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 Post subject: Choosing GCSE's
PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2020 8:41 am 
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My son is in Y9 and will be looking to choose his options next year.

We know he will be choosing Music as an option but he has also expressed an interest in taking Art.
He achieves good grades in Art but he is not naturally artistic.
I would like him to choose either History or Geography.
Not sure what is the best thing to do as a parent. Should I let him choose what he wants or guide him more toward what I think will be beneficial?


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 Post subject: Re: Choosing GCSE's
PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2020 9:46 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:41 am
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Location: Essex
Whatever the issues with doing both Art and Music, does choosing Art really mean that he can't do either History or Geography? Seems rather odd timetabling.

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 Post subject: Re: Choosing GCSE's
PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2020 10:46 am 
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ToadMum wrote:
Whatever the issues with doing both Art and Music, does choosing Art really mean that he can't do either History or Geography? Seems rather odd timetabling.


Hi ToadMum, I think what I am trying to say is should I have a say in my sons GCSE options or should I leave the option choices completely up to him? :)


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 Post subject: Re: Choosing GCSE's
PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2020 11:56 am 
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I think you can advise, but ultimately I don’t think you can force him to do a subject of your choice. If it goes wrong and he struggles it’ll be your fault. I certainly wouldn’t have allowed my parents to tell me what to study (they did actually try to push me down the science route for A Levels). You could get him to draw up a list of pros and cons for each option and to talk to older students who are doing those subjects. Nine times out of ten my own DD would come round to my way of thinking when I backed right off (no guarantees it will be the same for you, of course). I agree with TM, though. DD did music and drama and was able to choose history too.


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 Post subject: Re: Choosing GCSE's
PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2020 12:34 pm 
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I agree that it’s worth speaking with students who did/ are already doing art for GCSE. It’s said that it takes a large amount of time, even for those who love it and are good at it. If art is part of his life, he won’t mind and could be spending that time on it either way. The same applies to music or sport and the like. However, if art is not a passion, he could easily and swiftly grow to resent it. DD has friends who took both, but they lived for both (and still resented art some of the time).

Help him to understand the practical implications of the workload, but let the decision be his.

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 Post subject: Re: Choosing GCSE's
PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2020 12:52 pm 
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Let him choose but it's worth him being aware that two practical subjects might be challenging towards the end of Year 11.

Art is particularly time-consuming and the long exam at the end often means missing key revision lessons. Many students do moan about the workload of Art ... what else is on offer? Are the choosing from blocks or a free choice?


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 Post subject: Re: Choosing GCSE's
PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2020 3:32 pm 
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Let them choose, but don't let them narrow their options too much. Our school gave the year 9s a "recommended for GCSE" level to give them an idea how well they thought they would do, as well as telling them what kind of work would be involved, and what subjects complement each other.


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 Post subject: Re: Choosing GCSE's
PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2020 4:56 pm 
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It's a hard one!
I would say that it's best to be there as a sounding board, listening to them give their pros and cons of their options.
Both mine flirted with the idea of art, largely because they enjoyed it and were very much encouraged by great teachers - but neither of them have any genuine talent and I think it would have been a massive struggle for them. Had they expressed serious intent by the time they had to make their choices I think I'd have advised them against it. Luckily conversations with older peers meant that they decided against it themselves.
I have several friends whose children have done art and have been very happy with their decision to do so - all have said it was very time consuming but it has been their passion so they have been happy to put the time in. A couple of children have really struggled as they have perceived the widening level achieved by their peers and themselves over the two years.
Our strategy was to advise our children to choose their favourite subjects at GCSE then their favourite again at A level and at uni. They've got time after that to determine the route their life will take. However I think I would have intervened had I perceived them to be narrowing their options.
If your ds doesn't do history or geography he might be restricted in, for example, doing other essay subjects such as politics at A level (depending on school policy).


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 Post subject: Re: Choosing GCSE's
PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2020 6:27 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:41 am
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Location: Essex
Goodbyekitty wrote:
ToadMum wrote:
Whatever the issues with doing both Art and Music, does choosing Art really mean that he can't do either History or Geography? Seems rather odd timetabling.


Hi ToadMum, I think what I am trying to say is should I have a say in my sons GCSE options or should I leave the option choices completely up to him? :)


Sorry, I was being a little tongue in cheek there :).

I would agree with others that

- Art is a lot of (practical) work and very time consuming, but the (2 full day) exam is usually got out of the way quite early, before the exams for the other subjects. DS2 does loads of artwork at home - actually sells stuff - and didn't find the amount he was doing at school too much of a struggle, but is now in year 13 and taking it for A level and rather less enthusiastic.
- guide away, but don't impose. Get him to think of what he might want to do eventually (or just look at random careers) and work backwards - what post-18 education / training is required? / what A levels or BTECs might be best for that? / do any of those require the subject or any particular subject to have been taken at GCSE? The answer to the first two in a lot of cases is going to be, if it's something specific, then possibly: e.g. 'being a doctor' <- medical school <- Chemistry / probably Biology A level or a specific BTEC <- sciences and at least a 'good pass' in Maths and English. But those are all core GCSEs anyway. For many other things, the possibilities will be a lot broader and for example, many, many degrees have no required subjects at A level.

Given that all schools require Maths, 2x English and at least the '2 GCSEs' option of Science (and many also making MFL / a humanities subject compulsory), which a student may or may not enjoy or be particularly good at, then it makes sense to choose, for the rest, subjects that they do enjoy and are therefore more likely to do well in.

Does he really have the option of doing neither History nor Geography, though? Does the school make RS compulsory (DS2's does, much to his annoyance at the time, since DD at a different school didn't have to take it and in DS1's time at the same school as DS2, the 'half GCSE' was allowed), but then allow it to be the only Humanities subject taken?

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 Post subject: Re: Choosing GCSE's
PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2020 6:35 pm 
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Thank you for all your helpful replies.

He will definatley choose Music as he will be taking his G8 music exam next year so I'm thinking he will do well with that. Also because he is in the Mandarin language programme at school he will also be expected to take that as a GCSE too.
Which leaves one option to choose from.

Both my parents were never educated so I was brought up making all decisions at school myself and I wasn't sure about interfering with GCSE choices. As KS10 mentioned a list off pros and cons will hopefully help and then I won't get blamed if he starts hating the option during those 2 yrs.


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