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GCSEs vs BTEC for learning needs. Watch

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    Hello, this is my first message. I'm a mum and looking for advice to better understand the way forward. My son has speech and language needs and is statemented to level 2. His targetted results for end of Year 9 across all subjects are 2+ and his current performance levels (Nov Year 9) are between 1 and 2+. According to his school, he will obtain anywhere between a 2+ and a 3+ at GCSE. I had really hoped he would be able to obtain a couple of 4s.

    At the end of year 9 he needs to select his options. He has to take 2 Englishes, Maths and Combined Science at GCSE. He doesn't study a foreign language, he has additional support instead. Plus he has to select 2-3 other subjects.

    He would like to take PE, ICT and Product Design. Following a parents evening last week, I have been told that BTEC would be better for my son in these options. However, I should recognise that he won't necessarily find BTEC any 'easier' and could end up with similar results as GCSEs.

    The school offer GCSEs in these subjects as well as BTEC.

    Forgive my ignorance, but I have an overriding feeling that BTEC to GCSE is how CSEs were to O-Levels (yes I'm that old).

    If my son were to struggle to achieve any significant grade in BTEC and they are not recognised as the same value as GCSE, wouldn't it be better to have a low grade at GCSE than a low grade at BTEC?

    Anyone with a view?
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    BTEC is coursework so you can't really fail that.

    BTEC will be easier for him because exams are strictly marked on the content and spelling and punctuation etc.

    You can easily get a Distinction with any BTEC as opposed to an A* in any exams which will be a grade 9.

    Your teachers do have a point.

    He should do both BTECS and GCSE's.
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    Hi,

    I think you've hit the nail on the head with the comparison of BTEC to CSEs. We know that having Grade 1 CSE English was very much not the same thing as having a C at O Level, and CSE results were essentially a shorthand for 'secondary modern'. The propaganda about BTECs are that they are a more vocationally focussed option for those who don't do well with examinations, etc etc. In reality, they're the poor cousin.

    If there were a chance that your son would do significantly better in BTEC than GCSE, then there might be a case for him taking them. However, if you think he'll do badly in both, then the GCSE is a much better option in my opinion. Do you think the 100% coursework BTEC option vs. examined GCSE would make a difference to his chances of success? Maybe that might be something to consider.

    Source: partner is SLT in a secondary school, plus own private teaching and tutoring experience
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    Boys Mum
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    Thank you very much both of you for your quick response. I do think he will struggle with Exams. The NHS speech and language therapist (SALT) has already told me that what is put in place for my son in order to access the curriculum will be pretty much removed in an exam situation. This is of great frustration to her. So even if he knows the information any means to display his knowledge will be very hard for him to display.

    This is an on going problem for any child with SEN. Especially children who have a specific learning disorder, so they can be intelligent but can't display such intelligence in an exam. With the changes to the GCSEs this is even more apparent.

    I guess the question to the individual teachers is can my son achieve a Distinction at BTEC, because he sure can't achieve an A* at GCSE.

    However, if he can only scrape an Pass at BTEC, perhaps he would be better getting a 3 (perhaps a 4, as I still haven't given up hope) at GCSE.

    I would take the vocational route and put him into a college at 14 where he studies English and Maths GCSE still but follows Level 1 and 2 etc in a vocational course, except he has no idea what he wants to do. Most of the courses the colleges offer locally to me are agricultural and land and farm etc. He really doesn't want to do that.
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    (Original post by Boysmum)
    Thank you very much both of you for your quick response. I do think he will struggle with Exams. The NHS speech and language therapist (SALT) has already told me that what is put in place for my son in order to access the curriculum will be pretty much removed in an exam situation. This is of great frustration to her. So even if he knows the information any means to display his knowledge will be very hard for him to display.

    This is an on going problem for any child with SEN. Especially children who have a specific learning disorder, so they can be intelligent but can't display such intelligence in an exam. With the changes to the GCSEs this is even more apparent.

    I guess the question to the individual teachers is can my son achieve a Distinction at BTEC, because he sure can't achieve an A* at GCSE.

    However, if he can only scrape an Pass at BTEC, perhaps he would be better getting a 3 (perhaps a 4, as I still haven't given up hope) at GCSE.

