When did your child grow up? It seemed like yesterday that you were applying for their secondary school place. Fast forward 2-3 years and your child is in Year 8/9 (depends on the school) and they’re being informed about their next stage in education…Their GCSE’s!!! As a Mum to a child that has already taken his GCSE options I know how daunting it can be. I mean, this is the first step in our childs future as an adult. The first set of qualifications that get taken into account for employment and further education. I thought it might be helpful to write a Guide For Parents of Teens Choosing Their GCSE Options from a parents point of view.
Now your child is in Year 8/9 (ages 12-14) your child will choose which subjects to study at Key Stage 4 (Years 10 to 11, ages 14-16). These will be the subjects they will take for GCSE exams in Year 11.
Some subjects are compulsory at GCSE level. These are:
Some schools have other compulsory subjects.
Optional subjects vary from school to school. But your child must be offered at least one course in each of four groups of subjects, called ‘entitlement areas’. These are:
- Arts (including art and design, music, dance, drama and media arts
- Design and Technology
- Humanities (history and geography)
- Modern Foreign Languages
It’s not essential for your child to choose one subject from each area, but studying a range of subjects at this stage will be useful so that your child has a wider variety of options for later study and career choices.
Your childs school will give them information about their GCSE choices.
No doubt your childs school will have an open evening for yourself as parents to attend. Together with your child and their subject teachers, discuss the Key Stage 4/GCSE syllabus.
Here’s a list of useful questions to ask your childs school and subject teachers
- How many subject will my child be expected to take?
- Which subjects are best for my child based on their strengths?
- What can my child hope to achieve from the subject?
- Which syllabus will you be using?
- What will be expected from my child?
- How will my child be assessed?
- Will there be coursework?
- How will my child be placed into sets of ability and achievements?
- Which exam board will you be using?
- What support will be provided though out the GCSE subject?
- Where can I find a copy of the schools past GCSE performance figures?
Advice from one parent to another
- Focus on keeping options open for now rather than specialising them.
- Think about your childs future study or career plans: is there a subject they are sure they want to do at A-level or college that they need to continue with now at GCSE?
- Consider what your child enjoys and are good at.
- Seek your childs teachers’ advice on which subjects will play to their strengths.
- Talk to other parents, carers and relatives to ask their point of view and experiences.
- Balance quality and quantity – too many GCSEs might mean lower grades.
- It’s important to choose subjects that your child finds enjoyable, but also the subjects they are have confidence in doing well in.
I wish you all luck at this milestone to your childs future.
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