 'A' and that if he waits until year 11 he might scrape an 'A*'.
He has been in top set for French since year 7 which I think has helped him a great deal to progress as he is really not a natural (teacher agrees!) He has no plans (at this stage) to continue with French at A level and so I am thinking that he would better to take the GCSE early which will free him up a little in year 11 to concentrate on the subjects he is 'better' and more interested in. I don't think he himself is confident that he can get an 'A' if he takes it a year early but I'm sure with a little extra effort next year it can be done.
Any thoughts please?! He is my eldest and so GCSEs and options is all new to me!
Edited to clarify my question! Would it better for him to go for the 2 year course and take the GCSE in year 11 when he would be more confident of obtaining and 'A' or would it be better to free up some time in year 11 for other subjects? (He'll be taking 12 GCSEs altogether)


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 1:05 pm 
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Presumably your son is chooisng options in year 9. Is the "GCSE in year 10" a separate option? How are they going to timetable it?

I think that you need to check that the school will actually let him use that lesson time in Year 11 for free study. Generally schools don't have facilities for year 11s not to be in lessons. Otherwise you are only gaining on his time out of school.

I would hope the school would continue to give them French lessons, and maybe start the AS syllabus. As this is the top set, quite a number of them may be considering continuing with French at least to AS if not to A2.

Overall, I think that your decision may need to be based on how many courses he is doing which have a high coursework content. My daughter had most problems juggling the coursework contents, rather than managing lots of exams. She was taking 11 GCSEs,all timetabled within the school day; and the only girls who took 12 did the extra one after as an afterschool activity in year 10 (Dance or Drama)


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 1:08 pm 
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Location: Solihull, West Midlands
Personal experience which may or may not be helpful:

My DD (now Yr 10) has been in a top set for French being "fast-tracked" towards early GCSE since yr 8. The school was a little unclear what they would do with the additional time released in year 11 - there was talk of additional french and/or critical thinking rather than being able to spend more time on German (her second language) . Results for the year group above were not brilliant however, and following some disappointing mock results in January the group has now been put back onto the normal time of entry, much to the great delight of the entire class (and by the sounds of it the teacher too). My daughter's feeling is that she shouldn't really have been in the "top group" anyway (her yr 7 performance being enhanced by the various primary french clubs I made her go to!) - that they were all being rushed through without time to really understand things, that she hates French anyway etc etc. But since they dropped the early entry, apparently French lessons have become a lot better - as they've covered most of the grammar etc they now have more time to concentrate on building vocab, watching French films and hopefully get better results reflecting what would be expected of the top group in a Language college....

Clearly there are some children for whom early entry will work well, and if it's an individual offer rather than a blanket policy it might be worth considering. But the key fact is how the time "released" can be used - in my experience Yr 11 boys are not necessarily programmed to make very good use of extra " free" periods!

Incidentally my DD is also fast tracking in Maths but is perfectly happy with that - her group has been a year ahead in the curriculum since primary school and she has found Maths far more of a subject in which once you understand a topic, that's more-or-less it, rather than the constant acquisition of new vocab and impreoved listening skills etc needed in French. Of course she will be taking GCSE German after only 4 years study but somehow that has seemed more straightforward...


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 2:04 pm 
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Hi Solimum

I have always been interested in how some exams seem to be done for longer before you can do the GCSE - reckon it is because it is the skills you develop learing ANY foreign language can be transferred over to learning another language.
At my school we did french for 5 years and Latin for 4 years, then the language keenies (not me!!!) did german in 2 years - reliant on much of the latin grammar they knew.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 2:47 pm 
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Thanks for the replies. Yes, DS is in Y9 and we are choosing his options. The fast-tracking for French enables students to pursue additional language studies - AS French, Italian or Mandarin in Year 11 (taken from the school's website). It's a grammar school with language specialism and a number of children are fast-tracked so that they can take early GCSE. I guess I will need to check whether it is a requirement that students would need to continue with AS or another language in year 11. The impression I got was that taking it early would free up time for other studies. Kind of important to find this out :oops: If it means studying AS French in year 11 then I think my son would rather take the full 2 years and secure a good grade.
Also, it sounds like the 2 year course might enable him to enjoy French a little more rather than being rushed (thanks for your post, Solimum).
His French teacher also mentioned that the GCSE is changing and that it might be easier next year (not sure whether she meant 'next' year or 'next next' year if you know what I mean). I will get my son to clarify.
With regards to course work for other subjects, apparently with changes to some GCSE courses, much of the course work will now be done in the classroom to stop parents (and the internet) contributing to much of what the children used to submit! Sounds like a much better idea to me.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 6:13 pm 
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If this is the AQA syllabus, then there is a new course for first teaching from Sep 2009. I've glanced through the syllabus, and they've restructured it. They've also changed the coursework, so that instead of 3 pieces on a range of permitted topics, there are now only 2, and the student can write on anything. The total length of the 2 pieces is the same as for the 3 pieces on the old syllabus. Take a look at the AQA site:

http://www.aqa.org.uk/qual/gcse/french_a.php

You can check out the old and new specs there.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 6:46 pm 
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The new syllabus won't be examined until 2011 ...


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 9:18 am 
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That's great information. Many thanks. He is opting for the 2 year course which will hopefully help inspire him and give him confidence.


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