I went in to the school yesterday (Thursday) for 14yr old’s meeting with his Guidance teacher to choose Highers. The school’s letter of a couple of weeks back outlined the process in very general terms and said:- “Pupils take 5 subjects of their choice…. Maths and English are compulsory”. With my own rudimentary grasp of English and Maths, I made that 7 subjects and assumed that they would drop some at the end of S4. The Course Choice booklet came home on Friday, progress report on Monday with the Course Choice form showing the subject columns and options. Suddenly it was clear that in fact they choose 3 subjects, not 5, with Maths and English compulsory, and so now the pressure was on to decide what to do. Easy choice changes to difficult decision and with the interview yesterday there were 3 days to make that decision.
For the past few months GP1 has been fairly set on the idea that he wants to do Engineering when he leaves; a very worthy ambition but I won’t be in the least surprised if that changes in the next few weeks/months/years. There is still a whole lot of life in front of you at 14. However, a choice it is and we’ve been looking into what subjects he would need to get into University. Maths and Physics top the list but unfortunately he’s not doing Physics at Standard Grade; Engineering wasn’t even on the radar two years ago. This may be where the benefit of S3 Standard Grades comes into play as we finally agreed that he would do Chemistry Higher and Physics Int 2, with Physics Higher in Year 6. There was one other choice to make and that was between Music and PE. This turned out to be the real stumbling block as he didn’t know which to choose; I had thought we would be able to discuss the options and then go away and think about it for a few days and perhaps talk to the two departments. However, the Guidance teacher was keen for a decision to be made there and then and although he reluctantly offered to hold off for a day or so, I could see that GP1 felt under pressure to make the choice. So it’s Music. Which is fine by us. Let’s hope that Mr Frost sees it the same way. And that GP1 doesn’t decide next year that he wants to be an archaeologist. Or a Geographer. Or a linguist…
I came away feeling that we’d been bulldozed into making decisions although it’s more than likely that we’d have come to the same result even if there had been longer to think about it. But is three days, with only partial information available, really satisfactory when you’re helping your child to make choices that could fundamentally his career? I’d be happier if I felt confident that the school was slightly more than half a step ahead of the parents. I’m sure all these things will be much easier for future S3 cohorts, but that doesn’t help us now.
Oh well, I don’t have too much moral high ground here as the literature review I’m working on should be in today and it’s nowhere near finished. Just like homework really. But first, another of my twice weekly trips to the vet with Tripod the cat. Those leaflets about pet insurance no longer seem like junk mail.