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Cate in NZ

School: A Rant

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Sorry, a bit of letting off steam here and a serious request for advice please from any of you with knowledge of the education system.

My son has recently submitted his GCSE options, after all the required subjects he was only left with 3 choices. He chose Spanish, ICT & Media, with history as his 4th (reserve) choice. We were due to find out which options he'd been given on Monday 8th, but the school was subjected to an Ofsted inspection instead, so the notifications were delayed. Weds he came home from school and informed me that Spanish as an option had been cancelled. I thought it was playground rumour, but tried to ring the school on thursday to find out. I couldn't get through to the right person, so left messages. Friday I rang again, but they returned my call whilst I was out, so spoke to hubby (who is a governor at the school). It's true, Spanish has been cancelled :shock:

Today we got the official letter, he's been given Media, ICT & Drama :shock::shock:

Seb's a bright boy, OK, no genius, but a consistent performer, does his homework, achieves good marks. Predicted grade 7 in all his recent SATs (although very lazy on revision, so predicted may well not equal achieved :roll: ). He got 87% in his last Spanish exam a couple of weeks ago. So why Drama of all things, he can do well at the academic subjects and I think he should get the opportunity. Media we chose as his "soft"


I also think very firmly that these days children should learn a language... we are a part of the EU.

All year 7's at his school are randomly allocated either French or Spanish.... not both, so Seb has never had the opportunity to learn any other language. So by withdrawing Spanish GCSE (not economically viable, too few want to do it) the school is preventing him from progressing with languages.

I wanted to approach the parents of the other boys refused Spanish, but don't know them, & Seb's cross with me for making a fuss. He says he'll happily do drama.

Do I kick up a stink.... and to whom?

Or do I allow him to continue with drama as a soft option and get him privately tutored to Spanish GCSE? He is already doing 11 GCSE's and I don't want to put him under too much pressure.

I don't want to embarrass him, but equally I can't stand back and watch his opportunities be limited by the school's shortcomings.

BTW, hubby as governor got advance info of the OFSTED brief findings today.... OUTSTANDING :?:shock::shock::shock:

Advice please.... I'm confused and very, very upset.

Oh, and apologies for the rant :oops:

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Kate, never apologise for a rant! It does you good to get it out of your system sometimes and you may well find someone in the same boat here so rant away!!


We were lucky at Tom's school because he was able to do all the options he wanted including German with Italian as his second language GCSE. He's taking drama as a soft lesson to fill up a gap in his timetable and it's a subject we hope will give him some confidence as he's a very shy, quiet boy.


I don't know what to suggest. I would speak to the school about it though, if you can.

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I think you should take it up with the school, because effectively he has possibly wasted the last 3 years learning spanish if they now won't let him take it up for GCSE. Although there has only been a small up take for spanish surely they should let those pupils who want to do a language take it other wise its been a waste.

I think it is important to learn another language and by your school splitting the language options at Year 7 they have reduced the chances of pupils taking a language if they then drop one at GCSE level.


My boys school used to split year 7 half French half German but they have stopped that now and one year all year 7's did french then this year all year 7's did German but if they are good at languages they get an option in year 8 9 to do enrichment and take the other Language and do two then chose at Year 9 which one or even both at GCSE, although they do not force year 10's to take a language which is a shame because we are in the EC.

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Although many moons ago now, when I sat my GCSEs, I also got given Drama as they said I needed to have a creative and expressive art to make me a balanced individual - completely stupid - I too was always academic at school and I hated both years of the stupid course of pretending to be a tree etc. etc. I did well in it (A) but I would have far preferred to take another academic subject. I would kick up a fuss if I was you - arrange a meeting with the head - cancelling it on financial grounds sounds daft - if they have the teacher then why not use him / her?!

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It seems ridiculous to let someone study a language for 3 years, then not allow them to take it forward to a recognised level - if I were you, I would arrange to see the headmaster, and put your case accross, and hope that he's a reasonable man.


