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Poor choice of subjects to study at school

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I've just been through helping my daughter choose her options at school and was shocked at the poor subject choices available.  Now my daughter is no Einstein or even the next Carole Vorderman, but she's certainly not short of a few brain cells, but the subject choices were unbelievably poor.  We had to choose one subject from three main groups.

The first group had nothing really academic at all.  There were around six or seven 'arty' technology type subjects.  The best of the bunch for my daughter was "Food and Technology".  What a waste of valuable school time so we look at the alternative - a vocational course, i.e. a day release to study at the local college in town.  Even though I think she should be at school it is a way of getting her accustomed to further education environment, so we opted for this and even then the best that was on offer was hairdressing!

Choosing subjects - we were at loggerheads trying to decide

In the second group I would opt for business studies for her in this day and age, but she's really good on the stage and is very much interested in pursuing this.  I know it's a tough profession, but she's up for the challenge and therefore wanted to do drama which is in the same group.  Also in this group was good old fashioned History and Geography.  We were at loggerheads deciding what to choose.

Advice from her teachers led us to decide on drama.  "Let her do something she's really interested in" I was told. "Far better she does well at something she enjoys it, rather than struggle with a subject and fail because she's just not interested." they said.  Fair enough I suppose, but I don't remember having that kind of pampering in my day.

School subject choices poor In the final group of subjects the most obvious choice was AiDA - what on earth is that?  It's basically computer skills, programming etc - again an obvious choice in this day and age.  That was easy, no question about what to go for in this group.  She wanted to give it a go and I agreed.

However, because we chose vocational learning in the first group, she she isn't allowed to take this subject.  All the subjects in this final group were off limits because we chose vocational learning in the first group.  Why for goodness sake?  This "AiDA" seemed perfect whatever a child ends up doing in life.  I was so disappointed and I guess annoyed.

Did anyone else find this stage of their child's school life daunting, challenging and nerve racking?  It just seemed to be a nightmare finding the right combination from a load of poorly grouped subjects.  Where's the "education" of our future generation and why can't there be a reasonably diverse set of subjects in each group?

By: Pepa


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Mrs overall

Miss mop..... Typing error big wup! Then than..... At least you got the point of my gripe and having slight learning difficulties doesn't help with spelling etc. Also it hits my point exactly to concerntrate more on English then maybe people like me won't make these basic errors. Enough explanation for you? Xxx
8th Nov 10 09:11

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Mrs overall

Scrap art, drama, woodwork, cookery, music etc and concentrate more on maths and English and IT studies, they are far more useful then learning how to bake buns and carve wood.
7th Nov 10 09:11

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BennotBill

I did my A levels this year and all we seemed to do was practice loads of exam papers and learn out of booklets. Sooooo boring!
4th Aug 10 02:08

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anon

1 in 5 school-leavers are illiterate and innumerate. Why complain about choice when the basics cannot be achieved.
8th May 10 07:05

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5

Richard

I honestly came to that point, my parents had no say in the matter we we're handed those forms during the 30 minute lunch time registration periods and they were expected back at the end of that period. Made some poor decisions, then further uniformed decisions as I got to college 6th form was not really an option, I'm in the first year of a Degree I could have realistically started in 2005 if I had been given more information and a little bit of guidance. I regret nothing, but do wonder where my life would be if I had started the degree back then, since by now I would be on the final year of my PHD.
16th Mar 10 12:03

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Unfortunate Derelict

Incredible.... as a 14 year old currently just started high school, I explored advanced course options as I am finding my first semester courses far too simplistic and useless. Yes, the workload is intense, but a complete waste of time due to the subject material. It was just my luck to discover that my school does not offer Honors classes, or Advanced Placement programs, forcing me to attend exorbitantly expensive private school. In addition, one of the things I looked forward to when coming to highschool was studying a language other than French. My highschool is a split English and French Immersion institute, and I was astounded to find that languages other than French, such as Spanish, Italian, German and Japanese, were only offered to French Immersion students, which I am not. I have questioned Guidance about this, and found no alternative to studying these languages aside from putting aside part of my summer while other students at my highschool are able to learn within the bounds of the school day. There are also special field trips only offered to French Immersion students that the English speaking student body is never allowed to experience. Incredibly dissatisfied as I am with the fact that my highschool caters to French-speaking students, and practically ignores the needs of those not falling into that category, I still fail to see why it is possible to employ a teacher who teaches foreign languages in French, but not English. Our school system here in Canada is thoroughly unbalanced.
25th Jan 10 07:01

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M

Dear Pepa, at my sons school we had to chooce 3 subjects for his year 11, one subject from three different blocks. What a nightmare, and at the end of it he still did not get the academic subject due to lack of interest from other students. Trying to re-choose ment affecting the other two blocks. A less than satisfactory event
30th Sep 09 02:09

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Biggles

When I was at school I could only choose traditional subjects like History, Geography, English, Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Music and Drama. These are broad subjects that stretched me academically and are far superior to these vocational training subjects taught in schools today. The only 'numpty' subjects I chose were Nutrition and Cookery and Typing. Both have been invaluable ever since.