    I would take the vocational route and put him into a college at 14 where he studies English and Maths GCSE still but follows Level 1 and 2 etc in a vocational course, except he has no idea what he wants to do. Most of the courses the colleges offer locally to me are agricultural and land and farm etc. He really doesn't want to do that.
    I had speech and language therapy and was also a SEN student.

    looking at your post, your son will be better of doing BTECS as opposed to the exams themselves.

    Exams will mean pressure for him to perform whereas with BTECS he can sort of relax(though not too much) and work at his own paste.

    At GCSE i did both GCSE's and BTECS and it worked out fine for me.

    The question though is, what does your son want to do in life?

    Picking the right GCSE'S/ BTECS are so crucial at this stage so,you should have a serious chat with him or his school to arrange a career advisors meeting for him.

    Also, how about getting a private tutor for his studies?
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    He has no idea. He wants a job with kudos that he can be proud of. I suggested the 'animal care' route as he loves animals. He said he wants to be a vet. The reality is he won't have the qualifications to study that route, so I said there is a clear path to be a vet nurse. It would take about 6 years but I would back him. He said he doesn't want that.

    He said he is worried he will end up with a job like a bin man or digging holes in the road - those were his words, not mine. Clearly there is nothing wrong with any job - I say this as a part time dinner lady/part time cleaner. However, he doesn't want to work in a job that society looks down upon. I can understand that too. But he doesn't know what he wants to do - few do at 13. So I want to keep his options wide.

    Other than ICT, Product Design and PE, the option choices are quite academic at his school; History, Geography, RE. These are not offered as BTEC qualifications either. He would have to take the linear GCSE route. He will get terrible results like that.
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    RE private tutor, he has 2.5 hours a week (1 x 1 hour, 1 x 1.5 hours) with a specialist private tutor in English and Maths for children with special needs. She knows how to assess a child to see where they have gaps in their knowledge, and knows various ways to teach them. My son learns much much better 1:1. Even small group work isn't too successful for him. We intend to keep that up but it is a financial strain - it costs us £70 a week!!!
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    (Original post by Boysmum)
    He has no idea. He wants a job with kudos that he can be proud of. I suggested the 'animal care' route as he loves animals. He said he wants to be a vet. The reality is he won't have the qualifications to study that route, so I said there is a clear path to be a vet nurse. It would take about 6 years but I would back him. He said he doesn't want that.

    He said he is worried he will end up with a job like a bin man or digging holes in the road - those were his words, not mine. Clearly there is nothing wrong with any job - I say this as a part time dinner lady/part time cleaner. However, he doesn't want to work in a job that society looks down upon. I can understand that too. But he doesn't know what he wants to do - few do at 13. So I want to keep his options wide.

    Other than ICT, Product Design and PE, the option choices are quite academic at his school; History, Geography, RE. These are not offered as BTEC qualifications either. He would have to take the linear GCSE route. He will get terrible results like that.

    I see.

    In my opinion, by the looks of things, he should just do the BTECS(ICT, product design and PE) and aim for merit and distinction grades because they are more practical as opposed to theory and he will leave school with equivalent qualifications to GCSE'S.

    Doing these BTECS alongside the necessary English, maths and science.....He will be fine........

    BTECS are nothing to look down upon, they are a different approach to learning.
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    (Original post by Boysmum)
    RE private tutor, he has 2.5 hours a week (1 x 1 hour, 1 x 1.5 hours) with a specialist private tutor in English and Maths for children with special needs. She knows how to assess a child to see where they have gaps in their knowledge, and knows various ways to teach them. My son learns much much better 1:1. Even small group work isn't too successful for him. We intend to keep that up but it is a financial strain -it costs us £70 a week!!!




    Ouch!

    I see

    There must be places/ tutors that don't charge that much?

    Keep on searching if you have to.
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    I really appreciate the messages people. Thank you.
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    I know how hard it is . I have before had a speaking language theoropist when I was younger and trust me it was a hard place to be for me as everyone sees you a bit different . I often struggled with tasks and had very low self-esteem. However if your son has tutoring and self belief than he can do GCSE's and get 4's . Also however BTEC's are being recognised by colleges and universities and may benefit him more as teachers can help guide him through assignment based work . He can pass trust me your son may even surprise you dont give up. Let him make the decision about BTEC vs GCSE as at the end of the day it is his future and he will know what is best for him. Hope this helps
 
 
 
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