Incidentally, when I did my O Grades (a fair few years ago......), there were 3 people in my year that wanted to study Latin. Our school couldn't offer Latin O Grade, as 3 pupils wasn't enough to make up a class. However, one of the parents complained to the headmaster, and suggested he see if other pupils in other schools were in the same predicament. He did, and there was, so the education department arranged for Latin O Grade to be taught, 1 afternoon a week, with a class made up from 6 different schools. All the pupils met at our school (the most central) and they did a full 2 1/2 hour afternoon lesson, with the option of studying at school on a Friday afternoon as well.


Problem Solved!

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I am not a secondary teacher, so know nothing about options and timetabling etc......

I think I would approach the teacher who has been teaching Seb Spanish up until now to see if you can find out the real reason....

I wonder if there is a hidden agenda here... for instance, maybe s/he has just handed in his/her notice and isn't being replaced? (teachers who want a new job in Sept would have to hand in their notice by the end of May half term). If they haven't got another teacher capable of teaching Spanish to the level he requires, that's obviously the reason.

If they are not leaving, I would enquire about them giving him private tuition. He obviously knows Seb adn on a one to one basis, Seb would not find it difficult.

Failing that, write a letter to Govs explaining your disappointment that his options are being narrowed and point out that Spanish is THE language! Spain, Latin America, Portugal (just). Its a very narrow minded thing to do!

Good luck!

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KateB - I would see learning a language as creative and expressive!


KateA - Definalty take it up with the school and go in and speak to somebody. I think you have made some very valid points about letting the children learn the lanuage only to have it removed as an option seems rather odd.


If the decision is changed, then you can have a chat with Seb about it, and give him the option then, without him seeing it as embarrassing or you causing a fuss.


Sometimes it just takes one person to say something, to finds that others were 'thinking' about it, but not willing to do anything.


Go for it Kate. Get an explanation if nothing else.

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I'm not suprised you are angry - I would be too :evil:


Go to the chair of the Govenors ,& make a formal complaint.

Don't feel that you cannot do this as you have links to the Govenors - that is what they are there for.


The LEA may also be able to help in some way.Wasting 3 yars of education on a subject that cannot be taken further is ridiculous - especially when your son COULD have done French & now have the option of taking an exam in it :roll:

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Good luck Kate A. You must take it up with the school - it would be much worse to know that something is not right and do nothing about it. If you do take it further you will probably find that there are other parents feeling the same and together you may be able to encourage the school to reconsider.


My daughters are years 7 and 8, and I am already concerned about the restrictions that most schools have when it comes to choosing options. I think it is so wrong that students are not able to continue with the subjects they really enjoy or excel at.


Shona, I did Latin too! There were only six of us in my lessons! :?

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KateA, What a worry. I would be really distressed like you. (Fortunately my Yr 9 has got all the options she wanted - French, German, Drama and Music)


I would suggest going first to Seb's Head of Year, saying how disappointed you are that Seb can't take a language now. Languages are seen as really academic and so carry a lot of 'cred'. (Do some universities still insist on a modern language grade?) Explain that the options were chosen carefully and you already have a 'soft' option. Without giving way on the fact that they ought to provide Spanish, find out what else could he do apart from drama?


If you don't get anywhere with HoY, then write to the Chairman of the Governors.


Could Seb change schools so that he can do the options he wants (I know how enthusiastically this one will be greeted!)?


When I was teaching in a secondary school we had a deputy head in charge of timetabling who was very hot on 'financially viable'. He tried really hard to stop us running a Music A level course because we only had 6 students. Being music teachers, we knew that 6 A level students was actually quite good for any school. Fortunately he was not supported in this by the Head and the course ran, but he couldn't understand the point of it!


Don't be batted down Kate. Really fight hard. I wonder if a school can suddenly not offer a modern language to half a year? I think they have to go with it this year and probably next until they decide a way round it (maybe whole school just does French). Good luck!

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I would contact an education organisation for advice I found



You could check that they are allowed to do this before confronting them..?



Is there anyway he could take a new language for GCSE, maybe more risky but a possibility. Maybe he could be allowed to take it somewhere else and they would let him off one GCSE?

I think he should be entitled to take a GCSE in modern languages, it seems very wrong to me. Even I took French :oops:


Your hubby seems well placed as governor, can he do anything?

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