Ive also found out recently that the grammar we're interested in insist on all pupils having to compulsorarily take each of the 3 sciences and a language at GCSE....Have grammars always been run in this manner, or has the pressure of the league tables made them become tougher?RR
Science has always been a compulsory element of the GCSE state in one form or another. Before the three sciences were merged into the dual-award syllabus, I believe students had to take at least one of the three separate sciences (I know because I did biology - the only one I was any good at
). Many grammar schools have resisted the dual-award syllabus for science and continue to teach the three separate sciences as this is perceived to be academically more demanding and better preparation for A-levels - in fact this was one of the main reasons why we chose to send our child, who has a flair for science, to an out-of-county grammar school. Of course, whether it is right to insist that all children study all three sciences to GCSE level even if they have no interest in pursuing science post-GCSE is another matter.
Regarding the modern language element of the GCSE stage, I applaud those schools that still insist upon it. Uptake has fallen drastically in schools where a language GCSE is no longer compulsory to the extent that the few students who do wish to study languages no longer can. I know of one very large comprehensive school where French can no longer be offered at A-level owing to lack of interest, and the handful of students that wish to continue their studies in French are forced to travel miles to another school.
IMO grammar schools that teach separate sciences and make GCSE languages compulsory are simply resisting the "dumbing down" of the curriculum that appears to be so prevalent nowadays. I don't think it's anything to do with league tables. If your son is bright and motivated to learn, I'm sure he will cope well with the pressures and do well enough at GCSE to continue at A-level. In a less demanding environment he might find himself subjected to the poverty of expectation that seems to pervade the system, and end up underachieving through lack of challenge.
Good luck with whatever you decide.