I'm glad I'm not at school these days.
30th May 09 06:05

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RubyDee

My choices were also limited but at least you were told about it! I had to go through the complaints system and get incredibly upset before I was told "oh no, you can't have that with that". WELL WHY NOT WRITE THAT ON THE FORM THEN????? Also while most schools get 4 options, or even 5, my school is a technology school so we HAVE to choose a technology subject.

I wanted: Drama, Triple Science, History and Graphics

I got: Textiles, Drama, History and Triple Science

so not bad overall but I WISH they had just written on the forms what can eb taken with what &c.
7th Dec 08 06:12

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kat!

I remember choosing mine about 3 years ago. My parents didn't even talk to me about it.
1st Sep 08 09:09

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tim g

my son is doing a levels this year and I agree with your comments alaneroberts about the stupid system of exams followed by loads more exams. Ive let him choose whatever he wants to do and hope that he will find his subjects interesting. It is true that some parents like Pepa can be interfering with their kids too much although I will say that I wasnt happy when my boy was thinking of doing media studies, thank god he changed his mind. I know its not all about making money but a subject like that seems a bit of a waste.
7th Jul 07 05:07

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alaneroberts

bi curious f,

Only just noticed your particular post. Must admit, I'm somewhat impressed. I wouldn't say that I am a 'hippy', but I have - I've gotta admit! - hugged trees in the past . . . .lol

good luck!
15th Apr 07 12:04

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alaneroberts

Pepa,

I'm not sure how to interpret your last post. Are you suggesting that 'the powers that be' will see fit to edit my posts? Are you seriously suggesting that there is anything offensive about them worthy of editing/removal? If you are Pepa, then of course your comment is purely ironic - I suggested that parents like yourself enjoy too much 'control'. If I'm right in my interpretation, then your view that having people's posts 'edited' is a 'blessing' is, actually, a little scary - 1984 and all that!

I hope your daughter enjoys her choice of subjects. I would ask you to consider that many schools now are extremely adept at getting kids to pass exams, and yet are now very poor at teaching the subject. It is not the teachers fault - they are victims of a system of 'targets' and 'league tables', together with performance related pay. So, if you find that your daughter becomes somewhat disillusioned with her GCSE experience, then I would suggest that this is hardly surprising.

Should she go on to A levels, then consider this. Having completed GCSE's in the summer, she will start her AS levels in September, will be doing exams in January, followed probably by some mock exams in March/April, followed by more exams in May. She will then start her A2 courses after exam leave finishes, to do yet more exams the following January (probably some resit exams from the Summer plus new exams), followed probably by mocks in April, followed by more exams in May and June (resits plus new exams). Oh, she may have to do some coursework as well as all this.

In my opinion your main role as a parent should be to encourage your daughter to keep it all in perspective and actually maintain a healthy cynicism about the system whilst encouraging her to get as much out of it as much as possible.
10th Apr 07 09:04

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Pepa

Touchay alaneroberts, good communicating with you but bear in mind that one of the blessings of this particular site is that posts can be and are sometimes, edited.
9th Apr 07 11:04

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alaneroberts

Hey Pepa,

Don't worry about it! There are lots of parents who think they know what's best for their children and in many cases they do. It's just that your original posting suggested that you had preconceived views about subjects and that you yourself are a victim of the heavy emphasis on 'business', 'commerce' and 'information technology' - lets judge the value of everything by its capacity to "MAKE MONEY!" You said

"It's basically computer skills, programming etc - again an obvious choice in this day and age. That was easy, no question about what to go for in this group"

There doesn't seem much 'debate' between your daughter and you going on here.

But thanks for your contribution - it keeps my mind open to the opinions of others.
9th Apr 07 10:04

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Pepa

Any 'educated' person would have noticed in my original post, quote "SHE wanted to give it a go, AND I AGREED" quote "WE were at loggerheads deciding what to choose". My daughter is kind, caring, and compassionate - beautiful, confident, popular, intelligent and witty - need I go on? Give me interfering parent any day if offspring turn out like my daughter!!
Oh and should every other parent attending the choices evening trying to do the best for their children also be labelled interfering?
Wonderful discussion anyway - keeps the mind open to others' opinions. Thank you all for your comments.
8th Apr 07 06:04

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bi curious f

alaneroberts - are you a hippy? Or perhaps a tree-hugger? Maybe both.
6th Apr 07 03:04

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alaneroberts

Dear God!

