Tuesday 16 March 2021

Making choices about GCSE subjects.

Ellie is in year 9 at school and that time has come to make choices about her GCSE options. It doesn't seem possible that my youngest is old enough to deciding her future like this but it's happening and we have spent hours speculating about what GCSE subjects are on offer and what she might choose.

We have no experience of choosing GCSE subjects at Ellie's school. Becky did her GCSE's when we lived in Northumberland at a different school so we were very interested to see how things worked here.

Signpost against a sunset

While the kids were home learning emails were sent out saying they will be choosing their GCSE subjects when they returned to school and they haven't hung about in sharing the website where the choices are made and handed in.

Ellie will still be studying the core subjects: Maths, English Language, English Literature, Science, PE and PSHE. She then had to choose 3 subjects and 2 reserves from the one's listed below.

GCSE Options

We went through each subject reading the booklet that the school gave us and talked about what was involved and whether she would like to study it. To be honest she wasn't inspired or excited about the majority of the subjects and neither was I. A lot didn't seem right for Ellie.

These are the subjects that Ellie has chosen:

Choice #1 - Engineering is something Ellie has always been interested in and it seems like a more hands on subject than others. She loves building and creating things so it really stood out to her.

Choice #2 - Geography is one lesson she finds really interesting at the moment and really does enjoy it. They key things she will learn about are: Our Natural World, People and Society & Geographical Exploration but I think the field trips to the coast swung it for her.

Choice #3 - Business was something we hadn't even thought about but Ellie read about it and it really interested her. The course includes learning about businesses, running them, keeping accounts, promotion, marketing and even Ellie could see that these are great skills to have especially since one day she wants to run her own business and be the boss. I am not even joking.

Reserve #1 - Art - Ellie loves art but it's not something she really wants to do as a GCSE, she likes to draw and paint for fun but doesn't want to spend a lot of her lesson time doing art. She only chose it as a reserve because she likes it better than other subjects.

Reserve #2 - Hospitality and Catering - Isn't something Ellie is keen on but it was either this or a subject she hates.

What Ellie hasn't chosen:

Drama - Ellie hates drama! She hates being the centre of attention so I knew she was not going to choose this.

French - Ellie is counting down the days until she doesn't have to do French. She doesn't understand it and after doing home learning with I remember why I didn't like French at school either.

PE - Ellie is not a sporty person. She enjoys the 2 PE lessons that she has each week but that is because she is with her friends and it is fun. GCSE PE is a lot more serious and there is more learning to do. I agreed with Ellie that it is not for her.

History was considered but it was a choice between this and Geography and Geography won. Ellie is interested in history but there was some of the topics that she had never learned about like like Elizabethan England.

Performing Arts was another no for the same reasons as Drama.

Photography was something Ellie had in reserve at one point but was told that she couldn't have both Art & Photography as choices, even in reserve. I suppose that's fair enough because photography will be studied in art.

Health & Social Care was something Ellie didn't even consider. She has seen Becky do health and social care and knows what it involves and has no interest in it at all.

There was no mention of RE which surprised me but I suppose Ellie's school isn't a religious one like her primary and old secondary school was but the biggest shock came when there was no mention of any I.T based subjects. Considering nearly everyone uses a computer and lots of jobs do I thought there would be some I.T lessons but no.

Thinking back to when Becky chose her GCSE's Ellie seems to be getting a rough deal. Becky had the choice of all the subjects Ellie does as well as Computer Science. Music, Spanish, Design, Travel & Tourism, Construction, Film Studies, Statistics, Media and Hair & Beauty. The only one Becky didn't have the option to do was Engineering. I suppose it's because Becky was at a much bigger school and there were more teachers. At Ellie's school the PE teacher is also the health and social care teacher and a head of the year.

So there we have it. My girl has chosen her GCSE subjects and fingers crossed that she gets her first choices. It can't be any worse than Becky's. She only got to do one of her 4 original choices. lol but it worked out OK in the end, she did well in the subjects but it's just a shame they were a waste as they were nothing to do with what she wants to do with the rest of her life.

The school gave some great advice to the kids when it came to choosing their options which I thought I would share.

Here are the questions you should ask yourself:

Are You Good At The Subject?
This is a pretty obvious question and one which you can answer. Remember, though, that you should ask your subject teacher if you are good at the subject because he/she knows your ability level in relation to the whole year group. 

Do You Enjoy The Subject?
Each of us is different and we each have our own favourite subjects. An interest in a subject, however, should not be confused with ability in a subject. You must ensure that your enjoyment is because you are genuinely interested in the work.

Do I Need The Subject?
This may be difficult to answer if, like many Year 9 pupils, you do not have a career in mind. You must, therefore, think carefully about your broad base of subjects. For those who do have a career in mind, find out the subjects which are needed to follow the career and check back that you have the ability to get the necessary examination grade in the subject.

Two final points: Do not choose or discount a subject because you like or dislike the teacher. Similarly, do not be influenced by the subjects your friends are choosing. You are an individual and your aims and ambitions are different from anyone else.

Has your teen chosen their GCSE options yet? What are they choosing?

1 comment :

  1. Helping students choose their courses is no small job. I used to have students ask me questions about my course recommendations every year. Ultimately, it's a decision the student will have to make (with input from parents and teachers). You ask some very good questions to help with the decision. Good luck to your daughter!