Education Quandary: 'My daughter cannot take GCSE triple science, despite the Government saying that it is her entitlement. What can I do?'

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The Independent Online

Hilary's advice

Go to see your daughter's school head again and wave in his or her face the Government's 2006 Science & Innovation Investment Framework 2004-2014: Next Steps, which says that by this September all children achieving level 6 or above at Key Stage 3 will be entitled to study triple science at GCSE, "for example, through collaborative arrangements with other schools, further-education colleges and universities". Ask what collaborative arrangements they will put in place if the school itself cannot teach triple science. Make it clear that you are not going to go away, and that, if they continue to be obstructive, you will be kicking up a real fuss. This will include getting other parents on board, going to the governors, the local authority, the press, the scientific associations, and anyone else you think will be able to help.

This is so important. If your daughter wants to aim high in science, she needs to study chemistry, physics and biology. Her prospects would not be irredeemably blighted if she doesn't, but why should she have to compromise because her school is too lazy to make an effort?

Readers' advice

Your daughter must, repeat, must do three sciences. Or else she will only be studying trendy rubbish about things like global warming. This contains no real science and does not prepare students for A-levels and degrees. This is the main reason we have decided to pay private-school fees.

Ian Elsden, Cumbria

Entitlement merely means your daughter has the right to be entered for the three GCSE science exams, not that she has the right to be taught the lessons. Schools are encouraged to make the lessons available to students, but there is no compulsion, and a school can say that it is not possible to timetable them. So, like most of what this government says, the "entitlement" is nothing more than hot air.

Corinne Parkes, Buckinghamshire

I have had many pupils who have done well at science A-level after doing double science at GCSE. If you are adamant about triple science, ask whether the school can put on extra twilight GCSEs, taught after school.

Mary Keitel, London W5

Next Quandary

As a teacher, I long for the Government to get off our backs and leave us alone to do our jobs. But I'm wondering what other people would most want to see in education in 2009?

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