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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 6:49 am 
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I'm not yet at your stage but, if your dd wants to study Economics, then surely dropping further maths makes a lot of sense since she won't need it for her application.
I've mentioned this before but a friend's DC was planning maths, FM, physics and chemistry with a plan to do a physics degree. They were persuaded to try a new subject for a few weeks to see if they liked it which resulted in them dropping chemistry by half term. They then decided not to pursue a physics degree but to do a degree in their new subject. They dropped FM before their UCAS form had to be in and reported a very much more relaxed year 13 than any of their peers (apparently having done the first year of FM meant that maths and physics were extremely straightforward in year 13).


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 6:50 am 
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The other thing Clueless_mum is to tell her that this is becoming more and more common. Some schools have been slow to catch up with the very definite changes in A levels - the ones that are clued up are actually dissuading students from taking 4 A levels - even including FM, as the workload is so vastly increased. The jump from GCSEs to A levels is even higher than it was before and there is this incorrect perception that taking 4 A levels is the only way to "prove" to a university that you are the best candidate.

It isn't. As careers advisers, we have access in a different way to Admissions Tutors and, standing out is not about the extra A levels any more (except for Oxbridge, to a greater or lesser extent) - it is about good grades in the 3 you take and then things that you do yourself - wider reading - voluntary stuff - a public speaking award - things that show you are a confident/and or well rounded individual.

Lots of students I know who were advised not to take 4 insist on doing it (often because of parental pressure, although I know this is not the case here), because many parents are still of the mindset that 4 MUST be better than 3 (actually, in very few worlds is this true nowadays, especially with the world of other opportunities in 6th forms nowadays) - but it IS important that she is in a situation where she can do her very best in 3 - academically and emotionally.

I also agree that unless there is a specific reason for wanting London (close to home etc), then I would avoid going there if she is having stress/anxiety issues. The added pressure of living in an expensive city - where any spare cash goes on accommodation or transport and the ability to enjoy student life is severely limited, will likely not help her emotional state.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:55 am 
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Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 5:27 pm
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Location: london
Another Gap Year endorsement here. It will take the pressure off and she can use it to get some relevant experience perhaps? It will also give her/you a chance to take time to ensure that any mental health issues are managed and sorted before she leaves for Uni. I also agree with the comments about London, if it is LSE she is thinking of the school have a point, but frankly it is very hard to get an Economics offer there irrespective of grades so she should be discouraged from setting her heart on it. As for FM, I would suggest dropping it, whilst it is very useful for Economics, in my experience those who have not done FM just do extra Maths classes which laid on for the first year. They catch up quickly and don't have to spend hours of their 6th form labouring over Mechanics questions. DD (Economics degree) certainly wished she had dropped it, despite getting a good grade.
Good luck

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 11:43 am 
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Another vote to drop 4th A level - my dd1 who dropped maths in 2018 was reasonably ok healthwise but it was just simply too much- and that was still the old Maths syllabus! She didn't need it and got where she wanted to go and has had a very successful first year at Uni. Sorry she started 4, even back then, as it really added to stress levels.

KCG I have a question for you- what could a parent say to a school that is telling their students that they expect 4 A-levels? and we are not just talking FM. We have been clearly told that it is 4 subjects! and they acknowledge that the content has increased 20%? But have made no adjustment to their requirements. The students already seem to do practically nothing but academic work. The stress of doing 11 GCSEs, again obligatory, has been ridiculous and unecessary and stopped lots of other important life going on for dd2.

We are thinking of moving for 6th form but it's not decided yet, and this is a factor in that decision. If I felt I could just say, NO, it would be different. I happen to know of other parents in older years who have forcibly cut the subjects but it is kept very quiet (another case of pushier parents getting better outcomes?). I don't want to queer the pitch for dd2 who is very sensitive to criticism, but I feel like the school is disadvantaging her and spoiling her teen years.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:23 pm 
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I would approach the school armed with standard offers from Universities (all will be "just" 3 A levels...) and, possibly, the type of typical 6th Form offering from other schools in the area (showing the breadth and depth of things on offer if a student "just" takes 3 A levels and has time to access other stuff). Ultimately, I would just say that your child wants to take 3!

There is a huge difference between a school that allows a student to start 4 and drop one (with the understanding right from the off that they intend to drop to 3 once they have made their mind up) and a school that makes students take 4 "despite" all the evidence that shows this is disadvantageous to their whole roundedness, not necessary for university and possibly contributing to their poor mental health.

Here I would engage pushy parent - ironically it is pushy parents that got schools to this point in the first place.... Moving schools may seem a bit drastic but honestly, having seen first hand the expectations of a high achieving school with a dream student taking just 3 A levels, (plus all the additional requirements for a degree choice like Medicine), plus all the other stuff he wanted to have a go at, I am 100% happy that our school tells students NOT to take 4 subjects as standard any more. (To be clear DS1 would have happily been allowed to do it, should he have wanted, but the school themselves said it was not necessary and were proved 100% right.)


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:32 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 1:05 pm
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Location: Reading
I think all schools are going through a learning curve and some are further along than others.

When DD was in year 9 choosing GCSEs, we were told at that point that most girls would be taking 4 A levels, that most would be more than capable of it. That would be the norm.
In year 11 when going through A level choices, the game had changed a little, and they said girls could
1 start with 4 in year 12, do an AS in one then drop it if they wished. (They could them choose to do either AS FM or an EPQ instead)
2 Start with 4 in year 12, and continue if both girl and school felt it was right
3 start with 3 in year 12, on the basis they would be doing other things.

Now I think they are encouraging most girls doing 4 to consider dropping one.

DD had an issue dropping her fourth as her subject teachers didn’t want her to drop it, and tried to get her to think about dropping one of the others. It was her least favourite. Her predicted grades for three out of four were the same (the other subject is a higher grade). For her it was a no brainer to drop it, and she is much happier now she has. Although she has decided to do an EPQ.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:44 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 16, 2018 12:17 pm
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Heartfelt thanks to you all. Really appreciate all the advice. We will talk to her and focus on her health, rest will all follow


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:40 pm 
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Hope you can help your daughter gain some perspective on this...her health is so much more important than stellar grades...it sounds like she is very capable but needs to get a bit of balance in her life.

Dropping a subject sounds sensible...my daughter did FM up to the end of Yr12. Her teachers were kind enough to suggest she dropped it to focus on getting better grades her other subjects...it was absolutely the right thing to do...and she has to do more maths at uni...the year of FM study will still help.
As for universities...look at a variety with courses that would suit..

My Dd didn’t get offers from her 2 aspirational universities but she had 3 offers she was happy with and the offer days gave her a chance to work out her final 2 out. Both are excellent courses for the subject she wants to study.

It is easy for teens to feel life is a complete disaster if things don’t go to plan...and depression is tough ...I have been there so much empathy...and she needs to rest and have a bit of fun over the summer but in the great scheme of things those are decent mock grades and she still has time on her side...
I will add they are better than my son’s mock grades and he is confident he can redeem himself before next summer...hope he is right xx please ignore if not helpful x


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2019 10:23 am 
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Silverysea, I completely agree with you and am surprised and disappointed that the school in question are still insisting on 4 subjects. I have debated the issue many times but they still insist they are right. Maybe you should tell them your older daughter’s experience.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2019 10:27 am 
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And actually schools should be actively discouraging 4 subjects in the first place. I imagine students feeling they have ‘failed’ if they drop a subject whereas if they start with 3, the workload and pressure will be less from the start.


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