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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:12 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2008 3:02 pm
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Location: S E London
As a bit of background - DD is dyslexic and can get very overwhelmed with lots of noise and movement around her. She also finds traditional studying very tiring, but can spend hours watching youtube videos about subjects which interest her and retains a lot of information this way. She finds essay based subjects really hard, and has just been awarded 50% extra time for essay based exams, (with 25% for everything else). She is predicted all 7s and 8s, although she thinks that is a bit over optimistic in the essay subjects, and is interested in studying something like neuroscience at uni, born from an interest in finding out about her own dyslexia. She is currently at a non-selective school in a grammar school area, but doesn't want to stay for sixth form.

Up until recently she wanted to study A levels in maths, chemistry, and biology, but more recently has become interested in music instead of biology. She already plays the violin at the standard required for the highest marks at A level performance, which makes up 30% and 30% is composition, but the other 40% is partly made up of essay questions. The biology A level, however, seems to be intense, with a lot of vocabulary and as DD has difficulty with processing words and spelling them, it may prove a difficult A level for her.

She has a place at an independent school whose original offer was very high (they based it on adding together GCSE grades, but as DD is doing 8 rather than the 10 the students do at this school it meant she had to do well in all 8 subjects) but having done well in interview they have offered her a place based solely on getting 7 in maths, 6s in the two sciences and passing English Language, which should be well within her grasp. It isn't a overly academic school, but gets a good spread of results, from A* down, so I think she would do the best that she is capable of there. This school also has very good dyslexic support and pastoral care. However, they didn't have anyone do music A level last year, and I don't think there is much experience teaching it. The specification they teach also doesn't play to DDs strengths, so she doesn't want to study music there and would do biology.

She has also applied to a grammar school, which is very large and a boys school, so rather noisy. We know it well, as my DS was there until year 11, and the pastoral care is good. She would study music there, and the music department is very experienced, and music students hang out there at break and lunch, so she would have a calmer place to escape to if need be. The class sizes are very big, however (24 in Chemistry this year) whereas there are about 6 in a class at the independent school. Music would be smaller, and I don't think maths class sizes are quite such an issue. The entry requirements are now higher than the independent, but should be within reach. She has a back up choice with lower requirements just in case it all goes wrong in the summer!

She has a music workshop day at the grammar school next week, and an afternoon at the independent the week after, although I have just found out that she will be in a physics lesson not a chemistry one, and then we have to decide about the independent by 19th March. If she chooses there, basically that is where she will go.

I think if she was choosing based just on the school she would choose the independent, but I think the pull of music A level is getting stronger, so she really doesn't know what to do. She hasn't actually been given a place at the grammar yet, so I think she needs to chase that up too. I'm at a loss as to which would be best - I would be happy with either choice I think, although I do worry a bit about the biology.

Hopefully she will go on the two taster days, love one, hate the other, and it will all fall into place, but I have a suspicion that is not going to happen.

Does anyone have any words of wisdom they can share?


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 2:30 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:44 am
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Location: Reading
has she done and enjoyed music GCSE?
My DD is soon to take grade 8 piano and grade 7 sax and plays in swing, jazz and concert bands and wind orchestra. She cannot wait for music GCSE to be over as she really hasn't enjoyed it.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 2:56 pm 
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DD hasn't really enjoyed GCSE music either, as the teaching has been non -existent and the other students are all strumming guitars and trying to sing. Nobody else has taken a single music exam. The teacher told her he didn't know how to compose for violin so couldn't teach her anything, but to be honest he hasn't taught the others either. He hasn't covered most of the listening exam stuff - we have had to do it at home. I also had to arrange the performance elements for her myself too. This is why she didn't originally consider music.

Just before Christmas, in desperation, I contacted a young professional musician I know, who gave her some composition lesson, played her duet with her for the ensemble performance, and generally enthused about music, and this is why DD is now interested in the A level, which I am confident will be much better taught at the grammar school.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 3:42 pm 
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Location: Reading
If you are basing school choice on this I would try and arrange to speak to the GS music department and preferably some students too. My DD is at a GS and there are quite a few taking music GCSE. When asked who would be interested in possibly taking A level no one put their hand up - I think a couple did in the end as they felt guilty about the lack of interest but none of them will actually do it.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 3:55 pm 
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Location: S E London
We have already thought of this - the grammar school is putting on a workshop day for all those who have put music or music tech on their application forms. DD is already planning on talking to them about whether they are certain they will be running music A level. She has been advised it might be best not to do biology at this school as the teacher talks really quickly and DD's slow processing speed won't keep up, so she does need to know the music is a certainty if she decides to turn down the independent school.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 4:16 pm 
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Location: Reading
Good luck - I hope she gets sufficient info to make the choice


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 4:20 pm 
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Thank you - she is in the middle of mock GCSEs at the moment too, so it's all a bit stressful here!


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2018 3:42 pm 
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My dd1 is in Year 13 and taking Biology Chemistry and Music. She seems to have enjoyed the Music A level more than the GCSE course in a previous school, but her new school has a very good music department-it’s demanding but a different way to the other 2 so has been a bit of a contrast. The class is much smaller. There was also a good trip at the start of the year which was a bit tiring but again, I feel like it kind of broke up the tedium of all this exam prep. She did struggle a bit with composition and there wasn’t really any outside help we could find but I think it went ok. Being able to perform and have outside teaching on that (instruments in her case though some do singing) has been really useful. I think the key issue will be what is the music department like for A level students? It’s hard to judge from past exam results because this year is an all new syllabus and the teachers aren’t sure what the grade boundaries will be, so it has been hard to guess from mocks how they are doing! So it will be more a matter of trying to gain an overall impression for your dd. Hope she enjoys the workshop!


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2018 4:19 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2010 11:39 pm
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Reading Mum wrote:
has she done and enjoyed music GCSE?
My DD is soon to take grade 8 piano and grade 7 sax and plays in swing, jazz and concert bands and wind orchestra. She cannot wait for music GCSE to be over as she really hasn't enjoyed it.

Snap! DD has delayed grade 8 till the end of this year as she wants to focus on her GCSEs, and even though she’s predicted a good grade this summer she’s now absolutely determined not to do A Level music. I’m gutted, but keeping my mouth firmly shut. The music teacher made the mistake of saying that it was more of the same but in greater depth. I wish I could magically transport the music teacher at my school to DD’s school.r


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2018 6:20 pm 
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Location: S E London
We know the music department at the Grammar school as DS was there, and it's the same head of music. It was a good department when he was there so I'm fairly confident it will still be pretty good. It teaches a different exam board to DD's current GCSE one. Current GCSE has no set works, whereas the A level one does, and also more performance (depending on the options taken) so it will be a bit different to what she is doing for GCSE.

An added problem has now arisen - the Grammar school won't be making offers until after the indie wants us to accept their offer. DD's predicted grades meet the entry requirements, but if they are very oversubscribed she may not be offered a place. I think we may have to ask for an extension for the Indie and see what they say.

The back up option has given her a place, but with the caveat that if they are oversubscribed in August they could still turn her away!!!


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