From reading through these posts, I think we should stop called schools 'schools', but perhaps we should call them 'Business Centres'. Let's stop calling students 'students', but rather 'future employees'. So many of you have forgotten, or don't realise, about the 'joy' of education in itself. You are so quick to label subjects 'Mickey Mouse' because they don't seem to have a direct relevance with the world of business. How sad you are! There is much more to education than just leading directly to employment. It is an opportunity for learning for the sake of learning, to appreciate different viewpoints and opinions, to explore subjects and develop them simply because of the interest and love of them. A lot of this has already been lost because of the extreme 'exam focus' of the subjects - teachers are now more adept at 'teaching to the exam' than teaching the subject itself. Most of the posts I've read here are only adding to the problem. It is a sad reflection of many parents that they cannot see this and are too quick to condemn their own children to the "rat race", probably priding themselves in doing so that they are doing what's best for their own children. Sad, very sad!
5th Apr 07 10:04

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2

Lee

And I want to be a Police Officer not be on the dole like most people will be in my school.
5th Apr 07 08:04

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Lee

Teach them right, I mean product design, graphic design, food technology and systems technology. I have taken ICT at GCSE level and have nothing against technology in terms of ICT etc.
5th Apr 07 08:04

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alaneroberts

It sounds to me that you (the original post) should stop being such an interfering parent and let your daughter choose the subjects. The trouble is that parents are forever linking subjects - even at GCSE - to possible future careers, rather than understanding that the main priority is the development of 'skills'. In most cases, it doesn't matter what the subject is.

I pity the poor daughter having to put up with such a domineering, 'know-it-all' parent who, in reality, seems to know very little.
5th Apr 07 05:04

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Teach them right

Lee technology is important. We are a modern race becoming ever dependant on it to survive. YOU need technology so you know what the heck that thing is that she's pressing buttons next time you go down to collect your dole check. As for MFL and learning foreign languages. It would be nice if you at least knew where the highly skilled foreign workers taking your jobs came from would it not?
4th Apr 07 11:04

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Lee

I am still at school myself and selected my subjects last year and we had to choose one technology subject either french or german and I thought the choice in the other catagories were a disgrace I hated 90% of the subjects. Regarding technology I understant why people could do it, for jobs etc. but for people who do not want to take technology you have no other option but with the technology times you could be doing other IMPORTANT lessons. As for MFL (modern foreign languages- (French, German) I don't see why we have to do one of these as it is a total waste of time and again you could be doing more IMPORTANT lessons, I think the goverment should stop trying to "shuv" knowledge down our throats and ask us what we want to learn!! So listen up Blair/Brown and you idiot of an Education Secretary: Listen to the kids, and ask us how we would like our schools run. You pencil pushing prats!
4th Apr 07 10:04

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poppy

Get rid off all the Mickey Mouse subjects like Media Studies and Drama. Popular in schools but useless in the outside world...
4th Apr 07 03:04

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Teach them right

I agree with that last statement about choices. They should be required to take some of the more scientific and technological courses. Computer skills, maths, English, some amount of British history and geography are a must. Also basic skills such as managing money, cookery, physical education should be included (for both sexes). Kids these days can't really cope in the world they live in, they get into debt, can't feed themselves properly, they aren't exactly fit, have no idea where they are in the world and haven't a clue generally. Back to basics I say!
4th Apr 07 03:04

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steal

I dont understand why kids are getting a choice these days... before going to 6th form or college all GCSE should consist of is Maths Science english a Laugage ie french, german etc. technology should cover all aspects from neddle work to wood work, inc. food prep, and they should get a health and hygene cert. IT is important, and Sex education should be taught seperate to science and once a week.

Choices IMO is the problem with education today.
4th Apr 07 12:04

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Logical

You first complain about 'arty' subjects in the first group, then choose Drama in the second? There's little in the world more 'arty' than Drama.

You talk about choosing topics to set your girl up for later in life, but call Food Tech a waste of time? Learning about food could not only lead to a well-paid profession, but could make the difference between her living to 80 years old, and having a cholesterol-induced heart-attack at 45.

I expect that some of the more intensive courses in the third group were out of bounds, because your child would be spending an entire day of her schedule away from school. This would take away the extra time normally alloted to such topics.
4th Apr 07 10:04

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